Oral History Transcript — Dr. Richard T. Arnold
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Doel: Testing, testing. One two three, three two one. One two three, three two one. We are now at volume —
Arnold: I think that, unfortunately, I don't have too much detailed information on my earlier members of the family. My paternal grandmother came from a French family.
Arnold: Damero (?). And her family fled to Southern England at the time of the French Revolution, to save their heads.
Arnold: So, I have just a little French blood in me, but not very much.
Doel: Right. And from what you're saying, I gather that German was not spoken at all at home. Your parents didn't have a fluency.
Arnold: No. As a matter of fact, my mother — well, they both spoke very good English, my mother spoke quiet good Welch, but they were not German speaking.
Doel: Right. Right. I'm wondering whether science was something that your parents — either of your parents — had an interest in. Do you recall discussing science at home as you were growing up?
Arnold: No. I didn't. And neither my father nor my mother, they had nothing more than grammar school educations. I think they were bright people, and they were able to solve any of the family problems that seemed to rise.
Arnold: But in terms of formal schooling and because of their background, they had essentially nothing more than — my father, after coming to this country, did take some night school courses, and correspondence courses. But he was very analytical in his thinking. He loved mathematics, and ultimately, this served him in good stead, because he advanced with the Pennsylvania Rail Road in the mechanical areas.
Arnold: And one of the tasks that he had assigned to him early on, was to go to an area where a train had been wrecked, and from the condition of the wreckage decide what should be done with this piece of equipment, whether it be an engine or a freight car, or what not. And whether it should be completely destroyed or whether, economically, it was better to repair it. And he loved dealing with numbers, and I have followed through on that score, reasonably well.
Arnold: But my parents were very concerned about the education of the children. I have a brother — I had a brother, who's now dead — my sister, who's two years older than I, is still alive. I'm 81 and she is 83.
Arnold: And I had an interesting experience, as a youngster, I attended grammar school number 54 in Indianapolis, and I loved the school, and in the — when I got to the fifth grade —
Arnold: Well, I should say that the Indianapolis Public School at that time was split into two halves. Four and a half months, and four and a half months, with a summer vacation.
Arnold: And when I was in the fifth grade, my mother got a call from the principle saying "We'd like to skip Richard through half a year."
Arnold: Well my mother, knowing nothing about our school system, thought that that was a compliment, and patted me on the head, and said you're a good boy, you know, keep doing the same thing. And when I got to the seventh grade, she got another call, saying that they wanted to skip me through half of the seventh grade. And again, my mother was pleased, and of course, I was pleased to please her.
Arnold: So, they put me in the eighth grade, and that was an interesting and disturbing experience, because at that time, and it may still be the same now, the eighth grade students were divided into two categories, one of which took algebra, and Latin, and the other's did not. And I was — after skipping half the seventh year — I was put in the group in the category that took Latin and algebra. Well, after two or three weeks of being in the Latin class, I was horrified, because I didn't know what was going on. And I told my mother, and I said, "You know, Mother, the algebra's nothing at all, but I don't know what these people are talking about in the Latin class. They're talking about such things as gerunds, and participial phrases, and things of this sort." I said, "I don't understand." She said, "Richard, go and see the principle." So, I went to the principle and told her told her what my concern was. She said, "Richard, just don't go to the Latin class. I'll talk with your Latin teacher and tell her you're not going to take Latin. How's the algebra?" Where she apparently expected that I was going to have more problems with it. I said, "There's nothing at all. I love the algebra, but I don't like the Latin." It was four or five years later that I realized what the problem was. In the Indianapolis schools at the time, the English grammar, which was taught, was concentrated in the half of the seventh grade that I skipped through. I didn't know very much English grammar.
Doel: Right. All of the structure came —
Arnold: All the structure that I really needed, to learn the Latin. But what — it had the bad effect on me, of making me steer clear of foreign languages. And because it was the first time in my life when I'd ever been confronted with a problem that I felt I couldn't solve very well. And so I developed a certain distain for foreign language, until I got into my undergraduate work at Southern Illinois University.
Doel: Okay. One thing —
Arnold: I had a French teacher there who was marvelous. And as a freshmen, she not only taught me, I think, quite a lot of French, but she taught me more about the structure of my mother tongue, English.
Arnold: Than I had ever learned in any English courses in my life.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: Am I leading you astray?
Doel: No, this is very interesting. I wanted — if I can interrupt for a moment — I wonder if there were memorable teachers for you in the sciences when you were still in Indianapolis?
Arnold: Not so much in Indianapolis. As I say, I graduated from Grammar School a year early, and I attended Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis for one year. That was the year of 1926.
Arnold: And my father was transferred from Indianapolis to St. Louis at the end of my freshman high school year, and my mother didn't want to live in St. Louis, and so they bought a house in Collinsville, Illinois, which is on the Illinois side of the river there.
Arnold: And I went to the Collinsville High School for three years. I had a very good math teacher there. A man by the name of Harry Ramal (?), in fact, he only died this last year, and I have corresponded with him through Christmas Cards during this period of about 70 years.
Doel: Yes. Yes.
Arnold: Harry Ramal was, I think, an outstanding high school mathematics teacher. And I loved the mathematics. I had a chemistry teacher, who, unfortunately, didn't know an awful lot of chemistry, he was a better football coach, and he was the football coach of the high school, but I fell in love with chemistry, in spite of my teacher. And at the end of my — well, after I had graduated from high school, which was 1930, I told my father that I had developed this interest in chemistry. And he said, "I have a very good friend who is in charge of the analytical chemical laboratory of the American Zoo Company in East St. Louis, and maybe he has a job for you during the summer. This would help you decide whether or not you're really interested or not." That was a nice experience, because this chap not only showed me the analytical methods they were using, if he had to do something special, for example, determinations of arsenic on these zinc oars that came in on the freight car. It was a good size plant, they would consume four or five gondola cars of zinc oar per day. Well, they showed me how to take samples to analyze these so that you would get something which was statistically interesting and useful. And if he had some special analysis to run, for example, a gold or mercury, or arsenic, for example, he would come down and say, "Dick, I'm going to do this analysis this afternoon, and I think you would be interested, so, you know, get ahead of your work here, and come up and see me at two o'clock."
Doel: Mm-Hum. Right.
Arnold: "And I want you to stay with me so that you can see what I'm doing, and how I get the results."
Doel: So you had direct exposure to laboratory practice during that time?
Arnold: I had a direct approach. And that was in the summer following my high school graduation.
Arnold: Because of my parent's foreign backgrounds, they not only knew very little about our school system as such, they knew nothing about universities. A friend of mine had gone to Southern Illinois, he was a year ahead of me, and he liked it very much and it was primarily because of him that I went to Southern Illinois University as a freshman.
Doel: Mm-Hum. I wonder if just before we turn to that, I was curious if, when you mentioned your interest in chemistry as it grew from that class, were you also reading any of the outside literature at the time? Slosson's Creative Chemistry would have come out just a little bit before that. Do you remember reading any of that when you were in high school?
Arnold: Not anything that was really serious in retrospect. The truth of the matter is, I was sort of unaware of what was available. I had a very special attachment to my parents, and I don't want anything that I say, you know, to indicate otherwise.
Arnold: But, if I had been born into a family where my parents were college graduates, you know, and were keenly aware of what was available, I probably would have had a different kind of background.
Arnold: As it was, I sort of had to shift from myself, and it wasn't that my parents didn't try, they tried desperately hard to encourage me, but they were not in a position to advise me very much.
Arnold: But, in any event, when I went to Southern Illinois University I had a marvelous time. It was a small institution at the time. There were only about 1800 students, but there were four professors of chemistry, all relatively young men, and in the four major fields of chemistry. One of them was primarily a physical chemist.
Arnold: One was a bio chemist, one was an analytical chemist, and one was an inorganic chemist. And they not only were marvelous undergraduate teachers of chemistry, but they were enthusiastic about what they were doing, and they were strict, and well informed. And they were commonly known amongst the students there at the time as the four horsemen.
Arnold: And they were friendly amongst — there was a very close friendship amongst the four men themselves, but they did wonders for students who had any interest in chemistry at all. And when I graduated in 1934, I was hardly aware of such things as graduate school, except that I had learned from them that they had — all had Ph.D. degrees from universities, and they taught me more about the nature and existence of graduate school and graduate degrees.
Arnold: And in the spring prior to my graduation, I learned that they had been in touch with the chemistry department at Illinois, in Urbana (?).
Arnold: And I got a letter from the university saying that they could not give me a teaching assistant-ship, or a fellowship, but they would give me a tuition free scholarship, and I decided that with my parents, that if I didn't have to pay tuition, I could certainly take care of my own room and board.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum. I wanted to ask, just before we talk about your period of time at the University of Illinois, you're impressions generally about the courses that you were taking in all departments at — or at least the sciences — at Southern Illinois, was there much contact between the chemists that you mentioned and, say, the mathematics department and other science departments on campus?
Arnold: Yes, there was. And I think in part, it was the result of the institution being relatively small. And also there were several young men in each of those departments who were still very enthusiastic about what they were doing.
Arnold: I mentioned the four men in chemistry.
Arnold: There was a physicist by the name of Otis Young.
