History of the KU Astronomy Division
Below are some links and notes describing the history of the KU Astronomy Division.
- Historical Narrative of the Astronomy Department
- 1988 Astronomy Program Reunion (featuring Clyde Tombaugh)
- A Brief History of Astronomy at K.U. to 1968, by former KU Professor N. Wyman Storer
- Historical Perspective: Mid-20th Century Astronomy at K.U., by Former KU Professor Henry G. Horak
- Mr. Pitt's Telescope: A Short History of the 27-inch Reflector at the University of Kansas, Bord (1980)
ASTRONOMY PROGRAM HISTORY
The history of the Astronomy/Astrophysics Program at KU is long, dating back to the 1870's, and filled with a mixture of academic successes and missed opportunities. Until recently, the common thread linking the first century of Astronomy at KU has been individual effort. Until 1982, the typical size of the Astronomy faculty had been one, with a short-term growth to two during the 1950's and 1960's. Thus, the survival of Astronomy at KU has depended in large part on the sacrifice and effort of the individuals who worked diligently, often without recognition or adequate resources, to maintain the quality of both the undergraduate program and, until its cancellation in the 1970's, the master's degree program in Astronomy. The extensive list of KU alumni who have contributed professionally to the development of astronomy and astrophysics in the 20th century is a tribute to the faculty noted below, Drs. Alter, Storer, and Horak, a tradition we hope to build upon and to expand in the 21st Century.
This modest summary is predominantly abridged from three primary sources that are accessible in complete form via links below: a history of the Pitt Telescope by Don Bord, a short history of the KU Astronomy program written by Dr. N. Wyman Storer, and an extensive, personal compilation of the history of the program during the middle of the 20th century by Dr. Henry Horak. The efforts of these three gentlemen provide insight into the importance of faculty dedicated to the development of their students on both a professional and a personal level; the reader is strongly encouraged to investigate them further.
Astronomy has been taught at KU since 1876, though a crude observatory did not appear on campus until almost ten years later. The 6-inch Alvin Clark refractor was purchased new for $1,000 and arrived on the KU campus on October 20, 1885. Among the first individuals involved in the Astronomy program at KU during the end of the 19th century was Dr. Edward L. Nichols, a physicist who taught Astronomy as part of the course offerings at KU. Dr. Nichols remained at KU until the mid-1880's, when he left to join the Physics program at Cornell. In 1892-93, in collaboration with Prof. Ernest Merritt of Cornell, he was instrumental in creating the Physical Review, the first American journal devoted to Physics. With financial support from Cornell, Nichols and Merritt served as Editors of thePhysical Review until 1913, when the Physical Review became self-supporting and the American Physical Society assumed sole responsibility for the publication.
The earliest available University Course Catalog (1887-88) lists two astronomy offerings: Descriptive Astronomy and Practical Astronomy, the latter primarily for engineers. These courses were taught for three years by Mr. M. S. Franklin, an assistant in Physics and Astronomy. In 1890, these were taken over by Prof. Ephraim Miller of the Department of Mathematics; the next year this became the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy, a common location for academic astronomy programs in the early 20th century, and so remained until 1910. During this period, Celestial Mechanics was added as a graduate course, also taught by Prof. Miller.
In 1910, a year after the arrival of Dr. F. E. Kester as Chairman of the Physics Department, this department became the Department of Physics and Astronomy. During the first year, the above three courses and one titled Introduction to Astrophysics were taught by Prof. M.E. Rice. The following year the classes were offered by an unnamed instructor. In 1912, the curriculum was expanded considerably under the guidance of Dr. R. K. Young to include a semester of the Observational Astronomy, two semesters of General Astronomy, a course in Theoretical Astronomy and one inPractical Computing. An undergraduate major in Astronomy was first mentioned in the catalog of 1912-13. For the next two years the above courses were taken over by a Dr. Cornelius and then, from 1915 to 1917, they were taught by Dr. Ellis B. Stouffer.
Dinsmore Alter 1917 – 1935
Dr. Dinsmore Alter was appointed to the KU faculty in Fall 1917 after completing his Ph.D. degree at the University of California at Berkeley under the well-known astronomer, Dr. Leuschner, but was granted a leave of absence for two years of military duty as a colonel in the First World War, returning sometime in 1918. Dr. Alter was promoted to Associate Professor in 1919 and Full Professor in 1924. On his return, the number of courses offered was further expanded to include theHistory of Astronomy, Method of Least Squares, Theory of Interpolation, Vector Analysis and Vector Mechanics, and theCalculation of Orbits and Perturbations - all apparently offered by Dr. Alter. He was instrumental in attempting to develop a research-quality, astronomical observatory at KU. Though his almost 20-year effort fell short of the desired goal, the Pitt telescope did play a critical role in the completion of a number of Master's Theses, including that of Clyde Tombaugh in 1939.
Dr. Alter's tenure at KU ended in 1935 when he took a leave of absence, resigning in 1936 to become the Director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. A more extensive summary of Dr. Alter's career is given in an excerpt from the article on the History of Griffith Observatory by David H. Menke. The article can be accessed at this site.
N. Wyman Storer 1935 – 1970
Dr. N. Wyman Storer arrived at KU after completion of his Ph.D. thesis on photographic photometry of stars in 1928 under the direction of Dr. Robert Trumpler at the University of California. In 1935, Dr. Storer was given a temporary appointment during Dr. Alter's leave-of-absence; this was made permanent upon the latter's resignation. At this time, the curriculum was modified in a limited way. Changes were made to the topics covered in various courses and, with the exception of Least Squares, courses that were not directly astronomical in content were deleted. The facilities for the use of the reflecting telescope were greatly improved by the construction, at the base of the rotating conical roof, of a floor that gave ready access to the upper, business end of the telescope. This made it possible, in 1938-39, for the first graduate student to earn his M.A. degree using the William Pitt Telescope as it was named on the occasion of its formal dedication on February 17, 1939.
But within two years it became necessary for Dr. Storer to devote much of his time to the teaching of Physics, Trigonometry, and Celestial Navigation to various military units.
Upon the demolition of the old observatory building in the fall of 1944, the 6-inch refractor was moved to a new structure on the roof of the newly constructed Lindley Hall, and the Pitt Telescope was placed in storage. Prof. Storer designed the new structure so that housing for the transit instrument and the Pitt Telescope could be added to it later. These additions were finally completed in 1951-52 and included, beside the transit room and circular room for the Pitt Telescope, two small offices for the use of advanced students, a small shop and a photographic dark-room.
Shortly after the war, Prof. Storer was asked to organize and teach a course called The Principles of Physical Science, a 5-hour course that was then taught by him every semester from the fall of 1948 to the spring of 1967. It was soon clear that he could not handle that and at the same time teach the courses in Astronomy needed for both an undergraduate major and a master's program.
Henry G. Horak 1950 - 1968
Consequently, Dr. Henry Horak was added to the astronomy section of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Dr. Horak had graduated from KU in 1940 and, after service in the war, received his M.A. from KU in 1947, doing his thesis on Vector Methods Applied to the Theory of Orbits. This was followed by a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1950 on the subject of Diffuse Reflection by Planetary Atmospheresunder the direction of Dr. S. Chandrasekhar, later winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics.
With his more recent training in Astrophysics, Dr. Horak served as advisor to most of the master's candidates in Astronomy through the end of this degree program. (A partial list of many of the students to work under Dr. Horak and a discussion of their work is given in his linked history of the program.) In addition he was instrumental in procuring for the Pitt Telescope a double-slide plate-holder for use in direct photography and a measuring engine for the precise measurement of photographs and spectrograms. He later had built a photoelectric photometer and a replica-grating spectrograph for use with the Pitt Telescope. In addition he added various more up-to-date features to the driving mechanism of the telescope.
During the early sixties the number of astronomy students at KU, both undergraduate and graduate, increased greatly and, by 1965, the elementary class amounted to nearly two-hundred, and the M.A. candidates to about six. Also, the campus had become rather bright at night due to the increasing number of light sources, and consideration was given to moving the observatory. Furthermore, the Physics Department was due for a new department chairman; in 1966 Dr. David Beard, whose interests included the plasmas of comets and the solar corona, was chosen to replace Dr. Stranathan.
During the summer of 1966, Dr. Horak worked at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Boston, where Dr. Charles Lundquist, a KU alum, had become the assistant director. Due to increasing disenchantment with the university administration, expanding research interests, and rumors of a possible shutdown of the astronomy program, Dr. Horak decided to leave KU, announcing his resignation in 1968 after spending 6 months as a visiting staff member at Los Alamos. Dr. Horak remained at Los Alamos National Lab until he retired in October 1989.
Thomas P. Armstrong 1968 - 2003
In 1968, research in Space Physics expanded with the hire of Dr.Tom Armstrong, then completing a postdoc at the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority in Culham after finishing his Ph.D. thesis under David Montgomery at the University of Iowa. Armstrong's experimental/observational work provided an excellent complement to the theoretical work of Dr. Beard on space physics and Dr. Enoch on plasma physics. Tom Armstrong went on to supervise or cosupervise the Ph.D. theses of 30 students in Physics.
With Dr. Horak gone, responsibility for the entire astronomy program returned to Dr. Storer alone until his retirement in 1970. The position in astronomy was filled the same year by Dr. Peter Wehinger. Dr. Susan Wyckoff, his wife, having recently completed her Ph.D. at Indiana University, was given an adjunct appointment. Because of the situation at KU, they left the University within 2 years. At present, Dr. Wehinger is Development Officer for Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, while Dr. Wyckoff is a Professor Emeritus of Physics & Astronomy at Arizona State University, Tempe.
Stephen J.Shawl 1972 - 2008
The era populated by the current astronomy faculty at KU began in 1972 with the hire of Dr. Stephen Shawl, having recently completed his Ph.D. on Observations and Models of Polarization of Late Type Stars under the direction of Dr. Brian Warner at the University of Texas at Austin. Though the M.S. degree program at KU was dropped in 1974, the undergraduate options were expanded to include the B.S. The tradition of exceptionally high quality students remained in place at the undergraduate level. Courses in astronomy for non-science majors were taught by Dr. Shawl and a number of Physics faculty, though courses for the majors remained under the direction of Dr. Shawl.
John P. Davidson
During this time period, the Department instituted a summer camp in Astronomy for high school students that survived until the mid-80's, run primarily by Dr. Jack Davidson, making extensive use of the Tombaugh Observatory and its expanded facilities. These included 3 Celestron 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes and the 14-in Daus-Preston Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain, donated by the Daus-Preston family in 1979. The 8-inch telescopes were stored in Lindley Hall and transferred to fixed mounts on the roof when needed, while the 14-inch was housed on the roof in a roll-off dome obtained second-hand from Benedictine College. The entire complex officially became known as the Tombaugh Observatory in the early 80's.
Department Profile Rising: 1980s
Due to expanded enrollments in Astronomy through the 70's, it was decided that an additional astronomer was needed to handle the load. In 1982, Drs. Barbara J. Anthony-Twarog and Bruce Twarog were hired from the University of Texas at Austin to jointly share one position within the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Both had received their Ph.D.'s from Yale under the direction of Dr. Beatrice Tinsley, studying the white dwarf progenitor mass limit using open clusters (1981) and chemical evolution of the Galaxy (1980), respectively. Because of legal difficulties surrounding the option of joint tenure, the shared appointment was converted to two full-time positions in 1986.
Through the 80's, a variety of changes and improvements were instituted. Undergraduate research was expanded by obtaining on permanent loan a number of measuring engines useful for modest research projects, including a Mann two-coordinate precision measuring engine, a Grant 1-D measuring engine for photographic spectra, and a Cuffey iris astrophotometer, heavily used analyzing photographic plates of open clusters to produce color-magnitude diagrams for stellar populations studies. In 1987, these were replaced by a state-of-the-art I2S image-processing workstation for CCD analysis.
In related areas, the Department moved in a tangential but astrophysical direction in 1986, hiring a physicist and Enrico Fermi Fellow from the University of Chicago, Dr. Adrian Melott, a specialist in Cosmology, specifically computational modelling of the large-scale structure of the Universe. As a partial byproduct, the Master's program also saw an indirect form of resurrection with the institution of an M.S. degree in Computational Physics and Astrophysics in 1986. The first astronomically-oriented master's degree in almost 20 years was completed in 1989 by Tamara Whitacre (now Payne) under the direction of Dr. Anthony-Twarog. Mara went on to complete her Ph.D. in Astronomy at New Mexico State University.
An unprecedented event in the evolution of the program profile occurred in 1988 when KU, in cooperation with a number of smaller schools in the region, hosted a summer meeting of the AAS in Kansas City. Photos from this event and the AAS Council meeting can be accessed at the sites AASMeet and COUNCIL. A gathering of KU astronomy alumni also coincided with the time of the meeting, bringing together a large number of alumni from the previous 50 years of the program, including Clyde Tombaugh. Photos from this gathering are accessible at the site REUNION.
Within Space Physics, Dr. Tom Cravens from the University of Michigan joined Dr. Tom Armstrong in 1988, replacing Dr. Dave Beard who retired in 1987. Additions to the astronomy program in the 80's included two new courses, ASTR 291 (now ASTR 391), a Calculus-based survey class for science majors and engineers that has grown from 2 students to an average of 20, and ASTR/PHSX 593 (now 693) , a junior-senior level class in Cosmology. In the late 80's, the 6-inch Clark refractor was refurbished by the Astronomy Associates of Lawrence and a modern Ash dome was provided to house the scope on the west roof of Lindley Hall. Establishment of the Tombaugh Observatory Fund since the early 90's has provided an option for summer support for an undergraduate research intern.
Cosmological Expansion: 1990s
During this increasingly active period, the Cosmology group expanded steadily, adding Dr. Sergei Shandarin of Moscow State University on a permanent basis in 1991 and Dr. Hume Feldman of Princeton University in 1996.
During the 90's, the deteriorating conditions on the roof of Lindley Hall caused by expanded use of chemical vents, air conditioning units, and growing light pollution led to declining use of the facilities. With the need to shut down access to the roof for an extended length of time due to roofing repairs for the second time in 12 years, a decision was made to abandon the Lindley Hall site permanently in Fall 2001. With the dismantling of the Pitt Telescope and the small telescope mounts, the Clark refractor remains the sole astronomical occupant on the roof of Lindley Hall. For on-campus viewing, the smaller telescopes now operate from tripods on the observation deck at Memorial Stadium. The 27-inch mirror was given on permanent loan to the Northeast Kansas Amateur Astronomy League, which has used a NASA NEO grant to rebuild a modern CCD-equipped telescope at their Farpoint Observatory around this piece of KU history.
The New Millenium: 2000s
In Fall 2002, Dr. Misha Medvedev joined the faculty, bringing expanded expertise in the area of Plasma Astrophysics and supplying an invaluable transition for the retirement of Dr. Tom Armstrong in Spring 2003. As part of the extended 5-year plan within the department, the astronomers, cosmologists, and plasma/space physics faculty of the department officially agreed to cooperate together as the newly constituted Astronomy & Astrophysics Group at KU. Dr. Medvedev was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2006.
In Fall 2003, the century-old dream of the KU Astronomy Program, acquisition of access to a research-quality telescope, was partially fulfilled. With the funding support of the National Science Foundation and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences of KU, the astronomers at KU joined in a cooperative project with Aerospace Engineering at KU, the Astronomy programs of San Diego State University and Dartmouth College, and the private company, CMA, Inc. of Tucson, to build a 1m-class, research telescope. The ULTRA telescope was designed and built to test the promise of using lightweight composite materials in the construction of telescope mirrors, the optical tube assembly, and the drive system, leading to a reduction in the total weight of the system by an order of magnitude over conventional design. The telescope was designed to be operated over the Internet under joint supervision of KU and SDSU. The projected was completed in 2008 but, unfortunately, the mirror technology failed to achieve the goal of research quality optics when scale from 13-in scale to 1m. The decision was made in 2009 to use the redesigned mount and infrastructure to hold a classical glass optical system of 1.25m diameter. The MLO 1.25m telescope project purchased a mirror blank which was delivered in Dec. 2010. The contract for the telescope upgrade was awarded to ACE, Inc. of Tucson, with plans for first light on the new optical system near the end of 2012. For more details on how you can help make this project a reality, please see the MLO Brochure (pdf).
New directions related to astronomy and astrophysics in recent years include the addition of Dr. Danny Marfatia within Astroparticle Physics in Fall 2004 and the development of interdisciplinary research within Astrobiology headed primarily by Dr. Adrian Melott. Ongoing investigations include the effect of astrophysical phenomena, particularly supernovae and gamma-ray bursts, on the Earth's climate, with links to the past history of extinction events on Earth. Dr. Marfatia was promoted to Associate Professor in 2007.
The next critical transition in the program occurred in 2008. Professor Steve Shawl completed his 37th year as a faculty member in Physics and Astronomy, retiring to the much warmer climate of Tucson, and plenty of free time to hike and climb. The departure of Dr. Shawl was balanced by the addition of two new faculty in Astronomy, KU alumnus and astronaut, Dr. Steve Hawley joining the Department as a full professor and Dr. Greg Rudnick, an extragalactic observer, joining as an assistant professor. This marked the first time in the 125-year history of the program that the faculty included four full-time astronomers.Back to Top
1988 ASTRONOMY PROGRAM REUNION
With the 1988 Summer Meeting of the AAS taking place in Kansas City under the joint administration of KU and a number of smaller colleges in the region, it seemed an ideal time to bring KU astronomy program alumni together. Almost 20 graduates and friends gathered in Lawrence prior to the AAS meeting to visit and reminisce about the past, as well as contribute suggestions and goals for the future. A brunch was held in downtown Lawrence and below are few of the photos taken at that gathering, as well as some during the visit on campus.
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A Brief History of Astronomy at KU to 1968 by Prof. N. Wyman Storer
Astronomy has been taught at the University for more than 80 years. The 6-inch Alvin Clark refractor, which is still in use for classes and occasional public nights, was purchased new for $1,000 and arrived on the campus on October 20, 1885. It was in use two nights later, according to the student paper.
The earliest University catalog available, that for 1887-88, lists two courses that were offered: Descriptive Astronomy and Practical Astronomy, the latter primarily for engineers. These were taught for three years by Mr. M. S. Franklin, an Assistant in Physics and Astronomy. In 1890 these were taken over by Prof. Ephraim Miller of the Department of Mathematics, which the next year became the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy and so remained until 1910. During this period Celestial Mechanics was added as a graduate course also taught by Prof. Miller. In 1910, a year after the arrival of Dr. F.E. Kester as chairman of the Physics Department, this became the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and during the first year the above three courses plus an Introduction to Astrophysics were taught by Prof. M.E. Rice. The next year they were offered by an unnamed instructor. In 1912 the curriculum was expanded considerably under the guidance of Dr. R.K. Young to include a semester of the Observational Astronomy, two semesters of General Astronomy, a course in Theoretical Astronomy and one in Practical Computing. For the next two years these were taken over by a Dr. Cornelius and then, from 1915 to 1917, they were taught by Dr. Ellis B. Stouffer.
In the fall of 1917, Dr. Dinsmore Alter was appointed to the faculty at KU but was granted leave of absence for two years of military service with the rank of colonel. On his return, the number of courses offered was further expanded to include the History of Astronomy, Method of Least Squares, Theory of Interpolation, Vector Analysis and Vector Mechanics, and the Calculation of Orbits and Perturbations - all apparently offered by Alter. These remained substantially unchanged until his leave-of-absence in 1935 and resignation in 1936 to become director of the Griffith Observatory and Planetariums in Los Angeles.
The facilities for Astronomy were greatly improved during Dr. Alter's regime. The 6-inch refractor, which up to this time had to be carried out-of-doors and set up on a tripod to be used, was now given a permanently based equatorial mounting in a separate building with a rotating conical roof over it. In the same building were a sizable classroom, an office, a library and a transit room housing both 3-in. and 2-in. transit instruments. A spectroscope was also acquired to be attached to the 6-in. telescope. The frame structure holding all these was originally on the spot were Hoch Auditorium now stands but, in 1926, it was moved bodily to a position west of Marvin Hall but east of the present position of Lindley Hall, not built until 1941 or '42. That observatory building was taken down in the fall of 1944 when the observatory was moved to the roof of Lindley Hall.
In the late 1920's, Dr. Alter had enlisted the cooperation of several persons in the design and construction of a 27-inch reflecting telescope, originally planned for the photographic following of the motions of asteroids. Mr. William Pitt of Kansas city with Dr. Alter's help did all of the work of grinding and polishing the mirror to a high degree of excellence. The mechanical parts were designed and the construction supervised by a few of the staff and advanced students in the School of Engineering and Architecture, notably Prof. George Hood and his son Manley. The older observatory building was enlarged to include a housing for this telescope, for some years the largest in the mid-west.
