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Oral History Transcript — Dr. Alberto Lonardi

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Interview with Dr. Alberto Lonardi
By Tanya Levin
In Buenos Aires, Argentina
August 27, 1997

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Alberto Lonardi; August 27, 1997

ABSTRACT: His father's career in the Navy sparks Lonardi's interest in the Navy, the sea, and sailing. Describes his childhood home and early schooling in Argentina. Spends three years in Europe as a child. Enrolls at the Escuela Naval Militar, the Naval Academy, in 1947. While there, develops an interest in electronics. In 1954, decides to attend the University of Buenos Aires to study telecommunications engineering. Mentions the link between academia and industry and the benefits that the connection afforded. Contrasts the teaching at the Escuela Naval Militar with that of the university. Recalls his disbelief regarding Juan Domingo Peron's announcement that Argentina had harnessed atomic energy in 1951. Remarks upon the changes in society and at the university following the coup that toppled Peron in 1954. His career in the Navy and his command of an old Naval ship are briefly mentioned. Is introduced to Dr. W. Maurice Ewing of Columbia University's Lamont Observatory while the Lamont ship, Vema is docked in Buenos Aires. Repairs Vema's antenna. His impressions of Ewing. Mentions German expeditions to the South Atlantic. Spends 1961 to 1969 studying geophysics and oceanography at Columbia University and working at Lamont Observatory. Recalls the atmosphere at Lamont and Ewing's style of pedagogy. Reception of Walter Pitman's Anomaly 31 data at Lamont and the criticism of continental drift by certain Lamont scientists. Maps the South Atlantic sea floor. Bruce Heezen's and Marie Tharp's rough maps of oceanic topography. Relationship with Heezen. Plans and carries out survey cruises of the Puerto Rico trench. More mention made of Ewing's teaching and leadership style. Describes the political climate at Columbia and Lamont and environmental awareness at the Observatory in the 1960s. The effects of military funding on Lamont research explored. Remarks upon the cultural differences between conducting scientific research in the United States and Latin America. In 1969, is invited to start up an institute at Bahia Blanca, Argentina by Bernard Houssay. Funding the institute. Cooperative projects with both Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Lamont mentioned. Bahia Blanca institute fails to thrive due to political unrest and budgetary restraints. Mentions challenges at Bahia Blanca: problems integrating foreign methods and styles of research, issues of funding, location, and scale, and training of Argentine students in oceanography. Further discusses funding difficulties in Argentina. Challenges to developing scientific research in developing nations; the constraints of specialization. Gives his impression of Bernardo Houssay and Houssay's role in Argentine science policy. Participates in cooperative seismic refraction project with Lamont in 1972 and the Glomar Challenger cruise of 1974. Briefly discusses environmental consciousness in Argentina. Characterizes Lamont research and scientists; a tight knit group of researchers collecting data on a global scale. Ewing prefers collecting oceanic data and favors scientists who work at sea. Concern to publish data quickly. Camaraderie on the boats and the dangers of working at sea described. Mentions John Hennion's tragic death aboard a Lamont ship.

Transcript

Levin:

Okay. Today's date is the twenty-seventh of August, 1997 and this is being produced in Buenos Aires, Argentina. And this is an interview with Alberto Lonardi. I am Tanya Levin doing the interview. And Alberto, I know you were born the twenty-ninth of May, 1930, in Buenos Aires, in a suburb. But I don't know that much about your family. Who were your parents and what did they do?

Lonardi:

Well, my father was in the Navy. And he reached the rank of Rear Admiral in the 50s. My mother was a housewife. And when I was a child he was sent to England. So we spent two years in England, one year in Italy. He was in the naval commission. And then we came back to Buenos Aires and I went to school in BA also. And later, well I entered the Navy.

Levin:

Was your father often away at sea?

Lonardi:

Well, not too often, but yes, once in a while he — For two years he was out at sea. In 1948, for example, he was the commander of the naval training ship. It was a cruise ship, Argentina. He, at that time, was after the war; he made the trip around the world. Complete trip around the world which helped me to create my fantasies about the Navy and sailing and the ocean.

Levin:

When you were young, did he take you aboard his boat ever?

Lonardi:

Yes, sometimes. Yes, we used to visit. He was in small ships and big ships in the Navy. Yes. He used to, and talked a lot about the sea life.

Levin:

And then, what kind of house did you grow up in? What was it, a house or an apartment?

Lonardi:

Well, we generally we lived in houses and homes. And in later years, generally we lived in apartments in Buenos Aires. I used to live in front of the Botanical Garden which is not too far from here.

Levin:

So you —

Lonardi:

We lived for thirty years there.

Levin:

So, you moved around a lot. [crosstalk]

Lonardi:

Dr. [W. Maurice] Ewing was there. Visited my parents’ home. In the sixties, 1960, 1961.

Levin:

Wonderful. And when you were growing up, did your — where you lived — did you have a library in your home?

Lonardi:

Yes, we had a library.

Levin:

Did you like to read?

Lonardi:

Many books. Yes. Yes, I was a reader. I was a —

Levin:

What did you like to read?

Lonardi:

I used to like to read a lot of adventures.

Levin:

Adventure?

Lonardi:

Yes. And history books and things like that.

Levin:

And were you receiving any journals into your home? Magazines, newspapers?

Lonardi:

Yes. Not too many. I mean regular newspapers and some magazines. Yes. I remember. Not too many. They were not as popular as they are now. Not scientific paper, journals, actually, but more Navy, related to the Navy. Yes.

Levin:

And in your school, what kind of subjects were you taught? Were you taught a wide range of subjects?

Lonardi:

Yes. In Argentina at the time the school teaching was very broad in knowledge, general knowledge. And the teachers were actually very good. And some of them were members of the academy, in high school for example. So, I mean, they were well known people. They were very excellent teachers. And because of all the population, the teaching of school became degraded actually. So were lucky to have very good teachers, prime rate. So this is a big change. I mean you can see it after so many years. Because this is a gradual — But from the thirties to the fifties there was a big step backwards.

Levin:

Backwards. Because of —?

Lonardi:

Because of a number of, I mean the population growth. And lack of, maybe because the best, I mean the best people, was involved in other things besides teaching high school.

Levin:

That's true. Do you remember any of your science courses that you were taking as a child that you had?

Lonardi:

Well we were not taking — well, we were taking disciplines. Not from scientific points of view. I mean the focus was not in science. It was in general culture, like botany, zoology and a little ecology, but given in a way that was not taught as science actually. This is a new thing.

Levin:

Interesting. But you said a little bit of ecology.

Lonardi:

Well, ecology, but without calling it ecology. I mean it was practical ecology. I mean humanizing the contact of man with nature. That was a state of mind at the time. It was more humanistic, the way of teaching. And that involved a little of the ecology. Once you got involved with the media, you know, with nature and with the life of animals and plants. They were doing a little ecology with that because of the involvement. It was sensible to nature, [words are garbled].

Levin:

And what years were those that you went over to England? Is that when you really picked up English?

Lonardi:

At the time I thought I had picked up English. And I even had an accent for a while. But I was five years old. And then I stopped. I mean I quit English, and I took French a little in school. So then I — we took English in high school. But to me it was very hard to well I had a basis, a little basis. But it was not too solid actually. But it was okay, it helped me a lot.

Levin:

And you mentioned off-tape that you were also interested in drawing as a hobby which helped you later on. When did you first start drawing?

Lonardi:

I think I first started in high school.

Levin:

In high school?

Lonardi:

Yes, caricatures.

Levin:

Ah, cartoons.

Lonardi:

And portraits. You know. In a way, sketches, portraits. And I kept doing that in the ships actually when sailing. I had some victims among the Lamont people, sketching them and joking; making fun of situations.

Levin:

Ah, well that's very useful when there are tensions aboard ship. And while you were growing up, this was right before the war, the Second World War. Argentina was receiving some illustrious immigrants, like [Albert] Einstein and [Enrico] Fermi, to give talks and also people like Guido Beck; scientists who came to live for quite a while. Do you remember any, hearing of their visits, or listening to any of their talks? Do you remember any of that?

Lonardi:

No, because I was very small. What, I was maybe, you mean before the war?

Levin:

Before the war.

Lonardi:

Oh before the war I was four years old. We went to England before the war, and we came back in 1939, just before the war started. So we went to Italy and England. We lived for a while in Italy. And we went and we came back by ship actually. But there was tension in Europe. I remember the —

Levin:

Do you remember it?

Lonardi:

I remember some stations like blackening, blackouts, at home. We used to — In England you had to black out the home and the car and the lights. That was 1938. So they had a fear of war. It was in the air.

Levin:

But you made it out before the war?

Lonardi:

Yes. We came back. Actually, Argentina was building ships. My father was in charge of one of these operations. I mean it was — his rank was not too high, so he was head of some department. And he came as head of the department, one of the ships, the Argentina, the cruise ship. When I mentioned that he was later on, he became the captain in 1948. But he came in the first cruise from England in 1939. The British were not too happy during the war because they gave the ships just before the war, but they weren't sure they were going to enter the war, so they gave the three freighters, three destroyers and one cruiser, that were built by Argentina, and they gave it away, you know, right before the war. So I think that they were not too happy. And they couldn't do it any different; it was a contract, a building contract.

Levin:

So as you were going through high school, and you started I know in 1947 in the Escuela Naval Military, the military, the naval military school.

Lonardi:

Yes, I spent six years in the naval academy.

Levin:

What made you decide to go into the naval academy? Was it always assumed that you would follow your father in the Navy?

Lonardi:

Yes. I was brought up in that atmosphere. And I liked the challenge. At the time I was a young guy and I lived for a while in the naval, main naval base, and enjoyed the freedom of being inside the country club, and with the ships around. And it was a very respectful career at the time in Argentina.

Levin:

What kind of courses did you study in the naval school?