Arnold: Y-O-U-N-G. And Otis Young was a very bright person. He had taken his Ph.D. in physics at Illinois, and had good contacts there in physics. We had several good math teachers, the man who taught me calculus, for example, I thought was an outstanding teacher. In fact, all my math teachers were really quite good, and I fell in love with mathematics. There was a time when I thought maybe that's what I would do, go to mathematics instead of chemistry, but chemistry finally won out.
Doel: But it was a real struggle for you during your undergraduate years, between the two?
Arnold: Right. Right. The interesting thing is, and I've got — if you can shut that off for just a minute.
Something (?) of (?) a (?) line (?).
Arnold: And they a special article here on both the four horsemen. These four chemists that I mentioned.
Arnold: There are two of them left. Van Lente and Neckers. Neckers is the chairman for many years, and the chemistry building there is named after him now. But there were the four horsemen as I knew them. Van Lente, a physical chemist.
Arnold: T. W. Abbot, who was an organic chemist, and Neckers, who was inorganic, and analytical, and Scott who was a biochemist.
Arnold: And this picture was actually taken when I was an undergraduate there, so I remembered the — you know, I remember every —
Doel: You remember the office.
Arnold: I remember the office and the positions they sat there.
Doel: Right. It's very interesting to see that all of them are in the same room together, as opposed to being in —
Arnold: They were all in the same room together.
Arnold: And they had — you see a chair back here.
Arnold: And when a student would come in for some help, why they would just pull this chair over by the desk.
Doel: By which ever desk.
Arnold: By which ever desk was available.
Doel: Right. Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: But that's a picture of the four horsemen.
Doel: It's very interesting. Yeah.
Arnold: I was there during that very exciting time.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum. Were many of them Illinois graduates?
Arnold: Yes they were. As a matter of fact — well, Van Lente took his Ph.D. in physical chemistry at Michigan, but Doc Abbot took his degree at University of Indiana. Neckers and Scott where both Ph.Ds. from the University of Illinois.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Interesting.
Arnold: Well, this brought back a lot of —
Doel: I'm sure it did. Yeah. When you talked with them about graduate school, did any of them suggest another possibility besides the University of Illinois, or did you find yourself pointed in that direction from early on?
Arnold: Well, I was — how shall I put this? — I think I was so ignorant of the details the only thing I knew was that there were advanced degrees.
Arnold: And that there were only major universities around the country that gave such degrees, but most institutions didn't have graduate schools, and I was guided almost solely by the advice that those men gave me. And they have been in touch with Roger Adams, who was chairman of chemistry at Illinois, and apparently recommended me to them, and it was primarily through his efforts, I think, that I was given a tuition free scholarship.
Doel: You hadn't met Roger Adams, or had you, at that point?
Arnold: No, I hadn't, and there had been only one student who majored in chemistry from Southern Illinois who preceded me, his name was Fierke.
Arnold: F-I-E-R-K-E. I'm trying to think of his first name. But he went as a graduate student, and he was doing apparently reasonably good work in bio chemistry, as a graduate student. But he was the only person who preceded me from Southern Illinois in this transition to the University of Illinois at the graduate level.
Doel: He'd been a few years before you?
Arnold: He was two years ahead of me. He was in the class of '32, and I was in '34, from Southern Illinois. Well, I got to the University of Illinois through that scholarship, and I had an interesting experience when I first arrived. Roger Adams had the practice of having all of the incoming graduates to literally line up and he went through and talked to each one of them about their programs, and it came my turn, I introduced myself to him, and he looked at my record and he said, "Well, you should take this course, and this course, and this course." And finally — Well, let me enumerate some of the courses. He said, "All of our incoming organic students take this general graduate survey in organic chemistry. And then there's an advanced inorganic course, which you should take." He said, "All of our people take a course in library work, so they know how to use a library."
Doel: That's interesting.
Arnold: He said, "We give that course ourselves in this department, but we have someone who's highly qualified to do it." And then I took a course in qualitative organic chemistry, which all the graduate students took.
Arnold: And —
Doel: If we could just pause for one moment.
Arnold: At that time, at Illinois, throughout the university, one majored in a given department, the so-called inside major, and then you could take an inside minor. And then there was the so-called outside minor. Now the outside minor could be taken in any part of the university, any department the student wanted. So, it gave us an opportunity to make a certain selection.
Arnold: Well, the upshot of this was that I told Dr. Adams that I wanted to major in organic chemistry, and I wanted to minor in physical chemistry, and I wanted to take mathematics as my outside minor. Well, he agreed to all of that. And we kept writing these courses down, and finally — well I, then the math course — in the math I was signed up to take a course in differential equations. And I took (???) in physical chemistry. Well, the upshot was that including that course in chemical library, he had me signed up for seven courses. Well, I had already talked to some of my friends of a few days, and learned that the people from the good institutions, from Princeton and Minnesota, and others, were all signed up just for four courses. So, we when he finally had seven courses, I said, "Well, Dr. Adams, most of the people I know are signing up for four courses. Do I have to take all seven of these?" And he said, "Frankly we don't know much about your institution. So," he said, "why don't you just — you start to take these courses, and in a month drop in and see me and tell me how it's going." So —
Doel: That's a difficult thing to hear.
Arnold: So being very obedient, I was in class all the time. And that included a laboratory course in advanced physical chemistry. Well, in any event, at the end of the month, or four or five weeks, I went around to see him, and he said, "How's it going?" And I said, "I don't know, I'm in class all of time." And I said, "I don't know because we really haven't had any major exams yet." And he said, "Well, that's great. If everything's on track, just keep going and drop in at another month and talk to me." Well, in the meantime, I did have some examinations. Well, to make a long story short, at the end of the semester, I had made six 'A's and a 'B', and again we went through his office to register, and he got up to me and he looked at my record, and he laughed. He said, "So you made six 'A's and a 'B'." And I said, "Yes." He said, "That's all I wanted to know." From then on I had so few courses to take it was sort of comical. And in addition to that, he said, "Our department has been given seven research fellowships," and he said, "these are going to be selected of the qualitative examinations that are given in the fall." And he said, "Our faculty has agreed that we should distribute these based entirely on this set of exams that were given."
Arnold: So prior to going into my second year of graduate work then, I knew that in the first week we would take these four examinations. So called qualitative examinations, one in each of the major fields of chemistry. And about a week after the exams were taken, my professor, R.C. Fuson, came around, and he said, "Dick, I'm happy to tell you that you have been given one of these research fellowships for the remainder of your period here at Illinois." Well, I was thrilled, of course, because up to then I had been supporting myself. And the half time teaching assistance — I never will forget this — I thought it was an international constant. We were getting $42.00 a month.
Arnold: As half time teaching assistants, and my fellowship paid me $75.00 a month. I felt like I was in the bucks.
Doel: You were living as a king at time.
Arnold: Yes. At any event, I had a wonderful time as a graduate student.
Doel: But that must have been extra-ordinarily difficult to both support yourself and take the seven courses in your initial period of time at Illinois.
Arnold: Well, I'll tell you, when the first semester was finished, I had — and of course the final exams, you know, are the three hour exams — or they were then — so I had seven exams Monday, two on Monday, Monday morning, Monday afternoon. Tuesday morning, Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday morning, Wednesday afternoon, and Thursday morning. And I can tell you that Thursday at noon, after taking those seven exams, I was exhausted. I was just exhausted.
Doel: I'm sure.
Arnold: But it went well. And the faculty at Illinois was marvelous to me. I just couldn't, you know, ask for anything more. It was a wonderful experience, and when I got my Ph.D. in 1937, as you know, there weren't very many positions available.
Doel: I wonder if before we talk about that, I'm curious, the people that you came to be close with at Illinois, I want to talk about Adams as well, but who else on the faculty did you come to know fairly well in this period?
Arnold: Well, I knew all the organic chemists well. Roger Adams, C. S. Marvel, M-A-R-V-E-L.
Arnold: And Ralph Shriner. R. L. Shriner. S-H-R-I-N-E-R.
Arnold: And of course, Bob, Robert, R. C. Fuson. F-U-S-O-N. Who was my major advisor. My thesis advisor.
Arnold: And those people I — And then there was a very young faculty member, Snyder, Harold Snyder, whom I got to know very well, and we became close friends. And Harold just died this last year. But the four senior people, Adams, Marvel, Shriner, and Fuson, I knew very well indeed, and they helped me in ways in which I probably don't even understand. They were all helpful. It was a marvelous experience. I meant to tell you — I told you that we had to take an inside major and an inside minor, and then outside minor.
Arnold: And when we registered for the second semester, during my first year there, I went to Professor Rodebush, who was chairman of physical chemistry, and he asked me to talk with him, and he said, "You’re signed up with mathematics as an outside minor." And I said, "Yes." And he said, "You've had enough mathematics, why don't you go over and take your outside minor in physics." And I said, "Well, Professor Rodebush, I've already completed the course in differential equations, and you know, half of my outside finder is finished." And, oh he said, "Forget it. Go to physics and take a couple of courses over there." So I dropped my outside minor in mathematics and switched over to physics as an outside minor and that required taking two graduate level courses in physics. And I remember taking a course in advanced electricity through gasses, which a chap by the name of Nip (?) gave, which was very interesting. And I took another on advanced electrical measurements, which was a graduate level course, and that constituted my outside minor in physics. So I had one course in mathematics that had differential equations, which I enjoyed, but didn't really use towards graduation.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum. Right. When you got to know people like your graduate advisory and Adams, did you meet socially after hours, or was most of the interaction during the day at the university?
