IEEE
You are not logged in, please sign in to edit > Log in / create account  

Oral-History:H. Guyford Stever

From GHN

(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
(9 intermediate revisions by 5 users not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
 
== About H. Guyford Stever  ==
 
== About H. Guyford Stever  ==
  
Dr. H. Guyford Stever grew up in Corning, New York. He attended Colgate University before entering graduate school at the California Institute of Technology, where he received the Ph.D. in physics. After getting the doctorate, Stever joined the [[MIT Rad Lab|Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology]] (M.I.T.). He taught radar school for the U.S. armed forces during World War Two and became the radar liaison officer to London. Stever exchanged  
+
<p>Dr. H. Guyford Stever grew up in Corning, New York. He attended Colgate University before entering graduate school at the California Institute of Technology, where he received the Ph.D. in physics. After getting the doctorate, Stever joined the [[MIT Rad Lab|Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology]] (M.I.T.). He taught radar school for the U.S. armed forces during World War Two and became the radar liaison officer to London. Stever exchanged research and development ideas with British radar scientists, and helped set up the British Branch Radiation Laboratory. </p>
  
Laboratory. After the war, he joined M.I.T.'s faculty and worked on aerospace studies and guided missile research. In 1965 Stever left the position of Head of the Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering to become President of Carnegie-Mellon University. From 1972 to 1977 he served as Director of the National Science Foundation. From 1976 to 1977 he served as Science Advisor to the President of the United States. Stever has been active in Pittsburgh academic and civic organizations, and is a member of the IEEE, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.  
+
<p>After the war, he joined M.I.T.'s faculty and worked on aerospace studies and guided missile research. In 1965 Stever left the position of Head of the Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering to become President of Carnegie-Mellon University. From 1972 to 1977 he served as Director of the National Science Foundation. From 1976 to 1977 he served as Science Advisor to the President of the United States. Stever has been active in Pittsburgh academic and civic organizations, and is a member of the [[IEEE History|IEEE]], the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. </p>
  
The interview begins with Stever's childhood in Corning, New York and subsequent academic career at Colgate University and Cal Tech. Stever focuses on his work with the Rad Lab during World War Two, recalling in detail his co-operation with British radar scientists and Royal Air Force personnel. He describes British-American information exchange networks and helping create the British Branch Radiation Laboratory. Stever evaluates wartime scientific and technological research and its impact on later American education. He concludes the interview with a mild critique of postwar scientific and funding priorities.  
+
<p>The interview begins with Stever's childhood in Corning, New York and subsequent academic career at Colgate University and Cal Tech. Stever focuses on his work with the Rad Lab during World War Two, recalling in detail his co-operation with British radar scientists and Royal Air Force personnel. He describes British-American information exchange networks and helping create the British Branch Radiation Laboratory. Stever evaluates wartime scientific and technological research and its impact on later American education. He concludes the interview with a mild critique of postwar scientific and funding priorities. </p>
 
+
<br>  
+
  
 
== About the Interview  ==
 
== About the Interview  ==
  
H. Guyford Stever: An Interview Conducted by John Bryant, IEEE History Center, March 17, 1993  
+
<p>H. Guyford Stever: An Interview Conducted by John Bryant, IEEE History Center, March 17, 1993 </p>
  
Interview # 150 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
+
<p>Interview # 150 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. </p>
 
+
<br>  
+
  
 
== Copyright Statement  ==
 
== Copyright Statement  ==
  
This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.  
+
<p>This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center. </p>
  
Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, Rutgers - the State University, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.  
+
<p>Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. </p>
  
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:  
+
<p>It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: </p>
  
H. Guyford Stever, an oral history conducted in 1993 by John Bryant, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.  
+
<p>H. Guyford Stever, an oral history conducted in 1993 by John Bryant, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA. </p>
 
+
<br>  
+
  
 
== Interview  ==
 
== Interview  ==
  
Interview: H. Guyford Stever <br>Interviewer: John Bryant <br>Place: University Of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan <br>Date: March 17, 1993  
+
<p>Interview: H. Guyford Stever </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>Interviewer: John Bryant </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>Place: University Of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>Date: March 17, 1993 </p>
  
 
=== Family Background and Education  ===
 
=== Family Background and Education  ===
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
I'm in the Gerald R. Ford Library on the campus of the University of Michigan to interview Dr. H. Guyford Stever in connection with the MIT Radiation Lab Oral History Project of IEEE Center for History. Dr. Stever, before we get started on the MIT Radiation Lab, I wonder if you could give us just a little background information on your family and perhaps how you decided to be a scientist, an engineer.  
+
<p>I'm in the Gerald R. Ford Library on the campus of the University of Michigan to interview Dr. H. Guyford Stever in connection with the [[Oral-History:MIT Radiation Laboratory|MIT Radiation Lab Oral History Project]] of IEEE Center for History. Dr. Stever, before we get started on the [[MIT Rad Lab|MIT Radiation Lab]], I wonder if you could give us just a little background information on your family and perhaps how you decided to be a scientist, an engineer. </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
I was born in Corning, New York, just before we got into World War I, and my happy childhood in the 'twenties was spent there. In the 'thirties when I was in high school, the Depression came on, but Corning had one very exciting thing in science, and that was that the Corning Glassworks was pouring the mirror for the 200-inch telescope. Our scout troop built telescopes and got very excited about it. It was poured just before I was to enter Colgate University as a freshman. I had to get scholarships. All of us in the Depression had to work pretty hard to get through school. When I got to Colgate as an incoming freshman, the physics department particularly, but all the science departments, were anxious to hear news about that telescope glass pouring.  
+
<p>I was born in Corning, New York, just before we got into World War I, and my happy childhood in the 'twenties was spent there. In the 'thirties when I was in high school, the Depression came on, but Corning had one very exciting thing in science, and that was that the Corning Glassworks was pouring the mirror for the 200-inch telescope. Our scout troop built telescopes and got very excited about it. It was poured just before I was to enter Colgate University as a freshman. I had to get scholarships. All of us in the Depression had to work pretty hard to get through school. When I got to Colgate as an incoming freshman, the physics department particularly, but all the science departments, were anxious to hear news about that telescope glass pouring. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
That was for the Palomar?  
+
<p>That was for the Palomar? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Yes. It was the 200-inch for Palomar. So they got this young freshman from Corning who was going into the science courses, and I met all the professors in advance, which is a great start. I took the usual science courses in high school. I did well in science and math in high school, and won the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Prize in Mathematics, which is given at several New York State high schools. Then I got interested in perpetual motion. One of my friends discovered a hermit who lived in the woods about ten or fifteen miles away. He had built in his cabin a tremendous mechanical device. He said that when he got it all started it was going to turn forever. Then I did experiments on a couple of perpetual motion ideas in high school physics. They did not work! As I say, my scout troop was involved in it.  
+
<p>Yes. It was the 200-inch for Palomar. So they got this young freshman from Corning who was going into the science courses, and I met all the professors in advance, which is a great start. I took the usual science courses in high school. I did well in science and math in high school, and won the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Prize in Mathematics, which is given at several New York State high schools. Then I got interested in perpetual motion. One of my friends discovered a hermit who lived in the woods about ten or fifteen miles away. He had built in his cabin a tremendous mechanical device. He said that when he got it all started it was going to turn forever. Then I did experiments on a couple of perpetual motion ideas in high school physics. They did not work! As I say, my scout troop was involved in it. </p>
  
At Colgate I had a lot of good breaks in science and did very well. I then decided that instead of becoming a high school science teacher, I ought to get a Ph.D. and do something else. So I went to Cal Tech in physics, and worked in cosmic rays and mechanisms with Geiger counter discharge. That's why my thesis had two aspects. Those were some very exciting times. But of course this was all during the 'thirties, and all of us grew more and more aware of the war in Europe. Our professors at Cal Tech were getting more and more involved as consultants to our military forces. Then the Radiation Laboratory started in 1940. My thesis advising professor, Dr. Victor Neher, went back to MIT, and fortunately he assigned a young instructor at Cal Tech, William Pickering, to act as my thesis advisor. All the physicists took great interest in one part of my thesis, the lifetime of what's now called the meson (then called the mesotron) on which I did an experiment. [[Robert Oppenheimer|Robert Oppenheimer]] was particularly interested. He spent one third of a year at Cal Tech and two years at Cal Berkeley. I got very interested. I had a chance to teach at Stanford, but I wanted to get into war work. So I went back to the Radiation Laboratory and got started. And haven't turned back....  
+
<p>At Colgate I had a lot of good breaks in science and did very well. I then decided that instead of becoming a high school science teacher, I ought to get a Ph.D. and do something else. So I went to Cal Tech in physics, and worked in cosmic rays and mechanisms with Geiger counter discharge. That's why my thesis had two aspects. Those were some very exciting times. But of course this was all during the 'thirties, and all of us grew more and more aware of the war in Europe. Our professors at Cal Tech were getting more and more involved as consultants to our military forces. Then the Radiation Laboratory started in 1940. My thesis advising professor, Dr. Victor Neher, went back to MIT, and fortunately he assigned a young instructor at Cal Tech, [[William Pickering|William Pickering]], to act as my thesis advisor. All the physicists took great interest in one part of my thesis, the lifetime of what's now called the meson (then called the mesotron) on which I did an experiment. [[Robert Oppenheimer|Robert Oppenheimer]] was particularly interested. He spent one third of a year at Cal Tech and two years at Cal Berkeley. I got very interested. I had a chance to teach at Stanford, but I wanted to get into war work. So I went back to the Radiation Laboratory and got started. And haven't turned back.... </p>
  
 
=== Radar School at Rad Lab  ===
 
=== Radar School at Rad Lab  ===
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Physics changed to radar with a lot of engineering in it. At Rad Lab I started in the modulator group under Milt White and had just gotten started when a fellow by the name of William "Zike" Barrow, who had done a lot of work on waveguides and transmissions, recruited me. He was a professor of electrical engineering at MIT, and he had been asked to start a radar school for the armed services. This was for the Army, the Navy, and the Army Air Corps. I said, "Gee, that's interesting. I'd like to stay in the research, but I'll go there and help it get started." Zike Barrow also recruited Henry Zimmerman, who was a young instructor of electrical engineering, a very good guy. He recruited Hugh Kendall, another Radiation Lab fellow who had been working on radar display CRTs. He also recruited a fellow from the Bell Laboratory, a history writer or popular science writer by the name of John Batchelder.  
+
<p>Physics changed to radar with a lot of engineering in it. At Rad Lab I started in the modulator group under Milt White and had just gotten started when a fellow by the name of [[Wilmer Barrow|William "Zike" Barrow]], who had done a lot of work on [[Waveguides|waveguides]] and transmissions, recruited me. He was a professor of electrical engineering at MIT, and he had been asked to start a radar school for the armed services. This was for the Army, the Navy, and the Army Air Corps. I said, "Gee, that's interesting. I'd like to stay in the research, but I'll go there and help it get started." Zike Barrow also recruited Henry Zimmerman, who was a young instructor of electrical engineering, a very good guy. He recruited Hugh Kendall, another Radiation Lab fellow who had been working on radar display CRTs. He also recruited a fellow from the Bell Laboratory, a history writer or popular science writer by the name of John Batchelder. </p>
  
We had our first group of students come in September for a three-month course. We just took what radar we could find and began to instruct them in the various processes that went into radar.  
+
<p>We had our first group of students come in September for a three-month course. We just took what radar we could find and began to instruct them in the various processes that went into radar. </p>
  