Lonardi:

The naval academy? Oh well, they were. Some became useless with time. Like communication signals, rules and then we had histories, mathematics, geometry, and ballistics, explosives. Well, all the mathematics and social issues. It was a very careful training. We had professors come in, experts come in from outside, and they gave talks about literature and all the Spanish literature, and classics, and ballads, and mixture. General culture was very complete. And a lot of exercise and a lot of —

Levin:

Did you often attend these lectures? Were they compulsory?

Lonardi:

They were compulsory. You had to.

Levin:

[Were they] interesting?

Lonardi:

It was part of the education; so very complete. And then navigation, of course. Astronomy, navigation and safety at sea. Many subjects. We used to have like twenty-five subjects per year.

Levin:

Really? That's quite a hit.

Lonardi:

Twenty-five. And then, well, but this includes some sports. I mean, five or six were sports, like swimming and jumping, boxing, fencing. That was very complete also.

Levin:

Very complete. And the science that you took, the physics and the chemistry?

Lonardi:

Yes.

Levin:

Did you do experiments or field work?

Lonardi:

Yes. Yes. You had practice.

Levin:

Were they useful experiments or were they more just —?

Lonardi:

They were, yes, there was a beginning. I mean experiments, kind of complete, but basics. They were not too profound. They were basics: introduction to chemistry, introduction to physics. I mean experiments. The labs were of good quality. The professors were excellent.

Levin:

Do you remember any in particular that you really enjoyed?

Lonardi:

Yes. I remember some. For example, the one that I admire most was a professor of radio, communication, but it was called radio. And he was Perez del Cerro, that was the name. And he was training me, and he had been trained in Germany. He was a naval officer that became a radio engineer, actually. And he was trained in Germany. And he came back to Argentina and then he taught in the naval academy. But he was very intelligent. And so he could explain an oscillator with his hands and with some idea. And so he was a master of analogy. And this impressed me a lot. This approach of the guy was such a talent. No? And so slowly I became involved with electronics. I liked electronics also as a challenge because it was kind of difficult to me. And so if it was difficult I liked it. It was a challenge. I didn't like the easy things. I used to enjoy the things that were difficult. And so that's why after being in the Navy for a while as a regular officer, they called it combat officer, deck officer. I requested permission to study engineering. And so I attended the University of Buenos Aires and I got a degree in —

Levin:

You were there in 1954.

Lonardi:

Yes. And then I became a telecommunications engineer.

Levin:

That's interesting.

Lonardi:

So that was my first experience at the university actually. The naval training was very helpful because the background was pretty good in general. Maybe not too good for certain things in physics and it was a little weak in that area, in theory I mean. So you had to work hard to get and to update your knowledge and keep the pace of classes. So, it was more difficult, but was possible. You work hard. You work hard, you get it. You overcome these problems.

Levin:

Why — what made you decide to go the University of Buenos Aires instead of another, like the University of Cordoba? Was it your subject that directed you?

Lonardi:

Well, because this is where you have your logistic support; your family and friends and your emotional support. And you know the grounds and because it's a very well developed environment. So it's, unless you have a very good school in some other place. Here, again, the teachers were very good. And at that time there were, the professors were very good and were, many of them were, managing enterprises. And they were working in production of electronics. So it was very helpful when you had these classes because you, I used to go to Phillips for example, practice. Phillips Company was a very large company. And some other company which was also producing radios and transmitters.

Levin:

Did they come to the university to recruit students?

Lonardi:

No. No. No. We had practice in the factory.

Levin:

Oh. So the university and the factories were — they had a contract to work together?

Lonardi:

Well, actually that was a curious thing. No, there was not a contract. It was in practice. The professors that belonged to these companies got the permission of the companies to get the students in.

Levin:

Oh interesting.

Lonardi:

So this in practice worked fine, very well. And then there was a gap, after so many, after the year [?], the teaching became poorer because there was no such tie between the industries and the universities. So now they are coming back by agreement. What was it like try to fly in practice, and the convenience later became a convenience for the person, I mean for the professor because he could have a completely built up lab that could be used by his students.

Levin:

And when that industry tie wasn't there, they didn't have access to all that equipment in the laboratory?

Lonardi:

Yes, it had some access. And then the university had, usually have the factory or in the production line or in the, I mean in the laboratories. You could use the university. The university was building up, at that time, electronics. Well it was a kind of a good base to study.

Levin:

How did you feel the instruction at the University of Buenos Aires, how it differed from that taught in the military? Was the teaching style similar or were they just very different?

Lonardi:

No, very different. One was, was in the Navy was more practical. [telephone interruption]

Levin:

So the Navy was more practical?

Lonardi:

Why?

Levin:

Was —

Lonardi:

Yes, it was more practical? How?

Levin:

No, I was just repeating to bring us back to what we were saying before. You were telling me the differences between the two.

Lonardi:

Yes. Yes. The Navy was more practical. Yes, the Navy was more practical in a way. And we were closely scrutinized by the teacher, by the professor. You had to study specific things and well and daily, in a daily fashion. The university was freer but was more profound. The theory was given with more detail and it was more complete. Because what we had in the Navy were introductions, basics, an introduction to basic, introduction to mathematics and differential equations and analysis and that but not as profound in theory as in the university. The theoretical teaching was much better taught, in a much better way.

Levin:

Did you take the classes in the university on theoretical physics? More physical classes, chemistry, mathematics? Did you take more physics classes?

Lonardi:

Well, actually at that time —

Levin:

Or mostly just engineering?

Lonardi:

— the subjects were fixed, predetermined. You didn't have a choice. You couldn't combine. You had to take so many classes and, I don't know, maybe now it's still going on in that way. But in America [it's] different. You can organize your curriculum. But here was more European, German or French. You had specific classes and they were compulsory. [Interruption for phone call]

Levin:

And so, we were talking about training and what kind of courses you were getting in the University of Buenos Aires and that it was a set schedule.

Lonardi:

Yes. It was a set schedule. My English is getting worse and worse.

Levin:

No. You're doing well.

Lonardi:

My pronunciation. No, because when I went to Washington, I spoiled my little English I had. Because the Organization of American States for Latin America is mostly Spanish.

Levin:

Right. So even though you were living in the United States, you were speaking Spanish.

Lonardi:

Yes; at home and at work. So the supermarket was my idol, my salvation. It was terrible.

Levin:

Well, you're doing quite well. That's fine. So you were at the University of Buenos Aires from '54 to '58. And so you were there while the International Geophysical Year began.

Lonardi:

That's right.

Levin:

Did the university have any ties in with it? Were you working in any way with the —?

Lonardi:

No. Not in my sphere. No. Not in my field of work in electronics. No, they were not involved with the Geophysical Year; more the physicists and the — which I didn't know at the time. You know, I didn't have a chance to experience any particular situation which could involve me with the Geophysical Year.

Levin:

Do you remember reading anything about the activities at the time though, in the newspapers?

Lonardi:

Maybe a little, but not too much.

Levin:

Not too much. And interesting, just to go back a little bit more, a little bit back in time. In 1951, [Juan Domingo] Peron announced that Argentina had discovered the secret of the atomic, of atomic power. Do you remember that announcement?

Lonardi:

Oh sure.

Levin:

What was thought about that here? What did you think about it or your family?

Lonardi:

I was skeptical. We were skeptical. We were against the policy of this person, Juan Peron; I mean the propaganda that was mounted at the time, Political propaganda. But then I wasn't sure. We weren't sure, of course. We were not professionals, I mean physicists.

Levin:

Do you remember any Argentine physicists that were also skeptical? Those were saying that this probably wasn't?

Lonardi:

No. No, because I didn't have any. I mean I was too young and I didn't have contacts, my parents didn't say anything that transpires knowledge about this situation. I don't know.

Levin:

And of course in ‘55, of course, Peron was ousted. And you were telling that your dad —

Lonardi:

My uncle.

Levin:

It was your uncle. What was your uncle’s name?

Lonardi:

Eduardo [Lonardi].

Levin:

Eduardo Lonardi. And how exactly was he involved in this?

Lonardi:

I wasn't really involved. I was staying at the university.

Levin:

But this uncle?

Lonardi:

But being in the Navy, and with my uncle, I knew what was going on, and we kept it a secret of course.

Levin:

So how was your uncle, what exactly did your uncle do in this coup? Was he the leader of it?

Lonardi:

Yes, he was the leader.

Levin:

He was the leader.

Lonardi:

And he fought. In Cordoba [he] started. And now the school of, gunnery school, where he started the fight, has his name, Eduardo Lonardi. Gunnery school, the main one. So he became the head of the parliament, of the government, president for a while. But his policy was of pacification and co-existence with the previous party, and that was not agreeable to the army and Navy, and at the time, to his colleagues, and so he resigned. That's why he ended. But he was in charge for a while.

Levin:

That period of time after Peron, what was that time like? What was life like in Argentina? Was it very unstable?

Lonardi:

It was, for half of the population was oppressing, the other half was a matter of well, it was a source of happiness because they felt they were participating in government. But actually there were many problems, inflation and economical problems, but life for the middle class and for part of the middle class and the upper. Well, the upper class lives always well because they have money. But the lower and middle class which was very large in Argentina and strong, was very well developed. They suffered a lot because of the situation. But there was a demagogue and easy going with money that was built up after the war.

Levin:

Peron.

Lonardi:

Because Argentina was a source of food and of prime, raw materials. S0 they, they [voice fades out] Of course, there were sources of discontent, of injustices and things like that. But they were common in other countries as well, and the change was taking place little by little, by evolution. But then came the revolution of Peron, which in appearance, gave power to the workers. But the power was in his hands actually. There was participation of course of those which were followers without, how do you say, followers, fully committed followers. There was no opposition. He wouldn't accept opposition; the system wouldn't accept any opposition. It was like a dictatorship. It was a — but in practice it was democratic, because it was a product of free elections. But the daily life was very tough for the opposition, that didn't agree with the policies. So you had to be a member of the party to be an employee. And you couldn't talk [about] the involvement, you could be in jail. Things like that.