In 1935, Dr. N.W. Storer was given a temporary appointment during Dr. Alter's leave, and this was made permanent upon the latter's resignation. At this time, the curriculum was modified only to the extent of a few changes in the courses in which various topics were to be covered and the dropping of those (except Least Squares) which were not directly related to astronomy. The operation of the Pitt telescope was improved by the construction, at the base of the rotating conical roof, of a floor that gave ready access to the upper business end of the telescope. This made it possible, in 1938-39, for the first graduate student to earn his M.A. degree using the William Pitt Telescope as it was named on the occasion of its formal dedication on February 17, 1939.
But within two years after this it became necessary for Dr. Storer to devote much of his time to the teaching of Physics, Trigonometry, and Celestial Navigation to various military units. Upon the demolition of the old observatory building in the fall of 1944, the 6-inch refractor was moved to a new structure on the roof of Lindley Hall, and the Pitt Telescope was placed in storage. Storer designed the new structure so that housing for the transit instrument and the Pitt Telescope could be added to it later. These additions were finally completed in 1951-52 and included, beside the transit room and circular room for the Pitt Telescope, two small offices for the use of advanced students, a small shop and a photographic dark-room. Shortly after the war, Storer was asked to organize and teach a course called The Principles of Physical Science, a 5-hour course that was then taught by him every semester from the fall of 1948 to thee spring of 1967. It was soon clear that he could not handle that and at the same time teach the courses in Astronomy needed for both an undergraduate major and a master's program.
Consequently, Dr. Henry Horak, who had graduated here in 1940 and after service in the war had received his M.A. here in 1947, followed by a Ph.D. from Chicago in 1950, was added to the astronomy section of the department. With this more recent training in Astrophysics, he has guided most of the master's candidates up to the present time. In addition he was instrumental in procuring for the Pitt Telescope a double-slide plate-holder for use in direct photography and a measuring engine for the extremely precise measurement of photographs and spectrograms. He later had built a photoelectric photometer and a replica-grating spectrograph for use with the Pitt Telescope. In addition he added various more up-to-date features to the driving mechanism of the telescope. Mention should be made of the facilities in the main building - on the roof level with ready access to the telescopes. There are two small but adequate offices and a classroom in which small advanced classes are held. This room also serves as the main part of our library. The equipment kept in it consists of two marine chronometers and a chronograph and sidereal clock, the last two being connected electrically to all three of the telescopes.
An exact count of those who have majored in Astronomy as undergraduates would be difficult to compile. (A major in Astronomy was first mentioned in the catalog of 1912-13.) But since most of those who have majored as undergraduates have remained to earn M.A. degrees, a list of these will give a fair idea of the types of work done here. (Updated 2004)
- 1922 Bibliography of Sun-Spots - L.C. Bagby
- 1923 Orbit of Spectroscopic Binary, 12 Monocertis - C.T. Elvey
- 1927 Orbit of Asteroid, Y.O. 24 - Dolores Poland
- 1933 Periodogram Analysis of Rainfall - D.P. Johnson
- 1933 Periodogram Analysis of Rainfall - (Dr.) E.J. Prouse
- 1937 Orbit of Asteroid 1935 - P.A. Virginia Brenton
- 1938 Some Studies in Planetary Photography - James B. Edson
- 1939 Observational Performance of the Pitt Telescope - Clyde W. Tombaugh
- 1947 Vector Methods Applied to the Theory of Orbits - Henry G. Horak
- 1951 Study of R V Tauri Type Variables - Robert R. Brownlee
- 1956 A Study of Eclipsing Variable Stars - Robert L. Talley
- 1957 Study of the Motion of an Artificial Earth-satellite - Robert S. Sprague
- 1962 Direction of Time and the Equivalence of Expanding and Contracting World Models - Donald L. Schumacher
- 1964 Calculation of Reflection from Planetary Atmospheres - Stephen J. Little
- 1964 The Machine Computation of Spectroscopic Binary Orbits – Robert H. Wolfe, Jr.
- 1965 The Study of the Grating Spectrograph on the 27-inch William Pitt Telescope - Edwin S. Barker
- 1965 Atlas of Different Types of Stellar Spectra Compiled with KU Spectrograph - Paul Frank Younger
- 1965 The Design and Application of a Hybrid Multicolor Photometer System - William G. Galinaitis
- 1966 Photoelectric Photometry of the Lunar Surface - Theodore V. Smith
- 1967 A Study of Galaxy Groups and of Their Member Galaxies – Harold G. Corwin
- 1967 Multiple Periodicities of the Delta Scuti Stars - Louis Wayne Fullerton
- 1967 Stellar Structure and Evolution - Mark A. Stull
- 1968 A Study of the Probabilities of Encounters of Stars in Clusters - Jack G. Hills
- 1968 On Hansen's Methods for Absolute Perturbations - Maxwell T. Sandford, II
- 1968 Woodman, Jerry H.
- 1970 Sion, Edward M.
- 1989 Broad-Band CCD Photometry of the Open Cluster, NGC 3293 – Tamara (Whitacre) Payne (Computational Physics & Astronomy)
- 1989 CCD Stromgren Photometry of the Main Sequence Of Omega Cen – Krishna Mukherjee (Physics)
- 2004 Delora Tanner (Computational Physics & Astronomy)
- 2004 Misty Cracraft (Computational Physics & Astronomy)
1954 Dr. Horak chaired the committee in charge of the work toward a Ph.D. of Charles Arthur Lundquist. Thesis subject: "Application of the Invariance Principle Method to Layers Containing Sources"
1962 Dr. Horak chaired the committee in charge of the work toward a Ph.D. of John Joseph Walton. Thesis subject: "The Capillary Instability of Fluid Cylinders"
In 1935, when I first came to KU, the enrollment was usually around 40 or 50 in the elementary course and rarely more than two or three in the more advanced courses when they were offered. There were few semesters at first when I did not teach four courses. The enrollments have grown, recently with explosive speed, to the point where the enrollment in the elementary course has averaged about 200 during the last four semesters. The second semester course, Astronomy 192 had about 35 students last spring - 50% larger than ever before. Likewise, the first semester of Practical Astronomy, course 181, started out with 17 students - nearly twice what it ever was before. The same is true of course 188 that is now being taught to two graduate students, six senior majors and two junior majors. These, along with the number of Master's degrees awarded last summer, are all records.
N. Wyman Storer, Professor
Spring of 1968Back to Top
Mid-twentieth-century Astronomy at the University of Kansas
(By former KU Prof. Horak, 1998)
I began writing this mini-history at the request of Dr. Steve Shawl, who is now the senior astronomer at Kansas University. The intention was to compile a short summary of the activities of the K.U. Astronomy Department and its students during the mid-twentieth century, from about 1935 when Dr. Storer joined the faculty, through World War II, and from 1950 through 1967, when I was also a member of the faculty. I left K.U. in late 1967 to join the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico, where I retired in 1989. It appeared at first sight a simple enough task to write a short mini-history, but it soon became apparent that I required more data than my memory could alone provide; after all, I'm 79 years old, and it has been thirty-one years since I taught my last class at K.U. But on second thought, there were modern techniques that I might utilize, namely, e-mail and the internet, both accessible via my computer. So, I compiled a name list of fifteen or so former graduate students, and sent them e-mail messages at their addresses given, for the most part, in the 1997 Membership Directory of the American Astronomical Society. The response was very encouraging; so much so, that I felt obligated to expand the original mini-history into a more substantial document describing some further adventures of these same students after they left K.U. Writing such a quasi-historical document is quite different from putting together the kind of technical paper with which I was familiar, and I often struggled with the wording. Furthermore I could foresee that problems of information accuracy were going to arise that might not be readily solved; therefore, I sent to each of my respondents a short list of questions to which, fortunately, they all replied, again proving "If you want answers, go to a busy person." It was then possible for me to write out several paragraphs for each former student comprised of a sort of melding of his information with my own notes and memories. Often I was able to quote directly from him. In this fashion I was able to proceed without worrying too much about accuracy, although the dates of events still gave some trouble.
The late Dr. Storer did not keep a diary or journal to which I had access, but his daughter, Esther, provided me some information about his early education and that of his wife, Mary. I also wish to thank Dr. Maxwell T. Sandford for reading a first version of this mini-history and making useful comments. The resulting document is rather technical in its "jargon" sometimes, but I couldn't avoid this, and so I apologize in advance to the friendly reader.
My Family and My Early Years in Kansas City
I am a typical American: my father, Henry Robert Horak, was born in Munden, KS, of Czech origin ('horák' means 'mountaineer' in that language), while my mother Leota Leigh (née Gromer) came from Pattonsburg, MO, of German, English, Scotch-Irish descent. They met while attending Kansas State Agricultural College (now called Kansas State University), and were married in 1918. My father received his degree in architecture. Since K.S.A.C. was a 'land grant' college, all students were required to take military training, and my father eventually became the Cadet Colonel of his class. I presently have his silver-plated saber that he won in a competition for "best drilled cadet." When the U.S. entered World War I, he volunteered and served as an infantry Company Commander on the western front in France. He was wounded twice. I was born on March 26, 1919 while he was overseas, and he first saw me when I was 6-months old. My mother received her degree in home economics. She was very pretty and had long auburn hair (she kept a four-foot braid of it in her cedar chest for many years); she also had quite a temper, and I learned to be tactful at an early age. She taught me and my brother Robert Joseph (three and a half years younger than I) everything that she and dad believed to be worthwhile, especially the rules of ethical behavior. And, somehow, she was always home when we needed her.
In the early 1920's our parents bought a house in Kansas City, MO, some four blocks south of Muehlbach Field, the home of the Kansas City Blues baseball team, and we were introduced to that game when quite young. We attended Irving School (1100 students), and then went to Central High School (2200 students) where I graduated in 1936. My brother followed me of course, three years behind. I was much more physically oriented than he was, and participated in sports, especially baseball, soccer and field events. When I was a sophomore in high school, I could broad-jump twenty feet, which greatly surprised the gym teacher. He urged me to join the track team, but I was more interested in chess at the time. However I returned to baseball at the age of seventeen, and played center field for the Milgram team in the Ban Johnson League. We won a couple of league championships. Actually, I had more natural talent in baseball than anything else I did, and had visions of making it to the major leagues someday.
My first exposure to an astronomy problem arose when I was five years old and visiting my maternal grandfather, George Gromer, in Pattonsburg. He and a neighbor, Henry Green, were having a loud argument about whether the moon was the size of a bushel basket, as the neighbor thought, or the size of an apple, as my grandfather thought. I remember worrying about the problem. It was much later that I learned how to solve it. The problem merely has to be posed properly, namely, at what distance from the eye does an apple, or other object, have to be placed such that it subtends the same angle as that subtended by the moon? For a 3-in. diameter apple the distance then amounts to about 28.5- ft. Of course, as every astronomer is aware, the most common type of mistake to be found in UFO (unidentified flying object) sightings has to do with the estimate of the size of an object, or alternatively its distance. However, my grandfather had only attended elementary school, and never learned much about science or mathematics, but nevertheless became a very capable farmer owning several farms and a partnership in a lumber yard. He even taught me to compute 'board feet,' but got irritated when I didn't get the results fast enough; unfortunately I never did learn to perform mental arithmetic operations quickly.
He also must have had a misplaced confidence in me, for he taught me (age 5) to drive his Model-T Ford (handling the three foot-pedals was tricky); once I ended up stopping just one foot from a substantial tree-trunk, and another time I barely crossed the track safely in front of a fast moving steam locomotive (he was in the passenger's seat both times, and the emergency brake was on my left!).
He read a lot and had collected a large library on all kinds of subjects. Whenever I visited him, he used to tell me the Tarzan stories at bedtime. When I attained to about ten years or so, I could read on my own, and got interested in science fiction and eventually astronomy by reading the fiction books in his library written about Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This interest was reinforced by my sixth grade teacher at the Irving School, the late Miss Lola Coffey, who encouraged me to read nature books.
Incidentally, my grandfather must have been a master croquet player; he told me that he had once gone eleven consecutive times around the croquet course, and the other players then gave up (resigned) having only played their initial shots. His theory about winning was simple: let the other contestants play first!
My grandmother, Annie, lived near us in Kansas City, and I visited her very frequently. I only saw my paternal grandparents (Joseph and Agnes) rarely, since they lived in Munden, KS. This was about a two-hundred mile trip via country roads, which became nearly impassable in rainy conditions.
My Undergraduate Years
My first two years in college were spent at the Kansas City Missouri Junior College where I studied engineering. In order to major in astronomy I then enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts at K.U. This was the autumn of 1938, the nation still floundered in the depression, and the student population numbered only about 4000. The in-state tuition was about $30 per semester, though the out-of-state tuition was much more. My brother joined me as a student in my senior year and studied electrical engineering. He graduated in 1943, and shortly thereafter joined General Electric in New York to work on the Manhattan Project.
The K.U. Observatory was located in a frame building on the extreme west side of the campus, and it housed the 27-inch William Pitt reflector, the 6-inch Clark refractor and a small aperture (3-inch) high quality transit instrument. Dr. Norman Wyman Storer (called Wyman by his friends) was the only astronomer on the faculty, and had held that position since 1935, replacing Dr. Dinsmore Alter who had become the director of the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles, California. Storerhad obtained his Ph.D. from the University of California in 1928, and his observational-type thesis, devoted to the photographic photometry of stars, was carried out at the Lick Observatory, Mount Hamilton, CA. His Ph.D. adviser was Dr. Trumpler, the famous Swiss astronomer. His undergraduate major was in chemistry (B.A. 1923), and it was in graduate school that he first studied astronomy; his M.A. thesis from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, concerned stellar parallax determination (1925). His wife, Mary, was a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College, MA, with a major in psychology (B.A. 1925); they were married shortly after he received his Ph.D. They had three children, Norman William, Esther Jean and David Wyman. Dr. Storer and Mary were caught up in the depression of the thirties, and his first steady job was the professorship at K.U. which he held until he retired in 1970.
I first met Dr.Storer on the enrollment floor (Robinson Gymnasium); he suggested that I enroll only in one astronomy course, Practical Astronomy, because I had to make up so many hours of liberal arts courses. It turned out that Richard Gage, a Physics major, also enrolled in the class. There was a bonus for us, however, since Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of the planet Pluto, was completing his studies for the M.A., and we would get to know him quite well. As part of his thesis, he was evaluating the performance of the Pitt reflector; in fact the day I first met him he was fitting a Hartmann diaphragm onto the telescope for this purpose.
Sometime during the school year Clyde and I worked together computing the circumstances of a partial solar eclipse due to be visible in Lawrence, and Dr. Storer also did his own independent calculations. We then timed the contacts using the Clark refractor in the projection mode, but the predicted times differed from the observed by an uncomfortable number of seconds; this naturally gave rise to discussions, and the tentative conclusion we reached was that the earth's rotation rate was slowing down. I recall that Dr. Storer phoned the Naval Observatory and reviewed our results with them. Little did we know then that the art of time keeping was going to be tremendously improved in just a few decades by the application of the cesium resonator, resulting in the atomic clock with an accuracy of 1 second in about 300,000 years!
Dr. Storer was always friendly, helpful, and had a very penetrating intellect. Since there were so few advanced astronomy students on the campus, I enjoyed the unique opportunity to discuss many topics with him on an individual basis. His lectures were well prepared and interesting. As a teaching device he would on occasion bring into the conversation some misconception that, for example, an author had displayed in a textbook. He kept a list of such mistakes he had found, and sometimes would phone the author and discuss a salient point. He also had a good sense of humor, which would occasionally appear as a surprise, such as his remark "Astrology is Taurus." The whole subject of astrology amused him, but he would get upset when someone took the subject seriously. He told me that one day, a gentleman appeared and wanted to know how to use the Nautical Almanac to find the positions of planets. After receiving the explanation the man said rather apologetically that he was an astrologer and offered Storer some money for his trouble. Storer politely declined, but also stated, at no charge, his opinion of astrology.
Dr. Storer was unusually adept in carrying out the often lengthy calculations required to solve astronomy problems, and even admitted that he enjoyed doing such work. In those days it was usual to use six-place logarithms, and therefore the various formulas had to be first modified into the form of products and quotients. I didn't particularly enjoy such manipulation, but unfortunately there was no escape. Much later in the 1960's calculation methods would change drastically!
In any event I survived my junior year, and also Clyde Tombaugh got his degree. In my senior year I was able to take enough astronomy courses to complete my major, and get the B.A.; also I played baseball (pitcher and outfielder) on the varsity team, which disappointed Storer somewhat. However, there was also another interlude in my coursework, for an annular eclipse of the sun was predicted to occur on April 7, 1940 that would be a complete ring as viewed from southern Texas. Dr.Storer suggested that we go on an eclipse ``expedition,'' which we did to Conroe, Texas (just north of Houston). Two others accompanied us, a graduate student in physics, Mr. W. Bush, and Dr. Storer's former student-colleague, Dr.Mendenhall, who was on the faculty of Oklahoma A&M University. We made the trip in Storer's 1936 Pontiac, and it rained incessantly. The 6-inch Clark objective was to be used, which we carefully packed and took with us, but a special wooden mounting had been built just for the eclipse and had been shipped ahead. Permission had been granted to use the tennis court of a high school as the observation platform. Fortunately for us, the sky cleared at the very beginning of the eclipse and remained clear throughout all the important phases. Dr. Storer, who did the lion's share of the work, got a complete set of photographs taken on glass plates. Then the sky clouded over again! When we returned to Lawrence, Storer developed the plates himself, and it turned out that the exposures were indeed excellent.
My Service in the Military
After graduation (June, 1940) there were very few jobs available; I took a lengthy written exam for the position of Junior Astronomer at the Naval Observatory, but only placed third. So I played baseball for Denver of the Western League; however, I was soon drafted into the army (August 18, 1941--this is the kind of date one easily remembers), and sent to the Field Artillery. I took my basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma as a member of an instrument and survey battery; the work was actually very interesting, though I realized the seriousness of it. Astronomers are very useful in the artillery, because they know practical astronomy, can do surveying, and are acquainted with trajectories. However the Air Force began to advertise various cadet training programs, and I applied for the one in meteorology. In the meantime Pearl Harbor was attacked; in fact I was on K.P. duty the morning of December 7, 1941. Shortly thereafter I was transferred to the Headquarters Battery of the 33rd Division, an Illinois National Guard outfit stationed at Camp Forrest, TN, with members mainly from Chicago. I recall that we went on some maneuvers that took place in wintry conditions at a field artillery range located on mountainous terrain covered with felled trees. Conditions were hardly propitious to do anything other than stand around freezing our feet!
My transfer to the Air Force arrived shortly after we returned from the so-called maneuvers, and I was sent to U.C.L.A.(March 16 to November 30, 1942), where some 80 of us cadets spent our time in Meteorology Class III learning the art of forecasting. I was told later in a letter from a former artillery comrade that the 33rd Division had joined the Allied army that invaded Africa and fought against Rommel's Afrika Korps.
It so happened that several of our meteorology professors were from Norway, having escaped the Nazi invasion of their land, and included Jacob Bjerknes, who had invented the frontal analysis method regularly used for forecasting purposes on all weather maps, and Jörgen Holmboe, who gave beautiful lectures on dynamic meteorology. Holmboe used vector analysis throughout, and I vowed to master it. Eventually most of us emerged as second lieutenants, and then were scattered to the four winds. In my case I first spent five months at the Topeka (KS) Army Air Base. The training that we had received at U.C.L.A. did not adequately prepare us for the realities of practical forecasting insofar as aircraft were concerned, especially for a locale like Topeka that can experience quite violent weather and dangerous icing conditions. However, as Winston Churchill said: "Play the game for keeps and you learn to play the game!" Our generation grew up quickly.
Early in 1943 I was sent overseas to England, and spent most of the next three and a half years there as a weather officer for the 384th Bomb Group (B-17's) that was based at Grafton-Underwood, near Kettering. Eventually I became Captain in charge of the base weather station. Our combat crews flew over 300 missions, and suffered numerous casualties: of the 65 original crews (ten men each) only three or four were not shot down, though several crew-members returned safely after evading the enemy with the help of the "underground."
The very first mission I was involved in as a Weather Officer was to Schweinfurt, and five aircraft out of the eighteen furnished by our group were shot down (by the end of the war our group would be able to contribute as many as fifty aircraft per mission). The weather in England was very often difficult to forecast accurately, which put great strain on everybody, including weather personnel, the Flying Control Officer and especially the Group Commander (a full colonel). It must be remembered, too, that radar units were not commonly placed aboard airplanes. Very exciting episodes could occur during takeoff (when the aircraft were heavy with bombs, fuel and 50-caliber ammunition), or landing (when fuel tanks were practically empty), not to mention when the B17 formation was over enemy territory contending with Nazi flak and fighters. It always astonished me that young men in their early twenties could be so capable and responsible!