Arnold: I would say that for most of the first year, and then part of the second year students, it was most of it was at the university, very little of it was social. With one major exception that I'll mention. But, I think that by the time we got to the third year, then there was a considerable social interaction between the faculty members and the graduate students. They regarded us as colleagues more or less, and each faculty member, I think, played a major role in getting acquainted socially with their students. We always had a seminar, and, what we called our own internal seminar, the graduate students who worked with the (???) professor, would meet and we would make presentations which he would ask us to make about our own work. And then afterwards, we would go over to a little restaurant in Urbana and have a beer or something of this sort.
Arnold: Once in a while we'd go over and bowl a few lines, and Bob was — he was formal enough so that, you know, we knew that he was the professor.
Arnold: But the social contacts became quite strong. And that was true, I think, of the other men on the faculty too. They got — well, most of the first years’ work was for the student was in courses anyway, and they didn't — they had just started a research problem, you know, and hadn't really gotten into it yet, very much.
Arnold: And by the time we got around to our second year, and especially the last year.
Arnold: I would say that the social relations were quite close.
Doel: How did you come to your particular dissertation topic?
Arnold: I was very much interested in what ultimately became known as reaction mechanisms, in organic chemistry.
Arnold: And I think part of this stemmed from my interest in quantitative things. The mathematics and in physics, but I became very much interested in how organic molecules really interact, you know, when a reaction takes place?
Arnold: What's the structure of this intermediate thing? You start here with a+b, and you end up over here with n products, c+d.
Arnold: The question is, what is this structure, or these structures like in between?
Arnold: We knock all of the reaction complex.
Arnold: And Bob Fuson had, of that group — he was more interested in the way organic molecules reacted than any of the others at Illinois at the time. And I think it was in large part because of his interest in reaction mechanisms that attracted me to him, and in a sense, I suppose, me to him. Because once he knew I was interested in the topic, I think the bond between us grew. And although, by today's standards, though my thesis doesn't look very profound, but it was different than most of them at the time.
Doel: Mm-Hum. And it would sound that it was one of the more mathematically quantitative topics for those who were —
Arnold: Well, I think the ideas were quantitative. I think the kinds of data that we were getting what sort of quality. We could guess pretty well with certain kinds of reactions what the end products would be instead of doing an experiment and then finding out what the end products are, I was interested in starting with certain things and predicting what the end products ought to be.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: And so in that sense it was not terribly mathematical.
Doel: I see.
Arnold: The end by today's standards.
Doel: Right. Right.
Arnold: But we tried to dream up some examples which weren't in the literature as yet, in saying, "We have no basis — we have no literature basis for predicting that this would be the case, but on the basis of our concepts, where we're starting from, in this case a+b ought to give this particular c+d."
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: And then we'd do the experiment to find out in fact what the real worlds like.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: And Bob Fuson had nurtured me, and when I left Illinois in 1937 — well, let me say that before then, there were very few positions available.
Doel: Right. This is still the great depression time.
Arnold: That was part of the great depression time, yes. And in the spring of 1937 Bob Fuson called me into his office — he was a Minnesota Ph.D., and he knew the people at Minnesota very well. And he said, "Dick, you have indicated that you would like to teach." He said, "Frankly, so far as I know at the moment, there are only two decent beginning teaching positions available. One's at the University of Chicago, and one — they have an opening at Minnesota." And he said, "If you will promise me not to embarrass the University of Illinois, I'd like to recommend you for these," he said, "which attracts you?" And I said, "Frankly, I'm not in a very good position to make a choice between these two." And he said, "Well, of course I have strong feelings about Minnesota and the people there, and," he said, "I think you would fit in and they would help you to grow at Minnesota." And I said, "I'm thrilled." So he called me in the afternoon and he said, "I just talked to Lee Irwin Smith at Minnesota, and he said you're going to get a letter, and they're going to offer you this job. And he hopes you take it." Which actually happened.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: And so I went to Minnesota in the fall of 1937.
Doel: I was curious — and I do want to talk to you a little bit more about your Minnesota work — when we were talking a moment ago, I was curious if you and Bob Fuson talked about the interface between experiment and theory. Was this something that was a topic that you or Roger Adams, or others, often discussed?
Arnold: Roger Adams was a classical, but very outstanding organic chemist.
Arnold: But Roger had — I think it's safe to say Roger had little interest in, and certainly, little knowledge of reaction mechanisms.
Arnold: He was a classical organic chemist of the first magnitude. Everybody realized that he did outstanding work, but his interests were primarily in natural products, and his interests certainly weren't in reaction mechanisms. He did do one piece of work on what we called five funnels, that is molecules containing aromatic ring systems like so.
Arnold: And normally, these will tend to lie in a plain, but if you put large groups here and here, which interfere with each other, as these two semi-plains try to cross, there's stereo (?) hindrance, there's a blocking of this rotation.
Arnold: And Roger did publish a series of papers on this topic of sterically hindered bio funnels, which was kind of a masterpiece really. He did a beautiful job. But that was the closest he ever came to doing anything which was, in a sense, quantitative in organic chemistry.
Doel: When was it that Adams did that work? Was that during the time that you were at Illinois?
Arnold: Well, no, it really — well, he was still doing a little bit of that, but it preceded me. I would say that most of that came during the period of 1927 and eight, to about 1934.
Arnold: And that, in retrospect, I think, that turned out to be a classical piece of work, but he was primarily interested in synthesis, and he had a special interest in natural products. And I am not sure of this, and since he's dead, I'll never know for sure, but I feel quite certain that — see, when Roger took his degree at Harvard, he followed that by a year in Germany.
Arnold: And he spent that year with Richard Milstrauder (?).
Arnold: And Milstrauder was an outstanding person who had a great interest in natural products. He was interested in compound — colored compounds in ordinary flowers.
Arnold: The rose reds, and the chemistry of these. And the chemistry of the yellows of carrots, and squash, and such things. And he did a beautiful piece of work on the chemistry of the common flowers and the coloring materials. And Roger Adams, I'm sure, developed a great interest in these quote "natural" products.
Arnold: While he was with Milstrauder as a post-doctorate fellow.
Arnold: Because when he came back to this country, he started that work, and he stated that he always had a little bit of "natural" product chemistry going on.
Doel: Mm-Hum. It was clearly reflected in the interest of many of his own students who did work in dyes and many related classical problems.
Arnold: Exactly. And I'm sure that — well, I don't think anyone at Harvard at the time that Roger took his degree, was working in the field of "natural" products. And I think that Roger picked that up while he was Milstrauder.
Doel: That's an interesting observation.
Arnold: Yes, in Germany.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: I feel very confident that that's true.
Doel: Yeah. Certainly that was a very strong tradition in Germany, at the time given the industry interest who certainly would have had that reinforced in being there.
Arnold: And Roger developed a great interest in stereochemistry. Which again he picked up primarily, I think, in Germany.
Doel: Right. What sort of an impression did you have of Roger Adams? Given his responsibilities of the department chairman, did you come into much contact with him?
Arnold: Oh yes, and Roger and I became very, very close friends. I will say that Roger occupied a special place at Illinois, as chairman of the department and he was not only an outstanding chemist, world renowned, really, but he was a superb department chairman. Because of the positions, and the status that he assumed, and acquired, he could essentially serve as a benign dictator.
Arnold: And when Roger said, "We're going to do it this way," nobody objected.
Doel: Right. His nickname was the chief, as I recall.
Arnold: The chief. He was the chief, and that term was even used by his colleagues, you know, the other senior faculty members. It wasn't just the students who called him the chief.
Doel: I hadn't known that, that's interesting.
Arnold: His own colleagues, Bob Fuson and Speed Marvel, Rodebush, they all — everybody referred to him as the chief. And I can remember when — as a graduate student, we had to take two foreign languages. We had to pass exams, and have a quota rating knowledge of two foreign languages.
Arnold: Well, I didn't have any problem with the French because I'd had a very good French course earlier.
Doel: Right, that was when you were at Southern Illinois.
Arnold: That's when I was at Southern Illinois, I was a freshman. But I had never had a course in German, and I was told to get one of those fellowships, that I mentioned earlier.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Yes.
Arnold: We had to have two foreign languages behind us. Well, I'd already taken the French exam, so I just decided that I'd take the summer off and just study German, but I forgot to notify Dr. Carmichael's (?) office, the graduate school office, that I wanted to take the German exam, and I'd forgotten about the necessity of doing that. So, when the exam was announced, I went down to the office — Roger's office — and told his secretary that I had made a mistake, that I had not signed up for the chairman exam.
Arnold: And she chastised me for doing that. She got on the phone, she called Dr. Carmichael's secretary, and said, "One of our students, Richard Arnold, intended to take the German exam, next week, but he failed to notify your office. So please put his name down on that list."
Arnold: And I guess this person at the other end said, "Thank you, but no, he just can't take it at this time, the list is already complete, we've typed it up etc. etc. etc." Finally, she said, "Roger Adams wants his name put on the list." And the person on the other end regretfully said, "Okay."
Arnold: So I was able to take the German exam and pass, otherwise I wouldn't have gotten the fellowship. So, you know, a lot of the errors which I made, and errors of this kind, somehow Roger's office managed to get us out of trouble.