Levin:

And then once the revolution broke out, do you think —? Well, at the university, did things change while you were there? You had only been there a year when the revolution occurred?

Lonardi:

You mean after the revolution?

Levin:

Yes.

Lonardi:

Oh yes, there was a change. There was a feeling of justice for — and the intellectuals were freer to move and to talk and to express themselves. And they were not forced to be members of a party to be a professor, which was the case before. So the university climate changed a lot.

Levin:

Did any of your teachers change? Did you get new teachers? Or did you just, the same professors stayed?

Lonardi:

At the time, most of the professors were against the government. So little changes. They were not observable. Not, I would say. Perhaps in some specialties, and maybe in sociology, maybe in some of these humanistic or I don't know. I don't know. Actually, I can't tell you but maybe but in general, no. In general, they were opposite; they opposed the government, the government of Peron, of the Peronistas.

Levin:

And in 1958, of course, you graduated. Where did you go from there, after, in the few years before you did go to Columbia, between '58 and '61?

Lonardi:

I was still in the Navy.

Levin:

You were still in the Navy.

Lonardi:

I was an active officer; specialized. And one of the problems was that being, now an engineer, and at that time it was not too convenient because you couldn't reach the rank of admiral.

Levin:

Was that what you wanted?

Lonardi:

It was like a punishment.

Levin:

Oh really.

Lonardi:

No, not. I mean — It was a ridiculous situation. I mean it was a product of the time. It was a new thing to specialize officers. So being a specialist, you didn't have command of ships so you were not supposed to reach the rank of admiral. And that hurt me because shortly before, you were, you know, I was one of the first of my promotion. I was five among two hundred. So I had a good chance to reach the [rank of] admiral. So to me, it hurt a little. But anyway, that was the case. And so I became an engineer and so I ended as an engineer of the electronic bureau of the Navy. And then became a head, head of the small electronic shop, of maintenance and repair and a little construction in the area of the harbor; Buenos Aires harbor. That was my last position, head of the — But before, I was for a short while commander of a ship, a very small ship. Army ship, I mean it was an old Navy ship of the war, during the war.

Levin:

How did you get in command of that ship? How did that occur?

Lonardi:

Well, because they were going to be discharged. So it was a small fleet of six ships. And they were not involved in the operation of the Navy. They were in reserve, like in reserve. So we used to go around and sail a little. But so I had the taste of being a captain, for a while; being a very young officer.

Levin:

And you had men at your command?

Lonardi:

Not too many. There were a bunch of people. Just like, maybe fifteen.

Levin:

And could you go where you wanted to or just around?

Lonardi:

No, very short operations. But it was a taste.

Levin:

And did you like it?

Lonardi:

Yes. I liked it. I enjoyed it.

Levin:

And so you were at that for three years and then in ‘61, you went to Columbia University. Why? How did you first hear about Columbia University?

Lonardi:

How did I what?

Levin:

How did you first hear or learn about Columbia University?

Lonardi:

Oh Columbia you mean?

Levin:

Yes.

Lonardi:

Oh because the Vema was — I repaired one of the antennas of the Vema with my electronic shop.

Levin:

So when the Vema had come down previously in nineteen, was it 1960?

Lonardi:

1960.

Levin:

You worked on that.

Lonardi:

Yes. And [Nestor] Granelli was also involved.

Levin:

Nestor Granelli. So you knew him as well?

Lonardi:

Yes, because I — was my classmate, Granelli. So he also, he was attached to the, I think to Dr. [W. Maurice] Ewing or to the ship. He was attached as an attaché of the ship, of the Vema. The Navy nominated him to accompany the party, so we were both involved in the repair of this antenna, famous antenna.

Levin:

Who did you meet from Lamont [Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory] at that time? Who did you meet in that period?

Lonardi:

Well, actually, Dr. Ewing.

Levin:

You met him?

Lonardi:

Yes. I met Dr. Ewing.

Levin:

And what was your first impression of Ewing?

Lonardi:

Well, intense, very serious, committed person: A dedicated person to his work and doing an important task. Reaching the places of the world where very few ships would go. One of the characteristics of Lamont, of oceanography at Lamont, was that Lamont used to do research in places where nobody else would go. Not because, because they were nasty places actually.

Levin:

Really. Nasty in —?

Lonardi:

Nasty, weather nasty.

Levin:

Weather wise.

Lonardi:

They were rough seas for a long time and for long periods of time. And in certain of those adventures we went to the poles. But the oceanographic institutions used to work in the tropics mostly.

Levin:

Calmer, more enjoyable.

Lonardi:

Because there were so many things to learn, that why go to ruin your life in bad places. No, I don't know. Actually, statistically I tell you. I don't know the motivation. I mean I am not criticizing oceanography or oceanographers. But in practice, very few would go to the extremes.

Levin:

Do you remember, do you remember any other groups coming down besides Lamont? Coming down this far to Argentina, South America?

Lonardi:

No. In the old time came the Germans, before the war. And the Germans once. And maybe one ship from Woods Hole [Oceanographic Institute] I think or from Texas A&M University. But that was an international program, large international program. But Lamont came with the ships as an independent institution. I mean working for their own, their own programs.

Levin:

Do you remember the Germans that came down? Were they with some kind of an organization?

Lonardi:

Yes, they actually, one of the ships was, is in the book I mentioned here, the history of research in the — And the head of the expedition was Dr. Wust, Georg Wust. And he came to Lamont in 1961 or ‘62, and spent some time at Lamont after so many years.

Levin:

But do you remember Wust, what his —?

Lonardi:

Ship? The ship was called the Meteor.

Levin:

The Meteor?

Lonardi:

The German ship in the South Atlantic.

Levin:

And, but their organization itself? Do you remember?

Lonardi:

The German Hydrographic Office.

Levin:

German Hydrographic Office.

Lonardi:

And some German universities also cooperated.

Levin:

And what did you learn about what work Ewing was doing down there at the time? Did he talk to you? Or did you find out from anybody about what activities, what their researches were?

Lonardi:

Yes, of course. At that time, we got involved in the subject of oceanography in the high seas. And I asked many questions and I learned what they were doing. And also I learned that Lamont was growing as an institution. And that was very promising for a young engineer, he told me. And one of the things, in particular, Lamont was planning to develop the electronic shop, the electronic facility they had because of the development of the sounding machines mainly. This is the International Geophysical Year.

Levin:

And we're looking at a —

Lonardi:

No, this is not the German — I'm sorry.

Levin:

Let's see, what's the name of the book: Physics and Chemistry of the Earth?

Lonardi:

Now this is a history of research in the South Atlantic which I wrote with Dr. Ewing. And it told of the Challenger, a British ship in 1972 and then came in '76 the Germans, then came the [?] and then came the [?], and then came the Deutschland, and the Meteor.

Levin:

Interesting. So the Germans had quite a history of coming to South America. Do you know why they had —?

Lonardi:

Great space you see. 1925, then in '32 the British.

Levin:

About twenty years apart for each expedition.

Lonardi:

Yes. Then in '57 there starts Lamont because of the International Geophysical Year. And then came all the Vemas, 12, 14, 15, and 16. And I joined in sixteen, Vema 14.

Levin:

Vema 14.

Lonardi:

No I joined in Vema 16. I joined the crew, I mean the cruise. But I worked with them in 1959, repairing the ship.

Levin:

Repairing the ship: interesting.

Levin:

And you met Ewing at the time. Did you meet anyone else, or do you remember meeting anyone else on ship at that time?

Lonardi:

I don't recall. Actually, maybe I did. But I don't recall.

Levin:

So this is when you first learned about Columbia, Lamont? And when did you decide to go to Columbia University to start your graduate work there?

Lonardi:

Well as soon as I met Dr. Ewing, I decided that I wanted to continue studying. And my idea at the time was to study electronics. And so, because there was a chance of working and studying at the same time, I thought that was possible in my case.

Levin:

Did it turn out to be possible?

Lonardi:

Partially. But once I became involved with sailing, I mean, research and switching from electronics to oceanography, it was hard, harder and harder because of the time at sea. It was spending long times at sea.

Levin:

So it's very difficult to keep going.

Lonardi:

Yes and changing the subjects also.

Levin:

So you did switch from electronics to oceanography during that time?

Lonardi:

Yes, by myself.

Levin:

By yourself.

Lonardi:

Studying by myself. I mean going to the university and taking courses, but not formally, informally. So it was studying what they needed because I liked research. I wanted to do research at sea. I mean, you know, discovering things.

Levin:

Interesting. Did you have classes? Like did you have any courses from John [E.] Nafe or the professors at Columbia University teaching oceanography and physics?

Lonardi:

Well, I used to take some courses. As I say, sitting in the classes and doing practical work and seminars every week.

Levin:

Did you spend a lot —

Lonardi:

In geophysics.

Levin:

In geophysics.

Lonardi:

That was my main —

Levin:

So, was most of your time spent at Lamont, at sea or —?

Lonardi:

Well, both — half and half.

Levin:

Half and half: between really Lamont and at sea.

Lonardi:

Yes. And then because I was an Argentinean, I used to take my vacations and holidays in Argentina so that added more time away. But because my — also because economically I wasn't able to pay — I mean, to stop working and study.

Levin:

That would be difficult.

Lonardi:

Yes, that would have been maybe a resolution if I wanted to continue in teaching or something. But I wanted to. I had to live, you know, the salary wasn't too high. It was not too high.

Levin:

Was it difficult to adjust to life in America when you first arrived?