Our base was fairly close to Cambridge, and on a couple of occasions I visited Trinity College. I was even invited to eat at the faculty "high" table (it was set up on a platform elevated about six inches above the general level of the floor). This table was quite long, extending the width of the dining room. I sat adjacent to the acting Headmaster, a history professor, who was seated at the very end, and Sir F.W. Aston, the inventor of the mass spectrograph, at my left. He was a Nobel Prize winner, but that didn't pose any difficulties in conversing, because he was very friendly and knew more about the United States than I did. The main course for the dinner was hotly spiced curried rice, and it must be pointed out that the civilians were necessarily subjected to severe food rationing; we in the military were given ration coupons to use whenever we travelled away from our base. The primary topic of conversation happened to be Thomas Carlyle, the famous Scottish essayist and historian, and the professors knew all about him in surprising detail. Dr.Aston pointed out to me Sir Arthur Eddington, who was seated at the far end of the table. The latter was working hard on a book which he called Fundamental Theory, and was too busy to see visitors, but later I was able to meet his sister, who was also his secretary. She was very tiny, I remember, and patiently answered my several questions.
I must mention that Dr. Storer spent the war years teaching celestial navigation to military personnel, in addition to his usual courses, and even spent some time working at the Hercules Powder Plant located east of Lawrence; Clyde Tombaugh, on the other hand, was at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico designing and using optics to follow rocket flights.
My Graduate Study in Astronomy after the War
I returned to the U.S. in time for Christmas, 1945; then, with Dr. Storer's blessing, entered the Graduate School program in Astronomy for the spring semester. The university was filled to overflowing with returning veterans making use of the "G.I.Bill." The Mathematics Department was especially in dire need of instructors, and I was pressed into part-time teaching of algebra and trigonometry. Dr.H.B.Smith was the chairman of the department, and some of the students told me that the "H.B." stood for "hard boiled." Admittedly he would accept no nonsense or dishonesty from students (in this latter connection Dr.Brewster, the chairman of the Chemistry Department, and neighbor of the Storers, declared to me that "Some of the students are so crooked they have to screw their shoes on every morning!"), however, in working for Dr.Smith I found out that he had the best interests of the students at heart.
Dr.Max Dresden was a new member of the Physics Department in 1946, and taught a number of courses on theoretical physics; while I was writing this, the notice of his death on October 29,1997 appeared in Physics Today, June 1998, p. 90, where it is stated that he had been the thesis adviser to more than sixty Ph.D. students (this is truly a remarkable accomplishment). Without doubt he gave the best lectures in physics that I was ever privileged to attend, and I took quite a few of his courses the next two years. I had hoped to take relativity, but it wasn't offered in those years, so instead enrolled in differential geometry and tensor analysis from Dr.P.O.Bell of the Mathematics Department. Also, I took orbit computation (of an asteroid or comet) from Dr. Storer, and started to compute my first orbit. We used a textbook by Dr.R.T.Crawford that was saturated with trigonometric transformations, and of course we performed the calculations using logarithms. I was able to follow the formulas, but had difficulty with the logic behind them. During the summer I did some sober thinking, and decided to apply vector analysis. Things started making sense, and fairly soon I acquired an active rather than a passive understanding of the basic concepts. This, in turn, led to my M.A. thesis on Vector Methods Applied to the Theory of Orbits, which I completed the following school year. It also became possible for me to calculate an orbit in about six to eight hours (this was speedy for those days), and I calculated three orbits as examples to be included in the thesis. While I admit that some of this speed could be attributed to my new understanding of the subject, yet most was caused by my being able to use the new Monroe mechanical calculator that Dr. Storer had acquired via the Physics Department (it cost $1500; quite expensive for those days). I cheerfully abandoned logarithms as my main calculation tool.
I passed my final oral exam in August of 1947, and then applied for entrance to the graduate school of the University of Chicago, Department of Astronomy. Dr.Gerard P.Kuiper, associate director of the Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, Wisconsin, responded with an optimistic reply to my application, and I was enrolled for the fall quarter. The entire staff of the observatory, including faculty and students, resided in Williams Bay, and it was rarely necessary to visit the university campus in Chicago.
The astronomy faculty consisted of Otto Struve (Director of the Yerkes and McDonald Observatories), G. P. Kuiper, S. Chandrasekhar (in charge of students), G. Münch, A. B. Meinel, W. W. Morgan, W. A. Hiltner, T. L. Page, J. L. Greenstein, W. P. Bidelman, Kaj Strand, G. Herzberg, Van Biesbroeck (Prof. Emeritus); also, Jan Oort, Van de Hulst, and A.Blaauw were visiting professors from the Netherlands, and B.Strömgren (Director of the Copenhagen Observatory) from Denmark. This was a high-powered faculty indeed! Later in 1971 Herzberg would win the Nobel prize in chemistry, while in 1983 Chandrasekhar would share the Nobel prize in physics with W.Fowler. In addition there were a number of high caliber visitors from time to time, and it must not be forgotten that there were three post-docs, Glenn Hall, Marjorie Harrison and John Phillips. Finally, there were fourteen graduate students enrolled for that quarter: Henry Chun, Art Code, Douglas Duke, Frank Edmonds, Robert Hardie, Dan Harris, Henry Horak, Su Shu Huang, Narahari Rao, Nancy Roman, Arne Slettebak, Ann Underhill, Marvin White, Marshall Wrubel. There were also many support personnel, for such things as maintenance, secretarial, optical and mechanical construction, etc. For more information a history of the Yerkes Observatory from 1892 until 1950 was published in 1997, the year of its centennial (Yerkes Observatory, 1892-1950, Donald E.Osterbrock, University of Chicago Press / Chicago and London; Dr.Osterbrock became a student at Yerkes the same year that I was taking my finals there).
It is my opinion that Dr.Struve was the best director that Yerkes Observatory ever had. He not only possessed a strong character that enabled him to be a capable administrator, but also he carried out extensive research himself; in his lifetime he published close to a thousand papers. On top of all this he edited the Astrophysical Journal(commonly referred to as the Ap.J.).
The astronomy graduate curriculum consisted of a two year cycle of courses plus another year devoted to the thesis. Chandrasekhar (called Chandra by his friends) taught one course each quarter, and his lectures were very well thought out and presented. I never saw anyone who could write so fast on the blackboard, and it was difficult to keep up with him; needless to say we didn't have audio recorders or video-cameras. The other faculty members taught courses perhaps once a year or two. Kuiper also gave well organized lectures, as did Struve, but Struve covered a voluminous amount of material very rapidly. Fortunately we had access to a very good technical library in the observatory where we could study many of the original articles and references, but much time could be spent in such pursuits, since there were no copying machines in those days. We took two or three courses each quarter, depending on what subjects were offered, and tried to do a little research on the side. Colloquia were given every Monday afternoon, and kept everyone alert to the most recent investigations.
Chandra was the first theoretician to be hired anywhere in the U.S. as an observatory staff member; the original thought to do this came from Struve, and he was able to obtain the necessary backing from Chancellor R.M.Hutchins. Struve explained to me that the Ap.J. had lost considerable prestige when it had turned down the publication of Saha's important theoretical papers on ionization and excitation (this was prior to Struve being the editor). I would guess that Struve, realizing that the content of astrophysics was changing rapidly, felt the need, particularly as editor, to get advice from time to time from a capable theoretician. Later in 1952 Chandra himself became editor of theAp.J.
I had first become acquainted with the name Chandrasekhar (`one who holds up the moon') when I was a meteorology cadet during the war, and portions of his book on stellar structure were required reading. Chandra turned out to be a very stern taskmaster, and didn't want to be bothered with anything trivial. I remember that he interviewed me carefully when I first arrived at Yerkes and even read my M.A. thesis which I left with him. Later he asked me why I had not published it, and thought I should do so; however I never seemed able to find the time.
Chandra's research in the late 1940's concerned the diffuse scattering and transmission of light, and he was writing paper XXII on this subject for publication in the Ap.J. Since I wanted to do a theoretical thesis, it was quite natural for me to get involved in the same subject. He suggested that I work on a radiative transfer problem that involved applying a procedure due to the mathematician Erdelyi for inverting the Laplace transform, but it turned out that the method required too many significant figures to be practical. One advantage of having Chandra as one's thesis adviser was that he never lacked problems of the appropriate order of difficulty for graduate students; so he next suggested that I apply his theoretical results to the available data for planetary reflection, including the polarization. This was not so easy, for a number of reasons that I'll not go into here, and much calculating was required (I used a Marchant mechanical calculator). In broad outline I was following a paper of Gerasimovic, who had been one of Struve's professors many years previously in Russia.
I stayed out of Chandra's way, and worked by myself. I spent much time comparing my results with those given by Gerasimovic for similar scattering laws; there was poor agreement, and I worried a lot about this, although I didn't have confidence in the Russian's use of Eddington-factors for scattering problems (the Eddington-factor scheme was not a genuine approximation method, because it lacked a convergence mechanism). Also, I had completed some comparisons of Venus photometric data with calculations using some of Chandra's more precise formulas. Eventually Chandra wondered what had happened to me, and called me into his office. I showed him my many comparisons, but I didn't really know what to expect. He looked over the graphs and numbers, asking various questions. Then to my relief he expressed satisfaction, saying that my disagreement with Gerasimovic's results was to be expected. Of course it was realized that I still had much work to do in comparing theory with observations, and he wanted me to continue. After this, his attitude towards me became much more friendly and positive, and I in turn learned to appreciate him better. Eventually, after about a year's work, I completed my thesis (Diffuse Reflection by Planetary Atmospheres, Ap.J. 112, 445, 1950).
It was then necessary to pass two oral examinations. The comprehensive exam was quite stressful, since it wasn't exactly a pleasant experience to stand in front of seven or eight of the best professors on the planet who can question you about anything in the universe! By comparison the thesis oral was a pleasant walk in the park! I received the Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics at the end of the summer quarter, 1950.
During my last year of graduate study I was fortunate to be Struve's graduate assistant, which was an education to me in itself. I primarily assisted him by measuring spectroscopic plates of binaries, calculating orbital elements, etc. Also, he was working on his book Stellar Evolution, and I prepared some things for that. Previously, in 1948, I had married one of Struve's assistants, Gertrude Peterson, who along with Alice Johnson and Margaret Phillips (Struve's secretary) helped Struve prepare papers for publication. Gertrude and I have been married fifty years as of 1998, and have three children: Henry Louis (49), Karl Emanuel (45) and Paul David (42).
Storer and I become Colleagues
While I was completing my thesis at Chicago (1949-50), Dr. Storer acquired too many students to handle alone, and wrote me a letter asking if I might be interested in a position with him at K.U. Eventually, after the usual type of negotiation, Dr. Stranathan, the chairman of the Physics and Astronomy department, sent me an offer which I accepted. In retrospect I should have been a more aggressive negotiator, but I especially looked forward to working with Dr. Storer. I began my work there in September, 1950.
It had been agreed when I was hired that several auxiliary pieces of equipment for the 27-inch reflector would be designed and purchased. It was clear that a Newtonian secondary mirror was needed, together with a double-slide plate-holder, two-dimensional measuring machine, photoelectric photometer and spectrograph; I started to work acquiring these items, since several of them could be obtained from the Yerkes Observatory. Furthermore, Dr.Meinel had recently designed and constructed a photometer for the Yerkes 24-inch reflector, and gave me some excellent advice about the optical design, while Dr.Ross (retired from Yerkes) was willing to design a blazed-grating spectrograph for us and oversee its construction. This whole process took several years; in particular the photometer required more construction time than expected, which is not surprising because one is combining optical and electronic systems; at least I found out why astronomers who use photoelectric equipment spend more time revising their equipment than observing.
The observatory had just been moved to the roof top of the newly erected Lindley Hall, which housed the departments of Geology and Petroleum Engineering. I suspect that the motivation for moving was the wood-frame construction of the observatory, which admittedly was inconsistent in appearance with that of the other campus buildings. Dr. Storer had supervised all of this moving, which also included much construction detail and adding extra concrete support for the Lindley Hall roof. The new location was not ideal, since expected expansion of the campus might create serious light pollution; indeed, the addition of the Allen Field House, parking lots, housing facilities, etc., occurred soon thereafter. But finding the existence of a better site and then obtaining the related finances for a move to the country were things only to be dreamt about (much later we even investigated the possibility of using an abandoned Atlas-rocket launch site). The primary objection to the new location, from my point of view, was that the astronomy library had to be divided with many of the books placed in the stacks of the main library, a couple of blocks away. If one couples this to parking problems, meetings elsewhere on the campus, etc., it is obvious that I had to do a lot of walking and stair climbing in all kinds of weather!
My First Astronomy Classes: Robert Brownlee and R Scuti
I remember the very first day (September, 1950) that I taught the elementary course in descriptive astronomy, known formally as Descriptive Astronomy 12. The class numbered about thirty. Such a course is not easy to teach (especially the first time), because the concepts are quite new to most of the students; another part of the difficulty is clarifying old ideas that are imperfectly understood. My first astronomy question posed to the class was simply: "Which way is 'up'?" As I recall, none of the students could answer that question correctly; I'm sure this irritated some of them, because of the implication that "they were so dumb that they didn't know which way was up!" Thereafter I used this same question to commence every beginning class that I taught.
During that year I also taught Orbit Computation and Astrophysics to four astronomy majors including Robert Brownlee, a former B-29 navigator in the Pacific theatre of war, who had been a teaching assistant for Storer the previous year, and would become "my" first M.A. candidate student. Again, I was able to make use of my Yerkes connection, this time in the form of Dr. Bidelman, who kindly lent us a McDonald Observatory spectrogram of the variable supergiant R Scuti taken at minimum light. Brownlee made a thorough identification of the lines, which was quite an arduous job. It was necessary to do this via the various multiplets (thank goodness for the existence of the Russell-Moore tables!), and we all learned much from the experience. Brownlee received his M.A. in 1951, and then continued his studies at the University of Indiana for his Ph.D.
He then joined the Nuclear Testing Division (J-Division) of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, and participated in various air and underground tests, eventually becoming the Assistant J-Division Leader, and later the Earth Sciences (G-Division) Leader. Brownlee, now retired, lives with his wife Adeleah in Loveland, CO. They were married in 1943, and have five grown children, one of whom holds the rank of Captain in the Los Alamos Police Department.
My first summer at K.U. (1951, the same summer that Brownlee got his M.A.) was spent writing a paper on RZ Cassiopeia, a spectroscopic binary. Struve had taken 89 plates of this variable at the McDonald Observatory, measured the first two, and I had completed the rest just before leaving Yerkes. Then, at K.U., I calculated the orbital elements and their probable errors; in those days it required about a week to do this. I sent my preliminary manuscript to Struve as a joint paper with his name first, but in reply he insisted that I be the sole author; this was typical of his generosity. I remember that I worked very hard preparing the final version for publication, and I had just finished the touchy task of pasting my prints of typical spectra into position on one thicker-than-average page. I left the page on top my desk to dry, while I went to teach a class in the large lecture hall downstairs. When I returned, what did I find? Crossing some of my spectra was a lengthy ink blot that ruined my good work! I must have voiced the appropriate epithets, for I heard laughter from across the room, where Bob Brownlee and a couple of students were standing at the blackboard; they had tricked me by placing one of those confounded artificial "ink spots" on top my spectra!! The relief was immense, but I considered buying a "cat- o'- nine- tails" whip.
A Partial List of Advanced Astronomy Students at KU (1950 TO 1970)
While I was at K.U. (1950-1967), we would award advanced degrees to some fifteen M.A. candidates in astronomy, and I would be the adviser to one M.S. and two Ph.D. candidates in physics as well. We also had several undergraduate astronomy majors who went elsewhere for their advanced degrees, while of course some decided against going to graduate school. In addition we had some mathematics majors who minored in astronomy. It is clearly not possible to give all their names and personal data. I have been able to locate many of those who continued in astronomy or physics; in the following list you will find their names (in alphabetical order), present positions for the year 1998, and e-mail, phone or other addresses (the meanings of the numbers 0,1,2 are explained at the end of the list):
- Edwin Barker (1,2; McDonald Observatory, University of Texas; Chairman of the Division for Planetary Sciences, AAS), firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com
- Robert Brownlee (1,2; retired from LANL, Los Alamos National Laboratory), firstname.lastname@example.org
- Larry Cloutman (0,2; LLNL, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Harold Corwin (1,2; CIT, California Institute of Technology), email@example.com
- Kenneth Ford (0,2; ?; obtained Ph.D. in Astrodynamics, UCLA, University of California at Los Angeles)
- Wayne Fullerton (1,2; deceased)
- William Galinaitis (1; retired from CIA,Central Intelligence Agency; now in private industry), firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Thom Gandet (graduated with B.A. in astronomy at K.U.; present address 4863 N. Camino Codorniz, Tucson, AZ), firstname.lastname@example.org
- James Hesser (0,2; Director, Dominion Astrophysical Observatory), email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jack Hills (1,2; LANL, theoretical division; Chairman of the Division on Dynamical Astronomy,\ AAS), email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
- James Liebert (0,2; Steward Observatory, University of Arizona), email@example.com
- Stephen Little (1,2; retired from the University of Colorado), firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Charles Lundquist (Ph.D. in physics at K.U.; retired from NASA, and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; presently at the University of Alabama in Huntsville),firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Maxwell Sandford (1,2; LANL), email@example.com
- Donald Schumacher (1; resides in Kansas City, Mo., 3713 Summit, Apt. 302, K.C., MO, 64111)
- Ted Smith (1; ?)
- Edward Sion (1,2; Villanova University), firstname.lastname@example.org
- Robert Sprague (M.S. in physics at K.U.; retired from Foothill College,CA),phone (650)948-4495, 448 La Prenda Road, Los Altos, CA 94024
- Mark Stull (0,2; private law practice), email@example.com
- Robert Talley (1; private consultant), firstname.lastname@example.org
- John Walton (Ph.D. in physics at K.U.; ret. from LLNL; ?)
- Robert Wolfe (1,2; ? obtained Ph.D. at the University of Houston, TX)
- Frank Younger (1; Dominion Astrophysical Observatory), email@example.com , or firstname.lastname@example.org , or email@example.com
Graduate Student Teaching
Since we had only two faculty members in astronomy, it was not practical to offer a Ph.D. program in the subject. Therefore emphasis on the M.A. degree was necessary, especially since both Storer and I strongly believed that the experience gained in producing a thesis was worthwhile. The downside to this is that if it had been possible to have kept each student another year, we would have been able to publish considerably more papers.
Storer was more involved in teaching than research, in particular he taught a special course called the Principles of Physical Science and was writing a book on the subject. Also, he was an Associate Professor and had certain administrative duties that I was glad to avoid. If then one includes his regular teaching, he did not have much time left over for research; nevertheless, he did the best he could to encourage it, and was very active in the K.U. Chapter of Sigma-Xi. Furthermore, Storer could always be counted upon to give good counsel and advice; Mary Storer once said to me that even though Wyman didn't personally write many research papers, all of his students certainly did! Unfortunately the lack of published papers undoubtedly had an adverse affect on his salary.
Although it fell upon me to handle most of the thesis-type details, I enjoyed the arrangement, and Storer and I got along very well. We never imposed the choice of thesis subject upon the student, although we often made suggestions. There was no university requirement of originality placed on a master's thesis, but advanced students are far more capable than is commonly realized, and they are generally strongly motivated. On occasion it would turn out that the resulting thesis, modified appropriately, was sufficiently worthwhile to warrant publication in one of the professional journals; but this could lead to difficulties if the editor or referee had criticisms that required more than simple corrections, since meanwhile the student would have gone on to his next position. In any event we did the best we could, considering the limitations that are inherent in an M.A. program.
The Emitting Atmosphere: Charles Lundquist
After completing my RZ-Cas paper I returned to the subject of radiative transfer to work on a theoretical problem that remained after Chandra left this subject to venture into another (turbulence). The problem concerned the multiple scattering of light by a plane-parallel "emitting atmosphere" that contains a given distribution of sources. It turned out possible to solve the case of the uniform distribution of sources by using the so-called "principles of invariance," and this warranted two papers in the Astrophysical Journal. The polynomial source distribution was more subtle, although I was able to write out the four equations that expressed the principles of invariance. However, to solve these required an additional relation, most likely a symmetry condition. It seemed reasonable first to attempt the linear case, but my immediate thoughts weren't clever enough to achieve success.
