Doug Hallgren Interview
Bethlehem Central High School-Mr. Reed’s AP Chemistry Class
Janie Schwab: This is a test to see if this thing is working okay.
Doug: Yeah, yeah.
Michael Turo: Alright. Today we are interviewing, Doug Hallgren? Is that, how you pronounce your name?
Doug: That’s correct, that’s correct.
Mike: Alright, and we are a class from Bethlehem doing this interview for an AP Chem class. Let’s introduce ourselves. I’m Mike Turo
Alice Krugluv: I’m Alice.
Olga Yankulina: Olga.
Ericka Hill: Ericka Hill.
Scott Greenberg: Scott Greenberg
Analise Pellegi: Analise Pellegi.
Janie: And Janie Schwab is also here
Mike: Okay. Thank you. So, Mr. Hallgren. How long have you been working for the Dudley Observatory and its related facilities?
Doug Hallgren: Alright, I worked for Dudley Observatory from April 1st, April Fool’s Day, 1963, until April Fool’s Day, 1978 [laughter]! I so happened that I started at Dudley April 1st and then I left there and started another job in ’78.
Mike: April First! Alright, so, you were, you grew up as a son of immigrants?
Mike: Can you describe what that was like?
Doug: Alright. I was um, born in 1930. My parents had come over from Sweden. Actually, an interesting thing in the immigration discussion today: my father was an illegal immigrant. He and his friend had uh, come here as seamen from Sweden, and his friend got so sick, he said “I’ll never go on a boat again!” So when the boat landed in Boston, they left! And didn’t go back. He had relatives in the country. And when the Amnesty came in the late ‘30s, he was about the first person to sign up, and he got his citizenship as soon as it was granted.
I grew up in a community of Scandinavian people, largely Swedish, and the interesting thing, and I think it’s important, is that that entire community in my life, always emphasized speaking in English. They would occasionally, you know, they’d maintained the cultural things. We did Swedish Christmas, and that sort of thing. But when they talked at parties, and they had many parties, except, you know, for occasions, everybody spoke English. They had that whole group of people, this was in the late 20s and early 30s, and it was a large group of people. They all assimilated almost immediately, and many of them, my mother is one of them, went to night school to learn English. Within a few years, they were totally conversed in the language. I think it’s an interesting aspect of immigrants of that period of time versus some of the people who are coming over here now, that essentially isolate themselves, and don’t assimilate well.
But anyways, I grew up there, and actually when I was four I went to Sweden with an uncle and his family. I spent eleven months there, so that when I started school I didn’t speak English. I spoke Swedish. The thing was that I understood English perfectly well, but after having lived there for almost a year I responded in Swedish. And I am told that it took me six weeks to learn Swedish at four years of age. But I went through schools in New York City, and we moved to Mount Vernon in1941, went through the Mount Vernon system, graduated from Avy Davis High school, and then uh went to a Westchester community college, spent two years there. This was the second graduating class for the system. It had just been created after the war to take some of the pressure for the veterans coming home looking for education, and there just weren’t enough places in college, in four-year colleges, and a lot of them weren’t all that well prepared. So there had been an agricultural technical system for the state of New York at Farmingdale, and Cobleskill, and somebody further up; there was a couple of them. And they expanded that to nine schools, and created the community college system. So we were the second graduating class. I took the mechanical technology, which was a precursor to mechanical engineering. But the curriculum was very different. When I moved up here after we were married, or we were married and then I moved up here, no the other way around. I moved up first and then I got married. I tried to transfer credits to RPI, and, out of 132 credits that I had taken, they granted nine [laughter]. So, the curriculum has changed, very severely in the community college now so that they’re much more on an acceptable par with the uh, four-year schools. And I was not, well I was, top man in my class, second man in the school, so I was not at the low-end at the academic heap, but that’s all I got.
I came up here to work for General Electric Company, and I worked in the drafting room as a draftsman, and that was not a particularly happy experience. It wasn’t very challenging. The work was a little bit slow, and you get a drawing that you could do in half an hour, and it said come back next Tuesday and I’ll give you another one. So it was kind of boring for awhile. And then I expressed my concerns, and all of a sudden the supervisor came and said there’s a possibility of going out to the General Electric research laboratory; they’re looking for laboratory assistants. So I jumped at the opportunity, went out, had an interview, and transferred. That was really an excellent move. I was in the metallurgy department, but we were the crystallography group, doing x-ray crystallography. I worked there for several years, and met a man, Ernest Fullum, who’s had a long connection with Dudley as well. He was the electron microscopis for the laboratory. They had one electron microscope, which Erving Langmeir, had arranged to buy. It was something like the sixth microscope made by RCA, and it was the EMB, big monster. Ernie ran the microscope, and he was a microscopis trained at Cornell; we had a lot of need for the work that I was doing to use a microscope. So the crystallographers that I was working with were not particularly trained in microscopy, and when I had problems I’d go down and see Ernie. We did some interesting work there. Eventually he left the laboratory and set up his own research consulting laboratory in the basement of his home, and he had an electron microscope, optical microscope, and I went to work with him at night. Then it evolved and he said, you know, you know if you’re interested in going to school, he says, I’ll help you. So we had a nice arrangement; he helped me financially, and I started at RPI, and spent two years at RPI. I was working full-time at RPI, and working half-time at the laboratory, doing consulting work. My academic load suffered a little bit. I blew theoretical mechanics, and RPI was very rigid in its days, and I figured I’m never gonna finish getting out in a few years. By this time, we had a couple of children, and so I transferred to Union, and Union had a much more flexible program. So I was in the physics department, taking a Bachelor of Science degree, with a major in physics, which was different from the physics major in that I took a few less physics courses, somewhat fewer physics courses, but I also took more chemistry. I thought this was more applicable to the microscopy work that I was expecting to do. I eventually graduated from Union in 1960, and then went to work for Ernest Fullum, who by this time had moved into a laboratory out by the Albany airport. I worked, continued to work for him until 1963 when I went to Dudley. But actually, the Dudley connection went back to 1957. That was the year that Curt Hemmenway, who was the director, was on a sabbatical leave over at Harvard. And, a young student who was going to Union was there, and he was working with me in the summertime, in the lab. He kept talking about uh, oh! Union has it all, has also been given the ancient electron microscope at that point, and he was all excited that Professor Hemmenway was getting this electron microscope and they were going to be studying micrometeorites and all this sort of thing. Ernie Fullum actually helped them to set up the microscope, which I know believe is in the Schenectady Museum. Isn’t it? [Janie: Yes.] The old EMB is over there now. That was the first real series of commercial electron microscopes made in this country.