Doel: Mm-Hum. And these seem to be the normal things that we all run into, but on the other hand, Adams seems particularly effective in being able to take care of the students.
Arnold: You know that the major chemistry building at Illinois is named after Roger Adams?
Doel: That's right. Yeah, that's right.
Doel: Right. Right. I'm curious, what you're impressions were when you first arrived at Minnesota. Of the institution, of the department, and the colleagues that (???) (???) (???)
Arnold: Well, I accepted a position at Minnesota without having visited there.
Arnold: But after — when the semester ended and I had my degree, and I'd gone through the graduation of the summer, or the spring, of 1937, I had a letter offering me the job, and I had a copy of my letter back to them accepting it.
Arnold: So that was clear. The contractual arrangements were fine, but I had hadn't visited Minnesota, and that summer I got on the phone, I called Professor Smith, Lee Lear Von Smith and told him that I would like to come up and get acquainted with him and visit the department for a few days before school started.
Arnold: Well, he told me that I was welcome at any time, that he was going on vacation, but he said he would be back at a certain date, and maybe I should wait until he got back, and I did. But I went up there, and I stayed about three or four days, before coming home to get ready to make my major move, and it was very pleasant. Lee Smith was a bachelor, a Harvard Ph.D. and very proud of it.
Doel: Who had he trained under at Harvard?
Arnold: E.P. Kohler.
Arnold: And he was an undergraduate at Ohio State, he was born and raised in Canton, Ohio, and he did his undergraduate work at Ohio State, and his graduate work at Harvard. But Lee, there had been a bad experience at Minnesota, which I learned about on this trip. I was curious as to why they had an opening.
Arnold: And Lee said, "Well, let me tell you in confidence what happened." He said, "Three years ago we had an opening, but when Paul Bartlett left here" — Paul Bartlett had taken his degree at, well, he was a Harvard man from way back, and he had been at Minnesota for about five years, and he got a call to go back to Harvard, and they filled that position by an MIT Ph.D. named Thompson, Al Thompson. And I don't know what happened, but Al Thompson who's record in the paper looked so very good got started on a problem and then he wouldn't — he'd push it off to one side and then he'd go over and start another one, and the upshot was that three or four years passed without Thompson publishing anything. And that was — Lee said, "There was nothing we could do about this. You know, he's so bright and everybody expected great things from him, and all you find now are bits and pieces of different problems sitting around here. And we just couldn't tolerate that. And we just had a bad experience; he was not doing anything that was publishable." Then he looked at me and I said, "Do you have any suggestions for me?" And he said, "Look, Dick, I don't care what you do, but for God's sake, do something." [laughter] And I will never forget that conversation. He had had such a bad experience, with Al Thompson, and I felt sorry for Al. I got to know Al later on; I became acquainted with him at the next General ACS Meeting. He was still looking for a job, and he told me, "Well, I don't know what happened at Minnesota, but they got rid of me."
Arnold: Turned out that I've never quite understood why, but it is a simple fact, that Thompson didn't do very much. And Lee said, "Dick, I don't care what you do, but for God's sakes, do something."
Doel: That's a wide open mandate.
Arnold: That was a wide open mandate. And my colleagues at Minnesota were marvelous. I couldn't ask for better. It was a wonderful experience; I spent 18 years at Minnesota.
Arnold: And thought I would never leave the place, and left only because of some rather special conditions, which we've agreed to talk about.
Doel: Right. Right. As I mentioned, unfortunately, we won't have time to really concentrate on all aspects of your Minnesota career. But I'm curious about what, if any, wartime work you took on during the mid-1940s?
Arnold: Well, I was drafted, and I went over to Fort Snelling, and trotted around in my birthday suit for two whole days, like everybody else.
Arnold: But when that was over, I then got a statement from my draft board that I was to stay at Minnesota and work on some special problems. And I was — by invitation, or by command — I was put on the antimalarial project. You know, malaria was a serious problem, of course, especially in the Pacific.
Doel: Particularly so, right.
Arnold: And the object of the game was to — well, in the first place, the submarine warfare was cutting off our sources of natural antimalarials, and we were given the assignment of developing a new antimalarial. The Germans had synthesized two — I'm trying to think of the specific names that they used for the at the time. Quinica (?). No, it wasn't Quinica. Plasma Queen was one. But in any event, we had picked up some of that material. I say 'we' the United States, picked up some of the German antimalarials that the German captives in North Africa were carrying with them.
Arnold: From those samples we soon learned what the structures of them were, and we decided that, well, they had worked so much on it, that maybe we should use those as models, which in fact, we did. Right at the start. But the upshot was that the antimalarial program turned out, I think, to be reasonably successful. The German compounds were pretty good antimalarial, but they were quite toxic, and oftentimes, the men would just throw the pills away and say, "I'd rather have malaria than to go through this." The vomiting and the nauseous were so great that many men couldn't take it.
Arnold: Then I did do a little work, but most of my wartime effort was on antimalarials.
Doel: And most of it was in Minnesota?
Arnold: All of it was in Minnesota.
Doel: All of it was in Minnesota.
Arnold: Now, our group would meet in Chicago, at the old Blackstone Hotel, about six times a year. About every other month, and we would report on what we had, and we'd get reports back from our biological people telling us whether the compounds were interesting, and active, and whether they were toxic or — more or less toxic than plasma etc.
Doel: Right. Right. Who were some of the other leading people that you would meet with in Chicago on this project? I'm just thinking a general way where the other major centers of work were in addition to yours at Minnesota.
Arnold: Well, I guess I can make — they had a very active group at Michigan. They had a very active group at Columbia. They had an active group at Illinois. They had an active group under Jack Johnson at Cornell. But I can't be sure of anywhere else.
Doel: That's fine. That's something we can add to the record later if we'd like.
Doel: Okay. A few other things I wanted to talk to you about in this period, you have the Gottingen fellowship, which came up in 1948, as I recall?
Arnold: That was '48-'49. That was a nice experience.
Doel: How did that come about? How did you plan for this working on Gottingen, on Berkeley?
Arnold: I wanted to do a couple of things; first of all, I knew that I could get a sabbatical for half a year from Minnesota.
Arnold: From the university. But I couldn't sustain myself for a whole year, and I wanted to do two quite different things. First, I wanted to have an experience in a laboratory where they spoke a foreign language.
Doel: This was consciously something that you really wanted to do.
Arnold: This was really something that I wanted to do, and specifically, I wanted to work in a German or a German speaking country in the field of "natural" products. I had never done any formal work in "natural" products. I had done a little work on certain turpines, such as beta pining, using it as a model, but I had never really worked on the structure of the "natural" product, that was of interest.
Arnold: And the other thing I wanted to do, which was quite different, up to that point, very few people were using radioisotopes. And Carbon-14s had become very common.
Arnold: And I decided what I would like to do would be to spend at least a year on sabbatical, and spend about half of the year with Professor Ruzicka, that's Leopold Ruzicka, at the "Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule" at Zurich.
Arnold: And on "natural" products, and he had won a Nobel Prize for his work in the field of steroids and try turpines, and such things.
Arnold: And then I wanted to come home and go out to the West Coast to Berkeley, and work at the radiation laboratory and learn and learn how to use Carbon-14 as an experimental tool.
Arnold: Because I wanted to use the Carbon-14 primarily as a tool in determining reaction mechanisms.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: I was getting back onto my old interests.
Arnold: Use it as a trace cell eliminate.
Doel: Right. Right. At the time, were you also aware of the work that was underway in Chicago at the — with people like Libby and others who were interested in Carbon-14?
Arnold: Yes. Not personally, but through the literature.
Arnold: Mel Calvin was the man with whom I worked. And I knew Mel Calvin personally.
Arnold: He, as you may know, won a Nobel Prize for his work in elucidating the initial steps in photosynthesis.
Arnold: And so I had written to Mel Calvin and asked him if I could come up and spend the last half of my sabbatical year with him in the radiation laboratory and told him that I literally wanted to come out as a student and learn how to use primarily C-14, as a research tool.
Arnold: And Mel was very kind, and offered me a place to work and I became reasonably adapted at making measurements with C-14 and using it.
Doel: Right. Right. What led to your interest to want to go to German, to work in a Germanic laboratory?
Arnold: Well, I think that I was always intrigued by the differences in points of view. I knew that certainly up to World War I — from about 1850 to roughly World War I — they developed these major centers in chemistry.
Arnold: Primarily in Germany and France and England.
Arnold: And I thought it would be interesting to go to a place where not only I could practice my German, but the — even there, the culture of the chemistry departments in England was quite different from that in Germany. In Germany they had The Professor.
Doel: Mm-Hum. The Institute Director.
Arnold: The Institute Director, right.
Arnold: The Institute Director. And he did, if I may say so, as he damn well pleased. And I thought that the English system was a little too close to what I was already accustomed to for me to learn very much.
Arnold: Well, because of the war, many of the German universities were damaged enough, and you know, things were hard enough to get, so that I thought that wouldn't be very profitable, so I turned to Switzerland, and to Ruzicka, in particular, because I was interested in the subject in which he was working.
Arnold: And he was — as Alfred Sloan would probably say, he was one of the last of the Mohicans. Ruzicka was an outstanding classical organic chemist who was the director. And he, in a sense as the Swiss say, the A-ta-hav (?) Technische Schule.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: Igo (?) nushus (?) is Technische Schule.