Lonardi:

Yes, it was. Well, in a way. No I had — because of the enthusiasm of doing something important and interesting, not important but interesting, one was able to sacrifice many things. And second that was a temporary situation. So this is what helps people to survive certain situations, thinking that it's temporary. It's not like being in jail. So and then you can do many things which if you were told that they were going to last so many years you wouldn't do, initially. But you're thinking you want to overcome this. And the atmosphere was very good and very helpful. And working with Dr. Ewing was a challenge. It was a daily challenge.

Levin:

How so, in what ways?

Lonardi:

Oh because he would ask me questions about science. What do you do think about that? So I had to [exercise] my brain and study by myself. And look at all of the angles and try to continue something.

Levin:

So it was Dr. Ewing who was making sure you were learning your oceanography?

Lonardi:

Right. That's right.

Levin:

And he did it in a way that informally — He would come to you and ask you your opinion.

Lonardi:

Yes, we were discussing things. And also not only with him but John Ewing and some other and discuss what we saw through the cruise and what — Because they had essential doubts about what was going on also. Like certain coincidences. You know, the pieces of the earth and geology and some geophysical results. They were too nice to be true, you know. With no theoretical backing. There was some evidence in practice that showed that there was a fitting of things.

Levin:

Like the continents?

Lonardi:

Yes, things like that but with geophysical proof. Like the coincidences of the anomalies, anomaly by anomaly, and all that. And things like that were very puzzling, you know, for a person that was very well trained in physics.

Levin:

For instance, Walter [C.] Pitman, when he founded the anomalies on the Eltanin. It seemed too perfect, didn't it? In fact, [J. Lamar] Worzel said it was too perfect.

Lonardi:

Yes.

Levin:

What did you think when that came out? Do you remember that discovery?

Lonardi:

I remember Anomaly 31 very clearly, yes. Yes. The fit was so perfect that it was very strange or very suspicious.

Levin:

What was thought? Was this the first time that you were hearing about continental drift while you were at Lamont or had you heard about it while you were still in Argentina?

Lonardi:

Well, no, I had heard. I had heard about [Alfred] Wegener a little, but not too much.

Levin:

Do you remember what you had heard before? Was it accepted more here?

Lonardi:

Well I wasn't in that field, you know. So it was not discussed in my environment. So to me everything was quite new.

Levin:

It was very new; a whole different field.

Lonardi:

So it was very exciting because there were so many things to learn and to, that were happening, that were happening all along, from 1960 to 1970. Lamont was the producer, according to Walter Sullivan, who was the reporter of the New York Times, scientific reporter of the New York Times, in 1965, '67 more or less, that seventy percent of the scientific, of the new know ledge, created in the ocean was due to Lamont, in the States. So that was very exciting.

Levin:

Quite something. There was certainly a lot happening at that time. And you were pretty much in the front of it. You mentioned that your office was actually in —

Lonardi:

Next door.

Levin:

— right next door to Maurice Ewing.

Lonardi:

So the reaction was talking to me. His first reaction to many things. And then as I said, I was also involved in these maps and so all the room was full of maps. And I was kind of competing in a way with Bruce [C.] Heezen, although his was a different thing. That, I mean competing in the disorder of my maps. I had so many maps. Bruce Heezen was in one of the buildings and I was in this other working on the mapping of the floor, the sea floor. The idea was to map the sea floor with geological criteria.

Levin:

And you were, I know you were, the map you produced with Ewing was of the South Atlantic. Was this any, seen as any sort of a competition with Bruce Heezen, or was it a complimentary work?

Lonardi:

It was a detailed mapping. I mean the rough map had been done by Bruce actually, before.

Levin:

Just more detailed.

Lonardi:

Yes. And it was a more detailed section of the South Atlantic.

Levin:

Were you able to talk to Bruce or did you talk to him about certain questions?

Lonardi:

Well, actually, I lived with Bruce for a while.

Levin:

You did?

Lonardi:

Yes. And I rented his home once that he was away. So I used to go to his home very often. And I rented his home in the Piermont, along the Piermont, the Piermont town, the town of Piermont. He rented a house to two ladies that owned an antique shop. And the house was very charming. And I used to go there and we had a drink and at night and discussing about things were getting to the, if the earth is cool or is cooling or warming up and things like that.

Levin:

Interesting. You talked about that in the sixties?

Lonardi:

Yes.

Levin:

About global warming?

Lonardi:

Yes.

Levin:

And what did you think? Was the earth warming? Did you think it was warming, cooling?

Lonardi:

I think it's cooling, but —

Levin:

Now.

Lonardi:

Now.

Levin:

What did you think back then?

Lonardi:

I didn't know. You had two choices. [Laughter]

Levin:

You had two choices.

Lonardi:

Instead of multiple choices, you had two choices. But no, but I mean it was really exciting and enticing the exchange of — The conversation was learning, the conversation with Bruce and Marie Tharp would drop by also at night. So I had a very close — I was in very close touch with him at that time.

Levin:

Did you live with him when you first? When you first came to New York, did you live with Bruce, or was it later on?

Lonardi:

Later on, yes.

Levin:

Later on. Was it just you and Bruce? Because I know at one time Fernando Vila —

Lonardi:

No, I'm sorry. I was going to mention, at the time it was also Fernando Vila.

Levin:

Really? So you had someone there from Argentina as well?

Lonardi:

Yes. I was going to mention that, because Fernando Vila was doing some work with the, with Joe Worzel on gravity. He was supposed to build the parts of the gravimeter in quartz.

Levin:

The spring?

Lonardi:

The spring. He was also an artisan in working with, an engineer that was an artisan with the hands. Did you talk to him?

Levin:

Yes I did.

Lonardi:

Oh. I hadn't seen him.

Levin:

Yes. He's still fine. He's living here. So that was quite, that was quite the Argentinean house.

Lonardi:

Yes. And then I — Vila left and I went to another place. And then I got married in 1966. And we kept seeing each other sometimes. I mean socially, you know. I used to live close by in South Nyack.

Levin:

Okay. Now you mentioned that you worked in the building, of course, with Ewing, and Bruce was in a different building? He wasn't in the main?

Lonardi:

No, he was in a different building.

Levin:

I know on the maps that Bruce and Marie made you have quite an honor made for you on that map.

Lonardi:

Oh yes. I was very surprised to find myself on top of Sea Mountain.

Levin:

Yes, the Lonardi Sea Mount.

Lonardi:

[It's] in the middle of the basin. Actually it's an outcrop this place which I visited with the ship myself.

Levin:

Did Marie or Bruce tell you that they were going to put your name on the outcrop before they published the map?

Lonardi:

No, no, no. That was a surprise to me when it came out. But it was in the book. It's a short survey of the place. I mean I found other places. No, actually in one can have certain influence in certain places and certain times maybe without the knowledge. For example, I was a fanatic of the fracture zone with Dr. Ewing. I mean when on the cruise we say, oh this. It wasn't an easy extrapolation, no. I mean once you got familiar with the sea floor, the probability of having a fracture zone here. It was kind of high here.

Levin:

You mean high in that it would be there? [Cross talk]

Lonardi:

There was a coherent, high probability, genetically speaking and geophysical and geologically speaking. But as I would say, why don't we go with the ship next cruise and survey this section. And he would say okay, tell the track. And the, I mean, the chief scientist, how you say, the —

Levin:

The top?

Lonardi:

The next chief scientist. Not next to me but the next to the cruise that was analyzing. [He] would say call him and give him the track and explain to him. So it would brief him on the track. And he was more senior than I was. But I had to start all the — you know, the situation. So I proposed many tracks, the cultivation of many fracture zones, like Eltanin and Vema. I suggested going to those places and they found the continents, but was not married. But because I was there I had a chance to ask them to, you know, to suggest this kind of a survey. But it was exciting. They would come and they would say, oh we found this and that.

Levin:

Oh, that must have been a very exciting time.

Lonardi:

That's the way we found the maximum depths of the Atlantic Ocean, the Puerto Rico Trench. I planned cruises also because at that time the French came with their Archimedes, was [?]. So Lamont had to have a very good survey of the Puerto Rico Trench. So I was in charge with the work of planning the cruises.

Levin:

It was very necessary to have it at that area, the Puerto Rico trench because of the French?

Lonardi:

Because the French were doing comparative work of Lamont, which was a combination of experiments. It was of deep submergence in the Puerto Rico Trench for the first time.

Levin:

It had never been done before.

Lonardi:

Four thousand meters. And they wanted to drop, to go with the gravity meter, temperature and so on. So they had to have the best possible survey they could. So I planned it for several cruises in a way that they will complement each other because we weren't surveying especially the Puerto Rico Trench. We were part of longer cruises. So after so many years, two or three years, you had like six chances of going through. But you had to be exactly in certain positions. And I was asked to be, because I was there. I was asked to do the detail combination of tracks so to cover the most in the best way possible, possible way. And that's how I — because I had this ship once and because I had this following of things, then I was able to find the deepest place of the Puerto Rico Trench. I mean to figure out where it could be, more or less. And so that's why we found it. And I am sure a different place. I mean, but it was — I didn't give it too much importance. But [I thought I was] going to publish it. [Cross talk] I mean, it was published at the time as a number, but the justification, the demonstration that this is the deepest place in the ocean is a pity. I thought I was going to publish. I didn't have time yet, but this track by track it shows a slow place and this to be the deepest. It’s a demonstration. I thought it was not important enough to publish. I gave them a chance, twenty years, to these guys with the precision the positioning, and they didn't do it. Then I [did] it.

Levin:

Okay.

Lonardi:

Right.

Levin:

Sounds like a good deal. So what was the social life like at Lamont? Did you –- were there many activities going on there?

Lonardi:

Much what?

Levin:

Activities. Things to do outside of work that you got together with other people and did — sports or dinners?

Lonardi:

No, social life, you mean. I wasn't too involved in that. I was always working at night.