Dudley, had no facilities in those early days, and Curt Hemmenway had some connections with air force Cambridge research laboratory people, and had some connections at NASA, and had some opportunities to try to put some dust collectors on some of the early rockets going up, part of the precursors to the man program. So at Fullum’s we would prepare the samples for ‘em, and then they would go up in the rocket and they would end up in the ocean. We didn’t have any success for a long time. But, well, that’s sort of an update, to that I could go on, but did you want to ask other questions?
Mike: Um, you mentioned how your father came over as a seaman. Did he have any other education and house education for you and your family?
Doug: Nope! Nope. He had, uh, about an eighth grade education. Which was about par for the course in the nineteen-teens. He was born 1901, and it was not at all uncommon for people to go to eighth, ninth grade, something of that order. My mother did about the same. She lived on a tiny island, and I guess they had a one-room schoolhouse on the island, cause I know they didn’t go onto the other island.
Mike: And how’s education for you in your family growing up? Did they stress it or was it…
Doug: Oh, they were very cogniscent of the fact that they had not had education, and encouraged me to do it. But they were totally unaware of what getting an education really meant. They encouraged me to go. They were not affluent, so the community college was all they could do. I picked up on the rest of it on my own.
Mike: Okay. Um, what is your family like? How’d you meet your wife, and other… Do you have any children or…
Doug: Well, [clears throat] I met my wife in high school. We were part of a group. It was very interesting, the social life that we had in Mount Vernon those days. Mount Vernon is in Westchester County, and Westchester is fairly, very social. And we had fraternities and sororities in high school. And the fraternities and sororities independently sponsored dances. We would go out, hire a hall, hire a band, put up programs, sell the tickets, and make money. We would sell ads back and forth. So we had a very active program through the fraternities and sororities. And we had a little cluster of people that was, that were in our class; through them I met my wife, and walked her home from a Halloween party… 55 years of marriage! So yeah, it’s a matter of fact; this year will be 40 years. 60! 60 years that we’ve been going together! [Oh, wow! Congratulations!] And we have three boys and two girls. Our oldest son was John, he’s 55, and his sister Laura is 53. Uh, William is 46, Christopher is 44, and Laura is uh, 33. Laura is now, just moved to East Greenbush, uh, John lives in Galway, Kirsten lives in Brooklyn, William lives in Brooklyn, and Christopher lives in Summerville, Mass.
Mike: Oh, really.
Female Student: Do you have any grandchildren?
Doug: I’m sorry?
Female Student: Do you have any grandchildren?
Doug: Yes, we have four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Mike: That’s nice. What was the biggest change you’ve seen in technology growing up that you thought would never occur, that you thought would never happen?
Doug: Well, that presumes that I have thought of something ahead [laughter]! But that isn’t quite the way technology always happens. It just sort of, uh, appears on the horizon. Oh boy, I guess the biggest, earliest awareness, of technological change would have to have come through television. We were late-comers to television; we didn’t have a television of our own until 1955, or 56 or something like that. That was the one that you are aware of most. And the one that was most impressive to me really is computers and calculators. When you realize that we started off with the little pocket calculators in oh golly, where did they come out, the early 60s? Little pocket calculators started coming out. I remember in Dudley days, he was a fellow, Dave Phillip was an astronomer, and he had bought a, oh I forget which brand it was, but, it was a little tiny calculator and it had memory! And he could program it! And he had to have program strips, and it was very complicated. It had no real capacity, no speed, and, how, how quickly the technology evolved.
And then, in later time, the communication through technology has been very interesting. Back in the early, in the space program, when Skylab went up, we had an experiment on there that was supposed to go through an airlock. And the airlock jammed, early on in the mission, and so it was out, and we were actually supposed to have three different experiments going out through that airlock, and the one unit was the one that jammed, and that was kicked out into space and that was the end of it. The other one never got in, and it was useless. They came up with an idea that if we could provide a bracket to mount on the solar collector, they could hang our experiment which was designated the S149, and the unit is over at Dudley Observatory, a big box, with four doors that opened up. So the people at Houston designed a bracket, they sent us a fax machine, a fax of it. But the fax at that time was made by Xerox, and it was an electrostatic device, and it came in a big suitcase, and you hung your telephone on it, and it took about four minutes to send a page. And the lines were, well, it was a spark. So, instead of a clear line, you had a fuzzy line where the spark area went out onto the sensitized paper. And so I had that in my kitchen, at home, because we had a couple of hours difference from Houston, and so I got all the drawings there, hurried into the shop the next morning, and had our machinist start to go to work on the parts, and I think a day later we air mailed the parts back to Houston, and uh, how did they get ‘em up? I forgot how they got up there…….. Huh! That’s a detail! I can’t remember that!
