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Measurements of black body radiation could not be duplicated with simple mathematical formulations. A curve fit to the short wavelengths did not fit the shorter wavelengths and vice versa. Max Planck found a solution by assuming the energy is not continuous but comes in discrete particles, known as quanta. This explained the photoelectric effect. Niels Bohr produced a new model for the structure of the atom using quantum physics. This had major implications for understanding the periodic table of the elements. It was realized that waves have a particulate nature and vice versa, ushering in the second quantum revolution. It was discovered that atoms can undergo spontaneous nuclear fission.
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Before I left Miami for my summer trip to Jerusalem and Prague we had a farewell lunch with a few friends in Miami. One was Ruth Trencher. Her position in the Institute never seemed to be really defined, but she worked on helping the scientists prepare proposals for funding. She also acted as a sympathetic ear, advisor, and offered encouragement when a proposal was turned down. As we walked outside Ruth turned to me: “ Why don’t you move down here?” I had just received notice from the University of Illinois that I had been promoted to full Professor, and the thought of a move had never occurred to me. Ruth said, “ I know the faculty would like to have you here; why don’t we go speak to Fritz Koczy.” Fritz was head of Physical Sciences in the Institute. Ruth led me straight to his office. She led the conversation, in her inimitable way: “ Dr. Koczy, I’ve been talking to Professor Hay, and I think he would consider a move to our Institute.” Fritz didn’t pause. “ Wonderful, we would be so pleased to have you here. I know you are headed off to Israel and Europe. I’ll be in touch when you get back.” If you are a young faculty member reading this today, it will sound very, very strange, but that is the way tings were done in the 1960s. No complicated rigmarole, no submitting a long complicated vita, no search committees. The United States was trying to build up its competence in the sciences, and there was a shortage of expertise in oceanography as well as many other fields. It all happened so fast I didn’t know what to think. However, an outside offer was always a good thing to have in your pocket. There was, of course, one small detail. At the Institute of Marine Sciences in Miami you had to find your own salary, generally from a federal agency. The University supplied only a minimal amount in return for teaching a course or two for graduate students. When I got back to Urbana from Europe, a letter from Fritz Koczy was waiting for me. I was offered a Professorship in Marine Geology and Geophysics at a competitive (if somewhat imaginary) salary. I took the letter to George White and explained that I didn’t really want to move. I had my laboratory at Illinois very well set up and equipped with an electron microscope, and I had graduate students. I also explained that the salary was a bit of fiction. But I also suggested that the connection with Miami could be very beneficial to me and to my graduate students, offering new possibilities for research. To find out whether the Miami offer was realistic, I took a trip to Washington to talk with my program managers at the National Science Foundation. I learned that if I kept on writing good research proposals salary finding would not be a problem. Within a few months we had an arrangement I would never have imagined. I found myself holding two full-time professorships, at the University of Illinois in Urbana, and at the University of Miami in Florida. To be at one institution I had to be on leave of absence from the other. Now a few words about oceanography and the University of Illinois. Urbana Illinois sounds like the last place one might find scientists interested in the oceans. However, this is where the US’s most famous marine geologist started his career. Working in the Geology department since 1922, Francis Shepard served as Professor from 1939 to 1946, when he moved to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. His family was from Massachusetts, and were moderately wealthy. He used the family yacht to take samples off the New England coast. He also studied Lake Michigan, making one of the first bathymetric maps of the lower end of the lake. It was done with a lead line and a rowboat. One of my luncheon table partners at the Illini Union was Seward Stehli who had been Head of Physical Education before his retirement. Seward had rowed the boat while Francis took his measurements and a student, Jack Hough, retrieved samples of the bottom sediments. But earlier Francis had had an incredible stroke of luck. During the depression, I think it was in 1933, two youngsters rode the rails of a freight train into Champaign, Illinois. They wandered over to the University in Urbana to see if there was any work available. They ran into Fran Shepard, and he offered them jobs. Shepard had a little money of his own, and paid for his own research. That was the way it was done in those days. Those two boys were Robert S. Dietz and Kenneth O. Emery. Both got their degrees under Shepard and both became eminent marine geologists. Dietz’s proposal for his Ph.D. dissertation was to work on the geology of the Moon. The idea was rejected by the geology faculty, because of course there would never be any way to check his results. Dietz went on to work with the Navy, Scripps, NOAA, and the University of Arizona. He was one of the first proponents of the idea of sea-floor spreading. Ken Emery went on to become leader of the marine geology program at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. When I arrived in Urbana, Jack Hough was the resident ‘oceanographer,’ and we became good friends. Jack had worked on developing sonar during World War II, using the facilities at Navy Pier in Chicago. He had become the expert on the history of the Great Lakes. When he moved to the University of Michigan’s Great Lakes Research Institute in 1966, I inherited the role of resident oceanographer. My inexperience was embarrassing, but the connection with Miami during my sabbatical the next year gave me some credibility. All that was soon to change. In the Fall of 1968, I suddenly became an important figure in oceanography. A couple of years earlier, a colleague at Princeton University, Al Fischer, had sent one of his graduate students, Dave Bukry, to work with me in Illinois. Dave came to learn about the calcareous nannoplankton, those tiny marine fossils that had become my specialty, and to use our electron microscope facilities. I should mention that the petroleum industry had already discovered their value in exploration, and several of my doctoral students had already gone into industry. I was almost alone in producing specialists in this new field. The Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) got underway in September 1968, and