Levin:

You were? And on the weekends?

Lonardi:

And on the weekends. Dr. Ewing used to leave me messages. Like philosophical pieces, like thoughts.

Levin:

Little thoughts. Where would he leave them? Would you find them on your desk?

Lonardi:

Yes. Once in a while, he'd leave a message with a thought.

Levin:

Do you remember a particular one that you received?

Lonardi:

I have one I think. But I cannot find it. I don't know. I think I'll find it. If I browse, I might find it because I kept it — I kept it for a long time.

Levin:

What kinds of things were written?

Lonardi:

Oh, like the day, might be something about the day, the lights of the day and the time. And the feeling of something, you know. We were friendly; myself being more junior. Actually it was really — I had the fear of Doc's reactions because they were very strong. But to me [it] was always the same, I mean, it was very natural.

Levin:

Of course there was always, there was problems at times between [Bruce C.] Heezen and Ewing. Did you realize what was going on? Did you understand what was —?

Lonardi:

No, I think there was some feeling, like jealousy or something like that. But I didn't pay too much attention. I was, worked well with both, so I didn't want to get involved in any exploration of. But I think there was some problem.

Levin:

And while you were there, you were there for at, Columbia University for four years working on a degree. Well, more or less you were at Lamont really. Did you keep working there then through '69, just '60 through '69, did you stay on?

Lonardi:

Yes sure.

Levin:

And '67 you got a degree in business administration.

Lonardi:

No, it was not a degree. It was a course.

Levin:

It was a course.

Lonardi:

Yes.

Levin:

Just for your own personal —?

Lonardi:

Yes. I wanted to have some notions of business.

Levin:

Well, during the sixties, there was of course, there was a very turbulent time at Columbia University with the rioting and students and the Vietnam War. Did you see much of that taking place? What was your impression of what was going on at the time? And did you see any of that being aimed against Lamont?

Lonardi:

No. Lamont was far away from all that uproar. So if you were going to the campus, you might have the chance to see something. Like once I went to hear Madame Wu, who was the first lady of Vietnam, South Vietnam, and there were some demonstrations of students and so on. Things like that. But they were very isolated but in general, no. No, I didn't live through that. I didn't participate — didn't change my life.

Levin:

What did you think about the environmental awareness that was going on at the time? Did you, was there any of that that you talked about with people at Lamont; about the new ecology and awareness of the earth's resources. Do you remember talking with people at Lamont at the time?

Lonardi:

About resources yes. About — many about non-renewable resources. And there was an awareness that there was a [telephone interruption] There was a history of the time, feelings at the time of the environment. But we were talking about the ecology. There were no notions of ecology, as explicit as we know now. There were some notions of the pollution and deterioration and so on. [Jacques] Cousteau's work was prevailing also in the media. Started to prevail in the media. And, but the first popular book became that one of [Rachel] Carson.

Levin:

Do you remember reading her book?

Lonardi:

I think I read it.

Levin:

Do you remember how you felt about it, about Silent Spring?

Lonardi:

Oh yes. I had quite strong feelings about preservation of the environment from the beginning. But at Lamont, one of the guys that wrote about it was Chuck [Charles L.] Drake.

Levin:

He wrote about it? What did he write?

Lonardi:

Well about geological resources and I don't remember the name of the paper. But I remember that he used to show the duration of the resource in terms of geological time. And maybe it wasn't his authorship. Maybe he took it from somebody else. But he published that. The first time I saw it was from his — And [it] showed a spike, in the geological time, the existence of oil lasts like a spike. That's all. According to the last determinations, estimates, we have oil for thirty years.

Levin:

And this was a recent one of last year? This was a recent estimate you're talking?

Lonardi:

No, the recent says that half of the reserves are going to be —

Levin:

Depleted.

Lonardi:

— depleted in thirty years and one hundred percent in sixty, seventy years: keeps staying in that level because the reserves found are increasing and more than expected. But still the — I mean the dimension is very dramatic. The dimension shows a little reserve, not much oil to spare. So you see, this is a dramatic — I mean it's a matter of two generations, three generations and that's it, maybe four. That's nothing. So that's the crucial — that's the way everybody's trying to work alternative sources of energy. But all the rest are very expensive to produce.

Levin:

So.

Lonardi:

Or not too economical.

Levin:

Chuck Drake had written a little.

Lonardi:

One of the ones that told was Chuck. But you were asking about Lamont, what was the reaction at Lamont.

Levin:

In general.

Lonardi:

It was not a popular uproar, but there were some manifestations in one way or the other, worrying about the future of resources.

Levin:

Was there any —?

Lonardi:

And Chuck Drake became a politician for a while.

Levin:

Do you remember also any concern at Lamont over where the money for the research was coming from? That it was coming so much from the Navy, from the military system.

Lonardi:

Sure.

Levin:

Do you remember that debate?

Lonardi:

Oh yes.

Levin:

What did you think about that? And in Argentina, didn't most of the money come from the government to do research? And it's gotten mostly, or up until recently, by the Navy? What did you think?

Lonardi:

In what?

Levin:

In the case of the problems that were being had at Lamont over where the money should be coming from. What did you think?

Lonardi:

In what terms; in what sense? I mean, from what point of view; ethics, economics?

Levin:

All, yes. Ethics and economically and scientific-wise. How the best science —

Lonardi:

The dependence of the military. One grew with that situation that most of the funds were coming from military sources because the world was at war. There were two factions. So in order to survive your way of life, you accepted that you had to continue, accept funding from military sources. But the government needed help. It wasn't extremely nice, but it was a fact of life. It wasn't the ideal. But, I mean, we were not working for — we were not forced to study very specific things. We thought we were asked to do good science. So it was not too bad. I mean.

Levin:

Did you have a clearance? Did you have a government clearance?

Lonardi:

No. We were not doing secret work. That's why, I mean, there was only a source of funding. We were not working for the government. We were working for science, funded by the government but pure science maybe with some emphasis sometimes in one aspect. But that was five percent, two percent of the whole thing. But knowing the ocean, the deep ocean, is the question isn't it. To study the deep ocean is not the first priority of the Navy. It’s a good priority, but it's not the first. The first is shallow water and shallow waters. Those two things were — the Navy could be more interested but not in the very deep ocean. So it was not too bad. It was not a situation that could create a problem of conscience.

Levin:

Considering the fact that you were from Argentina working in Lamont, were there any disadvantages that you saw coming from a different country?

Lonardi:

In a way, yes. You are little, in an inferior position for certain things. I mean you have to start from a different starting point, lower starting point in terms of knowledge of the environment and customs and how to handle things and backgrounds and details. And then the environment you have no family and friends, and without family and friends, so it was very tough in certain ways. So you had to work harder.

Levin:

It would be very challenging. Especially, were there any customs or just cultural differences that made your work challenging or made it —?

Lonardi:

Sure, yes. One of the main challenges in general, the people coming from abroad, from Latin America at that time lacked experience in working with their hands. [There] was a subculture in America; everybody was able to work with their hands. Mechanics, electronics background. And that was a good advantage for the American. We used to work. I mean when I was in the Navy, I was not supposed to touch the equipment. For that I had the sailor, I mean the petty officer, the technician. That was a technician work, I mean, it was not common. So I would work for very special things. And in America I had to do the simplest tasks. That was a challenge that was a difficult challenge. So I had to devote more time to that in order to overcome this lack of experience. It could be disagreeable at times. A little humiliating to be able to perform in a way that, in minor tasks, or to -– not minor but hand work. Not intellectual work.

Levin:

Yes. That would definitely be a very different change coming from Latin America where you just don’t do that. So you were there for those nine years. And while you’re there, of course, you produced Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, which was quite an edition. You did it with Ewing, of course with his assistance. And at the end of this time you left and you came back to Argentina. Did you — you came back to Buenos Aires?

Lonardi:

No I went back to —

Levin:

Bahia Blanca.

Lonardi:

Bahia Blanca, which is nine hundred kilometers from here to the south. And it’s where the main naval base is located also. And I knew the place because I was there when I was a child. My father was in the naval base. That's why I knew the place. I didn't like the place too much, but I knew it.

Levin:

Did you have — had they called you to come back there? When you were getting ready to go back to Argentina, had they told you to come to Bahia Blanca? Why did you?

Lonardi:

I moved straight from New York to Bahia Blanca.

Levin:

Why Bahia Blanca?

Lonardi:

Why?

Levin:

Yes.

Lonardi:

Oh, because it was the site of the new institutes. They wanted to, the National Research Council wanted to create the new institutes in Bahia Blanca. Because was close to the Navy which was going, to the naval base, which was going to support the ship. And close to the University of the South, it's called which wants to develop oceanography. It was a coincidence at the time of objectives. And that's why they chose that place and so I was able to, in a very short time I was able to get more funds, enough funds to buy a new building and prepare a project, the proposal for funding from the International Development Bank. Which I couldn't see crystallize. But which was given, was approved, finally after so many years, and the buildings which I planned are, were built in Bahia Blanca, out there. Big building. So big that it's housing two or three institutes at a time. My project was too big. Because I had an idea of thirty years of growth in the project. But the buildings were given as a package. So it was too big for my project because my plan was for long range. But something resulted from that experience actually. But the institute didn't grow as fast as I planned when I left.

Levin:

Really?

Lonardi:

But while I was there, it was, there was a, and in four years, about four years, I planned twenty cruises with the former Atlantis.

Levin:

That came down from Woods Hole [Oceanographic Institute].

Lonardi:

One international cooperation put on with Lamont. There was a very good survey of the shelf, actually, geophysical survey which was used then, later on by the oil company.

Levin:

Why do you think that the institute didn't grow as fast as you had planned? Was it because of the unrest?

Lonardi:

Yes, it was unrest. I learned later that there unrest and lack of funding, trouble, and it didn't grow fast.