The armed services had started a parallel course at Harvard, and also at Bowdoin. Those courses were to become feeders into ours. I think they were three-month courses. Our second batch of students came in with much better starting backgrounds. Earlier we got a motley crew. We got some of the best students who had just graduated from the Naval Academy. They were angry as they could be because they had had wonderful assignments at Pearl Harbor on the ''Arizona'', and the ''California'', and all of those ships. When Pearl Harbor Day occurred they were pleased that they weren't on the ships at that time, although saddened by the loss of their friends. They went on to good careers. We had some senior colonels. Air Force flyers were in the group. We did as well as we could. We got hold of a SCR-268. We had the Radiation Laboratory right there, and we could have lots of S-band radar, and the X-band was also coming along. So we had that. We could get data from all the other places and we then picked off a few of the military people who went through our course: Captain James and Lieutenant Ebersoll and a few like that. During the second and third three-month sessions, we were growing fast. We grew out of our headquarters at MIT, and moved down to the Harbor Building.  
+
<p>The armed services had started a parallel course at Harvard, and also at Bowdoin. Those courses were to become feeders into ours. I think they were three-month courses. Our second batch of students came in with much better starting backgrounds. Earlier we got a motley crew. We got some of the best students who had just graduated from the Naval Academy. They were angry as they could be because they had had wonderful assignments at Pearl Harbor on the ''Arizona'', and the ''California'', and all of those ships. When Pearl Harbor Day occurred they were pleased that they weren't on the ships at that time, although saddened by the loss of their friends. They went on to good careers. We had some senior colonels. Air Force flyers were in the group. We did as well as we could. We got hold of a SCR-268. We had the Radiation Laboratory right there, and we could have lots of S-band radar, and the X-band was also coming along. So we had that. We could get data from all the other places and we then picked off a few of the military people who went through our course: Captain James and Lieutenant Ebersoll and a few like that. During the second and third three-month sessions, we were growing fast. We grew out of our headquarters at MIT, and moved down to the Harbor Building. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
That must have been Building 32?  
+
<p>That must have been Building 32? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
We started in 32. I had been in the main buildings earlier with the modulator group over in the physics building, then moved to 32, and then to the Harbor Building. I think it was the 13th floor of that building, which is still there.  
+
<p>We started in 32. I had been in the main buildings earlier with the modulator group over in the physics building, then moved to 32, and then to the Harbor Building. I think it was the 13th floor of that building, which is still there. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
Is that by the north end?  
+
<p>Is that by the north end? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
It's on Atlantic Avenue. [Chuckling] In a big wind storm the building shook. We learned about vibrating buildings. But in any case, we had really big floor space, and we fixed offices and labs. Things were growing pretty fast at that time. I stayed for the first three, nine-month courses. That brought me into the early summer of 1942. By then, we had gotten into the war. We did September to December, to mid-spring, to first of the summer. I think that rotation continued because I know other people who went. I met them later. Most of the people who came later had gone through one of those earlier three-month courses at Harvard.  
+
<p>It's on Atlantic Avenue. [Chuckling] In a big wind storm the building shook. We learned about vibrating buildings. But in any case, we had really big floor space, and we fixed offices and labs. Things were growing pretty fast at that time. I stayed for the first three, nine-month courses. That brought me into the early summer of 1942. By then, we had gotten into the war. We did September to December, to mid-spring, to first of the summer. I think that rotation continued because I know other people who went. I met them later. Most of the people who came later had gone through one of those earlier three-month courses at Harvard. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
Was either Harvard or Bowdoin preferred by either the Army or Navy?  
+
<p>Was either Harvard or Bowdoin preferred by either the Army or Navy? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
I'm not sure. If they were, Bowdoin would have been Navy because one of my friends at Cal Tech, who got a Ph.D. the same class as I did got very angry at me because I got the appointment to Stanford and then didn't take it. He then lost out on it, but he would have lost it anyway because his reserve commission came up. He was then a lieutenant commander at Bowdoin, and was active in getting that started. We drove up and we exchanged views there. We did some exchange with Harvard. I didn't do much with Harvard. I did get in exchange with Bowdoin. We would write course work as fast as we could. Some of it's right here, in the Ford Library.  
+
<p>I'm not sure. If they were, Bowdoin would have been Navy because one of my friends at Cal Tech, who got a Ph.D. the same class as I did got very angry at me because I got the appointment to Stanford and then didn't take it. He then lost out on it, but he would have lost it anyway because his reserve commission came up. He was then a lieutenant commander at Bowdoin, and was active in getting that started. We drove up and we exchanged views there. We did some exchange with Harvard. I didn't do much with Harvard. I did get in exchange with Bowdoin. We would write course work as fast as we could. Some of it's right here, in the Ford Library. </p>
  
 
=== Measuring Power Output of Tubes  ===
 
=== Measuring Power Output of Tubes  ===
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
So I got started in radar. I came back and worked on K-band for a short time. We were trying to measure the power output of tubes. Victor Neher was very active in these minute tubes and was trying to make triode tubes at K-band. There was a little magnetron, and we measured the output of it. By then we began to learn that we had picked a band in the middle of the water absorption band.  
+
<p>So I got started in radar. I came back and worked on K-band for a short time. We were trying to measure the power output of tubes. Victor Neher was very active in these minute tubes and was trying to make triode tubes at K-band. There was a little magnetron, and we measured the output of it. By then we began to learn that we had picked a band in the middle of the water absorption band. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
Yes, very close to it.  
+
<p>Yes, very close to it. </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Very close and there was thought of moving it. I think we did move it a little because obviously we hadn't gotten down to standardizing anything at the time.  
+
<p>Very close and there was thought of moving it. I think we did move it a little because obviously we hadn't gotten down to standardizing anything at the time. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
You had to build test equipment before you even had klystrons or magnetrons?  
+
<p>You had to build test equipment before you even had [[Klystron|klystrons]] or [[Cavity Magnetron|magnetrons]]? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Yes. When I got to work with Victor, he had gotten a good start on setting up the equipment. One of the things I began working on immediately was to measure the power output of various tubes that we had. We had a waveguide terminated so that the energy would all be absorbed and in a thermistor at the end. We got pretty good measurements. I tried also to help Victor, who was working on the triodes for K-band, minute grids; he was a real expert on these extremely fine, gold-coated quartz fibers. I tried to get a piezoelectric mechanical movement so it could be tuned electrically by getting a mechanical displacement of the grid. But I failed in that experiment. I didn't really have time because shortly thereafter I left.  
+
<p>Yes. When I got to work with Victor, he had gotten a good start on setting up the equipment. One of the things I began working on immediately was to measure the power output of various tubes that we had. We had a waveguide terminated so that the energy would all be absorbed and in a thermistor at the end. We got pretty good measurements. I tried also to help Victor, who was working on the triodes for K-band, minute grids; he was a real expert on these extremely fine, gold-coated quartz fibers. I tried to get a piezoelectric mechanical movement so it could be tuned electrically by getting a mechanical displacement of the grid. But I failed in that experiment. I didn't really have time because shortly thereafter I left. </p>
  
 
=== Mission to England  ===
 
=== Mission to England  ===
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Dr. Vannevar Bush had asked Radiation Lab if they could have another fellow to work with Dave Langmuir (who was replacing Frank Lewis) as the radar liaison officer in the London Mission of OSRD. The London Mission had been set up somewhat earlier by Conant of Harvard. I remember being called by Lee DuBridge on a Saturday afternoon. He said, "Would you like to go to London?" I was an unmarried young man, and I was very anxious to accept that offer. I accepted immediately. I had to be prepared, and this preparation was very important to my future career. We started off by visiting all the radar establishments of the armed services and the major corporations and every laboratory that was doing anything. Bush's office could get anybody cleared. Immediately this young guy from Rad Lab would go in and be welcomed by the boss of the laboratory, because they wanted to know what was going on in Bush's operations and learn about England. So I got a wonderful start with really senior people, the great leaders in the field. I got to know a very large number of them. When I was delayed in getting over, they said, "why don't you go out to some of the airplane companies, too, that are going to fly these sets." That's where I learned about aeronautics, and my later career was in aerospace. But I finally got to London. I left New York on January 1st at six a.m. on a Pan Am Clipper and arrived by air nineteen days later.  
+
<p>[[Vannevar Bush|Dr. Vannevar Bush]] had asked [[MIT Rad Lab|Radiation Lab]] if they could have another fellow to work with Dave Langmuir (who was replacing [[Oral-History:Frank Lewis|Frank Lewis]]) as the radar liaison officer in the London Mission of OSRD. The London Mission had been set up somewhat earlier by Conant of Harvard. I remember being called by Lee DuBridge on a Saturday afternoon. He said, "Would you like to go to London?" I was an unmarried young man, and I was very anxious to accept that offer. I accepted immediately. I had to be prepared, and this preparation was very important to my future career. We started off by visiting all the radar establishments of the armed services and the major corporations and every laboratory that was doing anything. Bush's office could get anybody cleared. Immediately this young guy from Rad Lab would go in and be welcomed by the boss of the laboratory, because they wanted to know what was going on in Bush's operations and learn about England. So I got a wonderful start with really senior people, the great leaders in the field. I got to know a very large number of them. When I was delayed in getting over, they said, "why don't you go out to some of the airplane companies, too, that are going to fly these sets." That's where I learned about aeronautics, and my later career was in aerospace. But I finally got to London. I left New York on January 1st at six a.m. on a Pan Am Clipper and arrived by air nineteen days later. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
Was that in 1943?  
+
<p>Was that in 1943? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Nineteen forty-three. I was delayed in Bermuda thirteen days, delayed in the Azores three days, delayed in Lisbon two days or three days, delayed in Ireland one day. It was very exciting to change from the U.S. to wartime London. The atmosphere was charged with radar, the application of science to war. Our armed services were beginning to build up their strengths; we made contact there. In the beginning, the job was mainly working with the British laboratories, and transferring back information on this and that, technical information, and letting them know some of our stuff. They were fascinated with equipment like the MEW and some of the special things that had come out of the U.S. We wanted to learn about strap magnetrons. It went back and forth.  
+
<p><flashmp3>150 - stever - clip 1.mp3</flashmp3></p>
  
I'll never forget a wonderful incident. Jerrold Zacharias sent me a cable and said: "You know, we think we make our little silicon crystal detector just like the British, but we don't have the same reliable return on our manufacturing process. Can you go to British General Electric and find out why?" I spent a whole day there. We went through the process comparing ours with theirs, got to the end and the chief engineer of GE and I said, "We can't find any differences." We were standing at the end of their line watching a young woman take the product coming out and packing it for test and shipment. Every one that she picked up, she tapped lightly on the table and then put it in the box. I asked her why, and she replied "We get better returns that way!" I sent that back and solved the whole problem of the reliability. [Laughter]
+
<p>Nineteen forty-three. I was delayed in Bermuda thirteen days, delayed in the Azores three days, delayed in Lisbon two days or three days, delayed in Ireland one day. It was very exciting to change from the U.S. to wartime London. The atmosphere was charged with radar, the application of science to war. Our armed services were beginning to build up their strengths; we made contact there. In the beginning, the job was mainly working with the British laboratories, and transferring back information on this and that, technical information, and letting them know some of our stuff. They were fascinated with equipment like the MEW and some of the special things that had come out of the U.S. We wanted to learn about strap magnetrons. It went back and forth. </p>
  
Then the exchange of visitors became very important. People like John Slayter, who worked on magnets at Bell Labs came. We got him up to the Oliphant's laboratory.  
+
<p>I'll never forget a wonderful incident. Jerrold Zacharias sent me a cable and said: "You know, we think we make our little silicon crystal detector just like the British, but we don't have the same reliable return on our manufacturing process. Can you go to British General Electric and find out why?" I spent a whole day there. We went through the process comparing ours with theirs, got to the end and the chief engineer of GE and I said, "We can't find any differences." We were standing at the end of their line watching a young woman take the product coming out and packing it for test and shipment. Every one that she picked up, she tapped lightly on the table and then put it in the box. I asked her why, and she replied "We get better returns that way!" I sent that back and solved the whole problem of the reliability. [Laughter] </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''
+
<p>Then the exchange of visitors became very important. People like John Slayter, who worked on magnets at Bell Labs came. We got him up to the [[Mark Oliphant|Oliphant's]] laboratory. </p>
  
Oliphant in Birmingham?
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
'''Stever:'''
+
<p>Oliphant in Birmingham? </p>
  
Yes. So was the young man who worked on the strap magnetron. We had a wonderful exchange.
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''
+
<p>Yes. So was the young man who worked on the strap magnetron. We had a wonderful exchange. </p>
  
Was Professor Sayre also at the University of Birmingham?
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
'''Stever:'''
+
<p>Was Professor Sayre also at the University of Birmingham? </p>
  
Yes. Then we got people to come to visit the Tube Committee, which of course they called the Valve Committee.
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''
+
<p>Yes. Then we got people to come to visit the Tube Committee, which of course they called the Valve Committee. </p>
  
CVD?
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
'''Stever:'''
+
<p>CVD? </p>
  
CVD. I was appointed liaison officer on that committee. Then there were parallel visits by researchers in countermeasures work with the Harvard Laboratory. Dave Langmuir handled that, and I began to handle most of the radar. There was the big and important meeting of the Compton Committee, which included Admiral Furer, Compton, and General McClellan, an Air Force Officer. Top officers, leaders of the services, and the MIT Lab and the industrialists came to visit. This was a high-level visit in the year 1943.
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''
+
<p>CVD. I was appointed liaison officer on that committee. Then there were parallel visits by researchers in countermeasures work with the Harvard Laboratory. Dave Langmuir handled that, and I began to handle most of the radar. There was the big and important meeting of the Compton Committee, which included Admiral Furer, Compton, and General McClellan, an Air Force Officer. Top officers, leaders of the services, and the MIT Lab and the industrialists came to visit. This was a high-level visit in the year 1943. </p>
  