A few days later, while working at my desk in 500 Lindley Hall, a student came up the stairs and introduced himself. He was Charles Lundquist, a graduate student in physics, and he asked me if I could recommend an appropriate problem for his Ph.D. thesis. He hadn't yet been able to find a sufficiently promising problem, and since he was working part time for a professor in the Petroleum Engineering Department, he might as well come upstairs and see what would be suggested by an astrophysicist. It was easy enough for me to go to the blackboard and show him what I'd been doing with the emitting atmosphere problems. In particular I pointed out the symmetry difficulty, and expressed optimism. He immediately became interested, and asked if it would be possible to work on them. I suggested that he read through the parts of Chandra's book Radiative Transfer that dealt with the invariance principles, and not to worry about the polarization. A short time later we began working together and attacked the mathematics for the linear case; the symmetry aspects turned out to be relatively simple (but not trivial), and we were able to solve the problem exactly.
While I was at Yerkes that summer writing up our linear paper, I got a letter from Lundquist in which he outlined his solution of the polynomial case, and this would be the core of his thesis. The thesis title was The Application of the Invariance Principle Method to Layers Containing Sources (November 2, 1953). We published a total of six papers on this subject during the period (1952-1954) that included his Ph.D. thesis (in physics) and paper V which he wrote up while at Pennsylvania State University, his first position after leaving K.U.
Much later (1980!), while at Los Alamos, I derived the solutions from the point of view of the so-called doubling method, which is more easily programmed on the digital computer. Dr.R.W.Whitaker, also of Los Alamos, cooperated with me to calculate numerical results using a CDC-7600 machine, and we published paper VI some twenty-eight years after the original emitting atmosphere paper I !
Sometimes I'm asked why anybody would investigate such an abstract problem, indeed it would appear that we accomplished solutions without being given the problem. To answer this I have to tell a short story: I was attending a radiative transfer meeting in 1974 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, and was approached by a Dr.Hudson, who introduced himself and then said "You know that you saved my life!". This of course intrigued me very much. He continued, "You published a paper in the Ap.J. at a crucial time for me, and it concerned the emitting atmosphere." I asked him to clarify this, and he just laughed and replied "Unfortunately I can't tell you, it's classified!"
Dr.Lundquist eventually became the Director of the Space-Science Laboratory, NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama. For awhile he was the Associate Director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, MA. He is presently (1998) the Vice President for Research at the University of Alabama. In 1979 Dr.Lundquist received the D.Sc.(honorary) from South Dakota State University, his undergraduate alma mater. He and his wife Pat (the former Patricia J.Richardson) live in Athens, GA., and they have five grown children.
I received a letter from Lundquist dated April 13, 1955; in part it reads: "I surely am pleased that the emitting atmosphere problem worked out as well as it did. I am greatly indebted to you for introducing me to radiative transfer, for teaching me much about the subject, and for a great deal of help and guidance while I was working on my thesis. My association with you will surely be one of the most pleasant memories of my life. You have my most sincere thanks." Receiving such a letter is more than compensation for being a member of the teaching profession, and it was a great boost to my morale.
A Letter from Banares, India
I used to attend the mathematics colloquium on those occasions when the subject was not too abstract, and on one occasion a certain Dr.S.D.Sinvhal was going to present his results on some aspects of Fourier Analysis. He was a visiting professor in mathematics from India (1952-3). He spoke very good English, and his presentation was such that even I could follow it. Afterwards I engaged him in an informal conversation, during which I mentioned that Chandrasekhar had been my mentor at Yerkes. He became unexpectedly interested, and said that he wanted to take the astronomy courses offered during the remaining year while he would be at K.U. So he audited (or enrolled in, I can't remember which) Practical Astronomy, Orbit Computation, and Astrophysics, and worked very hard on all of them. I imagine he also had teaching responsibilities in mathematics.
One day he approached me, saying that he wanted to make his own telescope mirror; so I set up an appropriate work place for him, and ordered a commercial kit that contained all the ingredients for making an eight-inch diameter pyrex mirror; viz., the pyrex blank, a glass tool disc, various grades of carborundum, polishing rouge, and the materials for making a polishing lap. He was a most careful worker and followed my instructions precisely. In a month he was done, and very happy about his accomplishment.
At the end of the year he returned to India (with his mirror!); soon thereafter he wrote a letter to me dated September 7, 1954 that also enclosed a letter to Dr. Storer. We were in for a real surprise, because the letters were written on stationery originating from the Uttar Pradesh Government Observatory, Banares, India, Director Dr.A.N.Singh, D.Sc., and signed Dr.S.D.Sinvhal, Ph.D., Asst. Astronomer. So he had become an astronomer!
We exchanged letters off and on for a few years, and the last one that I have is dated June 23, 1964; he was en route to the August meeting of the Saltsjöbaden International Astronomical Union Symposium on Multicolor Photometry and Spectral Classification. He was also heading to Jena for discussions with Carl Zeiss concerning the procuring of a 40-inch reflector. He listed the instruments they had at Naini Tal: 15 and 20 inch reflectors (for UBV photometry), a 22-inch general reflector with corrector, a Baker-Nunn Satellite Tracking Camera for a project on satellite tracking in cooperation with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, MA (Dr.C.Lundquist was then the Assistant Director under Whipple), and an airglow photometer. He stated in his letter, "I am fortunate in having an enthusiastic young batch of colleagues who are sparing nothing to take the observatory forward. As the director, I 'naturally' get to be the least involved and the least important person--and I mean every word of it."
Recently (1998) I tried to find out more about him through the internet, but didn't receive a reply, most likely due to the somewhat strained relations between the U.S. and India, the latter having just detonated a few nuclear devices.
Light Curves and the Theory of Eclipsing Binaries. Robert Talley
Another student, Robert Talley, arrived on the graduate astronomy scene about 1955. He had been a K.U. astronomy major, and of course we knew him quite well. His scholastic record was unusually good. For his M.A. thesis he wanted to investigate the theory of the light curves of eclipsing binary stars. This was a pretty tall order, because this subject is so very involved, and neither Storer nor I were specialists in it; I suggested that he start reading one of the few available technical books on the subject, and he found so many mistakes in it that he ended up writing a 150 page monograph for his M.A. thesis!
I had also received an NSF (National Science Foundation) grant, under which he helped design the optics of our photoelectric photometer, where we carried out the necessary ray tracing by vector methods. Furthermore, at that time there was renewed interest by several astronomers to measure the phase curve of the planet Uranus, and inasmuch as the phase angle could only vary from 0 to 3 deg. (as viewed from earth) they wondered how much variation in magnitude could be expected. Talley carried out the necessary calculations, and we published a note about it in the Ap.J. (123, 176, 1956). The computed change in 3-deg only amounted to 0.0019 mag.
After receiving his M.A.(1956) he entered the navy where he spent about six years in guided missile operations, including one and a half years aboard the USS Gyatt. Leaving the navy he became a senior research physicist for various private companies and organizations (for example, Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory/CALSPAN, Pelorex Corp., Falcon Research, Veritay Tech.) investigating problems in atmospheric science (such as the electrification of droplets and their mutual interaction in clouds), bioaerosols, samplers for viruses, ordnance, chemical warfare, guns, armor, liquid propellants, etc. He presently does private consulting work, and lives in East Aurora, NY, with his wife Ann (they have four adult sons).
The State of Rocket Science in the Mid-1950's
I now wish to comment briefly about the state of rocket science in the mid-1950's. It will be recalled that in the last year of World War II the city of London was subjected to bombardment from jet and rocket vehicles launched by the Nazis from coast areas of France. After the war some of their rocket scientists, headed by Werner von Braun, were taken to the U.S. where they were encouraged to continue their research. A large rocket named the Juno was developed capable of producing earth-orbital flight, but its launching was delayed, primarily because of political reasons. Meanwhile the Soviets with their own cadre of interned rocket scientists developed a vehicle with similar ability, which they successfully launched into orbit on October 4, 1957; the implications of this event caused great consternation in the U.S., not to mention loss of pride. I recall that at K.U. Dr. Storer and I arranged for a number of faculty members, students and interested citizens to meet on top Lindley Hall to view the Soviet Sputnik at an appropriate day and time in the evening as it hautily passed a few hundred kilometers above Lawrence, Kansas. It was very bright (the rocket that is; the satellite was actually faint) and easily seen visually by all of us due to the reflected sunlight; furthermore, since we could see it so easily, so could many others even in foreign lands.
The propaganda effect, though considerable, incited the U.S. to accelerate its space program, and after the initial failures of the Vanguard project, the Juno was brought out of its storage and Explorer I was sent successfully into orbit. Dr.C.Lundquist, who at that time was a member of the launch team and witnessed the first orbit, later told me that it arrived several minutes later than predicted over its return check point, which caused some anxiety; apparently it was placed into a higher orbit than was expected, but the reason for this was not known for certain. Later on the satellite spiraled into the earth due to atmospheric friction, and in the process its speed increased, which surprised the non-astronomers.
The Lure of Space Exploration
Dr. Lundquist was one of those talented individuals who found space exploration to be irresistible, but he was prepared in the sense that he had learned thoroughly the basic concepts of physics, and furthermore was always willing to learn something new. The objective of education is not merely to teach someone to do a job, but to produce a prepared mind (and body) that can cope with future unexpected situations. We can see this in the experiences of former teachers and students, as we read the following pages. Furthermore, solving a difficult problem (whether scientific or otherwise) gives a great feeling of satisfaction!
After the Explorer I adventure Lundquist continued to be involved in orbit determination and the scientific analysis of data acquired during subsequent satellite launches. For example, in the late 1950's he was a member of the team that participated in operation Argus, where several low yield nuclear devices were detonated at high altitude. I would guess that before embarking on this project, he had to learn much about nuclear explosions and the manner in which x-rays interact with the atmosphere.
He then worked for some time at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, where among other things he managed project Celescope. This consisted of a four-telescope array with ultra-violet sensitive television cameras that was based on an orbiting observatory. The project generated the first catalog of stellar ultra-violet magnitudes for a significant sample of the sky. He also became the co-editor with George Vais of the book Geodetic Parameters for a 1966 Smithsonian Institution Standard Earth. This work contained the first accurate combination of geometrical observations of earth satellites and dynamical data obtained from satellite orbit analysis. This project was undoubtedly very difficult, and demanded the coordination of a number of very competent (and compatible) individuals.
During the Apollo Program (President Kennedy's project of the 1960's to land a man on the moon) Lundquist was a member of the NASA Group for Lunar Exploration Planning, which was responsible for analyzing and recommending landing sites and objectives for the several lunar landings. This is the type of project where good judgment is paramount; I remember at the time that the depth of dust on the lunar surface was considered to be uncertain, and there was much argument about it.
He then returned to the Marshall Space Flight Center as Director of the Space Sciences Laboratory. There he participated and directed such projects as Gravity Probe, which confirmed the Einstein gravitational red shift, and LAGEOS I, where a high-orbit satellite covered with corner cubes was observed using reflected laser light in order to infer earth dynamics. Also he organized a team to observe the sun-grazing Comet Kohoutek ('rooster' in Czech) from the Skylab space station. Lundquist certainly got involved in a variety of projects! Not all scientists like to do this, I might add.
At the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where Lundquist is located presently (1988), experiments are being carried out within the low acceleration environment of suborbital and orbital spacecraft, mainly through the Consortium for Materials Development in Space of which he is the Director. The Consortium also sponsors other investigations performed during rocket flights and on the Space Shuttle, including preparations for the International Space Station.
Orbital Motion of an Artificial Earth-Satellite. Robert Sprague
The mathematical-physicist C.Lanczos in his book on mechanics prefaces the chapter on the Hamilton-Jacobi Equation by quoting from the Bible, Exodus 3, 5. The equation is so beautiful and profound that it evokes an emotional response to all who use it.
Some months prior to Sputnik I had been contacted by a graduate student in physics working towards his M.S. He was Robert S.Sprague, and I found out later that he had formerly been an infantryman (S/Sgt mortar section leader) in Patton's army and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He said that he had devised a promising way to determine in analytic form the orbit of an artificial earth satellite, taking the bulge at the earth's equator into account, and that Dr.Dresden had recommended for him to get Storer or me to serve as his thesis adviser. The primary motivation for this work was that during the forthcoming International Geophysical Year 1957-8 there would be attempts to launch an artificial earth-satellite. If successful, then by comparing actual orbital positions (a network of observing stations would be required; indeed, later a K.U. astronomy student actually manned one of these stations) with theoretical ones it would be possible to determine the shape of the geoid with more accuracy than had been achieved previously. Sprague and I discussed his thesis problem in my office, and his suggested approach seemed reasonable, though difficult, to me. A meeting with Dresden was arranged, during which Dresden asked how long it would probably take to work out the solution. Since it involved the Hamilton-Jacobi equation, I would have guessed a few months at least, but to my surprise Sprague answered without hesitation "about two weeks." In any event I was still willing to go along, though with reservations (I was aware of Delaunay's lengthy study of the motion of the moon published in 1860 and 1867), so Dresden approved of the arrangement.
Clearly my rôle was going to be more like a spectator than a participant, though I worked through and checked most of the mathematics. In any event Sprague's derivations went quite smoothly, but simultaneously he had deadlines connected with his final exams in physics. Somehow he finished everything on time (July, 1957), and the next month he presented his thesis results, An Analytical Determination of the Orbital Motion of an Artificial Earth Satellite, at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society held at the University of Illinois (I went along ). In my opinion his thesis easily merited a Ph.D., but he decided against continuing in graduate school.
He obtained a teaching position at Foothill College, CA, and after a successful teaching career is now retired. He applied much modern technology to his teaching, for example, he invented a cosmic ray "telescope" consisting of a muon "filter cube" of lead bricks with scintillation paddles on opposite sides and from which he was able to determine the mean lifetime of the muon (around two micro-secs; a student Ron Sufred assisted in this work). He has acquired several patents for his inventions, and has done much consulting work; for example, even before coming to K.U. he had already developed the design philosophy and bombing systems used in the world's first supersonic bomber (Convair B-58). More recently he modulated a light beam and transmitted a TV-program on a beam of light.
He and his wife, Joan, have developed a unique linguistics system for teaching the American-English language. This project has been twenty years in development, and is called Phonics Plus; the part called "Learning by Association" is original and explains the different depths of learning and paths toward motivation. The two live in Los Altos, CA., and they have one adult son.
Hydrodynamic Stability Problems. John Walton
Shortly after Bob Sprague left K.U.(late 1950's) I met another physics student, John Walton, who was searching for a Ph.D. thesis topic in hydrodynamics. In those days not very many physicists were doing their primary research in this field, and the use of the digital computer was just beginning to be felt; indeed great advances in computational-hydrodynamics would soon occur, especially at the National Laboratories, where problems associated with explosions and the structure and evolution of shock waves, etc., had to be solved. But such studies would require the development of very fast, large storage computers, and the carrying out of specialized, and on occasion, large scale experiments.
Not intimidated by such thoughts, Chandrasekhar had been working on problems of hydrodynamic stability that could be solved in the linear domain by first finding a stationary state of the fluid, and then subjecting it to small perturbations. Thus he was able to solve such problems as the thermal instability of a fluid layer heated from below, or the stability of superposed fluids. He had even established a laboratory on the University of Chicago campus for carrying out experiments in this field. In some ways this was very surprising, since he had the reputation for being a pure theorist; indeed I recall Struve once saying in jest that Chandra didn't know which end of a telescope to look into!
In any event, Chandra had been writing a very thick book titled Hydrodynamic and Hydromagnetic Stability, and it was possible for me to get him to suggest a reasonable thesis problem for Walton, viz., the problem of the stability of fluid cylinders taking the surface tension into account. Walton formulated the perturbation equations, and I worked separately to check them. He took the problem from there, derived the solution, and wrote up his preliminary manuscript which he then presented to the physicists on his thesis committee. One of them, the theoretician Daniel Ling, got very interested in the problem and devised a somewhat different approach than that usually adopted by Chandra. After about three weeks he finished deriving his equations, and they were essentially the same as those Walton had obtained. In the meantime a lady scientist from Israel published her results to the same problem. But she had not introduced any electromagnetic fields into the problem, so Walton did, amended his original solution, and was able to get a thesis out of the situation titled The Hydromagnetic Stability of Fluid Cylinders (October, 1961).
After completing his Ph.D. requirements he then interviewed at various places, and finally settled on a position at the LLNL (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). The first thing he was called upon to do in his new position was to participate in observing the last few nuclear explosions in the Pacific of the operation Dominic test series (1962) that terminated the U.S. participation in above-ground testing. He remained at Livermore working in the theoretical division until last year (1997), when he retired. I'm told that he and his wife have now returned to the Kansas City area.
Philosophy, Astrophysics, and Time's Arrow. Donald Schumacher
Sometime during the mid-fifties George Gamov, the well known Russian nuclear physicist, visited K.U. and gave a talk concerning the origin of the universe about which he'd written a very popular and best selling book. There was a large expectant audience in one of the lecture halls, although I don't remember which hall it was. Gamov turned out to be quite an extravert, and very humorous. He began by saying that the evolution of the universe reminded him of a pregnant woman, that is, they both are expanding...(he paused)..., and furthermore the most interesting things happened at the very beginning. The audience warmed up to that line, I must say. At the end of his performance he received copious applause, and then willingly answered questions from the audience.
During the talk I had noticed a young man sitting on the front row; he was noteworthy because his head was so abundantly covered with dark curly hair. In the milling about that took place after the talk I overheard him ask someone if K.U. had an Astronomy Department, so I of course admitted to being a member of it, and we had a short, animated discussion. He certainly was enthusiastic about astronomy and physics! His name was Donald Schumacher , and he lived in Prairie Village, KS (near Kansas City, Kansas). I judged that he had just completed high school and was wondering about which college he should attend. Much later I found out that he was born on May 24, 1939 in Oak Park, IL. He told me that he favored theoretical subjects, and had studied quantum mechanics and relativity all by himself while in high school; indeed, at the time we met he was studying Corson's Quantum Electrodynamics, a graduate textbook. Of course it was natural for me to wonder whether I was witnessing a real-life phenomenon or not. In any case he would be tested and judged in college by a variety of professors and students; so I adopted the attitude simply to wait and see.
He enrolled the next autumn at K.U., and I would see much of him during the next six years. In his ordinary course work he did very well, and he could speak French and German fluently, but in sophomore physics he posted two D's to my great surprise! I asked him about this, and he said that he already understood physics and didn't like wasting time just to fulfill college requirements. I also remembered my own days back in Junior College, where one of the physics teachers routinely failed a high percent of the class using (in my opinion) an unfair grading system. So I didn't make a big deal about the situation. On the other hand Schumacher continued doing well in astronomy, and Dr. Storer and I could see that he had plenty of ability.
As the time went by, his interests focused more and more on the foundations and philosophy of science, for example, he spent a lot of time studying the thought experiments that Bohr and Einstein argued about, and wrote out his own analysis and conclusions. His grammar and composition were excellent, but his vocabulary involved technical terms that were better known to philosophers than to astronomers. On occasion this caused misinterpretations when Dr. Storer or I tried to understand some of his sentences; we suggested to him that he should strive to express himself in a less erudite fashion, but we were only marginally successful.
Since he had already displayed interest in cosmology, I suggested that he investigate something on this subject for a possible thesis. He had read Schrödinger's book on the subject (Expanding Universes, Cambridge, 1955), and soon got very interested in the direction of time, or "time's arrow." He made progress of the hard-earned variety, and got some interesting results pertaining to the effects of time reversal which he carefully wrote up (The Direction of Time and the Equivalence of "Expanding" and "Contracting" World-Models). These concepts formed the nucleus of his M.A. thesis.
However, I worried about whether he could adequately handle his oral final (the examining committee consisted of Dr. Storer and me, plus two physicists). Also, the morning of the exam Don phoned me, saying that he didn't believe he could make it through the ordeal. I tried to calm him down, and apparently succeeded, because his performance turned out to be very excellent without his showing any sign of nervousness. Later Dr.Ling, the theoretical physicist who attended, said that Don showed indications of being a genius.
Shortly thereafter Don presented a paper on his thesis topic at a meeting of the AAS at Yale (August, 1962); his good friend, a mathematician named Gary Miller, and I accompanied him. Unfortunately he was the last one on the entire program, and only a handful of people were present. But the trip was worthwhile anyway, because he had made the acquaintance of Dr.T.Gold, who had written some papers about this same subject, and the two got along so well that Don was invited to go to Cornell University, where he spent several years as a research assistant and graduate student. In particular he assisted Gold to edit a book, The Nature of Time (Cornell University Press, 1967) which presented the papers of a symposium devoted entirely to that subject.