Anyway, the important point was here we had this rushed technology and we were using this fax machine, and it was so slow. Four minutes. And then, later on, after my Dudley career went down I was working for MTI, Mechanical Technology Incorporated, out near Latham. I was doing a lot of administrative work there, no technical work, but one of the administrative problems I had was the telephone systems and all communication. And when we had faxes there—and the company dealt all over the country—you would have to call in advance and say “I wanna send you a fax” and they’d say “What is your speed? Are you a two-minute, a four-minute, or what?” So then you’d have to set your machine to match the speed. And then you’d also have to worry about whether the two systems would talk to each other. And most of them wouldn’t. And we even had a situation where we bought two pieces of equipment from IBM: one manufactured in one polish, another manufactured in another. And, they were both supposed to talk to our mainframe computer. They couldn’t. IBM’s own products couldn’t talk to IBM’s own computer. And that brought up the whole question of um, uh transparency in communication and uniformity and standardization of parts and, and uh, and connectors. And today, you know, you don’t think anything of, you’re gonna plug it in, it’ll go. Well, this is as little as 20 years ago. That was not an automatic given. So that I think that the ease of connectability of a thing has grown now, I would say, to be the most interesting technological change. Um, but that’s really been astounding. The ability to communicate in this group—you probably didn’t hear Roy Anderson, but Roy Anderson from Dudley, well the TE research labs was a principle mover in satellite communication with low power, and it was his group that made the breakthrough that made all of these things possible.
Mike: I noticed you brought a grey box of something. What exactly is that?
Doug: Okay. This was part of the space program. We got involved in the program early on, in the Jiminy program, where NASA, had a certain allocated time in their programs and dollars to spend for science, and we were one of a group of experimenters doing work, and ours was to collect micrometeorites. Lemme give you a little background on mic-everybody know what micrometeorites is? Are? No. Alright. Okay. Shooting stars! You’ve all seen shooting stars. Alright? Those are meteors. Alright. And meteors are small pieces of commentary of comets, principally commentary material. And as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere it gets hot and interacts with the gasses, and then it vaporizes and it ionizes the gas and you see the glow.
But Fred Wipple, at Harvard, who was the man that Curt Hemmenway studied with on his sabbatical, came up with a theory in the early 50s where he made calculations and determined that if you had meteoritic material coming off these comets, and it entered the Earth, if the particle was small enough, then the particle would radiate the heat that it gained from the friction coming in as fast or faster than it was gaining heat. So it could actually come into the atmosphere unharmed. And so then that opened up the door for people to try to go out and catch them. And so they were saying, well it’s coming down, and people would put up great big funnels, collected rainwater, and then they got a bunch of debris in there, and they tried to say, well now is this an extraterrestrial particle or is that just a piece of sand that blew in from the neighbors yard? And so there was a period of time there where people were working against a huge background to try to find the one or two particles that could really be extraterrestrial. And there was a lot of argument in those early days as to what was real, what wasn’t real. So the ideal way to do it was to get up above the atmosphere and set up a program, a collector that would allow you to get to particles uncontaminated by the Earth. And at Dudley we had the first program was one for using balloons. And a high altitude balloon, launched principally from Palestine, Texas. And there was a box sitting on the top of the balloon, and the balloon would be launched. It’d get up to 100,000 feet, and the box would open, particles could come in, onto a surface that had been very carefully prepared—the best we could—to keep it clean, and then you’d come down and look for it. We did find some particles. Well I won’t go into that at the moment. So that was one method.
And then we were also involved in a sounding rocket program, where you would shoot a rocket into the air, and have a device open up and collect particles. Now, there you were going 100 miles up, instead of 100,000 feet. And uh, then you had to come down on a parachute, which was a feat in its own. The parallel space growth program was going, and so then you were really away from the Earth. It’d be no possibility contamination, the only difference being, once you start getting up into high altitudes, now the particles are moving at very high velocity. So, instead of getting a particle to settle down on a surface, you’re going to end up with an impact. The particle has enough mass that it’s going to come through and actually make a crater in something. So we devised various incendiary kinds of surfaces to try to collect different kinds of particles. We had a program in the Gemini—the Gemini program—where the collector unit, which was longer than this one, about that long, was right outside of the hatch, and they opened up the hatch—the collector had been put outside prior to launch—and they pushed a button inside and that opened the door and allowed the particles to be exposed. Then they would close the door, then they opened up the hatch, then they could pull it back in, and bring it back to Earth.