Dave was selected to be a micropaleontologist on the first Leg of the program. Much more about the DSDP in the next Intermezzo, but let me note here that Leg 1 was a learning experience for all concerned. The recovery of cores of deep-sea sediments by drilling proved more difficult than anticipated, and at first all that was recovered was some smears of the sediment on the core barrel. Not enough to do anything with, or so the Chief Scientists Maurice Ewing and Joe Worzel of Lamont Geological Observatory thought. The smears were so small that there were none of the millimeter-sized fossils of planktonic foraminifera everyone expected to be the means of dating the sediments. Dave would take a bit of the smear, make a microscope slide, and after a few minutes announce the age of the sediment. It was regarded as some sort of a miracle, and since I had helped him learn the business, I was now regarded an expert on dating deep-sea sediments. As soon as the joint appointment agreement was signed in 1968, the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) appointed me as their representative on the Planning Committee for the DSDP. I started off my first semester as Professor in Miami by sailing on Leg 4 of the DSDP. The next 5 years were a wonderful time. I spent the fall semester at the U of I in Urbana, teaching among other things, the oceanography course for undergraduates, which always had about 50 students. A few from each class went on to careers in ocean science. One of those students, John Southam, was just getting his Ph.D. in Physics. He became very interested in ocean problems, and after his degree was awarded he accepted an appointment in the Division of Geology and Geophysics in our Institute in Miami. We worked closely together for many years, with John solving many mathematical problems that were well beyond my meager expertise. After a snowy Christmas with friends in Illinois, I would head south to spend the Spring semester in Miami. Meetings of the whole Institute faculty were very different from those in Illinois. Walton Smith, the founder and Director of the IMS, would reserve a room at the English Pub on Key Biscayne, and our discussions were lubricated with beer and ale. It was marvelously informal and most of the discussions were about ideas for new projects. I would make regular trips back to Urbana to work with my graduate students there. Even more exciting, I would lead a field trip to Bimini in the Bahamas for Illinois undergraduates over their spring vacation. That is, I would be in Miami, and the students would organize themselves into cars and make the trip south a nonstop overnight experience. Their second night out I would have eighteen students sleeping on the floor in my Miami apartment before leaving for Bimini the next day, using the Lerner Laboratory’s vessel. The Gulf Stream crossings were usually rough, and that would make for the first experience with sea-sickness for the prairie dwellers. At Bimini we filled the Lerner Marine Laboratory’s dormitory facility, and made excursions to go exploring the marine life, wading on the shallow flats, snorkeling, and then going further afield using the Lab skiffs. I would find a few students who had experience with outboard motor boats on lakes, and turn them loose on the open sea. A couple of memorable incidents from those field trips are worth recounting. Once on a trip around the island we were on the Gulf Stream side when a huge manta ray appeared. It was larger than our 15 foot skiffs, and probably weighed a ton. I stopped my boat and yelled to the others—“Stop and go into the water with the ray—it’s a once in a lifetime experience.” Mantas are plankton feeders, and the only danger is having them inadvertently bump into you. It was the highlight of the trip for the students that year. Another interesting experience was when one of our skiffs learned about standing waves the hard way. The harbor entrance at Bimini is narrow, and the outgoing tide can reach a speed of several knots, the same speed as waves from off the Gulf Stream trying to enter the harbor. The result can be a standing wave, up to 6 feet high, staying in one place like a wall. To get over it a skiff needs to be traveling at a fairly good speed. If too slow, the bow of the skiff simply pokes into the wave, and the boat fills up with water in a few seconds. One of our skiffs was going too slow, and it filled and capsized. The students all swam the short distance to shore, but their gear was on the bottom. We recovered the skiff, and during low tide the students were able to recover most of their things. It was a great lesson in wave dynamics. In 1969 two major changes occurred. The University of Illinois got a new Head for Geological Sciences, Fred Donath, and the Institute of Marine Sciences received a major endowment gift from Lewis Rosenstiel, and was renamed the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. Then another odd thing happened. I had first met Tom Barnard, Professor of Micropaleontology at University College in London while a graduate student at Stanford. Tom wanted to add work on the calcareous nannofossils to the opportunities available for his students at University College. What was just a brief visit in 1969 turned into a long term relationship whereby I would spend a month each spring in London. We would work with Tony Rood, one of Tom’s assistants and an expert electron microscopist, all day. Then I would take advantage of the city and attend plays and concerts in the evenings. The College and Geological Society libraries were a great resource for my research. My joint arrangement with the two Universities continued until Walton Smith retired and the Rosenstiel School got a new Dean, Warren Wooster, a physical oceanographer from Scripps. Warren decided it was time to replace Cesare Emiliani as Chair of what was now the Division of Marine Geology and Geophysics, and wanted me to take over. Cesare had always been our leader by consensus, but he was now spending much of his time on the University’s main campus working on introductory science courses for undergraduates. Cesare had become very concerned that the general public and especially politicians in the US had so little science background. They did not understand the implications of unlimited population growth and its impact on resources. Nor did they understand the threat posed by changing the composition of our planet’s atmosphere by adding CO 2 from burning fossil fuels. He wrote several excellent books touching on these topics, one aimed at the general public, The Scientific Companion: Exploring the Physical World with Facts, Figures, and Formulas, and another aimed at college undergraduates, Planet Earth: Cosmology, Geology, and the Evolution of Life and Environment. Both are great reads. Being Division Chair in Miami meant that I had to resign my appointment at Illinois. It was a sad time for me.
- What’s at the Bottom of Alice’s Rabbit Hole
William W. Hay
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg
- Chapter 11