He didn't get his Ph.D. there, and instead (1967) went to Maidstone College of Arts, U.K., in 1971, and two years later to Birkbeck College, University of London, to study with Dr.David Bohm, the prominent philosopher of science (refer to Bohm, Foundations of Physics 1, 359, 1971; 3, 139, 1973; Schumacher, Foundations of Physics 4, 481, 1974). Schumacher never directly worked towards a Ph.D., saying that he only wanted to be known for what he did, which shouldn't be a consequence of whatever degree he had acquired. I argued with him, saying that he should get the Ph.D., because it would give him all the more freedom to pursue what he really wanted to accomplish. I received several letters from him while he was in England, in the first he was quite optimistic, but later they became more pessimistic; apparently he and Bohm had significant differences. In a letter dated May 9, 1971 he writes "Thanks for your letter of some time ago. It cheered me up quite a bit. I was in the hospital at the time. I'd had a nervous breakdown after working a little hard on a short book and they kept me in that zoo for about two months. I've just about given up science. Too many disappointments...I've packed in working for Bohm about a year and a half ago." Another letter dated October 4, 1972 refers to a book he wrote, titled The Unimportance of Being . It contains a collection of six papers that Don wrote between 1965 and 1973, about which he writes the following: "the last two papers are of special importance both from the standpoint of fundamental physics and from that of logic and philosophy...(and) it will make the 'failure of communication' with Bohm more clear and will make arguments which I was not able to make at the time--but which I found were made previously by Wittgenstein, and not understood."
Shortly thereafter his visa ran out, and he returned to the U.S. Later we were able to meet a couple of times, and the last time I saw Don he was very dejected, because both of his parents had died. Presently Don lives in Kansas City, MO, and I only learned his address recently, and have exchanged letters with him. Hopefully we shall be able to continue. In passing I should like to mention that Bohm's point of view of quantum mechanics has been published recently in Physics Today 51, 39, 1998.
Celestial Mechanics, Astrodynamics, and Computers. Kenneth Ford
Kenneth Ford was another very talented astronomy student at K.U., and whose undergraduate studies (completed in 1963, I believe) overlapped those of Donald Schumacher. He decided to go elsewhere for his graduate work. We discussed the possibilities, which were rather limited since his main interest was in the field eventually called Astrodynamics or Astronautics. I was aware of Dr.Samuel Herrick (I didn't know him personally) at U.C.L.A., who had worked in this field a long time, having taught near-earth-satellite orbit theory before the war, which caused raised eyebrows in some quarters. But I had read several of his papers when preparing my own thesis in 1947, and knew that he was very competent. Another possible choice was Yale University, where Dirk Brouwer and Gerald Clemence had been stalwarts in celestial mechanics for a number of years; they had become interested in near-earth satellites after the advent of Sputnik.
Kenneth chose U.C.L.A, and was accepted by their graduate school. He subsequently sent me several interesting letters, the one dated November, 1963 being especially packed with information, an excerpt being: "I am very happy with my setup. There are seven grad students in astrodynamics proper. All except me were sent by the Army or Air Force; all must spend from four to ten years in the service after they get through here. I am the only one working directly under Herrick. I have an office, a brand new Monroe desk calculator (note by HGH: Ken very likely had access to a digital computer as well), and an undergraduate assistant to do my busy work. This gives me time for learning. Herrick hired him and then gave him to me and told me to keep him busy. Right now I am working on different methods of numerical integration to determine which is the fastest with the least amount of round-off error. I am also looking into a new method of differential correction. This method is stable and fast...This semester I am taking Astrodynamics, Astrodynamic Observation Theory, and Fluid Mechanics. I am sitting in on Advanced Celestial Mechanics, Advanced Orbit Mechanics, and Rocket Trajectory Optimization. I am also helping the grad students with numerical integration."
On March 2, 1964 he writes, "I got a 4.0 last semester, which makes me feel good. I also wrote three short papers which will come out late this year in a Russian journal. Most of my research has been with the numerical integration of orbits. At U.C.L.A. we are required to specialize in three fields for the Ph.D. Mine will be Astrodynamics, Computer Applications, and Controls. You might scout around and see if K.U. will need an astrodynamicist in three or four years. I would really like to come back and teach there someday." Needless to say, Kenneth Ford got his Ph.D. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find what happened to him after that, and the Internet hasn't helped me.
The Visit with Former President Truman
During the summer it was customary for my family and me to drive to Williams Bay, where we enjoyed the cool comfort of the basement apartment in the house belonging to my wife's parents. In the mornings I would work on my astronomy problems, but in the afternoon we would go to Geneva Lake, where our children learned to swim, etc. On Monday evenings I would attend Chandra's seminar relating to the latest subject in which he was doing research. He preferred, indeed enjoyed, having a participating audience, particularly when he had encountered difficulties, such as in formulating boundary conditions. There would be much interesting discussion, and no one ever got bored. During other times of the week I would get the opportunity to describe to him what I had been doing, and get his reactions.
On occasion he would tease me for being a political conservative, because he had become a naturalized U.S. citizen and prided himself (and his wife, Lalitha) in being stalwarts of the democratic party. I in turn prodded him, and whenever feasible would invite him to give a colloquium at K.U. But at first to no avail. Later, I mentioned that I had grown up in Kansas City, and that it is only a short distance to Independence, Mo., where President Truman lived and a new library recently constructed in his honor. The next time I brought up the subject of the possible colloquium, he said he would do it provided I could arrange a visit with Truman for him and Lalitha!
When I returned to K.U. at the end of the summer (1962), I made some enquiries and found that a certain K.U. professor had helped Truman write his memoirs. It was Dr.Francis Heller, Associate Dean of the College, and it was through his efforts that the appointment with Truman was arranged and in turn that the Chandra colloquium occurred. Chandra's lecture was presented in the main lecture hall of Lindley Hall to a capacity audience, and he discussed the subject of rotating stars, including an interesting history of the difficult hydrodynamics involved. That evening a dinner had been arranged in his honor at the Student Union Building. As I recall, Dr.Ling and I were talking to him after dinner, and Chandra told us an interesting short story about the famous mathematician Von Neumann. It seems that Cambridge University only recognizes advanced degrees from one other institution, namely, Oxford, and vice versa. Von Neumann had been invited to give a lecture at Cambridge, and noticed that his name was written on the schedule as Mr. Von Neumann instead of Dr. This irritated him somewhat, and the situation was politely explained to him. He than asked whether he could earn the title by passing the final exam. The answer was in the affirmative, so Von Neumann took the exam, passed it and became Dr. Von Neumann.
Now I shall return to the visit with Truman. I have a letter from the Truman library showing that the visit took place on Friday, October 12, 1962. The Chandras, Dr. Seagondollar (professor of physics; he was the Chairman of K.U.'s Science and Mathematics Day), his wife and I drove to the Truman Library in Independence, Mo., and were ushered into Truman's office by a gentleman who suggested that we speak with sufficient clarity and loudness, since Truman's hearing was failing. My first impression of the ex-President was pretty much what I had expected, although I was surprised that he had such broad shoulders (being an ex-baseball player I notice things like that). We found that it was rather easy to converse with him. He expressed a high opinion of scientists, too. However, Chandra and his wife didn't quite know what to say, which was unusual for them. So I remember asking Truman about the MacArthur situation in Korea, and he replied straight to the point: "MacArthur disobeyed orders, and I fired him!" The Seagondollars asked more political type questions, and we were all impressed at Truman's knowledge of the Constitution, and its legal implications. I remember his saying emphatically that the United States is a republic, not a democracy. The entire interview lasted about twenty minutes. As we left, I remember seeing the room that was a faithful representation of the oval office including the sign on his desk with the famous words "The Buck Stops Here." Also in the lobby there was a very interesting exhibit of U.S. silver coins; unfortunately a couple of weeks later a thief broke into the place and stole the entire collection.
The Digital Compute at K.U.: Gale, Ganousek, Steve Little
In the 1950's another revolution began that was essential to the success of the space age, not to mention almost everything else in the world, viz., the development of the digital computer. One of the first commercially available was sold by IBM (International Business Machines), and labelled the IBM-650. K.U. obtained one of these in the late 1950's. It was placed in one of the basement rooms of Strong Hall, and so much heat was generated by the numerous vacuum tube components that air conditioners occupied every available window. Program instructions and data were fed into the computer via punched cards, and the results also came out as punched cards. I fully expected all the professors to be lined up competing, if not fighting, for the opportunity to use the computer, but that didn't happen. But some of us were delighted to have the new machine, such as the Petroleum Engineering Department (which was primarily responsible for persuading the University into obtaining it), an entomologist, a botanist, and a handful of others including an astronomer (me!). Even most of the members of the Mathematics Department seemed to ignore the machine, probably because they primarily did research in ``pure'' mathematics. Of course the students loved it, and we faculty members who wanted to compute had to compete with them !
One of the graduate students, named Gale, was getting his Ph.D. in math but minoring in astronomy; at the time (spring 1960) he was taking orbit computation. So he taught me to program in SOAP, which is the acronym for symbolic-operator-assembly-program; then we programmed the so-called Gaussian orbit method and punched out the appropriate cards. I also had available a hand calculation of an asteroid orbit that I had done in my record time of about 6-hours, and we punched up the appropriate input data cards for this case. There was a certain amount of "debugging" that we had to do, and I only remember the final computer run when things worked out properly. We placed all of the cards in the hopper of the computer, pressed the appropriate button and waited. The computer "read" the input-cards; almost immediately the punched output-cards started coming out of the exit hopper. We placed them in the printer and looked at the print-out of results. The numerical values compared favorably with my hand-computed results, but the CPU time listed was only 40.0 secs!! I haven't been the same since. Two decades later while at Los Alamos I had to obtain a set of results using essentially the same program, but for a variety of initial conditions. The Cray computer did 250 orbits in 0.15 secs.!
Progress was rapid in this field of computation, and within a year the newly developed FORTRAN language made programming much easier. So I started to program some of the radiative transfer problems in this new language. This was going to take quite awhile, and fortunately I got much assistance from graduate students via NSF grants. In 1961 I had finished my only joint paper with Chandrasekhar giving the solution of a rather difficult scattering problem, and in the summer of 1963 I got assistance from A.Janousek of the K.U. Computation Center to compute the necessary functions. The main purpose of tabulating such solutions was to obtain a set of exact results to serve as a "standard of comparison" for other methods, such as the Monte Carlo.
We were unable to complete the work that summer, and Steven Little, an astronomy major who just entered the graduate school, helped prepare the tables for publication in the Ap.J. Supplement Series . He then went on to write his M.A. thesis (1963) about planetary reflection, making use of the new computing technology. It would have been very nice to have held him in slavery at least a couple more years, because we had some thoughts on some new aspects of single scattering and various applications of the invariance principles, but Steve went to U.C.L.A. for his Ph.D., which he obtained in 1971. His doctor's thesis was directed by Dr.L.H.Aller (A Fine Analysis of the Ap Star HD-168733).
He later pursued research on the following subjects: absolute verification of the presence of water vapor in the atmosphere of Mars, survey of long-period variables for the presence of technetium, study of the X-ray bright points on the sun from Skylab X-ray pictures, classification of the emission features of M, S, and C long-period variables using IRAS low-resolution spectra, construction of models of the sky at many wavelengths for simulations of spacecraft encounters. He also did much teaching, and especially enjoyed teaching honors astronomy at Colorado University.
Steve married Irene Marenin in 1973, who obtained her astronomy Ph.D. from Indiana University. They now live in Glen Haven, CO, and are presently (1998) phasing into retirement from CASA (Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy, Boulder, CO). They would like to continue their studies of the archaeoastronomy of the Anasazi indians.
Molecular Spectroscopy: James Hesser
James E. Hesser was an astronomy major at K.U., but he did not continue in our master's program. Instead he was able to take advantage of a new program established at Princeton University that dealt mainly with molecular spectroscopy. Dr.Kurt Dressler was the primary staff member, and later became Distinguished Research Professor of Physical Chemistry at ETH, Zürich, Switzerland. I remember Jim's plight quite well, when as a senior he realized that to work effectively in spectroscopy at Princeton he would need to know more about the subject than was usually offered to undergraduates at K.U. I was acquainted with an interesting text book written by R.H.Atkin (University of London) titled Mathematics and Wave Mechanics (Heinemann, 1959) that covered quantum mechanics and chemistry in a very logical fashion, and I suggested that he enroll in our astrophysics reading course, and go straight through the book. We could then meet a couple of times a week and discuss the material together. Jim persevered, and the two of us learned a lot; and even uncovered some mistakes (at least we thought we did). The two of us worked a lot harder than I had intended. Apparently things worked out at Princeton, because he and Dressler published many papers together. Jim obtained both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Astrophysical Sciences, his Ph.D. thesis being Absolute Transition Probabilities in Ultraviolet Molecular Spectra (1966; advisor Kurt Dressler). The thesis volume, a copy of which was kindly sent to me, is an inch thick and 138 pages long!
He has since worked at the Cerro Tololo Observatory, Chile, and participated on various projects, e.g.: the co-discovery of ZZ Ceti, the prototypical variable white dwarf which varies periodically at 213 and 273 seconds, and studies of stellar populations in the Milky Way and globular clusters. Presently Jim is the principal investigator using the Hubble Space Telescope to measure the ages of star clusters in the extreme outer part of the Milky Way (twice as far as the Magellanic Clouds) in order to determine how our galaxy might have formed. In the last decade or so he has become active in public outreach to schools, service clubs, etc., which was recognized by a national award in 1997. His formal position now is Director, Optical Astronomy Programme and Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics (HIA), National Research Council of Canada, Victoria, B.C. For information on the HIA refer to http://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/index.html.
Dr.Hesser is married to Betty Hinsdale, whom he met in 1963 in Dr. Storer's class during his last semester at K.U., and they have three daughters. Betty has a degree in linguistics from the University of Victoria. Jim writes as follows: "In many ways my K.U. years were idyllic. This is perhaps a common reaction when people reach their late fifties and look back! I was exposed to outstanding professors who showed by their actions what truly great teachers are. Although I was later privileged to attend another great university, I never encountered better examples of teachers than those I remember from K.U.: Edward Ruhe (English), Marilyn Stokstad (art history), Arnold Strassenburg (physics), Sam Anderson (German and Russian), and Henry Horak. My cultural horizons were expanded enormously through the music, drama, and film events available for students from around the world. My Scholarship Hall experiences were extremely educational, again often through opportunities to interact with foreign students. My wife Betty has demonstrated great fortitude over the past thirty-five years, and has made life worthwhile. Shortly after leaving K.U. the tragedy and utter madness of the Vietnam war enveloped the U.S. and many changes, most that I view negatively, to our North American society and its educational systems began to unfold."
Some Miscellaneous Items
I have often had military personnel in my elementary astronomy classes, and especially remember one officer in particular, Captain Bernard, who had just returned from Korea at the end of the hostilities (1953). He had fought with distinction in the infantry, and he described to me having to fight against Russian tanks for several hours using a bazooka; the tank armor was unexpectedly thick and could not be penetrated even though he got in very close. He said that he possessed a sort of "charmed life," and enemy fire never touched him no matter what happened.
He brought an audio tape to class one time, and wanted me to listen to it at home; it contained interrogations of American prisoners of war after they had returned to South Korea at the end of hostilities. Curiously, there wasn't a single American prisoner who escaped from his captors during the war, and the U.S.Army wanted to know why. Apparently, the prisoners were treated well in the physical sense, but systematically `brain washed' by ceaseless exposure (saturation) to communistic ideas presented by well-trained instructors. Captain Bernard predicted that we would be soon fighting in Vietnam.
Towards the end of the semester (it was autumn) he brought his wife with him to class. I had earlier taught the class how to construct a simple sundial, and she wanted to show me several that she and her husband had fashioned out of plexiglass to send to friends for Christmas; they were very artistically done, and she presented one to me.
One summer day I was teaching a small class and explaining the three simple equations describing a falling body. As an example, I calculated the time for an object to fall to the ground from the top of the nearby FM tower, about 500 ft. tall; my answer was 5.6 seconds. I noticed that the two big, football types in the back row were nodding affirmatively at each other, and I asked how they knew the answer without having to calculate it. One grinned and said: "We're paratroopers!"
I've found that students can have unexpected talents; for example, I was showing the moon to the class one evening through the 27-inch reflector. Since the students could only observe one at a time, they would line up while waiting and there would be informal conversation. I said off-hand that I wasn't very good at adding up long columns of numbers, and usually resorted to the method of adding by tens. A girl student spoke up and said that you didn't have to do that at all, just simply run your eye up the column and voilá, there's the answer. Don't think about it, she emphasized, you just look (or alternatively point your finger) consecutively at the numbers. Curiously the method works, but you have to practice at it. Another method, and quite different, is described in a book I have about the Japanese abacus: one must first become very, very adept at using the abacus, and then, if one perseveres, it is possible to dispense with it entirely and mentally visualize the movement of the beads. I didn't even bother to try this; indeed, I'm in favor of reducing drudgery, but some of the remedies seem worse than the disease! When I was a student in grade school, everyone had to spend hours learning to be proficient in performing arithmetic operations, and I preferred almost anything else.
Later, in high school and college, we did many of our approximate calculations on a slide rule; if high accuracy was required we used logarithms. Nowadays one can do all the simple arithmetic operations and evaluate the basic math functions by simply touching buttons on a battery powered calculator. Furthermore, we can even do elaborate mathematical operations, and solve difficult problems by "programming" the home computer; my PC has a program called Scientific Workplace (I'm using it now to do my word processing) that can print mathematical equations containing a multitude of symbols, including the Greek alphabet, etc., and uses a sophisticated routine called Maple to solve algebraic, trigonometric, statistical and calculus problems; it can also plot two and three dimensional graphs. Of course one cannot use such powerful tools without thought, but nevertheless we're all experiencing the wave of the future, and education will never be the same. There is a downside to all this progress, and my experience has been the following: the drudgery in doing arithmetic has been replaced by the necessity of having to check the results of a program to determine if they are reasonable, unexpected or just wrong. Prayer doesn't apparently help either, at least no more than it does in weather forecasting! Oh, yes, I've heard about Y2K.
Summer employment was always a problem at K.U., and I had arranged to work at U.C.L.A. during the summer of 1965 to do some calculations of Mie scattering functions for the well-known optical theorist Dr.Rudolf Penndorf. Dr. Storer was going to teach the regularly offered Elementary Astronomy, but there would also be an Earth-Science Institute for High School Teachers to be given at K.U. that would include astronomy. Storer didn't want to handle that course, so a Dr.(Mrs.)Hutchings, an astronomer from, I believe, the University of Washington, was hired to teach in the Institute. She was the daughter of the well-known geodesist Hayford, whose specialty was measuring the size and shape of the earth. Storer told me that when he first knew her some years previously, she was rather overweight and sometimes introduced herself as "Hayford's spheroid." She always exercised in the morning by taking a swim in one of the pools at the university. Unfortunately, one morning the exercise was too strenuous for her, and she had a heart attack and died. She had already taught a week, and the Director of the Institute needed an astronomer quickly. So I was prevailed upon to fill in for her, provided I could get Dr.Penndorf's permission. He was very understanding about the situation and I completed the remaining five or so weeks of instruction. It wasn't clear to me exactly what had already been covered in class, so I started from "which way is up?" and tried to make doubly sure they understood certain fundamental concepts rather than just a lot of descriptive material. I certainly do remember the last day of class: some of the students had brought their spouses, and to my great surprise, the class arose and gave me an ovation! I'd never had that happen before, and I must confess that it was almost more than I could handle.
This next few paragraphs may seem out of place, but they do pertain to the visit of an interesting personality to K.U. My interest in the game of Chess developed when I was a teen-ager in the 1930's, and had the opportunity to learn the game and play against some strong players in Kansas City. We chessplayers met regularly at the Y.M.C.A. every Saturday afternoon, and in a few years I became rather proficient at the game, eventually winning a few tournaments there. My rating was about that of an "Expert" (just below a "Master"). From time to time a touring Grandmaster would visit us to give a simultaneous exhibition, and we would each invest a few dollars to play against him. Israel Horowitz, the one-time U.S. champion, visited us at least three times; I managed to draw the first two times, but the third time the exhibition wasn't completed because half-way through the simultaneous event (I suppose about thirty of us were there) one of the participants, Mr. Arthur Harris, a good friend of mine in his fifties, had a sudden heart attack and died (January 20, 1941). It was quite shocking to see the dark shadow move across his face, and his life disappear in just a minute. Indeed, it is not generally realized that Chess can be a very exciting game, so I took a quick look at his position. I didn't see anything there that would have particularly evoked stress, for his position seemed safe enough.