And that worked pretty well the first time. But no, it wasn’t the first time, it was the first time we had the problem. Because he brought it back and had something else to do. So he says, got the package here, what am I going to do with it? I’ll sit on it, right? So he put the packet down and he sat on it. And unfortunately, this was in space, while he was doing whatever he was doing, the package floated away and disappeared. And fortunately we had some other opportunities to fly and we did that package again. But then, in this same program, the program was designed to eventually learn how to dock to go to the moon. So the first thing was to get the astronaut to go around, in tandem together, and then they had to dock with something and undock, because this was going to be crucial for the lunar thing. And they had what they called the Agena Target Vehicle. And they wanted a task for the astronaut to do when they docked other than to just go over and say it was there. So NASA asked us to create a package, an experiment, that we could have as a task. And so this experiment was created to give the astronaut something to do when he went over to the Agena vehicle. Well, unfortunately, the uh…[end of tape]
…put it on the 9A vehicle, and it was intended to that it would go this way, and if it had been done right, they would have opened the package, and there were more surfaces on the inside. Those would have been done. But these surfaces on the outside were the backup. Well, turned out the backup was the only thing that was exposed. So on the 9A vehicle the nose-cone refused to come apart. At that time it was known as the angry alligator. It was a split-nose cone; it was supposed to open up fly-away or whatever, but then they couldn’t do the docking because it was too dangerous. So they left it. And then on Gemini10, they came up and went back to that vehicle, and I believe it was Gene Sernon, who was out on a cable, and he went over and he pulled this package back. So this package was the first thing that was ever launched into space, left in space, and brought back by an astronaut. This is the first piece that was ever put up there deliberately and brought back deliberately, after, a delayed time. And on, in these areas, we had four pieces of stainless steel. And, uh, we scanned them in the light microscope and actually discovered several craters. And on the basis of the fact that we had this crater we were able to get NASA to buy us a very nice new scanning electron microscope. And so we did a lot of work with that.
But another interesting thing: you hear about all this trouble about government contracting, and this sort of thing; this is a side issue. We flew this experiment at least three times in space before the government ever gave us a contract. And after it was all done, then they signed a contract and paid us for it. So, I mean, ya know, crazy things happen when something has to be done in a hurry. So, a lot of times you hear these criticisms of the way the government spends money. Sometimes they do it, they authorize things to get the job done. And then they take care of the legal details after the fact. So we had other government money that helped us to pay for it at the time, but formally, the contract was left after the experiment was done. So, it’s just an interesting thing on the side. We then had the S149 on the Skylab mission, and we had a lot of craters on that one. And by this time, we were able to do a certain amount of chemical analysis. The chemical analysis was done by trying to get electron beam on it, and the high energy beam excites x-rays; you can put and x-ray detector in there, and you can measure the wavelength of the x-rays, and that’ll give you a signal as to what the chemical elements are. But anything that you get in the crater, of course, is distorted, most of it’s been blasted away so it’s a little residue, what’s in there, and so we have some good results from that.
I just saw something recently, uh, that um, there were some low atomic number elements that had been detected in one of the recent missions; I don’t remember which one it was now. We had detected low atomic number elements, particularly aluminum, and I think it was aluminum and calcium in some of our craters. And people were suspicious of them, particularly the aluminum ones, because they were saying, oh there’s so much aluminum around in this contamination. But now I suspect in hindsight that we might have had some stony-type meteoritic material striking these skylight, not these plates, the skylight plates, but we didn’t appreciate it at the time. I don’t know. Ask another one.
Mike: What exactly did you do with the craters in the meteorite things that you found?
Doug: We’d photograph them, first of all. And measure them, and then try to do the chemical analysis to the degree that we could. The people at the [inaudible] Institute in Heidelberg were coworkers with us on many things—guest experimenters—and they had done a lot of work, as well as the people at uh Goddard, in using electrostatic accelerators to fire small particles at surfaces. So a lot of the physics of impacts were known, so that they could get a relationship between the size of the particle and the size of the crater. So if you had, say, a five micron, you’re all conversed in microns? No. Millimeter, millimeter you know? Micron is a thousandth of a millimeter. Okay? So uh [clears throat] a five micron particle would make a crater something in the order of fifteen microns. About a three to one ratio. So knowing the size of the crater, you then knew the approximate size of the particle that created the crater. Then given the number that you have, and the exposure time, then you would try to calculate the number which we call the flux. That is the total mass of material coming in and striking the Earth every day. And this was always the most contentious point that anybody ever made in any of it. Oh, they started out with using microphones on some of the early satellites. And they would have a big plate with an amplifier on it, and particles would hit and they’d get an electrical signal. And somebody said, well, it isn’t that, you’ve got thermal things and the thing is creaking, and that’s what did it, or the temperature wasn’t right, or it wasn’t calibrated right and these arguments went on for years. And because they were indirect and the microphones were rather crude, but they actually got some data. There was always, everybody always argued about the data. One fellow in particular had done—what was his name now, jumped out of my head—but had worked very diligently. In hindsight they said, well, you know, maybe his data wasn’t so bad in the end. And it was fairly good. You know, Heidelberg gave him the Ph.D.
Yeah, so the flux measurements. These were relatively large particles. I mentioned that we had sounding rocket experiments. And then we were at 100 miles, and we were catching, actually catching particles. And they were down in the sub-micron range, tenth micron, thereabouts. And so you calculated again a flux. Flux measurements were always criticized for being too high. And people said, it can’t be that much. We had, you know, thousands of tons of meteoritic material hitting the earth every day. And, it’s a diagram, ya know, where you’re talking about very low masses here, and then you get over here and you’ve got the fireballs that are actually hitting the earth—they were big—and so it’s an enormous change in mass from you know, ten to the—I forgot what the number is, ten to the minus five, ten to the minus six grams, you know, tiny, tiny, tiny particles—to kilogram kinds of particles. And you’re trying to make a curve that includes the distribution of particles from all of these sizes. And we got little pieces of information here, you got little pieces of information, you’ve got a couple of spots over here, because you don’t get many big ones. And so somebody’s trying to make a smooth curve, and then if you integrate that curve, that gives you the total mass coming into the Earth. As we faded out from the program consensus seemed to be going to a more conservative, lower mass, influx of particles. But there’s still lots of particles coming in. You should always wear your helmet because a meteorite might getcha [laughter]. That’s about the same probability as some of the other things people talk about, you know? More?