Was that Division 14?
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
'''Stever:'''
+
<p>Was that Division 14? </p>
  
I think it probably was Division 14. Karl Compton led the mission. It was called the Compton Mission, and they were received by the British very cordially. If you want a little side story, Dave said to me, "What we ought to do is put together a little preparatory book for them." We talked a little bit, and we finally decided to put together a little book, which would just fit, in a pocket, so they could carry it around on their visit. We began to put data on every British radar on one sheet of paper, in small print, with all listed characteristics. We assembled about six or eight copies. They came, and as they went around with their British hosts to all these different radar centers they were finally asked, "What is this little book that you keep looking at?" They showed them, [Chuckling] and the British were aghast. Every radar the British had was in a book that could drop out of a pocket. In fact, it did once. Dave and I had divvied up the visits, and I went over to the Air Ministry once to get some data. A taxi drove me in to one of those side streets off of Whitehall to the Air Ministry entrance. I went through the entrance and reached in my pocket as I was going, and my notebook wasn't there. I rushed out, but I saw my cab turning the corner into Whitehall. I broke the record for the 100-yard dash. I got out there, and looked up and down that street. There was only one taxi on the far side of the street going the other way. I said, it's my only chance. I rushed over and stopped it, and there was my book. [Chuckling] So secrets are difficult.
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Our liaison export worked well, but it was getting too busy. But the system was changing. First we had visitors who would come solo. Then we began to get interchange of people coming over with projects, to test something with our armed services or the British services there. A typical one was Luis Alvarez. I accompanied him on his visit to Air Commodore Bennett who was the commander of the RAF Pathfinder Force. We talked about Luis's blind-landing system, and Luis's Eagle radar antenna. Bennett was fascinated. He'd flown up to Scotland where there was a blind-landing system and done some landing with it the day before our meeting. Luis came to our meeting with Bennett, saying he just had crashed in an airplane (he was scuffed up a bit). Still it was a great meeting. After that exchange with Bennett, he asked us if we would like to stay to see the crews go off for the night's raid from that airfield, telling us that it would be a thousand plane raid. We accepted and heard the briefing. Then we stayed overnight and heard the debriefing. The briefer said to the crews, "We're using a new secret weapon tonight. We call it 'Windows.' This is the first time it will be used in our aerial warfare. You have these chutes through which you're to drop these bundles of aluminum foil” He tried to explain it. But the crews were boiling mad. They said: "One more thing to do!" And they were yelling. [Chuckling] But they took off, and the next morning they came back, and there were no losses at that field. The losses were minuscule at all fields compared with what they'd been before. They learned to love Windows very fast.  
+
<p>I think it probably was Division 14. Karl Compton led the mission. It was called the Compton Mission, and they were received by the British very cordially. If you want a little side story, Dave said to me, "What we ought to do is put together a little preparatory book for them." We talked a little bit, and we finally decided to put together a little book, which would just fit, in a pocket, so they could carry it around on their visit. We began to put data on every British radar on one sheet of paper, in small print, with all listed characteristics. We assembled about six or eight copies. They came, and as they went around with their British hosts to all these different radar centers they were finally asked, "What is this little book that you keep looking at?" They showed them, [Chuckling] and the British were aghast. Every radar the British had was in a book that could drop out of a pocket. In fact, it did once. Dave and I had divvied up the visits, and I went over to the Air Ministry once to get some data. A taxi drove me in to one of those side streets off of Whitehall to the Air Ministry entrance. I went through the entrance and reached in my pocket as I was going, and my notebook wasn't there. I rushed out, but I saw my cab turning the corner into Whitehall. I broke the record for the 100-yard dash. I got out there, and looked up and down that street. There was only one taxi on the far side of the street going the other way. I said, it's my only chance. I rushed over and stopped it, and there was my book. [Chuckling] So secrets are difficult. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>Our liaison export worked well, but it was getting too busy. But the system was changing. First we had visitors who would come solo. Then we began to get interchange of people coming over with projects, to test something with our armed services or the British services there. A typical one was Luis Alvarez. I accompanied him on his visit to Air Commodore Bennett who was the commander of the RAF Pathfinder Force. We talked about Luis's blind-landing system, and Luis's Eagle radar antenna. Bennett was fascinated. He'd flown up to Scotland where there was a blind-landing system and done some landing with it the day before our meeting. Luis came to our meeting with Bennett, saying he just had crashed in an airplane (he was scuffed up a bit). Still it was a great meeting. After that exchange with Bennett, he asked us if we would like to stay to see the crews go off for the night's raid from that airfield, telling us that it would be a thousand plane raid. We accepted and heard the briefing. Then we stayed overnight and heard the debriefing. The briefer said to the crews, "We're using a new secret weapon tonight. We call it 'Windows.' This is the first time it will be used in our aerial warfare. You have these chutes through which you're to drop these bundles of aluminum foil” He tried to explain it. But the crews were boiling mad. They said: "One more thing to do!" And they were yelling. [Chuckling] But they took off, and the next morning they came back, and there were no losses at that field. The losses were minuscule at all fields compared with what they'd been before. They learned to love Windows very fast. </p>
  
These were British?
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
'''Stever:'''
+
<p>These were British? </p>
  
Yes, this was the Royal Air Force. I went back in September of '43 for a two months' rehabilitation course to unload everything I had learned in Britain and I gave a talk at the Radiation Laboratory. I summarized all that I knew of British radar operations. The Radiation Laboratory staff who heard it immediately jumped on Lee DuBridge and said, "Why don't we hear this about our American radar, complete coverage like this?" The next week Louis Ridenour gave them that lecture.
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
I had talked with Lewis Turner, the head of receivers in London in August who said, "I've got the job in Britain to talk over setting up a British Branch Radiation Lab." I said, "That's great!" I participated with others in briefing him on everything that was going on and who he should see. I worked with Lee DuBridge's assistant who was in charge of coordinating the formation of BBRL from the U.S. side as they figured out what they could do.  
+
<p>Yes, this was the Royal Air Force. I went back in September of '43 for a two months' rehabilitation course to unload everything I had learned in Britain and I gave a talk at the Radiation Laboratory. I summarized all that I knew of British radar operations. The Radiation Laboratory staff who heard it immediately jumped on Lee DuBridge and said, "Why don't we hear this about our American radar, complete coverage like this?" The next week Louis Ridenour gave them that lecture. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''
+
<p>I had talked with Lewis Turner, the head of receivers in London in August who said, "I've got the job in Britain to talk over setting up a British Branch Radiation Lab." I said, "That's great!" I participated with others in briefing him on everything that was going on and who he should see. I worked with Lee DuBridge's assistant who was in charge of coordinating the formation of BBRL from the U.S. side as they figured out what they could do. </p>
  
Was this Trump?
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
'''Stever:'''
+
<p>Was this Trump? </p>
  
No. It was Doug Ewing, John Trump was involved later. John was very active in getting it started on this side. The first director of BBRL was a physicist, Larry Marshall. He had worked in the synchrotron group at Cal Berkeley. He went to London to set up its Lab. I got back in the fall, and we began to work together. Bennett Archambault, the science attaché at the Embassy who worked for Van Bush, and our first director, used to get into little battles over who controlled what. It shortly became clear to me that the BBRL was going to have all of its own contacts direct and didn't have to go through headquarters anymore. Then John Trump was sent over to be the director. John, who was an employee of NDRC, worked for Bush rather than Radiation Laboratory.
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''
+
<p>No. It was Doug Ewing, John Trump was involved later. John was very active in getting it started on this side. The first director of BBRL was a physicist, Larry Marshall. He had worked in the synchrotron group at Cal Berkeley. He went to London to set up its Lab. I got back in the fall, and we began to work together. Bennett Archambault, the science attaché at the Embassy who worked for Van Bush, and our first director, used to get into little battles over who controlled what. It shortly became clear to me that the BBRL was going to have all of its own contacts direct and didn't have to go through headquarters anymore. Then John Trump was sent over to be the director. John, who was an employee of NDRC, worked for Bush rather than Radiation Laboratory. </p>
  
I didn't know that.
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
'''Stever:'''
+
<p>I didn't know that. </p>
  
Yes. He was assigned to the Radiation Laboratory, but he was Division 14's man at the Radiation Lab. So he was officially a government servant as I was, like the people at the London mission. John worked easily with Arch, and they got things straightened out. Then people began coming over with operational sets, and the MEW came over. Now we're getting in the winter of '43 and the early part of '44. The Invasion was creeping up. We helped in the London mission as much as possible. But just as soon as somebody would get processed through the embassy and into the country, they'd go up to BBRL and take off. The system was working very fast, and very well with both our services.
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
As far as I was concerned, our Land Mission job began to change again. For me personally, it changed. I did less of what I had been doing and more of preparing to go to the continent on technical intelligence missions. As soon as the Invasion happened, I began a series of one or two week missions: one to Normandy on D+20; one to Brittany where I got captured; for a day; one to Paris, just as Paris was captured one joint mission in which British Americans went to Eindhoven where we exchanged ideas with Philips. A lot of the top British people were there: W.B. Lewis, who was head of the TRE; and Robert Watson-Watt. We Americans didn't have quite as high-level a group, but it worked out well.  
+
<p>Yes. He was assigned to the Radiation Laboratory, but he was Division 14's man at the Radiation Lab. So he was officially a government servant as I was, like the people at the London mission. John worked easily with Arch, and they got things straightened out. Then people began coming over with operational sets, and the MEW came over. Now we're getting in the winter of '43 and the early part of '44. The Invasion was creeping up. We helped in the London mission as much as possible. But just as soon as somebody would get processed through the embassy and into the country, they'd go up to BBRL and take off. The system was working very fast, and very well with both our services. </p>
  
Let me speak about something. I noticed when I got to Paris, my work was no longer in places where they'd had missiles or radar in the field or the radar control center in Brittany where we got captured for a brief time. Rather when I got to Paris, the places I was visiting were company laboratories. It was the same on the next trip when the break out from France came. The British tried to go across Arnham, and we pushed up through Holland to Eindhoven. There was a tank battle outside the city when we arrived but we soon got in, and we had good exchange with their people. It was very clear however that industrial companies were beginning to keep industrial secrets. They would exchange some things, but would often just confess in answer to our questions that, no, they didn't work with the Germans on that kind of thing. But we did the same sort of thing. Sam Goudsmit arrived with us in our group from London.  
+
<p>As far as I was concerned, our Land Mission job began to change again. For me personally, it changed. I did less of what I had been doing and more of preparing to go to the continent on technical intelligence missions. As soon as the Invasion happened, I began a series of one or two week missions: one to Normandy on D+20; one to Brittany where I got captured; for a day; one to Paris, just as Paris was captured one joint mission in which British Americans went to Eindhoven where we exchanged ideas with Philips. A lot of the top British people were there: W.B. Lewis, who was head of the TRE; and Robert Watson-Watt. We Americans didn't have quite as high-level a group, but it worked out well. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''
+
<p>Let me speak about something. I noticed when I got to Paris, my work was no longer in places where they'd had missiles or radar in the field or the radar control center in Brittany where we got captured for a brief time. Rather when I got to Paris, the places I was visiting were company laboratories. It was the same on the next trip when the break out from France came. The British tried to go across Arnham, and we pushed up through Holland to Eindhoven. There was a tank battle outside the city when we arrived but we soon got in, and we had good exchange with their people. It was very clear however that industrial companies were beginning to keep industrial secrets. They would exchange some things, but would often just confess in answer to our questions that, no, they didn't work with the Germans on that kind of thing. But we did the same sort of thing. Sam Goudsmit arrived with us in our group from London. </p>
  
Was that in Paris?
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
'''Stever:'''
+
<p>Was that in Paris? </p>
  
In Paris. He visited ITT, and had some good exchanges. But ITT people were beginning to think about postwar competition setup in the electronics business, just as the great European companies were.
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
I had two more trips that were exciting. Bush didn't have anybody watching all the fields of guided missiles. The British were building a guided anti-aircraft projectile. The German bombing of London had started. V-1's and the V-2's intelligence was getting hot. There were other German missiles mentioned in intelligence reports. So I became Bush's correspondent in those fields. When I went back the second time that must have been October of '44, (I had come back to Britain in January after I'd had my appendix out). In the United States on that second trip I exchanged information mainly on guided missiles with groups who had built the proximity fuse, but were switching to radar guided missiles at the Bumblebee Project at Johns Hopkins. I got very familiar with them and Bush. On that tour of duty I was involved with exchange on both missiles and radar.  
+
<p>In Paris. He visited ITT, and had some good exchanges. But ITT people were beginning to think about postwar competition setup in the electronics business, just as the great European companies were. </p>
  