Now at K.U., at least as far as I could discover, there has never been much serious interest in Chess; this is understandable, since competing in it is hard sedentary work, akin to academic studying for a final, and students would rather participate in physical sports for their recreation. However, early in the year 1964 some of the students got together and were able to entice the International Grandmaster Robert (Bobby) Fisher to give a simultaneous exhibition on April 30 at the K.U. Union Building. Bobby was only twenty-one years old, and the strongest player ever produced in the United States; he was destined to become the World's Chess Champion in 1972, when he would decisively defeat the then World's Champion from the Soviet Union, Boris Spassky. Fischer had learned Chess in the New York environment of strong master players, and he had succeeded in besting all of them. His style was geared more to attacking than to defending, and he played all phases of the game (opening, middle and end games) equally well. His attitude towards the game was entirely practical, and he had studied very hard to attain his goals. He also possessed a rather low opinion of so-called intellectuals (I sometimes think he was right). When he played against us at K.U., he had about 50 or 60 opponents (I would guess), and he completed his exhibition very quickly in only a few hours; I was one of the last to go down in what to me was a difficult end game. I don't remember Fischer's total score against us; if he had lost a game, we would undoubtedly have heard about it. Nevertheless it was an interesting experience. I wonder how he would fare against the "Big Blue" computer that recently (1997) defeated the present (human) World's Champion, Kasparov? Unfortunately we'll probably never know, because Fischer retired from active competition immediately after gaining the World's Championship.
Computation of Spectroscopic Binary Elements. Robert Wolfe
Robert H. Wolfe, Jr. was not only a first rate theoretician, but he learned to use the computer to great effect. He wrote his M.A. thesis entitled The Machine Computation of Spectroscopic Binary Elements, and a concise version of this was published in the book Modern Astrophysics (A memorial to Otto Struve), Gauthier-Villars, Paris, 1967. The method is that of Wilsing-Russell followed by a differential correction, but modified to apply to high as well as low eccentricities. The late Otto Struve would have been amazed at the ability of this program to solve his binary-star orbit problems! The book article gives the mathematical theory, followed by the program written in FORTRAN and finally a calculation example; unfortunately the printer of the book typeset the program instead of using a photographic process, so that some errors occurred, the most serious being due to the confusion of the number 0 with the letter O (I had inherited the proof-reading when Bob left K.U. to go to U.C.L.A., and it had suddenly become a very hard task--he owes me some Brownie points).
I haven't been able to find Wolfe's address even though I've scanned the internet via several search engines; as I recall, he left U.C.L.A. after about four years, and transferred to the University of Houston where he got his Ph.D. The last that I heard about him he had inadvertently walked, or run, through a French door and injured himself rather severely. Rumor has it that his degree was in astronautics, and that he fully recovered from his French door incident.
The Kansas Atlas of Stellar Spectra: Frank Younger
The stalwart of the K.U. observatory spectrograph was Frank Younger. He obtained his M.A. in 1964, the subject of his thesis being The Kansas Atlas of Stellar Spectra (also see some pertinent remarks under 'Jack Hills' below). His work amounted to a collection of representative spectra similar to that of the Morgan, Keenan, Kallman Atlas of Stellar Spectra.
Frank was soon employed by the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (abbr. DAO), where he has specialized in spectral classification, photographic and photoelectric photometry, determination of astronomical seeing and instrument design. Among his interesting projects he has helped design a photoelectric image monitor to site-test for observatories, in particular for a possible Saudi Arabian National Observatory, for which he set up and tested equipment, then selected and trained observers. Also, he is now (1998) the proprietor of a small company named Aurora Astronomical Services; its primary function is to carry out observations for individuals around the world who want to use the facilities of the DAO, but have difficulty getting there.
When we knew him at K.U., everyone thought of him as an orphan, but several years ago (1980) he received a phone call informing him that he had been adopted at age four days! Needless to say, he checked out things thoroughly. He states: "A swarm of original relatives descended; one mother, two brothers and three sisters. And here I thought I was an only child! Since then the mother and one brother have died." Frank has a wife, Sharon, one daughter and two sons. He suggests that the reader look up the internet site: islandnet.com/~the-gang (Ed. note: URL is now defunct). He plays the violin in two orchestras, and in a string quartet of which the viola player is the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin. In addition he makes and repairs violins and bows, is a member of the "Motley Crew Motorcycle Gang," and writes poetry (semi-finalist in the North American Open Poetry Contest out of Owings Mills, Md.). For a poem about the exhumation of Jesse James in 1995, and also to the interesting account of the repair of a fiddle belonging to another Younger (named Jim) refer to the above web-site. Frank is 57 yrs. (1998) and is semi-retired.
The Ross Spectrograph Capabilities: Edwin Barker
Edwin Barker completed his undergraduate astronomy in 1962 at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM., and then came to K.U. where he entered our master's program. Dr. Storer was his thesis adviser. Sometimes in my cynical moments, it would seem that the awkward telescope mounting of the Pitt telescope made our whole system a `white elephant;' then we would get a student like Ed Barker who certainly knew his way around a telescope, and would be especially helpful in coping with the instrumental difficulties. His M.A. thesis, completed in 1964, concerned the capabilities of the Ross spectrograph of the William Pitt 27-inch telescope.
He then went to the University of Texas and obtained his doctorate (1969); his Ph.D. thesis was titled Variations in the Surface Pressure of Mars (Harlan Smith was the adviser). Since that time he has worked at the McDonald Observatory, near Fort Davis, TX, as a Research Scientist with primary interests in planetary science in which he has published some ninety articles (up to1998); in addition he has spent five years as the Observatory Superintendent, and three years as the Discipline Scientist for Planetary Astronomy at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Presently he is the Chair of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the AAS. One of his primary concerns now relates to the design and construction of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), a joint project of the Universities of Texas, Pennsylvania State, Ludwigs-Maximilians, and Georg-August (the latter two in Germany). For a discussion of the telescope design, etc., refer to the web site: http://www.as.utexas.edu/mcdonald/het/het.html (also Ed Barker's photograph may be found there).
Ed Barker and his wife Ann live on top the mountain in a house adjacent to the McDonald Observatory; they have five grown children and four grandsons.
When I was a student at Yerkes, the McDonald Observatory was directed by Otto Struve, and astronomers from Yerkes made frequent trips to observe there; apparently a wealthy donor contributed the finances for constructing the McDonald Observatory, but denied the use of such funds for faculty salaries, so the University of Chicago filled in the gap.
Photometer Electronics: WIlliam Galinaitis
It had always been my desire to do planetary and lunar photometry using the Pitt telescope, since the available data was incomplete and inconsistent; but constructing a good practical photometer is not very easy to accomplish for a variety of reasons; in particular the electronic design presented me with the most problems. Fortunately, a real expert appeared on the scene, who had designed and built electronic devices for airplanes and spacecraft. His name was William Galinaitis, and he was fortunately a candidate for the M.A. in astronomy. He was quite willing to test our photometer and redesign the electronics. The Moon was a good test object for such studies, since a wide variation of intensities and colors could be observed, especially in the "ash light" (earthshine). So he proceeded to work on such problems, and received his M.A. in 1965; the thesis title was Lunar Observational Instrumentation.
He then went to the University of Arizona for awhile, fully intending to obtain a Ph.D., but family responsibilities made it impossible to continue, and he was lured into working for McDonnell-Douglas. Shortly thereafter he entered the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) becoming a Senior Research Scientist, and carried out research employing remote sensing, optical and infra-red spectrophotometry, and made studies of climatology, global energy and food production. He developed specifications for the Landsat Space Program. In 1974 he received the Intelligence Metal of Merit, and in 1984 the Career Intelligence Metal. Since retiring from the CIA in 1984, he has worked as Program Manager for the Harris Corporation and most recently for the Electronics Warfare Associates (EWA; refer to the web site www.ewa.com). Recently he sent me a note: "My prime goal these days is to pursue planetary radiometrics. Our new instrumentation and assessment methods may prove to be useful in providing the next step. Only time and the furnace of application will confirm our aspirations."
Galinaitis is married to Neoma Perry and they have four children.
Lunar Photometry and Libration: Ted. V. Smith
Ted V. Smith, as an undergraduate astronomy major, had worked with Galinaitis, and then continued the lunar photometry project; obtaining his M.A. in 1966. I recall that a rather thorough study of the moon's librations was necessary, and this delayed Ted from getting as much data as he had hoped to obtain. However we also were able to consider related problems that can arise when one inquires about where to position an observer, or observing station, on the Moon in order to carry out various kinds of lunar missions.
It may be remembered that during the sixties there was much effort to prepare for lunar landings on the Moon to fulfill President Kennedy's stated objectives, and this created much public interest. I was even enticed once into appearing on TV to give a quarter hour discussion of the possibility of setting up a space-station on the Moon.
After obtaining his degree Ted Smith went to the Wisconsin State University where he ran the planetarium as well as teaching physics and astronomy. His letter about this, dated December 4, 1967, from Lacrosse, WI, also describes a six-week trip of about 11,000 miles through the southwest and western states and up into Canada (Banff and Jasper Park). However, I unfortunately lost touch with him thereafter.
Hansen's Method for Absolute Perturbations. Maxwell Sandford
I first met Maxwell T. Sandford II (known familiarly as Brook) when he was a high school member of a "Moonwatch" team that manned a station in Kansas City, Mo. Such stations had been set up, primarily in the United States, to observe the positions of near-earth satellites whenever they passed in the vicinity of the stations at twilight time. Later this type of work would be done by personnel using wide-angle cameras, such as the Baker-Nunn, and located at a number of sites throughout the world. Brook was an exceptionally active observer with the intelligence to match; the particular quality that he possessed was a positive, confident attitude. He entered K.U., majored in astronomy, then went into the M.A. program and received this degree in 1967. His thesis was titled On Hansen's Method for Absolute Perturbations, a very difficult subject. He then entered Indiana University, and received the Ph.D. in 1971; his thesis was The Monte Carlo Method Applied to Cool Stellar Atmospheres. The Monte Carlo approach might be described as ray tracing coupled to probability theory; in practice it can be used to simulate many physical processes, and has been particularly effective in solving problems in light or particle scattering. As computer technology developed, the computation time per arithmetic operation decreased dramatically, and this in turn enabled the Monte Carlo to be ever more effective.
Brook obtained a staff member position at LASL (the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory), where he applied Monte Carlo and other radiative transfer methods combined with hydrodynamic programs to simulate low altitude nuclear explosions. He also did research in low-light imaging systems, high-speed instrumentation, LIDAR, star formation modeling, computer operating systems, energetic materials used in combination with sounding rockets, and most recently (1998) digital steganography, Windows NT kernel-mode drivers and file systems. He has published nearly seventy papers and reports on these subjects, and he holds seven patents. Interestingly enough, Brook's life-line crossed mine at Los Alamos in 1971, when we became colleagues in Group J-10, LASL.
I'll now quote Brook from a recent e-mail: "Horak and Storer encouraged undergraduate students who were really interested in astronomy. The 27-inch Pitt telescope and student office space was made available to them, and I soon learned to operate the instrument by working with the experienced students, Robert Wolfe and Frank Younger. The pleasure of doing astronomy full-time was immense, and the astronomy offices were undoubtedly one of the most heavily used facilities on the campus. However my own special interest in tracking satellites to obtain positional measurements was done better with wide-field instruments; I mounted two such 5-inch refracting telescopes on the roof of Lindley Hall, and these were used visually to make positional measurements of dozens of satellites. Also in 1964/5 one of the most spectacular comets of the century appeared. Comet Ikeya-Seki was a marvelous sight to the east over Bailey Hall, its tail extending towards the zenith before sunrise. This was my first view of a really good comet, and we all agreed it would be outdone only by Halley on its return two decades later. Of course Halley proved to be a great disappointment, but the appearance of Hyukatake and Hale-Bopp, not to mention the collision of comet Shoemaker-Levy with Jupiter, more than compensated."
Brook and his wife, Jana, live in Pajarito Acres, Los Alamos, NM. He has a seventeen year old son, Max, from a previous marriage.
Pseudo-Science in Astronomy
The question of pseudo-science often has to be confronted by the astronomy community. At Yerkes there was a set of so-called "paradox" book shelves upstairs in the library annex, where letters and papers were kept that originated from authors with dubious or ill-conceived ideas. As a graduate student working for Struve, it was occasionally my job to respond to such an author, and of course I would route my reply through Struve to avoid any misunderstandings. Among the topics of discussion that I encountered, Einstein's relativity theory was the most common target of criticism, flat-earth and related theories abounded (this was before the advent of the Sputnik), and UFO (unidentified flying object) situations were sometimes described in such ambiguous fashion that they were difficult to visualize much less authenticate.
Similarly, at K.U., Storer or I would receive such manuscripts via the mail, but more frequently we would get phone calls asking about objects seen in the sky, especially optical phenomena such as sun-dogs or haloes (I kept a copy nearby of Minnaert's book Light and Color in the Open Air). Storer kept copies of such sightings, letters, manuscripts, etc., in his filing cabinet; I'm afraid that I was less systematic than he. Occasionally I would see something puzzling, for example, one evening after sunset I strolled out the front door of my home to look at the twilight sky (only the brightest stars were visible) and to my surprise saw what appeared to be an unusually bright star in the approximate position of the pole star. Soon I was surrounded by several neighbors asking me about the object, so I made a quick trip to the observatory where I pointed the six-inch refractor at the object: clearly visible was a high altitude balloon with the words "U.S.ARMY." Another twilight case was quite different: I received a request from an inmate at the state prison in Lansing, KS, for the exact time that twilight ended at a certain location on a certain day several months previously. The prisoner stated that in Kansas if a robbery is carried out during nighttime the penalty for the crime is greater than when carried out during daytime or twilight. He was trying to get his sentence moderated. So I made the necessary calculations and sent the results as requested to his attorney; I don't know how the judge reacted. I also remember that Dr. Storer was called to testify as an "expert witness" in a couple of law suits, but I don't know the details.
Now let us go on to another, and non-legal, case: one afternoon ( I was working away at my desk) Dr. Storer received a visitor who had written a book at least an inch thick recommending that the value of Pi (3.14159265...) be changed to the integer 3, and wanted an evaluation of his concept. Storer accepted the challenge to convince the individual that such a change would not be feasible, and spent some time in the process (I had other things to do! and disappeared somewhere, but the two, plus a student, were still at it when I returned later); perhaps, though, Storer succeeded thereby in suppressing a best seller. And while speaking of best sellers, Brook Sandford in his e-mail to me mentions the visit to K.U. of Immanual.Velikovsky, probably in 1965, who was the author of a best selling book called Worlds in Collision. I only vaguely recall this visit, but I do remember Otto Struve, during a lecture at Yerkes on comets, saying in no uncertain terms that the book wasn't worth reading, and would mislead the nonscientific readers. In recent years there has been a review of it in one of the books, Broca's Brain, by the late Carl Sagan. Brook further reports that although there was a sizeable audience who attended the Velikovsky talk, only Dr. Storer and Dr.Wiseman (physics) responded critically to the presentation. It must have taken a certain amount of bravery to interrupt the speaker, since no formal rebuttal time had been allotted. Brook further makes the point that scientists cannot afford to ignore those who, for whatever purpose, advocate such pseudo-science, and that this lack of response is one of the important factors contributing to the "dumbing down" of education in America. It's a rough road to respond regularly to those who stretch the truth, and most scientists just don't have the time to do a thorough job; if Velikovsky were alive today, I can imagine his publishing an updated version of his book including photos of the Shoemaker-Levy comet's collision with Jupiter and saying "I told you so."
I also remember Dr.J.A.Hynek's visit to K.U. to give a lecture about UFO's. He was an astronomer from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, and on occasion worked for the armed forces to investigate sightings. We talked together at some length; I'm convinced that he was always trying to be rigorous yet open minded. But the nature of this subject is such that there is a paucity of data, which in turn spawns controversy, and too often he would encounter emotionalism rather than the desire to acquire truth. Hynek wrote a book about many of the UFO cases he had investigated, but admitted that there were some that he couldn't explain. However such an admission doesn't imply the existence of a reconnaissance team of aliens.
In my own situation as a teacher I've been approached by well meaning parents who tactfully would enquire whether astronomy was being taught `properly' to their children at K.U., the implication being that "creationism" should be given equal weight to "evolution." I would respond that one of the competing theories about the origin of the universe was the so-called "big bang" theory, and what could be more creative than that? However, I was careful to explain that we astronomers at K.U. did not teach religion, nor atheism, that (in my opinion) science could be looked upon as the study of how God arranges and manages things in this universe, and furthermore the Bible and other Holy Books are not texts in science.
The Astronomy Curriculum: The Relevance of Practical Astronomy
The question of the adequacy of the astronomy curriculum was a continual problem at K.U., but Storer and I had always agreed to offer as balanced an undergraduate curriculum as possible, which would include Elementary Astronomy, Practical Astronomy (including Least Squares), Observational and Theoretical Astrophysics. This would easily give enough hours to constitute an astronomy major. For senior majors and graduate students we also offered more specialized, flexible courses designed to fit each individual; for example, Observatory Practice, Orbit Computation and Thesis. Of course astronomy students were encouraged to take courses in mathematics and physics. Usually Storer taught the courses in positional astronomy, while I taught those in astrophysics. Most universities do not offer practical astronomy anymore, at least in the original sense of positional astronomy, and Brook Sandford has an interesting story to relate in this regard: "During my stay at Indiana University Professor Robert D'Escort Atkinson resided as an Emeritus Professor. He emigrated from the U.K. to the U.S. quite late in life after having lost the competition for Astronomer Royal. The battle was fought over the analysis and interpretation of records from the Greenwich transit circle, Atkinson having discovered systematic errors that were missed by his competitors. Politics intervened and the published results were allowed to stand. Upon emigrating, Atkinson brought with him all the original records in ancient wooden trunks, dating back to the early 1700's. I discovered a common ground with Atkinson, because I had a background in the sorts of traditional observatory practice that caused him to emigrate to the U.S. When I first made his acquaintance, he was entering all the transit records from the ledgers onto punched cards; as this task neared completion, he needed programming skills to analyze the data. At the age of about 75 he started to study FORTRAN, and I was pleased to assist him in this endeavor, and to pass along programs I had written at K.U. for the least squares analysis of the transit factors. Robert expanded these programs, analyzed the Greenwich data, confirmed the systematic errors, and published his results. And for four years, I found friendship with Robert D'Escort Atkinson and his wife, from the common ground we shared in using transit telescopes." The point of this story from the standpoint of a curriculum is that the fundamentals of practical astronomy are important, and their teaching should not be abandoned just because modern equipment and tools presumably give more interesting results. It has also been my experience that the use of the digital computer often gives a false sense of accuracy, not to mention complacency, especially when the understanding is lacking. Finally, the student should realize that positional astronomy is here to stay, regardless of whether he likes it or not!
Later, when Brook and I worked at Los Alamos, we encountered problems in practical astronomy quite frequently, especially in regard to the pointing of instruments; for example, the instrumentation package might be stationed aboard an airplane, rocket or artificial earth satellite and involve complicated light paths. We both became quite proficient at solving the trigonometry involved, though I preferred to make use of vector methods.
Multiple Periodicities. Wayne Fullerton
Wayne Fullerton came to K.U. from Kansas City, and entered our astronomy program. The first time I met him was the occasion when he recognized me walking to work and picked me up in his beat-up ancient Chevy (at that time I didn't know that he was an auto aficionado, especially in view of the copious exhaust emanations!). Wayne was a thin young fellow with a wry sense of humor that guided him towards practical jokes on occasion, but fate caught up with him one time: he stored a can of soda pop in the refrigerator where we kept photographic plates; the room had no furnace outlet, and when winter arrived and the temperature got below zero the can exploded! But refrigerators aren't supposed to do that, and Wayne admitted that he was the culprit. His loss of face punishment was to clean up the mess.
Wayne was a very fine student, and became an expert in numerical methods, especially Fourier analysis. He developed a method which he called Iterative Least Squares Residual Spectrum Analysis, and applied his program to a variety of problems, especially to stars called intrinsic variables. His M.A. thesis, written in 1967, was titled The Multiple Periodicities of the Delta Scuti Stars. Wayne and Brook Sandford invited me to dinner one evening at the apartment they shared with a psychology major, and I remember that their apartment walls were practically covered with computer generated plots. Wayne's paper was certainly deserving of publication, and I encouraged him to submit it to the Ap.J. Unfortunately the referee would not approve it, even though Wayne rewrote it and made most of the suggested changes. However, in the meantime Wayne was admitted as a graduate student by the Astronomy Department of the University of Michigan, and a rather awkward four-way communication system developed between the referee, editor, Wayne and me, so that the paper was uncomfortably left in limbo. After Wayne received his Ph.D. he joined LASL as a staff member in the Computation Division. He liked to work during the nighttime, when he was freer to use the computer facilities. For his recreation Wayne raced automobiles, and I recall that he purchased a Corvette.