Janie: Okay, actually, it’s probably time to turn the tape.
[End of tape].
Janie: Actually, this is Janie. Can I ask a question about the size of the particles?
Janie: You said that the very small ones radiate the heat as fast as they absorb it. What size are those particles?
Doug: About a hundred microns or less.
Janie: And what size is a grain of sand?
Doug: A little bit larger. Just a little bit.
Janie: Okay. Because typically my understanding was that most of the uh, shooting stars that you see are the size of a grain of sand.
Doug: Grain of sand. So they’re large enough so that they do vaporize and you’re just getting in to the uh, transition there. A hundred micron particle is a fairly good sized particle.
Analise: I just have a question. This is Analise. When we were walking over you mentioned something interesting. This is off topic but you said that you’ve testified in—what—was it thirteen trials?
Doug: Well, that’s an interesting point. One of the things I wanted to say to you all, ya know, is, you’ll get in to something, whether it be—most everybody I think is going in to something relatively technical—but, ya know, it doesn’t make any difference what it is. You have to keep your mind wide open and be flexible. If you get too focused in one area, you’re only going to see a small part. You know, the old story about the man can’t see the forest for the trees? If you’re only looking at trees you’re gonna miss the big picture.
But that’s not quite the reason you’re here. The other corollary of that is that what you’ve done in the past will come back, and you’re going to run in to situations where you did something ten years ago, twenty years ago, and you say, well not very interesting. But then lo and behold something comes along—a new challenge—and you say oh wait a minute now. Um, oh that’s just a second cousin of what we did on this other project. You should always keep in mind that everything that you do is important. And somewhere along the line it’s gonna come back a second time. And you’re gonna be thankful that you had done that.
Totally, unrelated—I could go in to other stories—but this one was interesting. Which brings up a point: always keep track of what you’ve done. Because back in 1954, when I was working evenings with Ernie Fullam—I was still at the research lab, and I was working with him at night. We were asked by the Lorillard Company to examine their cigarettes. And the Lorillard people made a Kent micronite filter. And it was the filter to beat all filters because it took out all the tars. But the filter was made of asbestos. And—it turns out—that this came through the smoke, with the smoke. And so, Lorillard was concerned about it, and they were looking for ways to assure the fact that they were not getting asbestos; they were trying to develop other manufacturing processes to eliminate the possibility of asbestos coming out. And so, we had a device where we smoked cigarettes and collected the smoke in acetone, and after three or four cigarettes, we’d take it, and then centrifuge the gooey tarry mess that got in to the Erlenmeyer flask, and then take the sediment out of it, and decamp it and separate it. And eventually we would put it on the electron microscope grid. An electron microscope grid is an eighth of an inch in diameter, and it has little grid wires at the rate of two hundred lines per inch. So you have a hole in there that’s about four thousandths square. And there’s plastic film coating on that, which is transparent to the electrons. And then, you put a droplet containing any residue from this cigarette separation process. You put it on there, and you can scan it, and you can see the particles. And [clears throat], real simple experiment in that asbestos has a very characteristic look, at least the particular one that they were using-just long, skinny fibers. And so we examined these. And all we were doing was making a comparison. We had samples A, B, C, D. We would look at them and say, oh yes the order is B, D, C, A, in terms of number—we were not being quantitative, because to have gone to quantitative analysis would’ve required much, much more time than Lorillard was willing to spend. We did three-three batches of samples for them.
Then lo and behold, let’s see, fifty four, ninety four. Well, then about forty years later people started dying, with asbestos helioma. The particular kind of asbestos that they were using was crocidolite, and crocidolite is a particularly pernicious asbestos, that is largely responsible for this mesophilioma, which is a disease on the outside of the lung. It works on to the outside of the lung and it actually suffocates a person. A very terrible disease. But it takes many years for this to develop. And it turned out by this time, Ernie Fullum had had a stroke, couldn’t talk very well, and I was the only one who was left who knew anything about it. So, when they came up and they were gonna bring a case to trial, I had already left Fullum’s at that time, was working on my own. And so they asked me to come back and would I testify in the trials to the work that we had done? So I’ve testified in about twelve or thirteen trials now and they’ve only won three I think it was. It’s a difficult job to convince a jury that a person was smoking ten cigarettes forty years ago. How do you prove it? Ya know? It’s a very difficult job. And the Lorillard lawyers are very good. They are very well paid and they make you prove each and every statement. So it was very interesting experience, but it tells you to keep tab of what you’ve been doing. And you never know when it’s gonna come back, ‘cause the process seems to have faded away now. I think everybody unfortunately has died, or are almost dead. But it was a very interesting experience testifying so, you never know.
You never know when you’re going to—matter of fact, way back when I was called up to uh testify in another trial—nothing came of it. But it was a case where a local paint company had made a textured paint—you know sometimes on the ceiling they’ll use a textured paint to give a little rough surface for it—and there are two different kinds of volcanic glass. Now I’ve forgotten the names, but he had used the better one in his, Racklin, Racklin Paint Company. He had used the better mineral, and then the major paint company—Pittsburg I think—had made a copy of it, but they were using the lesser quality filler to make this paint. And so he was suing them that they were cheating on him and so forth. And we had been able to look at it and seen a difference in the refractive index of the two minerals in the paint. And so we prepared to testify that Racklin’s contention was correct. But it never came to trial; they settled out of court. So ya know, things happen. And with the number of lawyers we have around now they’ve got to keep busy. So, make sure you have good notes on what you’ve done.