Levin:

Did Bernardo Houssay invite you? Did he call you from New York to come back? So he contacted you to start this institute while you were still in New York?

Lonardi:

Yes. That was very funny. The day he called I was in Doc [Ewing]'s office. And I took the telephone and it was him. And he said, oh hi Doc. "What do you think about Lonardi?" he asked me. "I think you're looking for somebody else," I said, "Wait a second." And I gave the phone to Dr. Ewing. It was very funny.

Levin:

Wow. Yes. Did you hear what Doc said? No.

Lonardi:

No, I left.

Levin:

You left; interesting. Well that must have been difficult to have, to leave Lamont.

Lonardi:

Yes. That was very difficult.

Levin:

Did Ewing try and convince you to stay?

Lonardi:

Well, no. No, no. He was very well educated and considerate. And as I told him, it was a very good opportunity I had to start my own institute and with a ship. And that I felt that I owed that to my country and all that. He said, yes, I understand. And I hope that you are lucky and you can work as well as here, and so on. So that was the end of it. But we kept in touch and, as I said, I organized this program. And in between, I was invited to the Glomar Challenger cruise as one of the twelve scientists, as an expert on the Atlantic Ocean. And one of the chief scientists was [?] from Lamont in that leg of the South Atlantic. And that was a very, to me, dramatic situation because during that leg, it was May, 1974, and while we were sailing, we got the news that the —

Levin:

So while you were on that cruise you heard that Ewing had passed away.

Lonardi:

Well, we discussed the subject and I mean, among other things, [voice drowned out by background noise], and we proposed his name for this.

Levin:

The Maurice Ewing Bank.

Lonardi:

Yes, this is the [?] track.

Levin:

Ah, that you were working on at the time.

Lonardi:

See because we did it here. So we call it the — I caption many of these pictures in the book. But I change, I mean I call it this elevated unit, but that unfortunate date, we changed it, we proposed the new name, Maurice Ewing.

Levin:

I know you were very close. Maurice had mentioned, and you showed me the letter that —

Lonardi:

Who?

Levin:

Ewing had written to your father about congratulating him on your fine work that you had done aboard the [Robert D.] Conrad.

Lonardi:

Oh yes, that was very touching. This is where I dedicated him. Yes, he wrote to my father in March, 1965. And here he mentioned that the Conrad, he recognized that the Conrad was a little bit harder to work on than the Vema and that I had been doing a good job. I mean diplomacy and skills, scientific skills he mentioned. That was very nice of him.

Levin:

And when you, when you started your own institute, how did you — where did you get your ideas for how to frame it, how to organize it?

Lonardi:

Well, many ideas I brought from Lamont; certain strategies and the philosophy of working at sea and working the date also. I started some of the methods; I applied some of the methods that were used at Lamont, which are very good.

Levin:

Do you feel that it fit in? That you were able to easily adapt the same methods in Argentina? That it worked?

Lonardi:

No, it was not so easy. You need to have somebody like me. I mean trained like me, I mean, on top to follow very closely because the environment was not prepared. I mean they had different ways of doing things. So, somebody trained like me, I mean, the same way, I mean with the same methods. So it was not easy because people were not too prepared. So you had to train them on the job and follow closely.

Levin:

At that time was there a program that students could study oceanography in a university in Argentina?

Lonardi:

No. There was some courses given, oceanographic courses, but was not a formal career. Not a formal career. And it was in the planning, but not any formal one.

Levin:

At that time were most of the researchers at sea —

Lonardi:

I'm sorry. There was one in physical oceanography, one career, physical oceanography in an institute that was run by the Navy, by a naval officer.

Levin:

By a Navy officer; part of the Navy?

Lonardi:

No, no. It was not part of the Navy. They were all Navy officers. It was a private university, institute or university.

Levin:

At that time then were things — was there a movement to get research of the sea a little bit more out of the complete control of the Navy? Maybe more, try to move it more into private hands?

Lonardi:

Yes. That was idea with the National Research Council. They wanted to move the, to have the capability, capacity building in the environment of the National Research Council and university and the university environment. That was the idea of Dr. Houssay, the president of the National Research Council, and some of his colleagues, followers. An idea which I thought was healthy. At the time, I thought was healthy. But it is still not solved. Actually the oceanography is weakening in Argentina. The career that was taught at the Institute of Buenos Aires [Technological Institute of Buenos Aires — TIBA] has been closed. I mean has been dropped. And they have changed to other careers which are more realistic in terms of economical results as a career. Like petroleum engineer and things like that. So, I don't know what would have happened if the career had been successful in the south. But actually they developed some of the — I don't remember in which year, but I think they started some career in the south. I think [Fernando] Vila was involved.

Levin:

Do you think? Well, it sounds like they dropped it because it wasn't economically beneficial. Do you think that for a country that — a developing country like Argentina, that science is considered more of a luxury? That if it's not needed, then why do it? Do you think that's typically how science is viewed?

Lonardi:

Well, I don't know. I mean it's a compromise between what a student wants and what the policy of the country is. But if you follow the trend of the institutes, they are going to gather a small group which is getting smaller, that wants to be physical oceanographers, for example. Apparently many of the biologists are still around; still wanting to be biological oceanographers. I am not too sure of what is going on now in the university. But physical oceanography looks like it’s being weakened as a career. Maybe a more multidisciplinary approach to oceanography would be better accepted by students; something that had to deal more with the development and environment, a balanced course. I think that, well coastal engineering is another field that could attract the interest of many students, some students I guess. But I'm sorry I cannot tell you what the situation is here now.

Levin:

What was Bernardo Houssay like?

Lonardi:

Bernardo.

Levin:

Houssay?

Lonardi:

Yes, Houssay.

Levin:

What kind of a person, a scientist was he? Did you know him personally?

Lonardi:

Yes, but not too closely. But I met him and talked with him several times. Oh, he was a good leader, but quiet. He knew what he wanted. He had an idea of developing science, and he followed that faithfully. He felt that a nation like Argentina, like any other developing country, needs to strengthen science and technology apart from politics. And to create the environment in such a way that the scientific development; the scientific infrastructure to support development of science, like a career, formal career of research. And institutes and laboratories, well equipped in areas which are of interest in pure science as well as in applied science. You need a balance. But science and technology in Latin America is also in a state of — I mean, is weakening. National Research Councils are weak. They don't have enough political strength, influence. And everything has to be applied economically; has to have an economical application.

Levin:

Do you think that there has ever been a time when science in Argentina has been more, like certain scientists or groups of scientists have been more politically influential in?

Lonardi:

Yes, sure. Well, Houssay had political influence. But because of the weight of the respect he transmitted, he had gained as a scientist. And he was a strong character and an honest individual. And honest, I mean, [he had an] honest approach. So he was respected and carried — had political influence in a way — A lot during a period and less in later years. But he had enough influence to gain momentum to consolidate at one time the counsel. And he created the career of research scientist. And the career, and also the large column of fellowships which now are in a very bad shape, you know, funding.

Levin:

I know that in 1969 you went to France for a conference, a UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] conference. It was in your CV, the Commission of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Conference. So you were able to see a little bit of how science works on a governmental level. Do you think that that's sometimes the best science that gets done, or science at a cost? Perhaps lowering the scientific standard for politics to get something politically across?

Lonardi:

Well actually you're talking about IOC, which is Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Those folks are international. So they deal with international cooperation. So the governments. I mean, the ways to cooperate are two ways. Extra government or [?] governments. They are political priorities in the world, and they are things which had to be done, ought to be done, through cooperation with many countries. The young political interest. I mean the young political opticals and of course following political priorities. But the young political difficulties and resistance to think together. And so for those purposes these bodies are helpful because they allow you to work, one country with the other, in certain fields. And there establishing global programs, which are still going on. And they are very useful. And there are not many politics there. I mean, in general there's not too much politics involved in the oceanography in cooperative programs. Of course, in aspects of policy which are unavoidable? But there are no small, petty politics involved. So you don't have confrontations. I mean, so there are advantages. It's a good thing to have.

Levin:

I know you were only back in Argentina for a very short time during that time; of course it was very disrupted, governmentally, in Argentina. Can you relate some of the challenges that you faced in particular being in Argentina between when you got back in '69 and the time which you left to go back to Washington, to go to Washington, D.C.? Was it '76 — in that time?

Lonardi:

Yes, if they had challenges?

Levin:

Could you relate some of the things that — the challenges that you faced during that time?

Lonardi:

Yes. Well there were many challenges. One was to start a facility often times or twenty times bigger than the rest of the ones that were used to in the university because it was an operating, sea-going institution, against a small institutes of the university, which were traditional and small. They were not operative. So when you move a ship, only that is a big job for an academic institution. So you have to have many, many aspects solved before doing anything. So it's a complex operation. Besides that you have to have research and a quiet atmosphere of research in the middle of a confusing and dynamic way of doing things, logistically and from the operational side. So that's one challenge that is very difficult. And then the other is to do that with low salaries, low governmental salaries for the people and doing that in a city which has lower standards than in a big city, like Buenos Aires. And the cultural life is less appealing than in a large city. You had to bring most of the population, of the intellectual population of the country is in two or three cities. I mean large universities are where, in Buenos Aires and Cordoba. So you have to bring people, attract people to those places and so all that were difficulties, challenges. You have to overcome in one way or the other by getting better conditions and better ideas. Promising, promising initiatives. A little better standard of living, if possible, which I got for the people, some extra money. So you had to solve many, many problems.

Levin:

How were you able to get that extra money?

Lonardi:

How?

Levin:

How were you were able to get that extra money for the people?

Lonardi:

Oh, persuading the government that if they wanted to create something special, they had to pay for it.

Levin:

Did all of your money come from the government or did you get some money from other sources?