The last time I saw him he had decided to go to work for a mathematical software firm in Texas, and later it was reported that he had married and bought a new home. Finally, one evening Brook Sandford and I received urgent phone calls from Jack Hills (a fellow-student with Wayne at both K.U. and Michigan) to meet at his Los Alamos apartment, where he informed us of the untimely and somewhat mysterious (at least to me) death of Wayne on Christmas Eve, 1984. Apparently Wayne had taken his own life.
A Myriad of Galaxies and Cataloging Them: Harold Corwin
The subject of galaxies early attracted the attention of Harold G. Corwin, Jr. (he entered K.U. in 1961), and his M.A. thesis at K.U. (1967) would be concerned with groups of galaxies. He writes that it was his father who first introduced him to the stars by showing him the constellations, and gave him the initial encouragement to find out what the stars are really like. He found high school did not challenge him enough, but his first year at K.U. brought him down to earth with `a real thump,' and for awhile he thought to abandon astronomy. However his friends in amateur astronomy at North Kansas City High and later the Kansas City Astronomy Club kept him enthused enough to get through the bad time with math and physics. He also gives credit to Storer and me, and fellow students for teaching him astronomy in spite of himself.
It was an invitation from DeVaucouleurs (University of Texas) to spend the summer of 1965 with his galaxy research group that gave Harold an opportunity to find out what practical research was really like, and he performed so well that he was invited back for the next two summers as well. He then spent four years in the Air Force, during which he met his wife, Kathleen (Challoner) Castellini (also an Air Force officer; they were married in 1977), and returned to a permanent position at the University of Texas. Though the main project at Texas was the Second Reference Catalog of Bright Galaxies, there were other projects in progress as well, for example: obtaining basic data (especially photoelectric UBVRI photometry of large galaxies), and mapping features on Mars. The Second Catalog was published in 1976, and it seemed feasible to consider returning to graduate school.
After a decade away from formal schooling, he and his wife made the courageous decision that he should go to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland to obtain his Ph.D. The choice to go to Edinburgh was not as random a choice as it might seem. First of all, the university's Astronomy Department is attached to the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh (ROE), and shares office space with it. In the second place, the ROE was the administrative and data center for the United Kingdom Schmidt telescope in Siding Spring, Australia, so was a perfect place to study the southern sky on the then-new Southern Sky Survey plates. In addition Edinburgh is a wonderful city in which to live-- picturesque, cosmopolitan and quite lively. Corwin's thesis project was a preliminary study of a supercluster of galaxies he had found during the course of a cluster survey he was carrying out in collaboration with George Abell, who unfortunately died in 1983. The Ph.D. thesis, completed in 1981, has the title The Indus Supercluster (advisors David Emerson, Russell Cannon and Robert Stobie). Harold writes that he was able to get another collaborator, Ronald Olowin, and together they completed the Abell Catalog of Rich Clusters of Galaxies (southern portion and a revised version of the northern portion) in 1989.
After that he returned to Texas to work with DeVaucouleurs for another ten years, primarily on the Third Reference Catalog of Bright Galaxies (RC3) which included the Southern Galaxy Catalog (1985). With RC3's publication the time was ripe for another move, and he presently works at the California Institute of Technology on the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED) and for the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center. In his latest e-mail to me he writes the following: "During my seven-plus years with NED it has grown tremendously: from an initial database of about 50,000 optical galaxies and 50 MB of required storage, it now encompasses nearly a million extragalactic sources observed at numerous wavelengths and takes up over a GB (billion bytes) of storage. It has over 3000 regular users from all over the world, and its World-Wide-Web interface (introduced in January 1996) has opened it up to not just professional research astronomers, but to the amateur community as well. It is now receiving over 200,000 "Web Hits" per month, as well as around 50,000 server requests from other electronic data services, and about 2000 interactive log-ins via the Internet. NED is now maintained by a staff of eight with contributions from two other scientists/programmers." For more information he suggests that the reader refer to the following web site:
Stellar Dynamics: Jack Hills
Jack Hills is a theoretician whose primary interest has been in the field of stellar dynamics, and his M.A. thesis at K.U. dealt with the effect of binaries insofar as stellar collisions are concerned. He completed his thesis in 1966, but took the final oral exam in the summer of 1967.
He states in a recent e-mail to me that "Overall, I believe that I have only worked on very simple things that I have understood very thoroughly. I have applied some creativity to the projects, but I usually have worked well within the boundaries of my abilities and knowledge...I have over 140 publications on these routine subjects...I sometimes think of the Observational Astrophysics course that you taught. You asked us to choose one night a week. The rule was that if it was clear we were to come that night to help Frank Younger get the spectra for his thesis. Wayne Fullerton and I chose Friday night. It was clear for about twelve Fridays in a row (!), so Wayne and I ended up taking a very substantial fraction of the spectra that went into Younger's thesis. I also took some spectra of my own; I particularly like the Wolf Rayet stars. This led me to propose finding such stars by using an interference filter that would look at the light in one of their strong lines and compare it to photographs taken with a filter that would cover a nearby region without lines. We never carried out the idea, but others did decades later."
He had previously applied to the University of Michigan for admission to their astronomy graduate school, and had been accepted. After he had completed his course work he made a perfect score on the oral qualification exam (the last exam before one becomes a Candidate for the Ph.D.); this apparently caused some consternation among the examiners. He went on to complete his thesis in 1969. The thesis title was Dynamical Evolution of the Solar System (adviser Richard Sears), and it discussed the dynamical evolution of the solar system for various initial semimajor axes.
He further states: "I believe I discovered 'chaos,' but it was too confusing for me and no one (especially the referees) had any use for it thirty years ago. I got one Nature paper out of it, but I was thoroughly frustrated with the referees when I tried to publish a long version of the paper."
Jack worked at the Universities of Michigan and Michigan State for a few years, and then became a staff member in the Theoretical Division at Los Alamos. In recent years he has done research on the effect of asteroid-comet impacts on earth and techniques for detecting these objects, tidal breakup of stars by black holes, the structure of the interstellar medium, and the solar comet cloud (coined the phrase "comet shower" and proposed the "inner comet cloud"). He also worked on some of the basic physics involved in nuclear weapons, and for the last fifteen years has been a deputy group-leader in the Astrophysics Group of the Theoretical Division at Los Alamos. Presently (1998) he is the Chairman of the Division on Dynamical Astronomy, AAS.
He is married to the former Cynthia L. Zeller, a computer programmer and project leader at LANL, and they have one daughter age ten.
Finally, I must quote the last paragraph of his message to me: "Most of all I remember the atmosphere in the old observatory where the students were free to come and observe and to meet other enthusiasts. It allowed for bonding and long-term friendships among the students. The atmosphere was very good."
Hydrodynamics and Combustion. Lawrence Cloutman
Lawrence (Larry) D. Cloutman majored in physics at K.U. during the late 60's, but took as many astronomy courses as he could fit into his busy schedule. I particularly remember his devising an optical design program that performed ray tracing; he wrote me recently that he originally developed the method to the stage where it would handle optical media with quadric surface boundaries, but not the higher order surfaces (such as correction plates). Larry continued his studies at the University of Indiana, obtaining the M.A. (1971) and the Ph.D. (1972) in astronomy. His doctoral thesis title was A Numerical Approach to the Study of Convective and Semi-Convective Stability (thesis adviser Barry M. Schlesinger).
He has spent his working career at the Los Alamos, Lawrence-Livermore and Sandia (Livermore branch) National Laboratories investigating hydrodynamic problems, especially the numerical simulation of turbulent combustion and reactive flows (such as encountered in an automobile engine). His wife, Elizabeth, graduated from K.U. in 1969, and then obtained a masters in library science while they were at Indiana. She is presently pursuing work to obtain a degree in journalism. They presently live in Livermore, CA. Their son has completed his B.A. in philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley.
My Decision to Leave KU
During the early sixties the number of astronomy students at K.U., both undergraduate and graduate, increased greatly, and by 1965 our elementary class amounted to nearly two-hundred, and the M.A. candidates to about six. Also, the campus had become rather bright at night due to the increasing number of light sources, and it seemed worthwhile to consider moving the observatory. Furthermore, the Physics Department was due for a new department chairman, and I remember sitting in on interviews of some of the outside candidates (none of the regular staff members were interested); eventually in 1966 Dr.David Beard was chosen to replace Dr.Stranathan.
During the summer of 1966 I worked at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Boston, where Dr.Charles Lundquist had become the assistant director, and he headed a project to investigate the utilization of the data obtained by tracking artificial earth satellites. Of special interest was the proposed use of LIDAR (optical radar), which had the potential for making very precise range measurements to such a satellite. It was assumed that at least one corner cube retroreflector was attached to the satellite in order to enhance the return signal strength. My job consisted in determining the accuracy of such LIDAR-determined ranges, the errors being due primarily to the effects of atmospheric refraction. I wrote a short paper about this in which I showed that the probable error of one measurement of the range could be expected to be around 10 to 25 cm for average conditions, and the experience served me well as an introduction to LIDAR and some of its possibilities.
Meanwhile at K.U. it appeared (at least to me) that some new kind of management structure had been adopted and was diluting the authority of the university. It manifested itself by proliferating deans, making it difficult to find someone in authority who was willing to make decisions. Storer and I consulted with various and sundry individuals who might help with our problems, such as Dean of the College Waggoner, but talk is cheap. Eventually I reached the conclusion that I should go elsewhere. This was a difficult decision to make, because I would be leaving Dr. Storer in a very uncomfortable position with no assistance, especially with regard to the M.A. students who would be left in "limbo." There were also other more personal considerations, such as salary, retirement, the situation of my parents, etc.
I interviewed at the Smithsonian for a possible management position, but that clearly wasn't for me. After a few attempts at a couple of universities, Livermore, and McDonnell-Douglas (I actually got offers from the two latter places), I phoned Bob Brownlee who was in the Atmospheric Testing (J-Division) Office at Los Alamos. He suggested that I contact Dr.Herman Hoerlin, the Group Leader of J-10, who, it turned out, needed someone to work on radiative transfer problems. I was hired as a visiting staff member which gave me the opportunity to find out whether I was suited to the type of work that was required, and likewise it gave Dr. Hoerlin the opportunity to evaluate my work.
A certain amount of confusion then resulted back at K.U. A letter from Dr. Storer (February 9, 1968) said that the word had got around that there was even the possibility of terminating the Astronomy major and master's programs. The negative reaction from students, both past and present, was considerable, and a number of letters of protest were received by the University. Also, Beard once visited me at Los Alamos, and my impression was that we "soliloquized" alternatively rather than carried out a conversation. My Czech stubborn streak had been activated, and after about six months working at Los Alamos I went to Dr.Hoerlin and requested a permanent position at LASL; he in turn went to the J-Division Leader, Dr. Ogle, and my request was approved. I sent my letter of resignation to Dr. Beard on March 29, 1968 (I was then 49 years old). I certainly didn't have a mid-life crisis because I was kept continuously busy trying to solve "impossible" problems; I even mentioned this to Bob Brownlee one day, and he laughed and said: "Well, I see you've joined the club, because all our problems are impossible!" My first two years were rather difficult, but my family and I survived and we learned to love our mountainous surroundings and the people who inhabit this remarkable place.
The Theory of Visual Binaries: Edward Sion
Among the several students remaining in limbo when I left was Edward M.Sion, who went on persistently to complete his M.A. thesis, which was devoted to the theory of visual binaries. He did this the hard way by sending me (at LASL) completed sections via "snail" mail, and I would check over the mathematics and make suggestions. It pleased me greatly when he successfully finished his thesis and passed his oral exam in 1969.
He then was able to go to the University of Pennsylvania where he got his Ph.D.; his thesis there, completed in 1975, was titled Multi-Modal Non-Adiabatic Oscillations and Pulsational Stability of Hot Degenerate Dwarfs (advisor: Samuel C. Vila). When I was a student at Yerkes such a subject was considered pretty sophisticated (not to Chandra of course!), and I recall having to give a review of Rosseland's monograph The Pulsation Theory of Variable Stars . It seemed strange to me that so much of the book was devoted to adiabatic pulsations, which cannot give rise to light variations. Chandra chided me rather vigorously saying that the author was mainly interested in the mathematics of pulsation theory, rather than light variation problems. And what was I doing in the early 70's while Ed Sion was writing his Ph.D. thesis? I was involved with others at LASL programming a related problem, viz., the coupled radiation hydrodynamics of a rapidly expanding nuclear fireball in air! Perhaps Ed Sion would have felt perfectly at home here in Los Alamos!
But he has stayed in astronomy, working on late stages of stellar evolution, accretion onto degenerate stars, models of thermonuclear shell flashes, cataclysmic and symbiotic variable stars. He is now (1998) Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Villanova University. In addition to research and teaching he is one of the associate (scientific) editors of the Ap.J..
In the last six years he has had observing time on the Hubble Space Telescope, resulting in fifteen refereed papers about properties of white dwarfs: spectroscopic studies, the first rotation rates, and the discovery of proton capture elements with greatly enhanced abundances pointing to a past classical nova (thermonuclear) explosion. He writes that he has travelled a lot to meetings in Europe, Israel, Russia, China and Australia.
He is married to K.U. alumna Miriam Kay Kangas, who is a psychiatrist working in the field of family therapy and as a social worker, and they have two children.
Degenerate Matter: James Liebert
James W. Liebert was a senior at the time I left for Los Alamos. He writes: "I remember talking to you about accepting graduate school at Berkeley, where I was interested in learning to calculate stellar models with Louis Henyey (he unfortunately died a short time after I arrived in California). I had to go to the navy for a few years during the Vietnam War, though I got to stay in Washington. I got my Ph.D. from the University of California in 1976; my thesis was Spectrophotometric Studies of White Dwarf Stars (advisor Hyron Spinrad).
"I then moved to Arizona and have been here ever since. Now (1998), here in the Department of Astronomy (Steward Observatory) the graduate students in my class are computing stellar models on a SPARC Ultra computer which rip through the main sequence and on to the giant branch and core helium ignition...and this evolution simulation requires only about ten minutes of calculating time! But it was at Lindley Hall, not so much in course work, but just from talking and working with Wayne Fullerton, Jack Hills, Brook Sandford, Larry Cloutman and most especially with Ed Sion, in addition to you and Wyman Storer, that I first learned about the U-V plane, polytropes, Chandra's book on stellar structure, radiative transfer, Ambartsumian's book Theoretical Astrophysics, and 'fitting methods' for models of stars.
"About 1980 I was invited to the University of Chicago to give a colloquium titled The Growing Menagerie of Magnetic Degenerate Stars. I was hoping that Chandra would come, but was told that he had been ill; well, luckily he did come! At the end of the talk Chandra stood up and all attention was turned on him. He said that he didn't usually attend colloquia anymore, but that the title of the talk attracted him. He was glad that I used the term 'degenerate stars' instead of 'white dwarfs.' It seemed that several decades previously a group of astronomers were discussing what name should be used for these beasts at the end of stellar life. Henry Norris Russell was the leader of those who favored 'white dwarfs' and said, 'Dr. Chandrasekhar, fifty years from now these stars will still be there, but we're not so sure about your theory of degenerate matter.' Chandra noted that almost this much time had passed, and he thought the 'degenerate matter' ideas were still doing OK! Unfortunately, as I recall, Chandra had to leave immediately afterwards and I didn't really get the chance to chat with him, but this was a real thrill for me."
Besides teaching, doing research, writing technical reports, etc., there are various administrative duties that a professor has to perform; for example, in Liebert's case he served on the AAS Council and as Chair of the Publications Board. In this latter context he worked closely with Jim Hesser (with whom he did not overlap at K.U.) and they co-chaired committees regarding the management of the Ap.J. and its evolution to electronic journals, the selection of the chief and scientific editors, and also the directorship of the Cerro Tololo Observatory. Liebert also writes, "There were occasions where the good judgment of Jim Hesser was essential to working our way through some seemingly impossible obstacles. At one point someone made the comment that 'the AAS is at the mercy of the K.U. Mafia!' Presently (1998) Ed Sion is one of the scientific editors, so that this Mafia is still active!"
Binary Stars: Paul Etzel
Paul Etzel was one of my undergraduate 'limbo' students, and he avoided any such problems by simply leaving K.U. and going to Washburn College (Topeka, KS) to get his B.A., where Dr. Stanley Alexander taught astronomy. Storer and I were well acquainted with Stan, and had a high opinion of him; on occasion he would visit us at K.U. and we would have interesting discussions.
Which reminds me, I recall (from distant Los Alamos) seeing reports on TV about the unusually large tornado that went through Topeka in the early 1970's, and it was a miracle that no lives were lost. The Washburn College Observatory suffered severe damage, in particular the telescope dome was blown off the roof. Stan could personally verify some of the stories reported about the tornado, and also remarked that the dome was never found again.
In any event Paul Etzel continued along the astronomy trail and got his Ph.D. at U.C.L.A. in 1986 (I quote) "via a rather involved route. When we got out of there, my wife and I had three kids. My primary interest is binary stars. I owe you and Thom Gandet (an undergraduate astronomy major at K.U.; cf. immediately below) for sparking my interest in that field. I got my Ph.D. as an understudy to both Dan Popper and Mirek Plavec. Binary stars are in my blood thanks to you. I am co-chair of the AAS meeting this summer (June 1998) in San Diego. P.S., I still use the Wolfe, Storer, Horak spectroscopic binary code (heavily modified); I renamed the Least Squares routine NWSTR in honor of our dear late colleague. Check out the San Diego State web page at http://mintaka.sdsu.edu."
Astronomy at KU after 1967: Thom Gandet
Thom Gandet sent me an e-mail recently that contains some interesting words about what occurred at K.U. after I left in 1967. He was an undergraduate major in astronomy and assisted Dr. Storer in various ways, for example he was Dr. Storer's teaching assistant for two years. He has unfortunately become afflicted with multiple sclerosis (MS) in recent years and writes, "I'm sorry to have taken so long to respond. The MS flared up some weeks ago, affecting my legs: when I walk, I feel like I must be walking through molasses. Fortunately, the symptoms are improving, as they usually do, so the worst is over."
"After you left for Los Alamos, things in K.U. astronomy went downhill for awhile. However, Paul Etzel and I decided to show there was still interest in astronomy and that the observatory could still be made to do some useful things by students, at any rate we were full of optimism. Paul took on the task of getting the photometer system working, while I tackled the spectrograph; we concentrated our efforts on binary systems with visions of Otto Struve's work dancing in our heads. Beard and Tom Armstrong were supportive of our efforts, and we got some money for electronics, photographic and darkroom supplies, and to convert an old measuring machine into a projection measuring engine. Tom Armstrong was particularly supportive, and without that I don't think the program would have lasted beyond 1969 or 1970 (Note by HGH: Dr. Storer retired in 1970, although he continued to do some teaching). I also worked for Armstrong programming data-reduction algorithms for his solar particle count experiments; and during two summers had undergraduate research grants which allowed me to indulge my spectroscopic addictions. Soon the university began searching for a new faculty astronomer, so that there were a couple of years when we had pretty much free run of the observatory and equipment."
Eventually Dr.Peter Wehinger was hired, and his wife, Dr. Susan Wyckoff assumed the position of an adjunct professor. (Note by HGH: I received a letter from them indicating that they had become disillusioned with the situation at K.U., and shortly thereafter they went elsewhere. At present they occupy positions at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ).
"Dr. Steve Shawl took Wehinger's place, and I was fortunate to take a class or two from him. At last K.U. astronomy seemed back on track. My last semester there was 1972-3; after seven years of trying to get my degree, working part-time to help out my family at home, and being defeated by calculus, I'd had enough of poverty and endless struggling. I left for California in January of 1973 and by April I'd found a permanent job writing software at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where I stayed, working for various contract outfits until 1990 when I was forced to go on disability because of the MS."
"Twice while at K.U. I worked at astronomy jobs elsewhere: during 1967-8 at the Allegheny Observatory where Beardsley and I observed Omega Piscium, a binary with a rotation of the line of apsides of about 50 years, and during 1970 at Kitt Peak as Helmut Abt's research assistant."