Mike: Okay, has there been any obstacles professionally that you’ve had to overcome?
Doug: Yes. I only ended up with a bachelor’s degree, and didn’t have as deep a knowledge of some analytical techniques as would’ve been nice. But, I was always so busy—doing what I had to do—there was never any thought or possibility of extending my knowledge. We were working on the limits of our ability, on a technical basis, on the limits of the technology available at that time. The microscopes that we had—let me put that one in perspective, because it’s interesting—the quality of a microscope is measured by its ability to resolve particles. Now do you all understand what resolution means? May I use the back of your sheets? If you have a picture with two particles here, you’ve got two particles, and say, well you can see that they’re separated. So you can resolve them. You make measurements. You know the sizes. But now, if the particle comes around here like this, can you really see that as two particles or is it one big particle? Alright? And what you do, is—if you’re going to really do it—you’ll then run some sort of a intensity measuring thing—so you look at the brightness of the particle or something—and you’ll get a chart. See it’s gonna come up here; there’s the first particle coming. Then it comes down here as a little dip and then there’s the other particle coming over there. Alright? So you’re seeing what looks like a double bump. Well, then you say is that really one or is it two? So what you can do is you say well, this is really a particle that comes down in here and it’s like this, and this one really comes down here like that, and you see? So now, the sum of the intensity of this one plus the intensity of that one comes up to the intensity that you see here. Alright so there’s a ground rule and I forget what the number is. Is it eight tenths or something like that resolution when you’re-on a chart. There’s a mathematical definition—it’s been years since I’ve done this—and it defines when you’re really seeing a particle.
So, in the electron microscope we would struggle to see things, and the microscope that I first started with in1953, had a resolution of twenty angstroms. Now, an angstrom is a ten thousandth of a millimeter, ten thousandth of a micron. And so, that’s very small. Today, you’ll see the term nano-meters when you see nano-technology. And a nano-meter is ten angstrom. And an atom is typically anywhere-the heavy metals, you know, ten-ten angstroms, five angstroms in size. So you’re down to atomic scale. Nowadays, they’re making devices that are twenty angstroms in size. And we couldn’t even see it, hardly, in our day. So that technology in the optical presentation has improved. So there’s a whole generation of other microscopes—the force field microscope—that I’m not even conversed in. It’s measuring the atomic, the force of atoms on the surface. And that goes all the way back to when we were trying to clean materials to use as a collector. Because if you’re going to send something up and collect particles on it that have a clean surface, well how do ya know it’s clean? You look at it. So we-we would pre-scan things, and then we would try and use various incendiary cleaning techniques. And well, they have ultra-sonic cleaners, you put—it’s a liquid, and it’s an oscillating crystal in there and it causes sound waves and they knock the particles off the surface. Well, they don’t knock off all the particles. It goes down to a certain size, and then the particles sit there; they don’t move! And, this we discovered for our work; it was down somewhere below ten microns, very difficult to use indirect methods to remove the material, and there was some other ways you could do it.
But nowadays, in this nano-technology, they’re working with such small components that the particle is so small that now in proportion to the size of the particle, the force of attraction between the particle and the surface is now huge. You have a big grain of sand here, the total force of the atoms holding that to the table is zilch compared to the mass of the thing is because it’s so much masser. But when the particle’s tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, all of a sudden that force dominates it. And so now, the nano-technology people are having problems because they’re successful in getting small particles, but now they can’t make them move when they want to because they stick on the surfaces. So it’s part of this whole business that one things leads to another, and there you have an experience—I had that experience with this in trying to clean things, and I read about this just recently about the nano-people—obvious as could be for you. You know you have to accumulate everything. And where were we going? We were going on something else.
Mike: Oh yes. You mentioned that the highest degree you received was a bachelor’s degree.
Doug: Yea, oh yea.
Mike: Do you think it’s important to receive graduate education?
Doug: It all depends. It all depends upon the kinds of things you’re doing. I would’ve been happier had I been able to do more sophisticated x-ray analysis on some of the work. But we were limited in man power at Dudley, in that we had only a couple of senior people and we had a lot of technicians who were really hard workers and quite clever fellows, and girls, but we could’ve used more depth. And it turns out that some of the people that are doing the best work now in cosmic dust—micrometeorites—are using much more sophisticated means than we were using. But it’s also a different collection environment. They had this wonderful cometary collection material. Martha Hanner, out at the uh, I forget where she is. She,[to Janie] do you know Martha?
Janie: I do. I don’t remember where she is.