In the meantime, BBRL had taken off beautifully. They were sending their own people over, to the continent, with SCR-584s. By then the SCR-584 was a very important factor in ground control of our fighters. That started even before the Invasion. The aircraft bombing systems were working. Other people at OSRD were working on IR devices and chemical devices. So this exchange went extremely well. It was very important to have this transition made to essentially direct laboratory to the field instead of as the original program of going through diplomatic channels. It worked out well. It became one of the great success stories. I remember the group that came over with the MEW, which ended up down there on the south coast of England, and everyone watched the Invasion on that. It was an unbelievable picture of the Invasion.  
+
<p>I had two more trips that were exciting. Bush didn't have anybody watching all the fields of guided missiles. The British were building a guided anti-aircraft projectile. The German bombing of London had started. V-1's and the V-2's intelligence was getting hot. There were other German missiles mentioned in intelligence reports. So I became Bush's correspondent in those fields. When I went back the second time that must have been October of '44, (I had come back to Britain in January after I'd had my appendix out). In the United States on that second trip I exchanged information mainly on guided missiles with groups who had built the proximity fuse, but were switching to radar guided missiles at the Bumblebee Project at Johns Hopkins. I got very familiar with them and Bush. On that tour of duty I was involved with exchange on both missiles and radar. </p>
  
The transfer to activities in Paris took place. OSRD set up an office over there. By then the business of looking at what the Germans were doing had become really a big operation. Sam Goudsmit and I had come to Paris together, and I had radar missions to visit some places in Paris. He adopted those missions as a cover for his ALSOS mission, which was to find out what the Germans had done on the atom bomb. He had been at Radiation Laboratory and I learned a lot from him when he was there. I learned a lot from a lot of people at Radiation Laboratory. They were such great people, and all leaders of physics and electrical engineering.  
+
<p>In the meantime, BBRL had taken off beautifully. They were sending their own people over, to the continent, with SCR-584s. By then the SCR-584 was a very important factor in ground control of our fighters. That started even before the Invasion. The aircraft bombing systems were working. Other people at OSRD were working on IR devices and chemical devices. So this exchange went extremely well. It was very important to have this transition made to essentially direct laboratory to the field instead of as the original program of going through diplomatic channels. It worked out well. It became one of the great success stories. I remember the group that came over with the MEW, which ended up down there on the south coast of England, and everyone watched the Invasion on that. It was an unbelievable picture of the Invasion. </p>
  
When the war's end in Europe came, I returned to Washington and worked in the Secretariat of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Guided Missile Committee. Then Bush asked me to stay after the war in Japan and work for him in Washington. I said, "I'd love to do that, to be your personal assistant on all these things, but I always wanted to be in a university." He said, "Oh, yes. I respect that decision." The next morning I got a call from Bush's friend Jay Stratton at MIT asking me to come there and be executive officer of a guided missile program. From then on I was in aerospace.  
+
<p>The transfer to activities in Paris took place. OSRD set up an office over there. By then the business of looking at what the Germans were doing had become really a big operation. Sam Goudsmit and I had come to Paris together, and I had radar missions to visit some places in Paris. He adopted those missions as a cover for his ALSOS mission, which was to find out what the Germans had done on the atom bomb. He had been at Radiation Laboratory and I learned a lot from him when he was there. I learned a lot from a lot of people at Radiation Laboratory. They were such great people, and all leaders of physics and electrical engineering. </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>When the war's end in Europe came, I returned to Washington and worked in the Secretariat of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Guided Missile Committee. Then Bush asked me to stay after the war in Japan and work for him in Washington. I said, "I'd love to do that, to be your personal assistant on all these things, but I always wanted to be in a university." He said, "Oh, yes. I respect that decision." The next morning I got a call from Bush's friend [[Julius A. Stratton|Jay Stratton]] at MIT asking me to come there and be executive officer of a guided missile program. From then on I was in aerospace. </p>
  
 
=== Absorption Line of Ammonia  ===
 
=== Absorption Line of Ammonia  ===
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
I'd like to go back on just a few specific things. Ed Purcell said one of the things you tried was looking at the absorption line of ammonia. Do you remember putting ammonia gas in waveguide and tuning through it?  
+
<p>I'd like to go back on just a few specific things. [[Oral-History:Edward Purcell|Ed Purcell]] said one of the things you tried was looking at the absorption line of ammonia. Do you remember putting ammonia gas in waveguide and tuning through it? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Yes. Whatever we did we handed over the results. I don't remember what they did with them.  
+
<p>Yes. Whatever we did we handed over the results. I don't remember what they did with them. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
You took data, did you?  
+
<p>You took data, did you? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Yes, there was data there.  
+
<p>Yes, there was data there. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
I'd love to have a set of those results. There's some history here. You know in the physics department in 1933, there was a thesis on that.  
+
<p>I'd love to have a set of those results. There's some history here. You know in the physics department in 1933, there was a thesis on that. </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Really?!  
+
<p>Really?! </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
Yes.  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
I'll be darned! The physics department at MIT?  
+
<p>I'll be darned! The physics department at MIT? </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
Here at Michigan by Claude Cleaton. The Microwave Theory and Techniques Society honored him this year by giving him a Pioneer Award for that. Imagine something that's seventy years old.  
+
<p>Here at Michigan by Claude Cleaton. The Microwave Theory and Techniques Society honored him this year by giving him a Pioneer Award for that. Imagine something that's seventy years old. </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
I want to call Victor Neher. I'll call him and see if he would be able to give you some help on that. Wherever the data went, and who used it and so on, I'm not sure. But the business of absorption was a very important thing for a short time.  
+
<p>I want to call Victor Neher. I'll call him and see if he would be able to give you some help on that. Wherever the data went, and who used it and so on, I'm not sure. But the business of absorption was a very important thing for a short time. </p>
  
 
=== Recollections of Radar Pioneers  ===
 
=== Recollections of Radar Pioneers  ===
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>In England, I've heard word of Sir Frank Smith. A lot of people must have had contact with him. What was his position? </p>
  
In England, I've heard word of Sir Frank Smith. A lot of people must have had contact with him. What was his position?
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
'''Stever:'''
+
<p>Sir Frank Smith. I don't have it. </p>
  
Sir Frank Smith. I don't have it.
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''
+
<p>What about Sir Charles Wright? He was an explorer, but he was also then in the Air Ministry. </p>
  
What about Sir Charles Wright? He was an explorer, but he was also then in the Air Ministry.
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
'''Stever:'''
+
<p>Wasn't he head of all the radar research in the Navy headquarters? I'll have to check on that. </p>
  
Wasn't he head of all the radar research in the Navy headquarters? I'll have to check on that.
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''
+
<p><flashmp3>150 - stever - clip 2.mp3</flashmp3></p>
  
Would you care to comment on any personalities or characters of people like Watson-Watt? E.P. Roe? W.B. Lewis?  
+
<p>Would you care to comment on any personalities or characters of people like Watson-Watt? E.P. Roe? W.B. Lewis? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Yes, I'd love to. We had a lot to do with them. In the early days, before BBRL got set up, essentially everything that was radar flowed through our office, including the visitors that came through. Depending upon what the job of the person coming through, whether he was a high-level administrator or research director, we would lay out itineraries for them. So we got to know these people quite well, taking visitors up to TRE. Watson-Watt, of course, was in London by then, and he was Sir Robert. He asked us to call him Bob or Bobby. He liked Americans. Dave Langmuir and I got on very well with him. So did Archambanlt, our boss. We often took our visitors there, and he could give us the history and the current status of radar or RDF as the British called it. But at that time he was in an advisory role, and wasn't as much in the line on command as he was in the beginning when he really laid the groundwork. You know the whole story of how he did the calculations to prove radar's possibilities. [[Edward V. Appleton|Sir Edward Appleton]] was still there. He did the ionospheric research, he had the data, and Watson-Watt made the calculations as to what it could do for the detecting. So off they went on their early detection equipment fast.  
+
<p>Yes, I'd love to. We had a lot to do with them. In the early days, before BBRL got set up, essentially everything that was radar flowed through our office, including the visitors that came through. Depending upon what the job of the person coming through, whether he was a high-level administrator or research director, we would lay out itineraries for them. So we got to know these people quite well, taking visitors up to TRE. Watson-Watt, of course, was in London by then, and he was Sir Robert. He asked us to call him Bob or Bobby. He liked Americans. Dave Langmuir and I got on very well with him. So did Archambanlt, our boss. We often took our visitors there, and he could give us the history and the current status of radar or RDF as the British called it. But at that time he was in an advisory role, and wasn't as much in the line on command as he was in the beginning when he really laid the groundwork. You know the whole story of how he did the calculations to prove radar's possibilities. [[Edward V. Appleton|Sir Edward Appleton]] was still there. He did the ionospheric research, he had the data, and Watson-Watt made the calculations as to what it could do for the detecting. So off they went on their early detection equipment fast. </p>
  
Appleton was still involved as chairman of some of the committees. He was a little more formal, but friendly. It was easy to take visitors there. Most British scientific leaders were pretty friendly with Americans. That was a marvelous international relationship. We young kids capitalized on it. Edward Appleton and Roe were at TRE. Then W.B. Lewis. Roe was more formal and, I always thought, administrative. W.B. Lewis was very open with the science. We'd exchange on that. Any one of these persons would sit down just as you and I are doing now and get out a pencil and a piece of scrap paper. The pencil was usually a little stub sharpened with a knife, and the scrap paper had already been written on completely, but they would lay out a diagram and talk with you at any length. Unbelievable cooperation.  
+
<p>Appleton was still involved as chairman of some of the committees. He was a little more formal, but friendly. It was easy to take visitors there. Most British scientific leaders were pretty friendly with Americans. That was a marvelous international relationship. We young kids capitalized on it. [[Edward V. Appleton|Edward Appleton]] and Roe were at TRE. Then W.B. Lewis. Roe was more formal and, I always thought, administrative. W.B. Lewis was very open with the science. We'd exchange on that. Any one of these persons would sit down just as you and I are doing now and get out a pencil and a piece of scrap paper. The pencil was usually a little stub sharpened with a knife, and the scrap paper had already been written on completely, but they would lay out a diagram and talk with you at any length. Unbelievable cooperation. </p>
  
Watson-Watt was a national hero. He was an advisor, but not so much in the running of things. I think he felt a little badly about that, but that didn't enter the picture. He kept up on the technology; there was no question about that. W.B. Lewis was very active at TRE when BBRL got set up. There was the ABL, the American-British Laboratory, which was our countermeasures lab, set up as another U.S. lab right at TRE. The working relationship was just great. John Cockcroft was the head of ADRDE, the Army Defense Research &amp; Development Establishment, and that was also located near Great Malvern. So you'd go up to Great Malvern, and you could get the TRE and the ADRDE. The Navy laboratories were down in Portsmouth and the south coast.  
+
<p>Watson-Watt was a national hero. He was an advisor, but not so much in the running of things. I think he felt a little badly about that, but that didn't enter the picture. He kept up on the technology; there was no question about that. W.B. Lewis was very active at TRE when BBRL got set up. There was the ABL, the American-British Laboratory, which was our countermeasures lab, set up as another U.S. lab right at TRE. The working relationship was just great. John Cockcroft was the head of ADRDE, the Army Defense Research &amp; Development Establishment, and that was also located near Great Malvern. So you'd go up to Great Malvern, and you could get the TRE and the ADRDE. The Navy laboratories were down in Portsmouth and the south coast. </p>
  