"My last semester at K.U. was probably the best. There were four of us sharing Tom Armstrong's house while he was on sabbatical. Of those Steve Hawley eventually got his Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Cruz and became a NASA astronaut; he 'launched' the Hubble Telescope from the Space Shuttle bay, and, I believe, will also 'launch' the next NASA Great Observatory. Ron Snell is on the faculty at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst and doing some great things in infrared astronomy. The fourth fellow, Don Bucher, equally bright and talented, seems to have dropped off the earth around 1978 or so, and was headed for law school last I heard."
"It was all great fun, and I wouldn't trade a minute of it. I even enjoyed the rigor and discipline of Dr. Storer's spherical astronomy classes, and made use of my notes over the years. The experiences of trying to pry the secrets of the universe--we never aimed low in those days!--out of metallic coated glass and assorted optics and electronics were exhilarating, and it was that challenge that kept me there so many years."
In a letter to me dated October 19, 1967, he wrote: "In the eventuality that you do not return to K.U. next year, it has been my infinite pleasure of knowing you and studying under you. Despite your protestations to the contrary, you are much admired and beloved by the students in the astronomy department." No wonder I have kept this letter all these years!
The Passing of Dr. Storer
Dr. N. Wyman Storer died in 1979, having suffered a heart attack, and he was buried in the University burial site west of the campus. I returned to Lawrence, Kansas, for his memorial service. His wife, Mary, their three children and his brother were present, as well as many friends and faculty members. He was one of the most ethical persons I ever met, and I am proud to have been his friend, student and colleague.
Into this Universe, and why not knowing,
Nor whence, like Water, willy-nilly flowing;
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.
(Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, XXIX).
Where are they???
There are many other astronomy students whom I would have liked to interview, but were unable to locate. Many names were suggested by the above students, and I hope to be able to contact them eventually: Dave Barnhill, Chuck Converse, Carl Esch, Kenneth Ford, Clinton Foulk Jim Fury, Bob Krisko, McCurley, Bob Saunders, Steve Skinner, Squires, Tom Wells, Jerry Woodman
A Short Summary of My work at Los Alamos
My experiences while at LASL (later changed to LANL, for Los Alamos National Laboratory), covered twenty-two years from October, 1967 until October, 1989 when I retired. My initial position was that of a visiting staff member, but I had to obtain a so-called 'Q-Clearance' badge before being allowed to work on classified material. Clearances at Los Alamos are based on the "need to know," and the process of getting such a badge required a few months. One of my neighbors admitted that he had been interviewed about me (by the FBI no less), and that he answered, "Oh, yes, I'm acquainted with Henry; he has a Czech name that I can't pronounce, plays chess and also plays Russian music on his accordion!" Of course he was teasing me, and I reminded him that my accordion was made in Italy, not Russia where it is called a bayan. Actually there was a time in the mid-seventies when I played some of the musical accompaniment for our International Folk Dancers.
Dr.Herman Hoerlin, the Group Leader of J-10, was a man about 15 years older than I, and I learned to admire him very much. He suggested that while waiting for my clearance I should study atmospheric aerosols. The laboratory possessed a very excellent technical library, and I spent most of my early weeks working there, reviewing the literature and copying pertinent articles using the library's Xerox machines. I even wrote a summary paper titled: Aerosol Concentration and Extinction in the Earth's Atmosphere (Los Alamos Report LA-4032, 1969). When my clearance arrived, I was assigned a room close to the Group Office; sometimes I would feel like I was on the "firing line," because Hoerlin found it so convenient to drop into my room and bring up problems or questions for me to investigate. He was a man somewhat like Struve, and wanted straight, practical answers. I found out that solutions were more important than methods, and adjusted my thinking accordingly. We got along very well, and I found him to be very dedicated and competent. There were some extremely talented individuals in this group, for example Dr.Martin Tierney, a theoretical physicist who always had a systematic and logical approach to solving any problem; this kind of person is a veritable jewel, and I often took advantage of his advice and help; I now count him as a very good friend. In passing I should mention that there were some six-thousand Ph.D.'s at Los Alamos, and I don't recall anyone ever being addressed as "doctor."
I became a 'permanent' staff-member in 1968, although tenure at Los Alamos was only for 30 days! During the next several years four former K.U. astronomy students joined the laboratory: Brook Sandford, Wayne Fullerton, Larry Cloutman and Jack Hills. Brook became a member of Group J-10 in which I was a member, Wayne a member of C-division (computation), Larry a member of the hydrodynamics group, and Jack, a member of the astrophysics group. So, if we include Bob Brownlee of the J-division Office, and myself, the K.U. Astronomy 'Mafia' had infiltrated into Los Alamos having contributed six astronomers! Bob Brownlee used to say that one reason for this was that astronomers are, financially speaking, 'cheap'!
I worked on many projects while at Los Alamos, such as: Monte Carlo studies of the twilight sky, atmospheric scattering from point sources over-the-horizon, theory of resonance-fluorescence by sunlit barium and strontium clouds, interaction of nuclear explosions with the atmosphere, construction of a lidar (laser radar) system, lidar observations of the Mt. St. Helens plume, lidar measurements of the effluent from coal-burning power plants, interception problems associated with SDI (strategic-defence initiative), rocket-based observations of the inner zodiacal light during a total eclipse, orientation of a satellite that has nadir and solar sensors, geometric coverage by the sensors of a multi-satellite system, PCFLS (probability of cloud-free lines of sight) from a satellite to points on the earth.
This completes my mini-history, and I must confess that writing it has been an interesting and nostalgic adventure for me. But the best part of the adventure was actually living it. You were the best possible students, and Dr. Storer the best possible colleague!
Henry G.Horak, Christmas, 1998Back to Top
Mr. Pitt's Telescope: A Short History of the 27-Inch Reflector at the University of Kansas
By D.J. Bord, 1980, Trans. Kansas Acad. of Sci. https://doi.org/10.2307/3628408
The history of the University of Kansas' 27-inch reflecting telescope is traced from its beginnings in the drained, basement swimming pool of a talented Kansas City amateur astronomer, William Pitt, to its removal to its present location on the top of Lindley Hall in Lawrence under the supervision of Prof. N. W. Storer. Emphasis is placed on the early attempt by Dr. Dinsmore Alter to develop the University of Kansas' Observatory into a self-sustaining, first-class research facility and on those circumstances and events that have ultimately led to its evolution into a public relations showpiece and teaching telescope.
As they enter, visitors to the University of Kansas' Observatory are greeted by a bronze plaque introducing them to the William Pitt 27-inch reflecting telescope. Few such individuals, upon leaving however, do so with an appreciation of the history and "romance," to use the word of former professor of Astronomy, Dinsmore Alter, associated with this telescope. As Visiting Professor of Astronomy during the 1978-79 academic year, the writer had an opportunity to trace the development of the University's principal optical instrument and found it both a fascinating and, from an astronomer's point of view, often frustrating tale. This short article attempts to present the reader with a brief look at both these aspects of the story.
While the study of astronomy at the University of Kansas dates from 1876, the first observatory building on campus was not erected until about 1885. Built on land deeded to the University by the State of Kansas, this structure, which really amounted to no more than a simple wooden shed with a slit roof, housed a 6-inch Alvan Clark refractor and a 2-inch transit telescope. The lifetime of the new observatory was extremely short, for within a year Gov. Robinson rescinded the gift of land upon which the building had been erected, and the structure was razed. From this time until 1919, the University had no permanent structure from which to make astronomical observations, although the teaching of astronomy was continued under the direction of a number of individuals, among them Prof. E. L. Nichols, the founder of the Physical Review.
1 Permanent address: Department of Physics, Benedictine College, Atchison, Kansas 66002.
1918-1935: The alter years
In 1918, after serving two years with the artillery corps, Dr. Dinsmore Alter rejoined the University faculty, having been hired in 1916 just prior to the outbreak of hostilities between the United States and Germany. One of Prof. Alter's first official acts was to secure from the state legislature an appropriation of $3500 for the construction of a new observatory building and the purchase of a new 3-inch transit instrument and an equatorial mount for the 6-inch Clark refractor. The building, completed in the fall of 1919, occupied the site upon which the University's large Hoch Auditorium now stands.
Throughout his 17-year association with the University, Alter, whose principal research interest was the computation of asteroid orbits, cherished the hope of creating an active program of asteroidal and cometary research in Lawrence. In a letter to then Chancellor Frank Strong dated May 28, 1919, he described the first step in fulfilling his dream: the construction of a 20-inch reflecting telescope. As outlined in his letter, Alter agreed to purchase, grind and figure the primary mirror for the instrument and then to donate it to the University, contingent upon the latter's purchase of an appropriate mounting and construction of an additional dome in which to house the telescope. A 1.6-inch thick blank was shortly thereafter purchased from the Pittsburg Plate Glass Co., and the grinding was begun in 1920, only to be abandoned soon afterward when it appeared that no mounting would be forthcoming from the University.
In the fall of 1925, undaunted, Alter approached Mr. W. Y. Morgan, a member of the Kansas Board of Regents, with a plan for anew observatory and a proposal for a program of astronomical research for the University. To implement the proposal, which had been endorsed by some of the leading astronomers of the day, including W. S. Adams of Mt. Wilson, E. B. Frost of Yerkes, R. G. Aitken of Lick and Harlow Shapley of Harvard, required an estimated total of $850,000, $210,000 of which Alter hoped to secure by an outright gift to purchase, among other things, a 36-inch reflector; the remainder of the $850,000 was to go into an endowment fund, the interest from which was to be used to provide salaries for two additional astronomers and a staff of computers, whose primary efforts would be directed towards the determination of accurate asteroid orbits. As with his previous efforts, Alter was not successful in securing the necessary financial backing for his program, and no equipment or staff was added at this time. Indeed, in 1926, the Observatory was razed for the second time to make room for anew auditorium (Hoch), and rebuilt west of Marvin Hall.
It was in the same year, 1926, that Alter (probably through the intercession of Thornton Cooke, then President of the Columbia National Bank and a KU alumnus) first met Mr. William Pitt, a retired Kansas City businessman who, as founder of the Irving-Pitt Manufacturing Co., had made his fortune producing spiral notebooks. Mr. Pitt, an amateur astronomer and talented machinist, having learned of Alter's needs, agreed to donate both his time and money toward the construction of two large mirrors to be used for the study of asteroids.
The first mirror to be completed by Pitt was the 20-inch plate glass disk originally purchased by Alter in 1920; in the course of this initial work, Pitt designed and built his own precision grinding machine, and perfected his polishing and figuring techniques. In 1928, encouraged by the favorable results of the 20-inch mirror project, Pitt undertook a more ambitious project on behalf of the University: the grinding and polishing of a 27-inch mirror.
Originally, Alter and Pitt had hoped to acquire a clear quartz disk of the appropriate size to be used as the primary of the new instrument. Failing in this endeavor, it was decided to achieve the high degree of thermal stability required of telescope mirrors by using a disk made of pyrex. The disk, arriving in Kansas City in January 1928, weighed about 250 pounds, and was 27.5 inches in diameter and 4.5 inches thick; it cost $250. The grinding and polishing of the blank was carried out in Mr Pitt's home in Kansas City-specifically in an emptied swimming pool in the amateur astronomer's basement. For over a year, Pitt and an assistant carried out the grinding, polishing and figuring of the mirror. By February 1929, knife-edge tests conducted by Alter and Pitt indicated that the desired paraboloidal figure had been nearly achieved. Shortly thereafter, the 27-inch mirror was transported to Lawrence for installation at the Observatory. At the time of its installation in 1929, the William Pitt-University of Kansas 27-inch telescope was the first telescope to have its main light-gathering element made of Pyrex, although a 16-inch secondary mirror made of Pyrex was in use at Mt. Wilson at the time.
In a very real sense, the University's 27-inch telescope was a home-made instrument. Not only was the mirror fashioned locally, but the fork mounting was designed and largely constructed by University personnel. Manley Hood, a 1929 graduate of the University, and his brother, Henry, designed and machined the vast majority of the telescope parts in the University's Fowler Shops; only two of the large castings required for the instrument had to be made in Kansas City. The original drive for the telescope was contributed by Mr. Pitt himself and then improved in 1935 by an electrical engineering student, William Edson. Even the turning mechanism for the 27-inch dome was a collaborative effort by several University Departments: the Electrical Engineering Department donated the main driving motor, the Buildings and Grounds Department contributed a large gearing mechanism from an old concrete mixer, and the Mechanical Engineering Department provided the facilities which allowed Henry Hood to rebuild these diverse elements into a satisfactory dome rotation device.
Unfortunately, and despite the best cooperative efforts of the University staff, progress on the telescope ground to a halt just short of completion in 1930 due to economic difficulties caused by the Depression. As Prof. Alter wrote in 1934, "a very small amount of money prevents the University
of Kansas from having the prestige of the largest telescope within several hundred miles of Lawrence. When the Depression made it impossible to use more of the University's funds, the William Pitt-University of Kansas 27-inch reflecting telescope lacked only a few minor parts, an observing chair, a complicated plate-holder and a plate measuring machine of being ready to start on its nightly career of research work." Alter estimated that an additional $500-800 was needed to bring the telescope into full operation; once again, the money was not forthcoming. In 1935, Dr. Alter took a leave of absence from the University, and, a year later, resigned to become the Director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. The telescope still remained incomplete and, after almost 17 years of continuous effort, the research observatory envisioned by Prof. Alter had yet to be established. As it turned out, it never would be.
1935-present: Completion, relocation, and renovation
The job of completing the telescope fell to Alter's replacement, Dr. N . Wyman Storer, who, like Alter, was a graduate of the University of California. Among the first things Storer did was to have the 27-inch mirror aluminized. The history of the aluminization of the 27-inch mirror, although short, is, like much of the history of the whole instrument, an interesting one. In the spring of 1934, Alter had approached Dr. John Strong, a 1926 graduate of the University of Kansas, and then a faculty member at California Institute of Technology, about the possibility of having the 27-inch mirror aluminized.
Fig. 6. High atop Lindley Hall, the domes of the University of Kansas Observatory can be seen in this photograph taken facing north. At the left is the dome for the 6-inch Clark refractor, while at the right is that housing the 27-inch William Pitt reflector. Beginning in early 1980, the 6-inch dome will be dismantled and replaced with anew 16-foot diameter aluminum dome and cylinder. The observing slit for the 3-in(;h transit instrument is just visible about midway between the two observatory domes.
Strong, who had recently developed a new vacuum aluminization process, agreed to tryout his technique on the primary of the Pitt telescope free of charge, if the University would pay the shipping charges to and from Pasadena. Negotiations over the details of the aluminization were temporarily halted during Alter's leave of absence and were not taken up again until 1936, when Storer reestablished Strong's willingness to finish the mirror. The 27-inch paraboloid was duly shipped to Pasadena and returned to Lawrence on July 17, 1937, with a newly coated aluminum surface.
In the year and a half separating the installation of the aluminized 27-inch mirror and the formal dedication of the Pitt reflector on February 17, 1939, the last obstacles preventing the use of the telescope were gradually overcome. In April of 1938, an observing platform was built which provided convenient access to the prime focus position of the telescope, then the only available observing station. Between September of 1938 and the spring of 1939, an offset guider, a shuttered plate holder, and knife-edge tester/field viewer were all constructed and put into use. Again, from an historical point of view, this last phase of development is also of interest because it was carried out largely by Clyde W. Tombaugh, the man who had discovered Pluto in 1930, as part of his Master's thesis work. Finally, after almost 10 years of work, the 27-inch telescope was ready for regular use. At a meeting of the Society of Sigma Xi on February 17,1939, the instrument was dedicated as the "William Pitt 27-inch Telescope" in recognition of Mr. Pitt's contribution to the project. As Prof. Storer wrote in 1938 urging that the telescope be named after Pitt: "By far the greatest value of the telescope lies in the glass, and since Mr. Pitt was so vitally interested in the completion of that, it is entirely fitting that the whole telescope be named after him."
At the time of the dedication, the bronze plaque that now welcomes visitors to the Observatory was attached to the telescope, and Dr. Harold Hungerford, then president of the Kansas Chapter of Sigma Xi, presented a medal to Mr. Pitt (who was living in New Jersey at the time) in recognition of his interest in science.
Fig. 7. This close-up of the Observatory domes, taken from the roof of Lindley Hall, shows the William Pitt 27-inch telescope in the larger building on the right. Both domes were designed and built under the direction of Dr. Storer, and consist of wooden frames overlaid with aluminum flashing and/or painted canvas. The shutters are rolled aside on a pair of steel rails through use of a pulley system, a part of which (the white nylon cording just inside the slit) can be seen in the photograph.
In the more than 40 years since its dedication, the Pitt telescope has continued to lead an up and down life. Although the location of the observatory in 1939 was by no means ideal, a point Tombaugh made rather strongly in his dissertation ("the writer sees little hope of much more useful research being accomplished until the telescope is moved to a more favorable location which would be free of obnoxious lights and dust."), the telescope was at least able to be used there. But not for long. In 1944, the University of Kansas' Observatory was razed a third time after the completion of Lindley Hall, just to the west. At this time, the 6-inch refractor was removed to the roof of Lindley and the Pitt reflector, as well as the 3-inch transit telescope were placed in storage in the basement of Hoch Auditorium. For over 7 years, the 27-inch remained in "mothballs." Finally, in the spring of 1952, construction of a new observatory building to house the telescope was completed, and, after several months of alignment and adjustment, the newly housed instrument was put back into service.
Since that time, the Pitt telescope has been in nearly continuous use. Over the years, in addition to having been converted for use as a Newtonian reflector, the 27-inch has acquired an assortment of auxiliary equipment, mainly through the efforts of Storer and Prof. Henry Horak; such equipment includes a photoelectric photometer, a grating spectrograph, and an assortment of plateholders for direct photography. And, although much of this instrumentation is now over twenty years old, it is still used on a regular basis by students and members of the local amateur astronomical society.
Summary: The future of the Pitt Telescope
Despite these additions and improvements, the William Pitt 27-inch reflector has never been used extensively as a research tool as originally planned; instead it has functioned largely in the dual roles of an instructional instrument used to teach undergraduate astronomy students proper observing techniques and a University showpiece used to reveal the beauty and mystery of the Universe to "open house" visitors to the Observatory. Given the steady deterioration in the sky conditions in Lawrence due to air and light pollution caused by an ever growing University campus and city population, and the ever present shortage of funds to maintain and update the nearly 30-year old facility, it is unlikely that the nature or the use of the Pitt telescope will change in the foreseeable future.
The history of the William Pitt-University of Kansas 27-inch telescope is a truly remarkable and yet somewhat unsatisfying tale. It is remarkable in terms of the way in which the instrument was designed and constructed, as well as in terms of the personalities involved in the instrument's completion; it is frustrating and unsatisfying (at least from an astronomer's point of view) insofar as it ends with the initial purposes of the builders unfulfilled. In particular, due to changes in University priorities and fluctuations in the levels of funding inside and outside the University for astronomical activities, the self-sustaining, first-class research facility in astronomy envisioned by Alter, Storer, and others, has never been achieved. And, while an excellent teaching program in astronomy has been maintained to the present through the efforts of individuals like Alter, Storer, Horak, Prof. P . Wehinger, and now Prof. S. J. Shawl, it is more than a little saddening to contemplate the losses to midwestern research in astronomy engendered by the failure to capitalize on Mr. Pitt' s telescope.
The author wishes to acknowledge the support and assistance of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kansas during the time in which this short history was being prepared. In this regard, special thanks are due to Dr. J. P. Davidson, Chairman of the Department, for his continued encouragement and guidance while this work was being carried out. The staff of the University Archives at the Kenneth E. Spencer Re- search Library of the University of Kansas is also recognized for their kind cooperation and assistance in securing for the author the many documents and pieces of correspondence upon which this article is based.
Fig. 8. This view of the 27-inch refractor taken through the shutter openings shows in more detail the pulley system mentioned in Figure 7, as well as the fine motion and clamping controls (the large circular knobs at the middle left) of the telescope. Just above these controls is the main observing port for the instrument. Although an eyepiece is shown attached to the port in this photograph, direct photography and multi-color photometry can also be carried out from this position. Originally left open and unshielded, the telescope tube supporting frame is now sheathed with blue canvas to reduce the amount of scattered light and windblown dust which reach the mirror during operation.
Fig. 9. From inside the dome, some details of the opposite side of the 27-inch telescope can be seen in this picture. In particular, a second observing port (usually used for spectroscopic work but shown here set up for visual work) is evident, as well as the electronic control panel (lower middle right) for the telescope which provides for dome rotation, East-West slewing motion and drive rate variation. The secondary mirror of the telescope is attached to its supporting structure by a pivot and can be rotated 900 between the two observing ports so that instrument changes to accommodate different observing programs can be minimized.
D. J. BORD
TRANSACTIONS OF THE KANSAS ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
83(4), 1980, pp. 187-199