Doel: Yes, the rather famous one. Yes.
Arnold: Yes. And he occupied a famous stool, as the German would say. A chair in chemistry there, and I asked him one time, "You know, I've been interested in your operation, the way you operate here. Who decides when a student is ready to get the Ph.D. conferred on him?"
Arnold: He looked at me, he said, "Dr. Arnold, I determine that. When I think the student is ready to have the university, the Technische Schule (?), present him with Ph.D. degree, I tell them so, and the student gets a Ph.D. degree."
Doel: Simple as that.
Arnold: Yes, as simple as that. [laughter] You know?
Arnold: And it was fascinating, because this was his place, and the same way with admissions, I said, "How does a Swiss student get into the institute? Does he register from the university?" "Well, he registers in the university, but the university calls me, and says, 'Should we admit this student or not?' And if I don't want to admit him, we won't admit him. Nobody works in this institute except the persons I want to work."
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: That was it.
Doel: Right. Right. Well, that pattern certainly continued well after the war, and had been long —
Arnold: It did. And they're finally developed, you know, and the Germans have been partially Americanized on this score.
Arnold: Since the war.
Arnold: But largely because of when younger people, like Ralph Huesken, and Frigus Vogon, and some others.
Doel: Right. Right. But, as you say, those changes certainly occurred later, and particularly in the 1960s, but certainly not right after the war. Did you talk to Roger Adams about going to Zurich or the German lab?
Arnold: Oh yes, and he — I did, and Roger and Leopold Ruzicka were very close friends, very close friends. Each had a great respect for the other.
Arnold: But they each had a very keen sense of humor, and Ruzicka spoke to me on several occasions about his great respect and appreciation for Roger, and a funny thing happened, Ruzicka had made quite a lot of money on steroid patens that he had developed, but apparently he had an argument with our IRS concerning the taxes to paid on that income.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: And I told him one time that I had just heard from Roger Adams, and Roger wanted me to extend him a personal invitation, again, to come to the United States, and Ruzicka said, "Dr. Arnold, I can't afford to go to the United States. The minute I land in the United States, I'll be arrested by the IRS, who think I owe them a lot of money, and I don't believe that, but I can't run the risk." And he collected Dutch paintings, and he had a marvelous personal collection of Rembrandts and such things, in his home in Zurich. And he was a real deal-maker, the Canton of Zurich had increased his income tax payments to a point where he thought it was unreasonable. So he made a deal — can you imagine someone doing this in our country? — he made a deal with Canton of Zurich, that if they would not charge him anymore income tax, during his life, that upon his death, his total Dutch collection would be given to the Canton of Zurich, to the Kuntz Museum, the art museum, as a gift, and that in the meantime, he would buy as many of these Dutch paintings with this extra money that he supposedly wouldn't be paying in taxes. They made just such a deal with him, and if you go to Zurich, to the Kuntz House there, you will find the Ruzicka persona, the collection.
Doel: The collection. Yes. Very interesting.
Arnold: He was that kind of a character, you know, it was fun working with him.
Doel: I can imagine. Yeah.
Arnold: I must tell you about an experience I had while I was there. After I had been there about a month — we had three seminars a week, there was always two seminars on what they called outside work, that is work not done in their laboratory.
Arnold: And then one of the three seminars during the week was always based on work done in that lab — on Ruzicka's laboratory.
Arnold: And after I had been there about a month, I heard these students all talking about the so-called Foul-Plattner Rule — Plattner was a professor there at the time.
Arnold: Foul was an earlier student of Plattner's. And a student would get up there and get to a certain stage in the synthesis of this turpine, and say, "Not them Foul-Plattner Regale" After the Foul-Plattner Rule, right? This follows, and he would say, "Of course this is way it comes out." I didn't what to think, I was embarrassed. I didn't know what the Foul-Plattner Rule was that they were always referring to. So I took it apart, I said, "Arnold, you'd better get to the library and find out what's going on." I soon found out that the Foul-Plattner Rule was a generalization to explain why you got one isomer of a compound instead of the other one. And the more I looked at the work that they had done there, the more convinced I was that I knew the mechanisms for this Foul-Plattner Rule. And I talked to one of the graduate students about it, and he said, "Why, I think that's marvelous, everybody here, of course — the Foul-Plattner Rule is something we all deal with. Why don't you speak with Dr. Yeager — " Oscar Yeager was the labor chef (?). He was sort of the assistant professor, or instructor, and in charge of our laboratory.
Arnold: And so I spoke to Oscar about it, and he said, "That's wonderful. You know we don't do anything with reaction mechanisms here, we don't even teach it. Why don't you take it to Praylog (?) or Professor Plattner?" So I took it to Plattner, and Plattner liked it very much, and said, "You should take it to Praylog." So I went to Praylog, and he said, "This is fascinating because you've explained every — we have hundreds of examples of this application of the Foul-Plattner Rule, and I can tell you right now, that you would guess the right answer from all of these, if I gave them to you. You must see Ruzicka." But by that time I'd been passed along, so I went to Ruzicka, and I told him, and he said, "You know, we never publish anything in the Hovaticka (?) Chemica (?) Afta (?) without experimental work, but this will appear, this will be published. You write it in German, and bring it to my office and Frau Optan (?), my secretary, will type it for you, and we will submit it to the Hovaticka, and it will appear next February." This was in the fall of '48, and he was talking about the February of '49. I said, "You know, I don't want to create any problems, if they don't accept this without experimental work." "Dr. Arnold," he said, "we have hundreds of examples of this, and everybody knows it. There's no problem, I'm just telling you that it will appear next February." And I said, "What if the referees don't like it?" He said, "Referees? No referee in Switzerland would turn down a submission by Ruzicka." And he meant it.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Yeah.
Arnold: And I can tell you, that in the February issue of the Hovaticka (?), on page 135, to be exact — I just checked on it yesterday — was this little paper by R. T. Arnold, and it was, you know, Ruzicka was just in charge. He simply told the editor of the Hovaticka (?) that he wanted it in the February issue.
Doel: Very interesting.
Arnold: And there it is. Can you imagine something like that happening in the United States? You know, even Roger Adams couldn't do that.
Doel: Not to that degree.
Doel: No, this is — I'm finding this very interesting. And one of the questions that all this prompts, is that the kind of language facility that one needs to get through the graduate exams is usually very different from, obviously, from the speaking language but even the written comprehension. How did you come to learn the German that you were using once you were in Zurich?
Arnold: Well, my reading knowledge of German, by that time, was a long way from being perfect, but I could stumble through the newspapers reasonably well. I was sort of at that level.
Arnold: And I religiously read the Zurich Atziton (?).
Arnold: But I had trouble speaking. I hadn't had — literally, I hadn't had any real practice in speaking German, and all of my young friends in the laboratory where I was working wanted to speak English, and they didn't want me to speak German, they wanted to bolster their English.
Arnold: And so a great deal of my conversation — now out on the street was a different matter, of course, but in the laboratory itself, they insisted on speaking English with me, and I would once in a while laps into my German. On the paper that I just mentioned, for the Hovaticka, I had, of course, written it out in English, and Ruzicka said, "Have one of the graduate students help you translate this into German." So I translated it into German, and it was probably pretty bad German, because I gave it to one of the students who was a close friend of mine, and he re-wrote it in German for me.
Arnold: But my experience, they were so anxious to learn English that it was very difficult for me to speak German. The other thing I noticed was that essentially all the Swiss would speak their local dialects, and very few of them, at least at that time, spoke Hochdeutsch. The minute that I would open my mouth and speak a little Hochdeutsch , they would know that I was not a Swiss.
Arnold: And during the seminars, the one per week that I mentioned. The in house seminars.
Doel: Yes. Yes.
Arnold: The student would get up, and the general rule was — but for by Ruzicka — was that all of these would be given Hochdeutsch.
Arnold: So the student would start off, you know, with this very good high German, and then before us he got excited about what he was doing, so I could just feel him slipping, because I was understanding less and less of what he was saying. And he had lapsed into his dialect. And then every once in a while Ruzicka would stop and say, "Bitte Hochdeutsch, Hochdeutsch." And then the student would sort of catch himself, you know, and go back and start speaking.
Arnold: But I got to the point where I could — for most students — I could tell from what part of Switzerland they came. Because I could identify certain parts of their dialects.
Arnold: And I could say, "This person is from the Centillion area."
Arnold: And that was very easy for me to under — that was the closest thing in Switzerland to Hochdeutsch, but Swiss or Deutsche, is really what a lot of the people speak there.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: And I knew that I was not going to learn to speak very good Hochdeutsch if I stayed in Zurich.
Doel: Right. Right. Did your French language come into play at all, given the structure of Switzerland, or didn't you really have occasion?
Arnold: No. And actually, I became acquainted with several people from the French speaking part of Switzerland, but only because they came to Zurich, and I was in the French part of Switzerland from time to time for vacation periods, but not for educational reasons.
Arnold: And the thing I noticed was, that when the German speaking Swiss go to the French speaking part of Switzerland, they speak French. When the French speaking residents come to Zurich, or the other German towns, they speak French still. It's not a good pro quo.