I thought Wright was the fellow, but he was the Science Minister in the Admiralty. He was the fellow that we would take many of our visitors to visit about the Royal Navy work. The U.S. Navy had this wonderful liaison group at the American Embassy, and Dave Langmuir and I often interchanged with them. But they were a little tight [Chuckling] in researching their own operations. They used many good Navy personnel, officers in the exchange. Lots of Navy officers were involved in radar, and came over in mufti to London Pan Am and put on their uniforms when they got there. We had exchange with the Royal Navy labs, too. The exchange there went well, and of course they had representatives to all the important committees. I was the U.S. liaison person on the GAAP Committee, the Guided Anti-Aircraft Projectile Committee, and a Naval officer led that operation. So Wright was that much in evidence. He was a very formal person, as I remember but very helpful.  
+
<p>I thought Wright was the fellow, but he was the Science Minister in the Admiralty. He was the fellow that we would take many of our visitors to visit about the Royal Navy work. The U.S. Navy had this wonderful liaison group at the American Embassy, and Dave Langmuir and I often interchanged with them. But they were a little tight [Chuckling] in researching their own operations. They used many good Navy personnel, officers in the exchange. Lots of Navy officers were involved in radar, and came over in mufti to London Pan Am and put on their uniforms when they got there. We had exchange with the Royal Navy labs, too. The exchange there went well, and of course they had representatives to all the important committees. I was the U.S. liaison person on the GAAP Committee, the Guided Anti-Aircraft Projectile Committee, and a Naval officer led that operation. So Wright was that much in evidence. He was a very formal person, as I remember but very helpful. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
You got to know both E.G. Bowen and his successor, Robinson?  
+
<p>You got to know both E.G. Bowen and his successor, Robinson? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
I got to know Bowen and Robinson at Radiation Lab. As soon as they learned that I was going over, they began to give me a lot of hints as to who was doing what and why. So getting into the flow of information in the magnetron period was as easy as pie because of the exchange and Bowen bringing the magnetron over. Later, when I was in Washington, Bowen was the scientific consular at the Australian Embassy. I saw him there quite a bit. I still see Dennis Robinson from time to time. Wonderful people and very helpful. Oh, they gave a lot of hints as to where to go.  
+
<p>I got to know Bowen and Robinson at Radiation Lab. As soon as they learned that I was going over, they began to give me a lot of hints as to who was doing what and why. So getting into the flow of information in the magnetron period was as easy as pie because of the exchange and Bowen bringing the magnetron over. Later, when I was in Washington, Bowen was the scientific consular at the Australian Embassy. I saw him there quite a bit. I still see Dennis Robinson from time to time. Wonderful people and very helpful. Oh, they gave a lot of hints as to where to go. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
This illustrates a very important point. If you really want to transfer information, do it by people person to person. Is that right?  
+
<p>This illustrates a very important point. If you really want to transfer information, do it by people person to person. Is that right? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
I get asked that all the time in Washington, DC at high-level meetings. As I say, there is one way to do it. Get two people talking. Get an arrangement in which they're sharing a project, and you get information exchange. In Britain I would watch our visitors walk into a laboratory, and in two seconds they would be diving as deeply as you could imagine into the substance of what they were talking about. That was far and away the best.  
+
<p>I get asked that all the time in Washington, DC at high-level meetings. As I say, there is one way to do it. Get two people talking. Get an arrangement in which they're sharing a project, and you get information exchange. In Britain I would watch our visitors walk into a laboratory, and in two seconds they would be diving as deeply as you could imagine into the substance of what they were talking about. That was far and away the best. </p>
  
 
=== International Comparisons: Radar  ===
 
=== International Comparisons: Radar  ===
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
I'm very interested in this subject of comparison across nations: Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union.  
+
<p>I'm very interested in this subject of comparison across nations: Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union. </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
In what fields?  
+
<p>In what fields? </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
Talk about radar.  
+
<p>Talk about [[Radar|radar]]. </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
In radar I could talk about the U.S., British and German, but with the French there was a real fog even though there were the Free French in London. Our Navy, for example, wouldn't trust any secret exchanges with the French, and they felt badly. So I don't know too much about the French. By the time I was exchanging information there, it was more in the aerospace field after the war, which I did also with the British just after the war. With the Japanese, there was a little bit of exchange even when I was a graduate student before the war, in a curious way.  
+
<p>In radar I could talk about the U.S., British and German, but with the French there was a real fog even though there were the Free French in London. Our Navy, for example, wouldn't trust any secret exchanges with the French, and they felt badly. So I don't know too much about the French. By the time I was exchanging information there, it was more in the aerospace field after the war, which I did also with the British just after the war. With the Japanese, there was a little bit of exchange even when I was a graduate student before the war, in a curious way. </p>
  
Let's go to the Germans. It was very clear that the Germans did very good work in electronics. It was also very clear that they had excellent radars in a somewhat longer wave range. They knew all about microwave radar, but they just didn't have them built up at all. When you saw radar sets on their airplanes, everyplace you looked you'd see these vertical antennas array. So while their imagery and the communications and use of tracking of airplanes and the longer range was excellent, they just didn't have it in the other fields. We were so far ahead that it was unbelievable. With the atom bomb, we were the same way. In jet engines, on the other hand, they were red hot. I think our microwave radar gave us a head start over Germany and Japan because they were out of business. Germany and Britain and everybody else, not only in radar, but in television and toolwork presentation and a whole lot of things. That was the overwhelming advantage, more so than in airplanes and tanks. In those we outdid them by numbers. I never really got into comparison with the Russians until the mid-1970's when I was the chair of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Science and Technology Exchange. I visited some electronic factories, and they were well behind us in all electronics, computers, chips, and everything else. They were starting in chips. Same way in China. When we visited there in 1978, they were starting in chips, but they hadn't gone a long way.  
+
<p>Let's go to the Germans. It was very clear that the Germans did very good work in electronics. It was also very clear that they had excellent radars in a somewhat longer wave range. They knew all about microwave radar, but they just didn't have them built up at all. When you saw radar sets on their airplanes, everyplace you looked you'd see these vertical antennas array. So while their imagery and the communications and use of tracking of airplanes and the longer range was excellent, they just didn't have it in the other fields. We were so far ahead that it was unbelievable. With the atom bomb, we were the same way. In jet engines, on the other hand, they were red hot. I think our microwave radar gave us a head start over Germany and Japan because they were out of business. Germany and Britain and everybody else, not only in radar, but in television and toolwork presentation and a whole lot of things. That was the overwhelming advantage, more so than in airplanes and tanks. In those we outdid them by numbers. I never really got into comparison with the Russians until the mid-1970's when I was the chair of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Science and Technology Exchange. I visited some electronic factories, and they were well behind us in all electronics, computers, chips, and everything else. They were starting in chips. Same way in China. When we visited there in 1978, they were starting in chips, but they hadn't gone a long way. </p>
  
 
=== Physicists' and Wartime Achievements  ===
 
=== Physicists' and Wartime Achievements  ===
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
I want to talk a little bit more about science. Go back to MIT Radiation Lab for a moment, if you will. It's pretty evident that physicists dominated the management in the leading positions. Most of the physicists there had already worked as development engineers and liaison in managing. They got into all sorts of things, but as far as their technical work, it was primarily development engineering, I presume.  
+
<p>I want to talk a little bit more about science. Go back to MIT Radiation Lab for a moment, if you will. It's pretty evident that physicists dominated the management in the leading positions. Most of the physicists there had already worked as development engineers and liaison in managing. They got into all sorts of things, but as far as their technical work, it was primarily development engineering, I presume. </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Yes. I was a physicist, and I had intended to teach physics, hopefully at Stanford. I got diverted by the war. I didn't know much about development and industry, but these wartime experiences got me involved very heavily with that. Now I visited radar factories, the same with all these other businesses. They were working with our big electronics companies; they were working with our airplane companies. They were developing working products. No question about it. But don't forget the physicists that did that were people that could go in a laboratory and work any electronic device you wanted. They used them in their equipment.  
+
<p>Yes. I was a physicist, and I had intended to teach physics, hopefully at Stanford. I got diverted by the war. I didn't know much about development and industry, but these wartime experiences got me involved very heavily with that. Now I visited radar factories, the same with all these other businesses. They were working with our big electronics companies; they were working with our airplane companies. They were developing working products. No question about it. But don't forget the physicists that did that were people that could go in a laboratory and work any electronic device you wanted. They used them in their equipment. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
Instrumentation as well as some of the machines.  
+
<p>Instrumentation as well as some of the machines. </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Where did klystrons come from, but running cyclotrons. So it was just natural.  
+
<p>Where did klystrons come from, but running cyclotrons. So it was just natural. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
There wasn't any alternative really. Engineers had not been trained?  
+
<p>There wasn't any alternative really. Engineers had not been trained? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
No. Engineers get a lot better science today than they did in those days. There are some that could easily look at it. But they would look at a magnetron or a waveguide, they would tell you its impedance matching; and you'd take a magnetron, and a physicist would immediately jump into the orbiting electrons. It was easy for us to understand the phenomenon. I also learned in that experience that the fields of engineering and science study the same things and have quite different symbols and terminology. I taught while I was at radar and electronics. I had an appointment in the electrical engineering department at MIT. My professorship later was in aeronautics and astronautics. I was the head of the mechanical engineering department and the naval architecture department, and I just learned that these are the same phenomena that all fields or engineering deal with: fields, continuum, particles, and vibrations. I think the war brought them closer together.  
+
<p>No. Engineers get a lot better science today than they did in those days. There are some that could easily look at it. But they would look at a magnetron or a waveguide, they would tell you its impedance matching; and you'd take a magnetron, and a physicist would immediately jump into the orbiting electrons. It was easy for us to understand the phenomenon. I also learned in that experience that the fields of engineering and science study the same things and have quite different symbols and terminology. I taught while I was at radar and electronics. I had an appointment in the electrical engineering department at MIT. My professorship later was in aeronautics and astronautics. I was the head of the mechanical engineering department and the naval architecture department, and I just learned that these are the same phenomena that all fields or engineering deal with: fields, continuum, particles, and vibrations. I think the war brought them closer together. </p>
  
 
=== Postwar Impact of Rad Lab  ===
 
=== Postwar Impact of Rad Lab  ===
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
You were into engineering, and then you were head of Carnegie-Mellon University. You'd been in a good position to tell us how you think the MIT Radiation Lab and other organizations and experiences affected postwar engineering education. Don't forget that there were lots of physicists at the Radiation Lab. There were electrical engineers, too. There were lots of other kinds scientists and engineers. There were biologists there. They all took the electronics technology back to their universities and put it to use in their own fields. In modern biology all those measurement techniques got started with that kind of experience. Not only at Radar Lab. The electrical engineers went back, and they had better field theory. Then the solid state got started out of all of this. Physicists, electrical engineers, materials people, they're all in it. The theory of electrons. And modern engineering education, all the way to computers and materials. A lot of it was affected by the output of those wartime labs. You can't just take the physicists. You've got to take the others as well.  
+
<p>You were into engineering, and then you were head of Carnegie-Mellon University. You'd been in a good position to tell us how you think the [[MIT Rad Lab|MIT Radiation Lab]] and other organizations and experiences affected postwar engineering education. Don't forget that there were lots of physicists at the Radiation Lab. There were electrical engineers, too. There were lots of other kinds scientists and engineers. There were biologists there. They all took the electronics technology back to their universities and put it to use in their own fields. In modern biology all those measurement techniques got started with that kind of experience. Not only at Radar Lab. The electrical engineers went back, and they had better field theory. Then the solid state got started out of all of this. Physicists, electrical engineers, materials people, they're all in it. The theory of electrons. And modern engineering education, all the way to computers and materials. A lot of it was affected by the output of those wartime labs. You can't just take the physicists. You've got to take the others as well. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
Same thing for the Organization for Scientific Research. How might it have been affected by that experience?  
+
<p>Same thing for the Organization for Scientific Research. How might it have been affected by that experience? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Same way. All the big important companies began to take research seriously. They built laboratories. They hired a lot of these people into their newly organized laboratories. I'm thinking of Byron Havensas as an example. Havens was an electrical engineering graduate at Cal Tech when I was a grad student and at Radiation Laboratory. He left shortly before the war ended or just at the end of the war and went to the new labs that IBM was setting up. He helped them set them up. Eventually he became the head of a big IBM electronics laboratory in France.  
+
<p>Same way. All the big important companies began to take research seriously. They built laboratories. They hired a lot of these people into their newly organized laboratories. I'm thinking of Byron Havensas as an example. Havens was an electrical engineering graduate at Cal Tech when I was a grad student and at Radiation Laboratory. He left shortly before the war ended or just at the end of the war and went to the new labs that IBM was setting up. He helped them set them up. Eventually he became the head of a big IBM electronics laboratory in France. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
What do you say about support for scientific research?  
+
<p>What do you say about support for scientific research? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
The people at Radiation Laboratory and other labs where academic people had gone during the war, they split. Some of them went on into industry. Some went to engineering schools. Some went back to teach basic physics. Bush made his name: by calling the research people of the universities to come to work on military problems: radar, underwater sound. He was confident that they could make that transition in the emergency.  
+
<p>The people at Radiation Laboratory and other labs where academic people had gone during the war, they split. Some of them went on into industry. Some went to engineering schools. Some went back to teach basic physics. Bush made his name: by calling the research people of the universities to come to work on military problems: radar, underwater sound. He was confident that they could make that transition in the emergency. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
After 1945?  
+
<p>After 1945? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
No, first to get them there. When they wanted to go back to their basic research careers, he wrote ''Science, the Endless Frontier'', and began to get the government to support academic research. But, in addition, the Navy, the Air Force, the Army, and the Atomic Energy Commission, and other new laboratories were springing up in government, and they were tapping university science potential. Basic research in the universities became a great thing for fifty years.  
+
<p>No, first to get them there. When they wanted to go back to their basic research careers, he wrote ''Science, the Endless Frontier'', and began to get the government to support academic research. But, in addition, the Navy, the Air Force, the Army, and the Atomic Energy Commission, and other new laboratories were springing up in government, and they were tapping university science potential. Basic research in the universities became a great thing for fifty years. </p>
  