Doug: Yea. She used to work for me. She worked for me when she was a graduate student. And she’s a very, very bright gal. And then she worked for us at Dudley, independently. And she’s been involved in this commentary program and I’ve been meaning to call her up and try and get up to date but I just haven’t had the chance. So they’re doing things out in the satellite world that’s different. It can be an advantage to have an advanced degree. It all depends upon what you’re doing. But, you know you really have to keep things in perspective and you have to realize that of all the kids who graduate from high school, no more than about twenty five percent will graduate from college. And that number hasn’t changed in fifty years, more than a few percent. And the number of people going to the two-year colleges who graduate is much smaller. I see that as a positive. Because there are people who are not academically motivated to go to school beyond high school, and it’s a terrible expense for them to go in to a four year school, and discover in six months that this was a terrible mistake, and they’ve put out a lot of money and they’ve lost it. For all the collective reasons, economic reason, ability, and whatever, only twenty five percent of people actually complete their school. And this was a survey done by a reputable organization. And they did it saying not just in four years—when they’re talking about four year degrees—; they were talking about people who completed it within six or seven years, acknowledging that people often stretch their college careers a lot, but the number that we have finishing college is small. And it shows that the emphasis that the politicians talk about funding for colleges, is misdirected in that we really should be preparing people for terminal education at grade twelve, because the vast majority of the people are not going to go beyond. But there needs to be a better change in the high school curricula now, to make it more practical. When we graduated from high schools—almost sixty years ago—people could go straight out of high school, could go in and get jobs in offices and in businesses and, and be, walk in, and be ya know, capable of carrying on a job. And the requirements and training was such that they could do that; they could get enough business, math elementary bookkeeping, or their language skills were sufficient. But, nowadays there are more technological needs, but their really needs to be a better terminal program; the BOCES program tries to do it, but BOCES program suffers from the stigma that you kids put on your cohorts who are not pushing it hard. You know, I mean, our kids have told us that oh, ya know, they had the BOCES kids; they were the kids who couldn’t make it and who wouldn’t this and that, ya know. And social pressure on kids is great, and we need to change that so that people can be prepared to satisfy the needs of the workforce at graduation from high school. More of them; more of them. But, we still need people to go to school. We need people to go on and advance because there’s more and more technological need. You just have to keep that in the back of your mind: that the reality is that you know, when you finish you’re one in four.
Mike: You mentioned about high school education. Do you agree with those policies of New York with No Child Left Behind and the Regents?
Doug: The conceptual idea of getting a uniform standard of measurement I think is excellent. My daughter, who is a speech specialist, reading specialist, violently disagrees with me. But she’s arguing about the nuts and bolts of the present program. But the concept of having a uniform standard is real and worthwhile because an employer in California, who is going to hire somebody coming form Missouri—and it’s a high school graduate—he should know—or a college graduate, whatever, high school really we’re talking about—that the qualifications that that person has, has an academic high school. And you get it, one from Missouri, and then you get the one from California. The same rating ought to mean the same level of education, of competence, that’s the thing. And it’s exceedingly political; the federal people put out the program, but the state people get to set the standards.
A fascinating article in TIME Magazine in the last couple of weeks, a few issues back in TIME Magazine if you can find one, you’ll find this amazing curve which shows what the federal standard was and what the state standard was. And only one or two states had situations where the state and the federal were the same, and New York was part of it. It’s truly a good idea, but the language of the law needs improvement. And the politicians need to be put together because what they’re doing is finding ways about it because they don’t want to be embarrassed when their states are shown to be so far behind. And that’s where all of the contention really is. No matter what they say. Each one is trying to protect his turf and protect it from embarrassment. But it makes sense. You’ve got to have some uniformity in it. Because I had a girl working for me at MTI and she came from I dunno Oklahoma or someplace, I think it was Oklahoma—and um, she couldn’t put three words together, ya know? She did her job very well, but she was really ya know, not very competent. The disparity is very large, and it’s real. And politicians don’t like to acknowledge reality. That’s the problem.
Mike: So you feel it should be a federal standard for education?
Doug: Yup. Well basically I think that the federal role, you all understand that the federal role is a drop in the bucket, that the total federal involvement in education is something—it’s grown now, under Bush, tremendously—but it’s still only seven or eight percent. And I think that we—and it should stay that way—but my feeling is that the federal role should be as a neutral advisor and gatherer of information and disseminator of information, so that the obligation—there are local regions all over the country as to how you get the money and so forth—and then the federal government should be the one who is the referee in saying hey, Alabama you’re down, ya know, Missouri you’re down, somebody else you’re up, you know, compared to this, so that everybody should be then taking the right, the initiative to do what’s best for the kids. They’re cheating the kids when they don’t do that. The government should not be setting rules; it should be coordinating the information and disseminating it, and the states should be doing what they’re supposed to be doing. The government trying to hold back other money as an incentive to do this sort of thing; that says that the politicians are not really being good guardians of the public good. This goes for both camps by the way. It’s a-political; but they’re all political.
Analise: What would you say would be your favorite experiment, over your whole career?
Doug: Oh, golly [laughs]. I think I liked the cosmic dust work. It was a challenge, and we were working with limited technological ability, ya know, in terms of collection and all things considered. And we worked at it pretty hard, and the early days of the sounding rocket were terribly disappointing. I was trying to recall a little ditty that one of our fellows, “Dear old Dudley. Old and dusty, where do your rockets lie?” Something, I dunno. But anyway [laughter], it was a commentary on the fact that we would send our sounding rockets up and we go up, and then the parachute system didn’t work, or, the radar couldn’t find it. And, Kurt Hemingway, who was my boss and director at the time, had spent his military time working on radar. And he would fume about it, because he said “This is crazy!” He says, “These guys can see a spot on the moon from the earth with a radar, but the guys out here on the white sands missile range, aren’t, I can’t even see this great big package!” And he actually got up in to the radar station one time and he said, “Now I know what they’re doing.” One guy’ll say “Oh I’ve got it over here!” So, he’d swing his radar over to this guy, and then they’d all go “Oh no it isn’t there; it’s over here!” You know, they weren’t working independently. And we finally got that result and…[end of tape]…we got a sound recovery. We were actually guinea pigs for NASA—we would learn about later—they were funding us with a lot of rocket shots so that they could also develop a recovery package for small experiments. And so that was interesting.