Arnold: The French speaking Swiss, simply speak French no matter where they are. Just as we speak English no matter where we are.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: But it isn't that the French can't understand, because I have met with groups of French and French speaking, and German speaking chemists, and when the French speak, they speak in their own language. But when the others speak German, these French speaking people, oh yeah, they understand, and they can respond in German, they just don't want to. They just don't want to.
Doel: Right. Well, they're certainly are cultural residences that are read through these sort of —
Arnold: Would you like to have a little light on that?
Doel: Actually, I'm fine. There's plenty of light coming in here, but thanks.
Doel: No, the only problem I'm running into is that the mechanical pencil has just about run out of — And, unfortunately, my other pen had run out of ink.
Arnold: Well, I'll tell you, I think this will.
Doel: Well thank you. Thank you. Okay. I appreciate it.
Arnold: It'll get you part of the way.
Doel: Okay. I was curious, we move a little further forward to the time just before you accepted the assignment to go back to Europe, to Germany for the assignment at Bond. What was the view of the people — the administration at Minnesota for faculty taking on tasks like this? Were they encouraging, or was this seen as a problem, you're absences?
Arnold: I think one of the reasons why I was asked to go was because I had had this experience in Zurich, you know, in '48, '49.
Arnold: Because I knew the Swiss situation very well, and the Swiss knew the German situation very well.
Doel: Have you also visited Germany during the time that you were in Switzerland, in '48, '49?
Arnold: I did. I took one trip. My brother was a Colonel in the Air Force, and he was stationed in Germany while I was in Switzerland, in '48, '49, and the American Air Force had taken over the old German Air Force Base at Oberpfaffenhofen, which is near Munich.
Arnold: And I had a long weekend with my brother. In fact I spent four or five days there. And I took the train from Zurich to Munich, in the fall of 1948, and that was an emotional experience. The train went from Zurich to Landall, around the Lake of Constance.
Arnold: And then we went North East up through Germany to Munich, and the train made many stops, and oftentimes we'd stop beside a train next to us, and these Germans were riding cattle cars, you know, slat?
Arnold: Slotted cars that we used to haul live cattle on in this country. And the train would stop and these eyes would glare out at me, you know, through the slots, and I had never been in a war torn country before. That was my first experience.
Arnold: But then when I got off in Munich, my brother was there waiting for me in Munich, and the town had been damaged quite a lot. And then he drove me around a bit to show me some of these places. But that was my first really experience in a war torn country, and I had decided that we should avoid it if we could.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum. This is parenthetical to that experience, but it brings to mind, in 1950, and just around that time when Lloyd Berkner had written the Berkner Report for the State Department.
Doel: Were you already aware of the developing of the State Department program for Science before you were contacted about going?
Arnold: Well, I was aware of the fact that the State Department had attaches of all kinds, I knew that at major embassies there were cultural attaches, there were economic attaches, there were political attaches, there were military attaches, and there were no science attaches.
Arnold: And although I'm very biased about this, I said, you know, whether the State Department knows about it or not, science is the major factor in modern living and for us not to have science attaches when we have all of these other attaches, who, from my point of view, although I had no objection to their having them, I didn't think anyone of them was more important than having an appropriate science attaché in the State Department. And as you probably know, the State Department didn't take too kindly to this part. They weren't too anxious to.
Arnold: The National Academy, I think, really brought so much pressure to bear, and, of course, that was particularly true after the atom bomb experience.
Arnold: And I think that most Americans, if they had been asked about whether or not there were science attaches, would have guessed that, why sure, we have all these attaches, you know, military, economic, etc. etc. etc.
Arnold: We must have science attaché, but the simple truth of the matter is, that until about 1950, we didn't have.
Doel: That's quite right.
Arnold: So I felt very strongly that it was up — if the State Department was willing to have such attaches appointed, that it would work only if the scientists agreed to give up some of their time to do it properly.
Arnold: And so when I was asked in 1951 to go to Switzerland as the science attaché there, but the University of Minnesota President Morrell simply said, "Dick, this is a very bad year for you to be away, and don't take it this year, if they want you next year, why we'll arrange to do it."
Arnold: He said, "This year is just out of the question." And so I turned them down in 1951. But, what I subsequently learned is, and I've forgotten the name of the person who was appointed, apparently he and our Ambassador of Switzerland didn't get along very well together.
Arnold: And I guess the Ambassador in effect said he didn't want a science attaché in Switzerland. I'm not quite sure of the details, but I do know that in the very first year in Switzerland something happened which didn't make the position of science attaché a very receptive one.
Doel: Joseph Koepfli recalled that one problem was that many attaches were in contact with scientists in industry and in broad basin that the Swiss were not in favor of the attaches making certain kinds of contacts, which had been one source of difficulty that he had recalled.
Arnold: Well, that could be. And Ronald, when I was asked to go to Germany they told me that — when I asked what territory I was to cover — they said primarily the American Zone within Germany, including the American Sector of Berlin.
Arnold: In the German speaking part of Switzerland.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: And our Zone in Austria. Well, I was given the assignment where ever American occupation existed for Germany and Austria, and the German speaking part of Switzerland. Those were really my areas.
Doel: Who was it that you were in touch with about the appointment, both in '51 and then again in '52? Did you know Koepfli already at this point?
Doel: And there was also the predecessor by the name of Spore (?) who had been —
Arnold: Spore I did — Koepfli I didn't know, and Koepfli, I think, was in charge of the Office of the Science Advisor, I think that's what it was called.
Doel: That's correct.
Arnold: At the time, and he was the one who actually invited me to go. A very interesting fellow. But my invitation came from him.
Doel: Mm-Hum. You hadn't known him, though, before the time the invitation came?
Arnold: No, I knew of him.
Arnold: I knew of him.
Arnold: But I didn't know him personally.
Arnold: And I found him to be a delightful person. But I first met him after I had agreed to go.
Doel: Mm-Hum. How were the arrangements made, and I'm thinking particularly in the sense of how much experience you had in dealing with the State Department prior to the time that you actually went over to the Embassy in Bond?
Arnold: Well, after it was agreed that I would go, and all of the formal documentation was there, we were asked to go to Washington for a period of at least two weeks in advance of leaving the country for orientation.
Arnold: And, as I said, my wife and daughter of 12 years, and our son of eight years, and they put us up in the Francis Scott Key Hotel.
Arnold: And we were there for two weeks during this orientation period, and every day I was given a program to follow, so that I knew where to go each day, and interact with certain people.
Arnold: And every day — I think it was every day — I would ask the other part to whom I was speaking, and the person whose name was on the program, ask if he could give me some insight and suggestions as to what I ought to do.
I said, "Well, I think I know what — generally — what an economic, or political, or cultural attaché does, what am I, as a science attaché, supposed to do?" And the simple truth of the matter is, everybody told me the same thing. I don't know, you'll have to play it by ear, and develop your own program. It's up to you to decided, and after you've had an experience in Germany, maybe you can tell us about what you think a science attaché ought to do and ought not to do."
Arnold: And so it was a question of sort of making my own position.
Doel: Yeah. Of course, at that point there had only been a few attaches already overseas in the program.
Arnold: Exactly. There had been already certainly one in France, in Paris.
Arnold: And in England.
Yeah. Edgar Piret, if I'm pronouncing that right, was —
Arnold: Ed Piret.
Doel: Piret he would pronounce it.
Arnold: Oh, and Ed Piret, I knew very well, because he was Professor of Chemical Engineering at Minnesota.
Doel: That's right. That's right, yeah.
Arnold: And then he stayed on. Ed Piret spoke beautiful French and was a first class chemical engineer, but he felt culturally attached to France.
Doel: He ended up staying there for quite some time.
Arnold: Yes he did. He stayed there many years, as a matter of fact. I can't tell you exactly how many years, but quite a number. And he loved Paris.
Arnold: He loved France. And he liked the language. I think that if one had to pick someone to serve in that capacity, I think the State Department did a very good job there.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum. When you mentioned the two week orientation, were any of the other scientific attaches going through that with you, or was this, essentially, your own program that you had?
Arnold: I was given a formal a program as a schedule, saying, you know, this day I arrive here, we're staying at the Francis Scott Key Hotel, and then at 9:00 am on Monday morning you flew to this place, and you meet with this person, and at 10:30 you do this, and so on and so on.
Arnold: And the whole thing was laid out, including our flight. The time of the flight, and the line we would be on, and where I was to pick up my tickets, or what-ever I was given, you know, for the flight over.
Arnold: So I was (???) and — Now Bill Gruelich, you know, there were two of us there, Bill Gruelich.
Arnold: William Gruelich was a distinguished anatomist.
Arnold: At Stanford, and Bill went. He and I were given two different assignments, we were both science attaches, he was about 20 years my senior. Well, I say 20 — yes, I think Bill was about 20 years my senior, certainly 15. But he and Mildred Gruelich went over, and Bill was to cover the biological sciences and medicine, and I was asked to cover the physical sciences.
Arnold: And Bill and I had a wonderful — we met when we were in Washington, just before going over there. I knew of him earlier, but I had never met him.
Arnold: And we had a very nice experience with the Gruelichs, we lived just two minutes away in the complex that we were both housed in.
Doel: It certainly helped to have, I would imagine, another person in the similar capacity that you could talk with about these issues once you were in Germany.
Arnold: Oh yes. And Bill and I had offices just, as the Germans said, 'Gute nachbarnen ', right next door to each other.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Right.