 
=== Role of Government in Basic Research  ===
 
=== Role of Government in Basic Research  ===
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
Do you think it was dominated or affected to any less than desirable degree by the government influence, the fact that the government was supporting so much of it?  
+
<p>Do you think it was dominated or affected to any less than desirable degree by the government influence, the fact that the government was supporting so much of it? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Yes. There's a lot more support for scientists and engineers with a really original idea to get their research supported, and that has grown. There was a disproportionate amount in military affairs, and that distorted the spread of influence. But the health sciences grew up. The universities themselves benefited greatly, but they probably were distorted.  
+
<p>Yes. There's a lot more support for scientists and engineers with a really original idea to get their research supported, and that has grown. There was a disproportionate amount in military affairs, and that distorted the spread of influence. But the health sciences grew up. The universities themselves benefited greatly, but they probably were distorted. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
Well, this has been a very interesting discussion and I think a valuable one. I want to thank you so much.  
+
<p>Well, this has been a very interesting discussion and I think a valuable one. I want to thank you so much. </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
It's nice to remember those things. Those days were great days for me. I look back on those days, and I had so many breaks in future things that I have done.  
+
<p>It's nice to remember those things. Those days were great days for me. I look back on those days, and I had so many breaks in future things that I have done. </p>
  
'''Bryant:'''  
+
<p>'''Bryant:''' </p>
  
Do you have any closing remarks or comments that you'd like to make?  
+
<p>Do you have any closing remarks or comments that you'd like to make? </p>
  
'''Stever:'''  
+
<p>'''Stever:''' </p>
  
Times are changing. Science and technology, they come together. Basic scientific research curiosity during research is very important. So is applied science and the intermingling of technology and science. The intermingling is much more complicated today. The government is trying to straighten out how it connects to that. That's what we've been involved with in our Carnegie Commission work for the last five years: how does government marry science and technology? There are lots of unanswered problems, that the problems are getting described. Many people in science have the feeling that we've spent an awful lot of money on research and we haven't got enough products out. Look at the products that are flowing out. Look what we have in health today. Somebody's a little nutty when they describe it that way, but nevertheless, there are some hard feelings, and the new government is trying to get hold of it and make some beneficial changes. Those of us who've lived through fifty years and a lot younger people are trying to protect the basic support of academic science. I hope that we will.  
+
<p>Times are changing. Science and technology, they come together. Basic scientific research curiosity during research is very important. So is applied science and the intermingling of technology and science. The intermingling is much more complicated today. The government is trying to straighten out how it connects to that. That's what we've been involved with in our Carnegie Commission work for the last five years: how does government marry science and technology? There are lots of unanswered problems, that the problems are getting described. Many people in science have the feeling that we've spent an awful lot of money on research and we haven't got enough products out. Look at the products that are flowing out. Look what we have in health today. Somebody's a little nutty when they describe it that way, but nevertheless, there are some hard feelings, and the new government is trying to get hold of it and make some beneficial changes. Those of us who've lived through fifty years and a lot younger people are trying to protect the basic support of academic science. I hope that we will. </p>
  
[[Category:People_and_organizations]] [[Category:Scientists]] [[Category:Inventors]] [[Category:Research_and_development_labs]] [[Category:Government]] [[Category:Environment,_geoscience_&_remote_sensing|Category:Environment,_geoscience_&amp;_remote_sensing]] [[Category:Radar]] [[Category:Radar_applications]] [[Category:Signals]] [[Category:Signal_detection]] [[Category:Radar_detection]] [[Category:Culture_and_society]] [[Category:Defense_&_security|Category:Defense_&amp;_security]] [[Category:World_War_II]] [[Category:Cold_War]] [[Category:IEEE]] [[Category:Prominent_members]] [[Category:Lasers,_lighting_&_electrooptics|Category:Lasers,_lighting_&amp;_electrooptics]] [[Category:Optics]]
+
[[Category:People and organizations|Stever]] [[Category:Scientists|Stever]] [[Category:Inventors|Stever]] [[Category:Research and development labs|Stever]] [[Category:Government|Stever]] [[Category:Environment, geoscience & remote sensing|Stever]] [[Category:Radar|Stever]] [[Category:Radar applications|Stever]] [[Category:Signals|Stever]] [[Category:Signal detection|Stever]] [[Category:Radar detection|Stever]] [[Category:Culture and society|Stever]] [[Category:Defense & security|Stever]] [[Category:World War II|Stever]] [[Category:Cold War|Stever]] [[Category:IEEE|Stever]] [[Category:Prominent members|Stever]] [[Category:Lasers, lighting & electrooptics|Stever]] [[Category:Optics|Stever]] [[Category:News|Stever]]

Revision as of 14:38, 28 March 2012

Contents

About H. Guyford Stever

Dr. H. Guyford Stever grew up in Corning, New York. He attended Colgate University before entering graduate school at the California Institute of Technology, where he received the Ph.D. in physics. After getting the doctorate, Stever joined the Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). He taught radar school for the U.S. armed forces during World War Two and became the radar liaison officer to London. Stever exchanged research and development ideas with British radar scientists, and helped set up the British Branch Radiation Laboratory.

After the war, he joined M.I.T.'s faculty and worked on aerospace studies and guided missile research. In 1965 Stever left the position of Head of the Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering to become President of Carnegie-Mellon University. From 1972 to 1977 he served as Director of the National Science Foundation. From 1976 to 1977 he served as Science Advisor to the President of the United States. Stever has been active in Pittsburgh academic and civic organizations, and is a member of the IEEE, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

The interview begins with Stever's childhood in Corning, New York and subsequent academic career at Colgate University and Cal Tech. Stever focuses on his work with the Rad Lab during World War Two, recalling in detail his co-operation with British radar scientists and Royal Air Force personnel. He describes British-American information exchange networks and helping create the British Branch Radiation Laboratory. Stever evaluates wartime scientific and technological research and its impact on later American education. He concludes the interview with a mild critique of postwar scientific and funding priorities.

About the Interview

H. Guyford Stever: An Interview Conducted by John Bryant, IEEE History Center, March 17, 1993

Interview # 150 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

H. Guyford Stever, an oral history conducted in 1993 by John Bryant, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

Interview: H. Guyford Stever

Interviewer: John Bryant

Place: University Of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Date: March 17, 1993

Family Background and Education

Bryant:

I'm in the Gerald R. Ford Library on the campus of the University of Michigan to interview Dr. H. Guyford Stever in connection with the MIT Radiation Lab Oral History Project of IEEE Center for History. Dr. Stever, before we get started on the MIT Radiation Lab, I wonder if you could give us just a little background information on your family and perhaps how you decided to be a scientist, an engineer.

Stever:

I was born in Corning, New York, just before we got into World War I, and my happy childhood in the 'twenties was spent there. In the 'thirties when I was in high school, the Depression came on, but Corning had one very exciting thing in science, and that was that the Corning Glassworks was pouring the mirror for the 200-inch telescope. Our scout troop built telescopes and got very excited about it. It was poured just before I was to enter Colgate University as a freshman. I had to get scholarships. All of us in the Depression had to work pretty hard to get through school. When I got to Colgate as an incoming freshman, the physics department particularly, but all the science departments, were anxious to hear news about that telescope glass pouring.

Bryant:

That was for the Palomar?

Stever:

Yes. It was the 200-inch for Palomar. So they got this young freshman from Corning who was going into the science courses, and I met all the professors in advance, which is a great start. I took the usual science courses in high school. I did well in science and math in high school, and won the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Prize in Mathematics, which is given at several New York State high schools. Then I got interested in perpetual motion. One of my friends discovered a hermit who lived in the woods about ten or fifteen miles away. He had built in his cabin a tremendous mechanical device. He said that when he got it all started it was going to turn forever. Then I did experiments on a couple of perpetual motion ideas in high school physics. They did not work! As I say, my scout troop was involved in it.

At Colgate I had a lot of good breaks in science and did very well. I then decided that instead of becoming a high school science teacher, I ought to get a Ph.D. and do something else. So I went to Cal Tech in physics, and worked in cosmic rays and mechanisms with Geiger counter discharge. That's why my thesis had two aspects. Those were some very exciting times. But of course this was all during the 'thirties, and all of us grew more and more aware of the war in Europe. Our professors at Cal Tech were getting more and more involved as consultants to our military forces. Then the Radiation Laboratory started in 1940. My thesis advising professor, Dr. Victor Neher, went back to MIT, and fortunately he assigned a young instructor at Cal Tech, William Pickering, to act as my thesis advisor. All the physicists took great interest in one part of my thesis, the lifetime of what's now called the meson (then called the mesotron) on which I did an experiment. Robert Oppenheimer was particularly interested. He spent one third of a year at Cal Tech and two years at Cal Berkeley. I got very interested. I had a chance to teach at Stanford, but I wanted to get into war work. So I went back to the Radiation Laboratory and got started. And haven't turned back....

Radar School at Rad Lab

Stever:

Physics changed to radar with a lot of engineering in it. At Rad Lab I started in the modulator group under Milt White and had just gotten started when a fellow by the name of William "Zike" Barrow, who had done a lot of work on waveguides and transmissions, recruited me. He was a professor of electrical engineering at MIT, and he had been asked to start a radar school for the armed services. This was for the Army, the Navy, and the Army Air Corps. I said, "Gee, that's interesting. I'd like to stay in the research, but I'll go there and help it get started." Zike Barrow also recruited Henry Zimmerman, who was a young instructor of electrical engineering, a very good guy. He recruited Hugh Kendall, another Radiation Lab fellow who had been working on radar display CRTs. He also recruited a fellow from the Bell Laboratory, a history writer or popular science writer by the name of John Batchelder.

We had our first group of students come in September for a three-month course. We just took what radar we could find and began to instruct them in the various processes that went into radar.

The armed services had started a parallel course at Harvard, and also at Bowdoin. Those courses were to become feeders into ours. I think they were three-month courses. Our second batch of students came in with much better starting backgrounds. Earlier we got a motley crew. We got some of the best students who had just graduated from the Naval Academy. They were angry as they could be because they had had wonderful assignments at Pearl Harbor on the Arizona, and the California, and all of those ships. When Pearl Harbor Day occurred they were pleased that they weren't on the ships at that time, although saddened by the loss of their friends. They went on to good careers. We had some senior colonels. Air Force flyers were in the group. We did as well as we could. We got hold of a SCR-268. We had the Radiation Laboratory right there, and we could have lots of S-band radar, and the X-band was also coming along. So we had that. We could get data from all the other places and we then picked off a few of the military people who went through our course: Captain James and Lieutenant Ebersoll and a few like that. During the second and third three-month sessions, we were growing fast. We grew out of our headquarters at MIT, and moved down to the Harbor Building.

Bryant:

That must have been Building 32?

Stever:

We started in 32. I had been in the main buildings earlier with the modulator group over in the physics building, then moved to 32, and then to the Harbor Building. I think it was the 13th floor of that building, which is still there.

Bryant:

Is that by the north end?

Stever:

It's on Atlantic Avenue. [Chuckling] In a big wind storm the building shook. We learned about vibrating buildings. But in any case, we had really big floor space, and we fixed offices and labs. Things were growing pretty fast at that time. I stayed for the first three, nine-month courses. That brought me into the early summer of 1942. By then, we had gotten into the war. We did September to December, to mid-spring, to first of the summer. I think that rotation continued because I know other people who went. I met them later. Most of the people who came later had gone through one of those earlier three-month courses at Harvard.

Bryant:

Was either Harvard or Bowdoin preferred by either the Army or Navy?