Lonardi:

No, at that time there was no conscience of the private sector to help this kind of enterprises; so had to be all government and so had to fight for the budget. That was kind of limited. But I cannot complain. I mean, I got a good deal of help in a short time. But I had to propose many times, many things all the time; got to be on the road all the time.

Levin:

I know in '72 you proposed that, of course, Lamont have another expedition down south. How did you work that out?

Lonardi:

Well, putting the, putting down a project for us to work together, in cooperation, and the National Research Council supported me. And Dr. Ewing was agreeable to do it also. So we were able to work something out. Because we had in addition to doing service by independent ships, we worked together two ships with refraction work which is one technique of geophysical work; Seismic refraction with two ships. And that was the —

Levin:

Once [W. Maurice] Ewing left Lamont and went to Texas, did you think about working with Lamont still? Or did you think about any other sort of joint ventures? Did you think about just staying with — or trying another one again? Did you think about that, another collaboration with Lamont? Or was it different under [Manik] Talwani?

Lonardi:

Yes, now I am a little confused with times. When did Dr. Ewing leave?

Levin:

He left in 1972 because —

Lonardi:

Yes, it was exactly when I organized this program.

Levin:

About the same time he had left. So when you were —

Lonardi:

So I didn't face that problem. That was already worked out.

Levin:

He had already left.

Lonardi:

Yes. So [I] didn't have any influence in the problem, the program I arranged with Doc, Dr. Ewing. So I wasn't faced with that alternative, of choosing between two alternatives. And I was on very good terms with Manik Talwani also. So, but it didn't happen. I mean, I didn't have to deal with him in any way. I didn't have to negotiate anything with him.

Levin:

Because it had already been worked out.

Lonardi:

It already been done. Besides the point that I got along with Manik very well. But it didn't happen.

Levin:

Do you remember any of the other people that were — some of the other visiting scientists at the time? Do you remember [?] Belousov? He would come at times.

Lonardi:

Who?

Levin:

Belousov. Well, he was a Soviet.

Lonardi:

[Gleb] Udintsev.

Levin:

Ah, yes, Gleb.

Lonardi:

Gleb Udintsev. Yes, I remember Gleb Udintsev. Yes, I think we shared a little something with them. Gleb and his wife were also there. Visited, we'd talk, and I was there also. We had many small parties.

Levin:

Did the Soviets have any sort of research collaborations with Argentina at all?

Lonardi:

No.

Levin:

No.

Lonardi:

No. Maybe once one ship came here but no ongoing cooperation which I recall.

Levin:

I know, I noticed in your CV that in later years, you started getting interested in aquaculture; the cultivation of plankton. Were you aware when you were at Lamont of some of the biologists that were working there, [Oswald] Roels and [Robert] Menzies, and their work in that field?

Lonardi:

No, actually they didn't. Except for one project that Roels had in Puerto Rico and Saint Croix where aquaculture was one of the final products. But at Lamont nobody worked in aquaculture. They were interested in primary productivity. Which is plankton, sole plankton and phytoplankton. So, in terms of biology and deep sea biology, but aquaculture was not part of the program. Biological applications were not part of the program. [It] wasn't pure science.

Levin:

You didn't really care about producing antibiotics.

Lonardi:

Well, that was an application actually. You're right. Roels did some work in antibiotics from the sea. Drugs from the sea was his paper. But, I mean, aquaculture was an economical division of biology, of production of biological resources as fish and crustaceans and things like that, you know. "Which I recall —

Levin:

Do you think that environmental consciousness in Argentina, of the type that was starting to be felt a little bit at Lamont, and then more so outside of Lamont, Rachel Carson and Silent Spring, her book, has been felt in Argentina? That there has been an environmental consciousness, an environmental movement towards conservation in Argentina?

Lonardi:

Yes, there are many. Look away from the private sources and private environment. Yes, there are. There have always been but with different grades, different levels of understanding and commitment and objectives. But I think there are non-governmental organizations related to environment you might find five hundred, of those six are large. And they are working, I mean, in different aspects. But I don't know if the question goes back to the Lamont era or —?

Levin:

Yes. About, you were still here, of course, at the time but. I mean at Lamont until ‘69, but when you got back was there any —?

Lonardi:

Oh no. There was very little.

Levin:

Very little.

Lonardi:

Relating to the sea was very little. It has been a growing phenomenon; still a long way to go.

Levin:

Is there anything that you remember about your time at Lamont that you feel that we haven't covered in talking; stories that you might have about people or events that occurred while you were there?

Lonardi:

Well, yes. There's a lot to say about Lamont. And you can say that at one time Lamont was a very tight group of people that working for the same purpose. And under the leadership of a person that had three capabilities or talents. One was the scientific. The other was in leadership conditions. And the third was the administrative skills. So as a leader he [Ewing] was a strong leader. So you had three talents together which makes the miracle happen. So everybody is happy, at times happy enough to stay and to keep going. With little pay and sacrifice, but with a common purpose. So this is what made things happen. And if you don't have these three components [it is] very difficult to have a successful enterprise of this sort. Which is when you have sacrifice as one of — as a way of living, you know. So I think that was the secret of the time.

Levin:

Interesting. And you felt that you were part of a very tight organization, very close?

Lonardi:

Yes as a team: A working team with the same purpose and with the same acceptance of the rules of the game. Let's make the sacrifice because we're in good hands, and we are going to reach our goals in a reasonable time. It's like in little ways, like going to war or like doing something like more spiritual, like religious commitment of some sort. So you had to have a little of those. But in science, when you start to have good results because of this combination, then the people get more fiber and purpose. So it's easier to keep them together and to keep going with the same project.

Levin:

Did you think that all parts of Lamont were unified? For instance, the geochemists were strongly unified with the group? Or did you see groups like biology or geochemistry a little bit more isolated?

Lonardi:

No. They were independent. They had some independence for certain things. But they were closely followed and watched by the leader in other things. You had to know people to create a good level of leadership. Good conditions of leadership to handle people. And scientists' relationships are special things so some are more difficult to handle than others. So they need to have independence on one hand, but have to be closely watched and guided in other things, which they don't like. Like administration, and to get some results they felt that they have time to do it, but not enough time. And also to use your — and this is another talent — to use your talents and your capabilities in the best way, possible way, to exploit your capabilities. I mean if you're working for somebody else. So this is, in science, very important. For example, one of the guys, I mentioned to Doc. This fellow is doing is doing magnetics and he's a devoted biologist. This is crazy. And then he made a phone call and switched him from one place to another. And he said you're right. But because of the economics, because of the funding, he was working in magnetics, and he was a biologist. So in a way, it helped him to move faster to his, to his vocation. So this is what Doc [Ewing] knew how to handle also — How to use your talents. So that helps people get better themselves, to better themselves. And it's not visible sometimes. Sometimes you feel it. You know this guy responds better in this work and this job and the other, and is happier here and here. So it's a mixture of things. It's a combination of things but the combination of fundamentals, the essentials. And this is what Doc was very good at. I think.

Levin:

Did you think that he was always able to maintain this awareness? Even perhaps as his time became more taken with other matters — that he was able to continue to keep tabs on what was around him?

Lonardi:

Yes. Actually he devoted more time at the end to get more funds. And so Lamont became Lamont-Doherty. So he got more backing from the private donors. That was a merit. But he had to spend a lot of time lobbying for this purpose. So he would do that. Maybe something was weaker in the organization. I don't know, maybe. But he must have had help. I don't know why he left, actually. I wasn't there. I don't know the real reason why he left Lamont.

Levin:

Some students expressed concern that when Doc married Harriet [Greene], that they weren't able to get free access to Doc any more. That it was, they had to go more through Harriet. Did you ever notice that it was a difference after that? That it was harder to get to Doc?

Lonardi:

After whom?

Levin:

After Doc Ewing married Harriet.

Lonardi:

Oh, married Harriet. Well maybe, because she was trying to protect him from the outside world. It happened to me.

Levin:

Really?

Lonardi:

Yes. It was a little hard to talk to him sometimes because she was always covering, protecting his door. Maybe, I thought it was kind of natural — Sort of human. She wanted to protect him. And he needs that because he was always eager to hear what you had to say. Maybe. Yes. I didn't think about it in that way, but maybe. I was going to mention something I forgot. Doc, Dr. Ewing was very fond of dogs. But once I entered his room and the dog, it was a black dog, big one, fat, lots of hair. And it was kind of a baby, three years old, I think, two years old, three years old. And he was lying at his feet, at his foot, at his feet. And all of a sudden, when I opened the door, this guy jumps to me and bites me in the leg. It was a deep bite — One of the biggest teeth. And Dr. Ewing was furious with the dog. He didn't care about my leg, but he was furious with the dog; started to spank him. Well later I learned that he ordered the dog to be sacrificed because he was being taught to behave. And he failed many times. But the last error was myself.

Levin:

Oh no.

Lonardi:

Yes. That was the hardest. So he was told that the only way was to sacrifice the dog. I didn't know that. I learned that later. So I was always very cautious when entering his room with the dog. That was a very bad dog. But he always had the company, the company with a dog. And he had his own. In the door that was beside the desk, he had a bathroom, a small bathroom and there in the window he kept small, oh how do you call it, he kept growing things.

Levin:

Plants?

Lonardi:

Like carrots. Growing plants.

Levin:

He had a garden.

Lonardi:

Like a small garden; four or five things. He was very active, you know. And he was fond of growing plants. So he was always keeping his carrots. I mean, I haven't ever seen a carrot planted as a unit. So he had his own microcosms in different small cosmos. Small world.

Levin:

Just in that office.

Lonardi:

Yes, in the office.

Levin:

Where he spent most of his time.

Lonardi:

Yes. And I was, had the horror of witnessing him firing somebody on the phone that was calling from Alaska.

Levin:

Really.