Arnold: In the Embassy, so that — in fact, most of the time, we rode over and back together in our cars. This made one car available for our wives, in case they needed transportation.
Arnold: But Bill and I formed a very close friendship, and that was very nice.
And I think he was very effective. There were certain areas where we overlapped a little bit with some of the biochemists, some of whom were more chemists than bio.
Arnold: But on the whole, Bill and I got — I think I can honestly say Bill and I didn't have one argument while we were there.
Doel: That's interesting.
Arnold: He was a very open, very well informed person, and he had done one of the major research jobs, you know, on the people of Hiroshima, the survivors of Hiroshima.
Doel: Yeah. Now that you say that, it comes back to my mind.
Arnold: Yes. And he told a great deal about that situation.
Doel: Did he go through a similar — I'm sure he went through a similar program as you did, the orientation, but it wasn't at the same time.
Arnold: We didn't do it together. We didn't even go over on the same flight.
Arnold: I met Bill during the week, and our paths crossed a couple of times, but it was transit.
Doel: Right. Given the State Department was, of course, interested in coordinating all of its’ attaches back to the particular agencies for which the information would be particularly seen as relevant, did you have meetings then with each of the departments of government that had an interest in scientific information, like the RDB, and the Commerce Department, the CIA, and so on?
Arnold: Yes Ponent (?) had regular meetings of his staff, those included all of the cultural attaches. And frequently, one of those persons would come and ask Bill or me a question, the answers of which we ought to be able to provide, and I hope that in most cases we did provide them. We were warned at the start before going over about having ourselves too closely associated with the CIA.
Arnold: In fact, I wanted to tell you about this experience, although we went over on different planes, we arrived at apartments in Bond within hours of each other, more or less. And after getting acquainted, it took us about a week to sit up our little offices in the space that we'd been assigned, and we each had a secretary, and after about a week — well, in the first place, within 24 hours after our arrival, we were sent little paper clippings about announcing our arrival, as the new science attaches, to Western Germany. And, as I say, it took us about a week to get ourselves set up, so we thought we could begin to operate, and all of sudden it became clear to me, that although our arrival there had been announced in major newspapers, I hadn't had a single invitation, or a single response from any of my German colleagues at all. And I had met quite a number of these people in one way or another in years earlier, and I thought, "Gee, this is strange," so I finally decided that this was being done rather deliberately.
Arnold: That right after the war, German science was pretty well controlled. Are we alright here?
Doel: Why don't I stop and —
I finally came to the conclusion that my German colleagues regarded me as a spy, and said, "Well, now they've eliminated the old military control of German science."
Arnold: Incidentally, which was under General Clay.
Arnold: And Roger Adams reported General Clay.
Doel: That's right. He was there through, I think, about February of 1946 as Clay's science advisor.
Arnold: As Clay's science advisor. And in a sense, German scientists couldn't do anything which we didn't want them to do. They had to get permission to do essentially everything.
Arnold: And they were interviewed to the point where they felt, you know, they'd given all the information they conceivably had. In any event, as I say, we — Gruelich and I had been there at least a week, without any response of any kind from. So I went to Bill and said, "You know, we're set up for business, but we don't have any business, do we? Have you heard from any of your German colleagues?" He said, "Not one." I said, "Bill, I have concluded that our German colleagues are saying to themselves, 'these people are here as spies and carousers. You know, the old military control is gone?'"
Doel: Mm-Hum. But only fairly recently in '52.
Arnold: "'Only fairly recently, and now that that's been given up, now the Americans are sending us some scientific spies and housing them in the Embassy. And they're not happy with that arrangement." And, well, he said, "You know, I have no better explanation than that." And I said, "Well, unless you have any objections, there are a couple of people that I would like to visit with. One is Hellferich , a Professor of Organic chemistry here at Bond. And Karl Freudenberg, at Heidelberg, who I knew was held in very high regard by all of the German scientists. A man of great stature."
Doel: Right. And he was someone that Adams had known fairly well.
Arnold: He was sort of the Roger Adams of West German.
Doel: That's an interesting way to put it.
Arnold: You know?
Arnold: And I said, "I don't know him too well, but I knew Kurt Holder reasonably well, whose at Koln, and he's a Nobel prize winner, and I have met him in the past, and I know his work well, and he and I could — you know, I think we could discuss our common chemical interests."
Arnold: I said, "What I would like to do is to, if you see no objection to this, is to go to these three people and ask them point blank what they think about our operation."
Arnold: And I did just that. And I went first to see Hellferich, who was right there in Bond.
Arnold: And invited him to come and have lunch with me, and — very fine person. I knew of his work on saccharines, and sugars, but I had never met him before. And we talked about sugar chemistry for a while, and then I asked him what he thought about our being there. And he said, "Professor Arnold, I think most Germans regard you as a spy." I said, "That's what I thought." And I said, "I'm going to see Professor Alder, and Freudenberg, and find out whether or not that's true there too." And he said, "I think you'll find that as true." And I thanked him, and he was very friendly. I went to Heidelberg, and had lunch with Freudenberg, who was very nice, he even invited me to his home, and I meet Mrs. Freudenberg, and she had a nice simple lunch for us. And I told him what I thought, and he leaned across the table and he said, "You're right." He said, "Tell me, why are you here in Germany? We have no science attache in Washington, why should we have science attaches in Bond?" And I said, "Well, we think that science is important enough to be represented in the State Department. And I would be very happy if the Germans did appoint a science attache to our Embassy in Washington."
Doel: And at that point, other countries had already been putting science attaches in Washington, as I recall.
Arnold: Well, I think the Germans —
Doel: Perhaps not the Germans.
Arnold: I don't believe so. In any event, I said, "Look, I promised to be here for a year, or a year plus. If the German attitude toward my being here is what you say it is, I'm going back to Minnesota, I'm not going to waste my time here." I told him exactly what I hoped we could do, what I hoped we could accomplish, and he leaned over the table and shook my hand and he said, "I believe you." And I said, "I have a date tomorrow to go to Cologne and talk with Kurt Holder." He said, "You must do that. You know, he's a very respected scientist here." And I told him I recognized that, and I gave him the same story. Within a week I had more invitations to more places to visit during my 14 months, than I could possibly make. It was just as if you had turned on a spigot. You know, the grapevine was at work.
Doel: Right. Right.
Arnold: And I had a marvelous — well, as I said, these — with every mail that came in, you know, I'd have an invitation to visit. One of the most interesting of these happened, Freudenberg invited me to come to Heidelberg and give a lecture. I was prepared to give two lectures, on quite different subjects of organic chemistry. And I had those slides with me, and Freudenberg, when I was having lunch with me (sic), said, "Would you be willing to come to Heidelberg and give a lecture to our chemical society?" And I said, "I'd be delighted to do that." So we agreed on a subject. He said, "I will announce it, and the date." And so while I was giving — it was well attended, if my memory serves me correctly, there must have been, oh I would say 150 people there or some such. And as I was up there talking, I glanced out at the crowd and I saw a face that looked very familiar to me, and I said to myself, "Arnold, that is Walter Reppe." Now Walter Reppe was the director of research for the whole of the Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik in Ludwigshafen.
Arnold: And he had done some of the finest acetylene chemistry in the world. In fact, he had developed an international reputation. And I also was advised in Washington, before going, that Reppe was not at all happy with the treatment he got from the Americans under the occupation, but within a week, or so after I had arrived, I wrote to Walter Reppe and, of course, he had a professorship at Heidelberg as well as his position as Herr Doctor of Research at BSAF, and I told him that I was in Bond as the fourth science attache at our Embassy, I would be here about a year, and I hoped that sometime during the year I'd have a chance to become acquainted with him, but I was well aware of the fine work that he and his people had done on the settling etc. Well, a few days later, I got this note back from BSAF, from Ludwigshafen, signed Walter Reppe, saying that he had received my letter and sometime he would be happy to see me, period.
Doel: It was still fairly curt.
Arnold: And cold. So after I finished this lecture at Heidelberg, and before — they always had their dinner afterwards — and before dinner when the group met, he came up and held out his hand, and said, "Hi Samate (?) Walter Reppe." I said, "I know." He said, "We've never met before." I said, "I've seen many pictures of you." And I said, "When I glanced out over the audience here, I recognized you, as you were sitting there." And he said, "Well, you wrote me a letter and said you would like to come to Ludwigshafen, and you haven't come." I said, "Professor Reppe, that's because I haven't been invited." He said, "I sent you a letter."
Arnold: I said, "I don't regard a one sentence response as being a very kind letter to send to someone you might like to see." He took out his little book and said, "When would you like to come to Ludwigshafen?" We agreed on a date. Well, I took the train to Ludwigshafen, a car met me there, which I didn't expect, the driver took me directly to the given building, and took me to Reppe's office, and he greeted me, and he was smoking a cigar. Well, in those days I smoked cigars too, and during the course of the conversation, he offered me a cigar, which I took, and we talked about chemistry, and — I'm trying to think of the name of it, the fellow that he had with him at the time. He had one of his assistant directors, (???) researcher on, I'll think of his name as we go on.
Doel: That's fine. We can always add this to the transcript.