Stever:

I'm not sure. If they were, Bowdoin would have been Navy because one of my friends at Cal Tech, who got a Ph.D. the same class as I did got very angry at me because I got the appointment to Stanford and then didn't take it. He then lost out on it, but he would have lost it anyway because his reserve commission came up. He was then a lieutenant commander at Bowdoin, and was active in getting that started. We drove up and we exchanged views there. We did some exchange with Harvard. I didn't do much with Harvard. I did get in exchange with Bowdoin. We would write course work as fast as we could. Some of it's right here, in the Ford Library.

Measuring Power Output of Tubes

Stever:

So I got started in radar. I came back and worked on K-band for a short time. We were trying to measure the power output of tubes. Victor Neher was very active in these minute tubes and was trying to make triode tubes at K-band. There was a little magnetron, and we measured the output of it. By then we began to learn that we had picked a band in the middle of the water absorption band.

Bryant:

Yes, very close to it.

Stever:

Very close and there was thought of moving it. I think we did move it a little because obviously we hadn't gotten down to standardizing anything at the time.

Bryant:

You had to build test equipment before you even had klystrons or magnetrons?

Stever:

Yes. When I got to work with Victor, he had gotten a good start on setting up the equipment. One of the things I began working on immediately was to measure the power output of various tubes that we had. We had a waveguide terminated so that the energy would all be absorbed and in a thermistor at the end. We got pretty good measurements. I tried also to help Victor, who was working on the triodes for K-band, minute grids; he was a real expert on these extremely fine, gold-coated quartz fibers. I tried to get a piezoelectric mechanical movement so it could be tuned electrically by getting a mechanical displacement of the grid. But I failed in that experiment. I didn't really have time because shortly thereafter I left.

Mission to England

Stever:

Dr. Vannevar Bush had asked Radiation Lab if they could have another fellow to work with Dave Langmuir (who was replacing Frank Lewis) as the radar liaison officer in the London Mission of OSRD. The London Mission had been set up somewhat earlier by Conant of Harvard. I remember being called by Lee DuBridge on a Saturday afternoon. He said, "Would you like to go to London?" I was an unmarried young man, and I was very anxious to accept that offer. I accepted immediately. I had to be prepared, and this preparation was very important to my future career. We started off by visiting all the radar establishments of the armed services and the major corporations and every laboratory that was doing anything. Bush's office could get anybody cleared. Immediately this young guy from Rad Lab would go in and be welcomed by the boss of the laboratory, because they wanted to know what was going on in Bush's operations and learn about England. So I got a wonderful start with really senior people, the great leaders in the field. I got to know a very large number of them. When I was delayed in getting over, they said, "why don't you go out to some of the airplane companies, too, that are going to fly these sets." That's where I learned about aeronautics, and my later career was in aerospace. But I finally got to London. I left New York on January 1st at six a.m. on a Pan Am Clipper and arrived by air nineteen days later.

Bryant:

Was that in 1943?

Stever:

Nineteen forty-three. I was delayed in Bermuda thirteen days, delayed in the Azores three days, delayed in Lisbon two days or three days, delayed in Ireland one day. It was very exciting to change from the U.S. to wartime London. The atmosphere was charged with radar, the application of science to war. Our armed services were beginning to build up their strengths; we made contact there. In the beginning, the job was mainly working with the British laboratories, and transferring back information on this and that, technical information, and letting them know some of our stuff. They were fascinated with equipment like the MEW and some of the special things that had come out of the U.S. We wanted to learn about strap magnetrons. It went back and forth.

I'll never forget a wonderful incident. Jerrold Zacharias sent me a cable and said: "You know, we think we make our little silicon crystal detector just like the British, but we don't have the same reliable return on our manufacturing process. Can you go to British General Electric and find out why?" I spent a whole day there. We went through the process comparing ours with theirs, got to the end and the chief engineer of GE and I said, "We can't find any differences." We were standing at the end of their line watching a young woman take the product coming out and packing it for test and shipment. Every one that she picked up, she tapped lightly on the table and then put it in the box. I asked her why, and she replied "We get better returns that way!" I sent that back and solved the whole problem of the reliability. [Laughter]

Then the exchange of visitors became very important. People like John Slayter, who worked on magnets at Bell Labs came. We got him up to the Oliphant's laboratory.

Bryant:

Oliphant in Birmingham?

Stever:

Yes. So was the young man who worked on the strap magnetron. We had a wonderful exchange.

Bryant:

Was Professor Sayre also at the University of Birmingham?

Stever:

Yes. Then we got people to come to visit the Tube Committee, which of course they called the Valve Committee.

Bryant:

CVD?

Stever:

CVD. I was appointed liaison officer on that committee. Then there were parallel visits by researchers in countermeasures work with the Harvard Laboratory. Dave Langmuir handled that, and I began to handle most of the radar. There was the big and important meeting of the Compton Committee, which included Admiral Furer, Compton, and General McClellan, an Air Force Officer. Top officers, leaders of the services, and the MIT Lab and the industrialists came to visit. This was a high-level visit in the year 1943.

Bryant:

Was that Division 14?

Stever:

I think it probably was Division 14. Karl Compton led the mission. It was called the Compton Mission, and they were received by the British very cordially. If you want a little side story, Dave said to me, "What we ought to do is put together a little preparatory book for them." We talked a little bit, and we finally decided to put together a little book, which would just fit, in a pocket, so they could carry it around on their visit. We began to put data on every British radar on one sheet of paper, in small print, with all listed characteristics. We assembled about six or eight copies. They came, and as they went around with their British hosts to all these different radar centers they were finally asked, "What is this little book that you keep looking at?" They showed them, [Chuckling] and the British were aghast. Every radar the British had was in a book that could drop out of a pocket. In fact, it did once. Dave and I had divvied up the visits, and I went over to the Air Ministry once to get some data. A taxi drove me in to one of those side streets off of Whitehall to the Air Ministry entrance. I went through the entrance and reached in my pocket as I was going, and my notebook wasn't there. I rushed out, but I saw my cab turning the corner into Whitehall. I broke the record for the 100-yard dash. I got out there, and looked up and down that street. There was only one taxi on the far side of the street going the other way. I said, it's my only chance. I rushed over and stopped it, and there was my book. [Chuckling] So secrets are difficult.

Our liaison export worked well, but it was getting too busy. But the system was changing. First we had visitors who would come solo. Then we began to get interchange of people coming over with projects, to test something with our armed services or the British services there. A typical one was Luis Alvarez. I accompanied him on his visit to Air Commodore Bennett who was the commander of the RAF Pathfinder Force. We talked about Luis's blind-landing system, and Luis's Eagle radar antenna. Bennett was fascinated. He'd flown up to Scotland where there was a blind-landing system and done some landing with it the day before our meeting. Luis came to our meeting with Bennett, saying he just had crashed in an airplane (he was scuffed up a bit). Still it was a great meeting. After that exchange with Bennett, he asked us if we would like to stay to see the crews go off for the night's raid from that airfield, telling us that it would be a thousand plane raid. We accepted and heard the briefing. Then we stayed overnight and heard the debriefing. The briefer said to the crews, "We're using a new secret weapon tonight. We call it 'Windows.' This is the first time it will be used in our aerial warfare. You have these chutes through which you're to drop these bundles of aluminum foil” He tried to explain it. But the crews were boiling mad. They said: "One more thing to do!" And they were yelling. [Chuckling] But they took off, and the next morning they came back, and there were no losses at that field. The losses were minuscule at all fields compared with what they'd been before. They learned to love Windows very fast.

Bryant:

These were British?

Stever:

Yes, this was the Royal Air Force. I went back in September of '43 for a two months' rehabilitation course to unload everything I had learned in Britain and I gave a talk at the Radiation Laboratory. I summarized all that I knew of British radar operations. The Radiation Laboratory staff who heard it immediately jumped on Lee DuBridge and said, "Why don't we hear this about our American radar, complete coverage like this?" The next week Louis Ridenour gave them that lecture.

I had talked with Lewis Turner, the head of receivers in London in August who said, "I've got the job in Britain to talk over setting up a British Branch Radiation Lab." I said, "That's great!" I participated with others in briefing him on everything that was going on and who he should see. I worked with Lee DuBridge's assistant who was in charge of coordinating the formation of BBRL from the U.S. side as they figured out what they could do.

Bryant:

Was this Trump?

Stever:

No. It was Doug Ewing, John Trump was involved later. John was very active in getting it started on this side. The first director of BBRL was a physicist, Larry Marshall. He had worked in the synchrotron group at Cal Berkeley. He went to London to set up its Lab. I got back in the fall, and we began to work together. Bennett Archambault, the science attaché at the Embassy who worked for Van Bush, and our first director, used to get into little battles over who controlled what. It shortly became clear to me that the BBRL was going to have all of its own contacts direct and didn't have to go through headquarters anymore. Then John Trump was sent over to be the director. John, who was an employee of NDRC, worked for Bush rather than Radiation Laboratory.

Bryant:

I didn't know that.

Stever:

Yes. He was assigned to the Radiation Laboratory, but he was Division 14's man at the Radiation Lab. So he was officially a government servant as I was, like the people at the London mission. John worked easily with Arch, and they got things straightened out. Then people began coming over with operational sets, and the MEW came over. Now we're getting in the winter of '43 and the early part of '44. The Invasion was creeping up. We helped in the London mission as much as possible. But just as soon as somebody would get processed through the embassy and into the country, they'd go up to BBRL and take off. The system was working very fast, and very well with both our services.

As far as I was concerned, our Land Mission job began to change again. For me personally, it changed. I did less of what I had been doing and more of preparing to go to the continent on technical intelligence missions. As soon as the Invasion happened, I began a series of one or two week missions: one to Normandy on D+20; one to Brittany where I got captured; for a day; one to Paris, just as Paris was captured one joint mission in which British Americans went to Eindhoven where we exchanged ideas with Philips. A lot of the top British people were there: W.B. Lewis, who was head of the TRE; and Robert Watson-Watt. We Americans didn't have quite as high-level a group, but it worked out well.

Let me speak about something. I noticed when I got to Paris, my work was no longer in places where they'd had missiles or radar in the field or the radar control center in Brittany where we got captured for a brief time. Rather when I got to Paris, the places I was visiting were company laboratories. It was the same on the next trip when the break out from France came. The British tried to go across Arnham, and we pushed up through Holland to Eindhoven. There was a tank battle outside the city when we arrived but we soon got in, and we had good exchange with their people. It was very clear however that industrial companies were beginning to keep industrial secrets. They would exchange some things, but would often just confess in answer to our questions that, no, they didn't work with the Germans on that kind of thing. But we did the same sort of thing. Sam Goudsmit arrived with us in our group from London.

Bryant:

Was that in Paris?

Stever:

In Paris. He visited ITT, and had some good exchanges. But ITT people were beginning to think about postwar competition setup in the electronics business, just as the great European companies were.

I had two more trips that were exciting. Bush didn't have anybody watching all the fields of guided missiles. The British were building a guided anti-aircraft projectile. The German bombing of London had started. V-1's and the V-2's intelligence was getting hot. There were other German missiles mentioned in intelligence reports. So I became Bush's correspondent in those fields. When I went back the second time that must have been October of '44, (I had come back to Britain in January after I'd had my appendix out). In the United States on that second trip I exchanged information mainly on guided missiles with groups who had built the proximity fuse, but were switching to radar guided missiles at the Bumblebee Project at Johns Hopkins. I got very familiar with them and Bush. On that tour of duty I was involved with exchange on both missiles and radar.

In the meantime, BBRL had taken off beautifully. They were sending their own people over, to the continent, with SCR-584s. By then the SCR-584 was a very important factor in ground control of our fighters. That started even before the Invasion. The aircraft bombing systems were working. Other people at OSRD were working on IR devices and chemical devices. So this exchange went extremely well. It was very important to have this transition made to essentially direct laboratory to the field instead of as the original program of going through diplomatic channels. It worked out well. It became one of the great success stories. I remember the group that came over with the MEW, which ended up down there on the south coast of England, and everyone watched the Invasion on that. It was an unbelievable picture of the Invasion.

The transfer to activities in Paris took place. OSRD set up an office over there. By then the business of looking at what the Germans were doing had become really a big operation. Sam Goudsmit and I had come to Paris together, and I had radar missions to visit some places in Paris. He adopted those missions as a cover for his ALSOS mission, which was to find out what the Germans had done on the atom bomb. He had been at Radiation Laboratory and I learned a lot from him when he was there. I learned a lot from a lot of people at Radiation Laboratory. They were such great people, and all leaders of physics and electrical engineering.