Lonardi:

One of our friends, one of our companions, he had the responsibility of delivering some equipment to do work at sea with the Japanese I think. And he made a mistake of some sort. So the equipment appeared in some other place. And he reported to Doc [Ewing] about this inconvenience. So he said, you are fired, in the phone. But later on he rehired him again. But that was very dramatic, you know.

Levin:

Very much so. I think that's about it unless you remembered what you wanted to talk about before.

Lonardi:

No, I don't know. It's nothing that's — I don't know. I'm not sure that's why I don't want to talk.

Levin:

Well then we can end this interview session then.

Lonardi:

No. No. I mean I wasn't long enough to determine what happened with people and I didn't know each case. Why so and so left. Like some of the, some of the scientists and professors which left, like Jack [E.] Oliver, George Sutton. They left for better positions I think. So the team wasn't, was very heterogeneous. I mean not everybody was — There were two kinds of scientists at Lamont; those which were sea going and those which were not. That's something interesting.

Levin:

That is interesting.

Lonardi:

And Dr. Ewing, I think, preferred those which were sea going. That's one point. I mean getting into the —

Levin:

That would be natural because Ewing himself went to sea.

Lonardi:

Yes, because his data was, the one that most interested him was the one that came from the ocean. But he was very respectful of those who were doing seismology at land and things like that. But he knew that his strengths were coming from the sea, I think. I mean, his strength of spirit. I mean the most satisfying aspect for him was the know ledge that he was gaining from the sea. I think that was one point.

Levin:

Who would you have considered, or which scientists were mostly land scientists? What about Frank Press?

Lonardi:

There were seagoing and global interests. Interests in global phenomena. Two things. Phenomena of global extension. But, in fact, most of the people at Lamont were interested in global phenomena. But in practice, in terms of personal preference maybe, or personal interest, he [Ewing] was very concerned with the ocean data, with the ocean knowledge. Perhaps more than with the sea land based knowledge. I think that was one point.

Levin:

Interesting. That's very interesting.

Lonardi:

And so the seagoing people were kind of appealing to him as fellow travelers or fellow, how do you say, conspirator.

Levin:

Conspirators.

Lonardi:

Conspirators.

Levin:

So then that would probably extend to say to —

Lonardi:

What?

Levin:

That would probably extend to the geochemists as well, that group?

Lonardi:

Yes. The geochemists were sea going.

Levin:

They were?

Lonardi:

Some of them.

Levin:

Because that was —

Lonardi:

Not all of them because of the nature of the work.

Levin:

Like for instance, [J.] Laurence Kulp, would he be considered seagoing or not?

Lonardi:

Who?

Levin:

Laurence Kulp?

Lonardi:

I don't recall him, his name. Laurence Kulp, oh no, yes. Laurence Kulp was not sea going I think. But he was a good scientist. And, I mean, Dr. Ewing, I think was on very good terms with him. Cooperate. But he left early. He was doing analysis of bone.

Levin:

Yes.

Lonardi:

Age of —

Levin:

Strontium.

Lonardi:

Radiation; Radio isotopes in bones. And, yes he left. But would you say that the golden age of Lamont was between the sixties and seventies?

Levin:

Yes or even, maybe even a little bit before, when it first got founded even.

Lonardi:

'55 to '70. I think so. Well I don't know what happened later. I mean afterwards. Exactly what happened. More or less, but I don't know exactly what happened. But according to the — in comparison with other institutions, I think the golden age was between '55 and '70 because there were four large institutions, oceanographic, seagoing institutions in the States: Scripps [Institute of Oceanography], Woods Hole, Lamont and the University of Miami. Those were the large, the ones with the largest budgets and ships.

Levin:

You mentioned before the characteristics that Ewing had that made Lamont work. His science, administration, and —

Lonardi:

Leadership.

Levin:

His leadership. Was there anything else particularly about Lamont that made it function so well? That you saw really held it together during those years? That perhaps made it so productive, more so than the other institutes?

Lonardi:

The findings — The original findings. The things that made Lamont, gave Lamont prestige. It was the early discoveries that there was a puzzle in the earth that was started to get discovered, uncovered or solved. Like mid-Atlantic ridge, coincidence that earthquake epicenters coincided with the ridges of the ocean. Some aspects of the sound propagation with SOFAR [Sound Fixing and Ranging] Channel also. Those things gave — the behavior of the ocean in certain ways, which were not known before and the — some findings in the sedimentation of the floor of the ocean, which were unknown, and were little known and similarities which were striking. And differences which were inexplicable. Because of the — one of many secrets of Lamont was to be able to compile tremendous amount of data in a relatively short time. And that was obtained with common sense and in a systematic way, and with loyalty to the objectives. So we were very productive in data and very productive in analysis of the data. And there was an urge, and that was very important, there was an urge in Dr. Ewing which transpired to the others. It inspired all co-workers to show their results in a scientific way as fast as possible.

Levin:

To get published quickly.

Lonardi:

To publish as soon as possible. So that had to be done in hours or days and in the best possible magazine. So that was another one of the characteristics of Dr. Ewing as this group of people now working with him. Make sense?

Levin:

That's fine.

Lonardi:

And I think that was very characteristic of Lamont, of Dr. Ewing. He would try to analyze the data immediately. And so the data was pouring and pouring in. And his system of controlling that everybody was on top of good data is given by the fact that he would monitor in a daily fashion which kind of information of data was being collected in each site by receiving short messages by radio. You have to produce a message to him, by being a chief scientist, the report; a daily report of the data being collected. And in some way, if the collection was successful, for example, the core in this latitude and longitude, and the length of the core. The number was the length of the core in centimeters. Or volume of sediments, in suspension. The volume per liter. One number that he was monitoring the results in each, from far away, you know, from a distance. So he was following very closely the operation in daily fashion. That was another secret of his success.

Levin:

Do you think that there was ever a time that the need to get data out so quickly produced a lowering of the quality? Was there a time when perhaps something should have waited a little bit longer to go to print?

Lonardi:

Well, yes, maybe, but he knew that in the average he was going to get the most of it. I mean enough data to be able to get some results. But the other principle was that there was no sacrifice enough to keep things running. So you had to sacrifice. But you had to have a good reason not to have equipment running all the time. So it's, as I told you, leadership and administration. Supervising what the line is producing and how well. So they were teaching.

Levin:

Very good stuff.

Lonardi:

When you start to analyze and you find things that make sense. There is a reason behind, no? So it's not because he was charismatic. Beside his potential as a charismatic person, he was able to get the most out of the operation. He was efficient, and dedicated, efficient; had a purpose and a strong will. He was the first to sacrifice.

Levin:

So he set the example?

Lonardi:

Yes. He would go to sea and [?]. We lost one; the only person that died in front of me. I was on —

Levin:

You were there at the time?

Lonardi:

I was on watch with him. I was the first to see him on deck. John Hennion.

Levin:

That must have —

Lonardi:

An open stick exploded. And I threw the charges overboard, over the side. I threw the box, it goes on fire, and I threw it over the side because I didn't know if it was going to explode or not, but I mean that's — the longer these things burn, the worse for us; so, immediate reaction. You don't think too much about it, you just do it. So I was on watch and the fire was about two meters from him. He was right out of the door. And we were six hundred miles off Talcahuane, the Chilean port of Talcahuane. And we buried him at sea because we couldn't handle, we couldn't keep his body in the freezer. I think there were some problems. We had to bury him at sea also. So Dr. Ewing came immediately, to fly out. And talk to everybody. And reassure everybody that there was no danger and he had started to throw bombs himself.

Levin:

To show everything.

Lonardi:

The next leg he took over and he threw bombs during his watch to show that there was no danger. So that was —

Levin:

That must have been hard for everybody.

Lonardi:

So, yes, we had some real experiences. This creates also an atmosphere, you know, a kind of community among the seagoing scientists. All a pack, kind of a community. The family of men, you know.

Levin:

I imagine that at sea you get quite close.

Lonardi:

You face together the dangers of the work at sea and the joys of relaxing after a long work and everyone, with dinner and sleep and sharing. It's, well, I don't know how it is nowadays, but things are a little smoother I think on the scientific ships. It's a little more elegant, but at that time it was primitive. [It] was uncomfortable in a way. But it all depends, the age helps a lot. You're young. You don't care too much. You're a little hippie. So they were good times. And I almost lost my life. I'll tell you in secret. In one ship, it was an Argentina ship, Zapiola, which Doc arranged with the government of Argentina to send three guys. One was myself and two other technicians. And we went from Buenos Aires to Antarctica, Antarctica to South Africa, South Africa to Buenos Aires. We went all across the ocean. And we had fifteen days of storm. No, no. That was not the — I'm sorry. That was one hard time in terms of sailing, but I almost lost my life on Vema, on the Vema. Because I had — I was struck by a wave, and was thrown in the air at night. And I found an escape and that was my way over the side. Now I can tell. But you think really, it was crazy. So it was a mistake at Lamont that the safety on board was not complete. We were loose on deck with no ropes, safety ropes. That was a mistake.

Levin:

After that occurred, did you wear a rope?

Lonardi:

No, everything kept going the same way.

Levin:

The same way. Could you have put on a rope? Were there ropes available, even? Were there ropes on board that you could have used?

Lonardi:

Well, yes. Yes.

Levin:

Well, people — you just didn't?

Lonardi:

Everybody was, you know, was able to grab themselves to safety. But once it happened, it was not normal to be on deck when there was rough weather, high waves, was not normal at all. But before losing the equipment, we all went and pulled and pulled. But there were long strings of hydrophone. And we pulled and pulled and pulled, and we didn't think that it was dangerous. And so that was a mistake. You have to be trained for that. But here we are so to make a long story short.

Levin:

Great. Well thank you very much for this interview. It was very insightful.

Lonardi:

Well, I am very unhappy with my English. I can hear myself you know.