But well, have you, have you ever laid out on the lawn in the summer time and watched the clouds? Hm? You watch clouds go by? [Yup, yes]. You ever notice anything about clouds when you see ‘em moving, moving the clouds?
Analise: Seem pretty slow.
Doug: They what?
Analise: It seems pretty slow.
Doug: Slow. Anybody see anything different?
Olga: They move at different speeds.
Doug: Different speeds. Yea. And what causes a different speed?
Olga: Different altitude?
Olga: The different altitudes?
Doug: Yea, different winds at different altitudes. Not very important is it? No? [Laughter]. Well, turns out it does have some importance. This is a sounding rocket okay? The larger one at the bottom is a Nike. That was a WWII military vehicle. And the smaller one at the top is an Apache. The bottom one is fifteen inches in diameter, and the top one is six inches in diameter. And way up at the top here, in the red section, is our experiment. And, so there, the collectors pop out of that thing and below it is the parachute section. So it would let go. The Nike fires for three and a half seconds, and the Apache fires for somewhere between six and ten seconds. And, you see the fins here at the bottom? Hm? So they stabilize the rocket going up. But, if you’re going up through the atmosphere, the lower atmosphere, and the wind is blowing ten miles an hour from the North down to the ground, and it’s blowing thirty miles an hour from the South going a little bit farther up, it’s going to have a measurable difference on these rockets going up. As a matter of fact, it can make a difference between whether the rocket goes North or South. The famous, early famous rocket from White Sands that was supposed to go North, also ended up in Mexico, and I think you can probably still buy pieces of that rocket in Mexico [laughter]. Everybody claims he’s got a piece of that rocket. But, but there’s not only are there fins on these to stabilize them; at the bottom edge of the fin, there’s a little tiny wedge—the wedge isn’t a heck of a lot bigger than the spine on this—and they’ll go measure the angle on the wedge in you know a half a degree. You know it should be a sixth degree, should be a six and a half—there are big arguments as to what you’re supposed to do because then it can go too fast, or it doesn’t get enough stability. And, so, wind sheer, on even as this thing is going roaring through there on a short amount of time, can affect things. You should always be aware that there are lots of effects that are small and you have to keep your mind open all the time.
I have another interesting experiment. This is one I’d enjoy. This was very early on, and it came out of the research lab. And, we were doing s-ray diffraction studies. Zinc Sulfide is the phosphor, principle phosphor—or I dunno if it still is, but I think it is—in fluorescent tubes. Zinc Sulfide forms in two different minerals: Vertsite and Sphalorite. One is cubic, and one is hexagonal. Do you know about crystals? You know about they’re cubic, hexagonal, rhombohedra, um monoclinic, triclinic, and I forget them all. But the difference between hexagonal and cubic is just a small shift in the atoms. And the Zinc Sulfide crystals would grow, and they would almost, they would be banded, if you were looking at them in a microscope. So you’d get ‘em halfway between cubic and hexagonal. So it’s a problem they call order disorder. If it’s orderly, it’s the same crystal structure all the way up. If it’s disordered, it’s shifting back and forth as you get a little bit further it’ll shift in to the hexagonal form, or it’ll go back in to the cubic form. One time they grew a batch of these crystals and they came out all curly like this. And if you look closely, you can actually see that there are little segments in here, so that there are little radial lines, and those are actually separate crystals, ranges of both. And the question came up, what was the crystal orientation? Where was the crystal axis in here? And what we would normally do with the crystals is put it in an x-ray diffraction camera and take a picture of it, and the x-ray diffraction pattern—you ever seen a pattern? It’ll be a negative with a series of spots. And the geographic arrangements of the spots in the dimensions are related to the structure of the crystal, and you can actually calculate where all the atoms are in, in the crystal structure doing x-ray diffraction. And so what we were trying to do was to try to find out where these things were—these are little tiny crystals—and so we used a very, very, very tiny hole in the x-ray camera, so that we had a very fine spot just getting on one little spot of this, so we weren’t getting connected to the adjacent one. And because it was so small, it took a week for this to sit in the x-ray camera getting the exposure so you could see something. Well, I spent a lot of time playing with the microscope, and we had a polarizing microscope, which allows you to put cross nickels in there, so that you could take certain crystals and you rotate the stage, and it’ll go black, it’ll go light, depending on where you’re looking in the crystal axis. And so in the research lab you didn’t know something you’d go ahead and ask somebody or you went to the library. I went to the library, and I got out a book on mineralogy. I had never studied mineralogy, never studied microscopy…
Janie: Doug, we’ll just need to finish this because they need to get to class.
Doug: Oh now?
Janie: Yea. Sorry.
Doug: Oh. Okay well anyway, what happened is, in a nutshell, I discovered that by using optical techniques I could look at the optic access figures and you could then determine the orientation of the crystal optically, and in minutes! And here we spent a whole week trying to do it with x-rays [laughter], and that was a satisfying thing.
Janie: Well here, don’t put that away yet. The kids can go whenever. Thank you so much…
Mike: Thank you.
Doug: Thank you!
Janie: I can tell you guys have a thousand more questions on here…
Janie: Can I just get a quick picture of all of you together?
[End of tape].