When the war's end in Europe came, I returned to Washington and worked in the Secretariat of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Guided Missile Committee. Then Bush asked me to stay after the war in Japan and work for him in Washington. I said, "I'd love to do that, to be your personal assistant on all these things, but I always wanted to be in a university." He said, "Oh, yes. I respect that decision." The next morning I got a call from Bush's friend Jay Stratton at MIT asking me to come there and be executive officer of a guided missile program. From then on I was in aerospace.

Absorption Line of Ammonia

Bryant:

I'd like to go back on just a few specific things. Ed Purcell said one of the things you tried was looking at the absorption line of ammonia. Do you remember putting ammonia gas in waveguide and tuning through it?

Stever:

Yes. Whatever we did we handed over the results. I don't remember what they did with them.

Bryant:

You took data, did you?

Stever:

Yes, there was data there.

Bryant:

I'd love to have a set of those results. There's some history here. You know in the physics department in 1933, there was a thesis on that.

Stever:

Really?!

Bryant:

Yes.

Stever:

I'll be darned! The physics department at MIT?

Bryant:

Here at Michigan by Claude Cleaton. The Microwave Theory and Techniques Society honored him this year by giving him a Pioneer Award for that. Imagine something that's seventy years old.

Stever:

I want to call Victor Neher. I'll call him and see if he would be able to give you some help on that. Wherever the data went, and who used it and so on, I'm not sure. But the business of absorption was a very important thing for a short time.

Recollections of Radar Pioneers

Bryant:

In England, I've heard word of Sir Frank Smith. A lot of people must have had contact with him. What was his position?

Stever:

Sir Frank Smith. I don't have it.

Bryant:

What about Sir Charles Wright? He was an explorer, but he was also then in the Air Ministry.

Stever:

Wasn't he head of all the radar research in the Navy headquarters? I'll have to check on that.

Bryant:

Would you care to comment on any personalities or characters of people like Watson-Watt? E.P. Roe? W.B. Lewis?

Stever:

Yes, I'd love to. We had a lot to do with them. In the early days, before BBRL got set up, essentially everything that was radar flowed through our office, including the visitors that came through. Depending upon what the job of the person coming through, whether he was a high-level administrator or research director, we would lay out itineraries for them. So we got to know these people quite well, taking visitors up to TRE. Watson-Watt, of course, was in London by then, and he was Sir Robert. He asked us to call him Bob or Bobby. He liked Americans. Dave Langmuir and I got on very well with him. So did Archambanlt, our boss. We often took our visitors there, and he could give us the history and the current status of radar or RDF as the British called it. But at that time he was in an advisory role, and wasn't as much in the line on command as he was in the beginning when he really laid the groundwork. You know the whole story of how he did the calculations to prove radar's possibilities. Sir Edward Appleton was still there. He did the ionospheric research, he had the data, and Watson-Watt made the calculations as to what it could do for the detecting. So off they went on their early detection equipment fast.

Appleton was still involved as chairman of some of the committees. He was a little more formal, but friendly. It was easy to take visitors there. Most British scientific leaders were pretty friendly with Americans. That was a marvelous international relationship. We young kids capitalized on it. Edward Appleton and Roe were at TRE. Then W.B. Lewis. Roe was more formal and, I always thought, administrative. W.B. Lewis was very open with the science. We'd exchange on that. Any one of these persons would sit down just as you and I are doing now and get out a pencil and a piece of scrap paper. The pencil was usually a little stub sharpened with a knife, and the scrap paper had already been written on completely, but they would lay out a diagram and talk with you at any length. Unbelievable cooperation.

Watson-Watt was a national hero. He was an advisor, but not so much in the running of things. I think he felt a little badly about that, but that didn't enter the picture. He kept up on the technology; there was no question about that. W.B. Lewis was very active at TRE when BBRL got set up. There was the ABL, the American-British Laboratory, which was our countermeasures lab, set up as another U.S. lab right at TRE. The working relationship was just great. John Cockcroft was the head of ADRDE, the Army Defense Research & Development Establishment, and that was also located near Great Malvern. So you'd go up to Great Malvern, and you could get the TRE and the ADRDE. The Navy laboratories were down in Portsmouth and the south coast.

I thought Wright was the fellow, but he was the Science Minister in the Admiralty. He was the fellow that we would take many of our visitors to visit about the Royal Navy work. The U.S. Navy had this wonderful liaison group at the American Embassy, and Dave Langmuir and I often interchanged with them. But they were a little tight [Chuckling] in researching their own operations. They used many good Navy personnel, officers in the exchange. Lots of Navy officers were involved in radar, and came over in mufti to London Pan Am and put on their uniforms when they got there. We had exchange with the Royal Navy labs, too. The exchange there went well, and of course they had representatives to all the important committees. I was the U.S. liaison person on the GAAP Committee, the Guided Anti-Aircraft Projectile Committee, and a Naval officer led that operation. So Wright was that much in evidence. He was a very formal person, as I remember but very helpful.

Bryant:

You got to know both E.G. Bowen and his successor, Robinson?

Stever:

I got to know Bowen and Robinson at Radiation Lab. As soon as they learned that I was going over, they began to give me a lot of hints as to who was doing what and why. So getting into the flow of information in the magnetron period was as easy as pie because of the exchange and Bowen bringing the magnetron over. Later, when I was in Washington, Bowen was the scientific consular at the Australian Embassy. I saw him there quite a bit. I still see Dennis Robinson from time to time. Wonderful people and very helpful. Oh, they gave a lot of hints as to where to go.

Bryant:

This illustrates a very important point. If you really want to transfer information, do it by people person to person. Is that right?

Stever:

I get asked that all the time in Washington, DC at high-level meetings. As I say, there is one way to do it. Get two people talking. Get an arrangement in which they're sharing a project, and you get information exchange. In Britain I would watch our visitors walk into a laboratory, and in two seconds they would be diving as deeply as you could imagine into the substance of what they were talking about. That was far and away the best.

International Comparisons: Radar

Bryant:

I'm very interested in this subject of comparison across nations: Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union.

Stever:

In what fields?

Bryant:

Talk about radar.

Stever:

In radar I could talk about the U.S., British and German, but with the French there was a real fog even though there were the Free French in London. Our Navy, for example, wouldn't trust any secret exchanges with the French, and they felt badly. So I don't know too much about the French. By the time I was exchanging information there, it was more in the aerospace field after the war, which I did also with the British just after the war. With the Japanese, there was a little bit of exchange even when I was a graduate student before the war, in a curious way.

Let's go to the Germans. It was very clear that the Germans did very good work in electronics. It was also very clear that they had excellent radars in a somewhat longer wave range. They knew all about microwave radar, but they just didn't have them built up at all. When you saw radar sets on their airplanes, everyplace you looked you'd see these vertical antennas array. So while their imagery and the communications and use of tracking of airplanes and the longer range was excellent, they just didn't have it in the other fields. We were so far ahead that it was unbelievable. With the atom bomb, we were the same way. In jet engines, on the other hand, they were red hot. I think our microwave radar gave us a head start over Germany and Japan because they were out of business. Germany and Britain and everybody else, not only in radar, but in television and toolwork presentation and a whole lot of things. That was the overwhelming advantage, more so than in airplanes and tanks. In those we outdid them by numbers. I never really got into comparison with the Russians until the mid-1970's when I was the chair of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Science and Technology Exchange. I visited some electronic factories, and they were well behind us in all electronics, computers, chips, and everything else. They were starting in chips. Same way in China. When we visited there in 1978, they were starting in chips, but they hadn't gone a long way.

Physicists' and Wartime Achievements

Bryant:

I want to talk a little bit more about science. Go back to MIT Radiation Lab for a moment, if you will. It's pretty evident that physicists dominated the management in the leading positions. Most of the physicists there had already worked as development engineers and liaison in managing. They got into all sorts of things, but as far as their technical work, it was primarily development engineering, I presume.

Stever:

Yes. I was a physicist, and I had intended to teach physics, hopefully at Stanford. I got diverted by the war. I didn't know much about development and industry, but these wartime experiences got me involved very heavily with that. Now I visited radar factories, the same with all these other businesses. They were working with our big electronics companies; they were working with our airplane companies. They were developing working products. No question about it. But don't forget the physicists that did that were people that could go in a laboratory and work any electronic device you wanted. They used them in their equipment.

Bryant:

Instrumentation as well as some of the machines.

Stever:

Where did klystrons come from, but running cyclotrons. So it was just natural.

Bryant:

There wasn't any alternative really. Engineers had not been trained?

Stever:

No. Engineers get a lot better science today than they did in those days. There are some that could easily look at it. But they would look at a magnetron or a waveguide, they would tell you its impedance matching; and you'd take a magnetron, and a physicist would immediately jump into the orbiting electrons. It was easy for us to understand the phenomenon. I also learned in that experience that the fields of engineering and science study the same things and have quite different symbols and terminology. I taught while I was at radar and electronics. I had an appointment in the electrical engineering department at MIT. My professorship later was in aeronautics and astronautics. I was the head of the mechanical engineering department and the naval architecture department, and I just learned that these are the same phenomena that all fields or engineering deal with: fields, continuum, particles, and vibrations. I think the war brought them closer together.

Postwar Impact of Rad Lab

Bryant:

You were into engineering, and then you were head of Carnegie-Mellon University. You'd been in a good position to tell us how you think the MIT Radiation Lab and other organizations and experiences affected postwar engineering education. Don't forget that there were lots of physicists at the Radiation Lab. There were electrical engineers, too. There were lots of other kinds scientists and engineers. There were biologists there. They all took the electronics technology back to their universities and put it to use in their own fields. In modern biology all those measurement techniques got started with that kind of experience. Not only at Radar Lab. The electrical engineers went back, and they had better field theory. Then the solid state got started out of all of this. Physicists, electrical engineers, materials people, they're all in it. The theory of electrons. And modern engineering education, all the way to computers and materials. A lot of it was affected by the output of those wartime labs. You can't just take the physicists. You've got to take the others as well.

Bryant:

Same thing for the Organization for Scientific Research. How might it have been affected by that experience?

Stever:

Same way. All the big important companies began to take research seriously. They built laboratories. They hired a lot of these people into their newly organized laboratories. I'm thinking of Byron Havensas as an example. Havens was an electrical engineering graduate at Cal Tech when I was a grad student and at Radiation Laboratory. He left shortly before the war ended or just at the end of the war and went to the new labs that IBM was setting up. He helped them set them up. Eventually he became the head of a big IBM electronics laboratory in France.

Bryant:

What do you say about support for scientific research?

Stever:

The people at Radiation Laboratory and other labs where academic people had gone during the war, they split. Some of them went on into industry. Some went to engineering schools. Some went back to teach basic physics. Bush made his name: by calling the research people of the universities to come to work on military problems: radar, underwater sound. He was confident that they could make that transition in the emergency.

Bryant:

After 1945?

Stever:

No, first to get them there. When they wanted to go back to their basic research careers, he wrote Science, the Endless Frontier, and began to get the government to support academic research. But, in addition, the Navy, the Air Force, the Army, and the Atomic Energy Commission, and other new laboratories were springing up in government, and they were tapping university science potential. Basic research in the universities became a great thing for fifty years.

Role of Government in Basic Research

Bryant:

Do you think it was dominated or affected to any less than desirable degree by the government influence, the fact that the government was supporting so much of it?

Stever:

Yes. There's a lot more support for scientists and engineers with a really original idea to get their research supported, and that has grown. There was a disproportionate amount in military affairs, and that distorted the spread of influence. But the health sciences grew up. The universities themselves benefited greatly, but they probably were distorted.

Bryant:

Well, this has been a very interesting discussion and I think a valuable one. I want to thank you so much.

Stever:

It's nice to remember those things. Those days were great days for me. I look back on those days, and I had so many breaks in future things that I have done.

Bryant:

Do you have any closing remarks or comments that you'd like to make?

Stever:

Times are changing. Science and technology, they come together. Basic scientific research curiosity during research is very important. So is applied science and the intermingling of technology and science. The intermingling is much more complicated today. The government is trying to straighten out how it connects to that. That's what we've been involved with in our Carnegie Commission work for the last five years: how does government marry science and technology? There are lots of unanswered problems, that the problems are getting described. Many people in science have the feeling that we've spent an awful lot of money on research and we haven't got enough products out. Look at the products that are flowing out. Look what we have in health today. Somebody's a little nutty when they describe it that way, but nevertheless, there are some hard feelings, and the new government is trying to get hold of it and make some beneficial changes. Those of us who've lived through fifty years and a lot younger people are trying to protect the basic support of academic science. I hope that we will.