Arnold: Yeah. And we talked, and we talked, and finally, I said to myself, "You know, Arnold, you're not going to see these laboratories. He doesn't want you to see them, he doesn't want you to know anything about what he's doing, and he's not going to tell you very much about what he's doing, so, it's going to be a nice social visit." And finally he looked at me and he said, "You haven't said anything about the laboratories here." He said, "You really came to see the laboratories and not Walter Reppe, didn't you?" I said, "I'm sorry, I came to visit with Walter Reppe." I said, "Look, I've seen a lot of laboratories, I know that you have a famous laboratory, but I didn't come to visit your laboratory, I came to visit with you, as a German Chemist of note." He looked at this chap who was with him, and it was almost noon there. He said, "I've arranged for lunch in here, you know, in Bottaship (?) we have one of the best wine cellars in Germany, and I will serve you a good bottle of wine." And so he rang a bell, lunch came in for the three of us, we had lunch there, and I said, "I have a little bit of a problem, I think I'll have to delay seeing those laboratories, because Mrs. Arnold and I have a dinner appointment to make, and I have to get back to Bond." He said, "You mean you're going back without seeing these laboratories ?" And I said, "Perhaps I can do that at some other time. If I stay I have to give her a telephone call." He said, "What's the number?" So I gave him our telephone number, and he had his assistant go just around the wall to a telephone, and I could hear every word he said, and he got my wife on the phone, and I knew that they were listening, so I said, "Doe, I came to visit Professor Reppe, and he wants me to stay and see his laboratory, and he wants me to do it today, so we may be a little late going to dinner tonight." We had no dinner plans, of course, at all. But hopefully it sounded good from the other side of the wall. So I hung up, and said, "She understands, I can stay over and take a later train." And he turned to his colleague, and he said, "After lunch show Professor Arnold anything he wants to see." And that was that.
Doel: Quite a bit of early diplomacy that you had to practice.
Arnold: Well, yes. And, you know, after that I didn't have a problem. Oh, he told me the most gruesome stories about the fact that the Americans hauled him around in an open truck, in the rain and so on, he caught cold, and he thought that the treatment that we gave him was in human, etc. etc. etc.
Doel: That was something that Roger Adams has pointed out, certainly in his memos to General Clay about the treatment of German scientists by the U.S. Sector Personnel after the war.
Arnold: Some of them, you know, some of it was uncalled for. Then I had letters from an Otto Bayer, from Laverkuson.
Arnold: I had several invitations to go to Hoechst, just outside Frankfurt.
Doel: The Big Plat there, right.
Arnold: Right, in fact I'll have to show you something.
Doel: Very interesting. And this you got from — of course, from the plant at Hoechst. It's quite beautiful.
Arnold: And I gave a lecture there and —
Doel: Right. A letter opener of about six inches long. Beautiful handle.
Arnold: It was just a small but friendly act.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Right.
Arnold: And I had — Would you like to use the facilities here?
Doel: I'm alright for the moment.
Arnold: I need to.
Doel: Surely. Thank you.
Doel: You were saying a moment ago that you had visited with Otto Bayer, and a few other of the noted chemical firms that were in Germany, at the time.
Doel: And it was after those initial meetings the kinds of initial suspicions you felt had pretty much been eliminated? Or did you still find that there were some who resented your being over at the State Department capacity?
Arnold: Well, I think they resented it at the start because by and large they didn't know why we were there, and they thought, "Well, they're still on the taking side, they don't want to give anything but they want to take."
Arnold: And I think we convinced — both Gruelich and I convinced them that that really wasn't our mission there. And by the time I came back, I think Walter Reppe and I had a very good relationship. Otto Bayer, from Laverkuson, who was the Director of Research there, had me on two or three occasions, and all of those major directors of research in Germany, held professorships in neighboring universities.
Arnold: Reppe was also Professor of Chemistry at Heidelberg, although — well, I shouldn't say, but I — this was sort of an honorary position, and one that they were delighted to hold. It was very meaningful for them, and the — but my relationships with the major chemical companies, I think, were good. They were very suspicious at the start, and they were very anxious to rebuild German chemistry, and especially the journals, the Brit, the Deutch and Chemist and Gazzelshof (?), and the Central Institute of Physical Chemistry.
Arnold: And the Centralblot (?) and others. And this was particularly true, I think of Reppe and Bayer.
Mm-Hum. Right. Clearly, that had been an issue that Adams and others had been debating from the time of the 1945-'46, how to reestablish — how to restructure the journals. How to get, in broad terms the science redeveloped again. I gather that Bill Gruelich had similar experiences when he spoke with his own contacts. The kinds of suspicions?
Arnold: You know, after our initial — when I told him, "Bill, I thought we were both regarded as spies." He came to the same conclusion.
Arnold: And he had a very similar experience. He got in touch with some of the distinguished people in medicine, especially in medicine, and Bill was swamped. There was a period that it was hard for me to see him because he was out of town lecturing and doing something.
Arnold: But I think that they used me in an interesting way, Ralph Huisgen, H-U-I-S-G-E-N [spelled Hueskin, on Name list sheet].
Arnold: Who was recently — well, within the last couple of years recently retired as Professor of Chemistry at the University of Munich. Ralph was younger than I by about, oh I'd say, five, six, seven years. See I was 40 at the time, he probably was maybe 33-35, but relatively young, and he was at Tobegin (?) when I first meet him, and I had read several of his papers. He was the first of the new lot of organic chemists in Germany.
Arnold: The kind of chemistry that Germany became famous for was synthetic.
Arnold: And there was essentially no theoretical organic chemistry taught in Germany. Ralph Huesken was fascinated by what the English had done over really the leaders of the organic reaction mechanisms, just before and after the war. And Huesken spoke good English, and he was fascinated by organic mechanisms. And he and I hit it off very well.
Arnold: When I first met him at Toboggin, and I gave a lecture there, we had a very good meeting, and I learned at that time that he had just been offered the professorship at Munich, which was a mark step up for him. And he was delighted with that, because he said, "Now the facilities will be bigger and better. I'll have more to work with, and so on." And he said, "I want you to come to Munich and give us a lecture while you are there, before too long." Which I agreed to do. Well, when I met Otto Bayer, he said, "Have you met Professor Huesken?" I said, "Oh yes. I think he's an outstanding person. You know, he's very much interested in reaction mechanisms." He said, "Mechanisms I know. That's what I hear. But," he said, "German organic chemistry doesn't need mechanisms." I said, "Well, I think that's one point of view, but I think it's part of the future." He said, "He's a very young man, do you know that he's taking the place the V-Gun (?) Chair, I mean the V-Lawn (?) Chair in Munich?" I said, "Yes. And I think he'll be a very distinguished vermin organic chemist." Which turned out to be the case. He said, "We shall see, we shall see." He wasn't very happy with the appointment. He thought that somebody who was pushing classical German organic chemistry, was the kind of person who should have been appointed, not this young expert in reaction mechanisms that had learned all these foreign ways.
Doel: The young Turk.
Arnold: The young Turk, right.
Doel: Yeah. Right.
Arnold: As it turned out, and as I knew it would, Hueskin had a very distinguished career, and Bayer was wrong.
Arnold: But I didn't mind telling him that I disagreed with him.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Just thinking about Conant being at the Embassy and the number of scientists who were there during that period, did you actually get any research accomplished during that time, or did you not have any time of facilities?
Arnold: No. I no time and I had no facilities. And I would have had to do it with my own hands too.
Arnold: All we had were just standard office space at the Embassy.
Doel: Right. You may have heard that in the British Embassy an electron microscope had been installed, that seems to have been, by far, the exception.
Arnold: Yes, I think it was. I met an awful lot of people who moved back and forth through Bond, including some interesting Englishmen. I met Charles Darwin, an English physicist.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: Who visited with me in Bond, and he had been to a meeting in Frankfurt, and stopped at Bond on his way back. I think he was the great grandson of —
Doel: That's what I've heard.
Arnold: Yeah. And a very interesting fellow. And, of course, with that family background, you know, a real intellectual. And he told me that after the first atomic bomb had been dropped, out in New Mexico, he said, "You know, we had these captured German scientists pretty much in one spot." I've forgotten where it was, so he said, "After I heard through the grapevine that the first bomb had been exploded, I announced this to these German physicists, and they said 'Ridiculous, shear propaganda. We couldn't do it, and we know that you and the Americans couldn't do it either. That's shear propaganda.' They could not believe it."
Doel: Right. I think that was when many of them were at the Farm Hall sight.
Doel: And there's been some very recent revelations about the transcripts that were being made at the time of those who had been in the German atomic printer.
Arnold: Well, he told me that — he said, "They simply refused to believe it."
Doel: I know that we're going to have to break for lunch in just a moment. Maybe before we do, I wanted to ask, generally, how involved Conant was in the science attache development in the Embassy? Did he take a real interest in what was going on?
Arnold: I personally liked Conant, but I think he resented — if I may use that word?
Arnold: Maybe it's a little strong. I think Conant really resented having a chemists, and especially an organic chemist as the first science attache on his arrival, he reportedly said to somebody that he didn't feel that he needed a science attache, he thought he was complete enough without having one available.
Doel: He could be his own science attache.
Arnold: He could be his own science attache. Now the simple truth of the matter is, and I have great respect for Conant in many ways, but the simple truth of the matter is that all of the organic chemists that he knew anything about, were at least 20 or 30 years out of date, in reality.
Arnold: He spoke to me about certain people, friends of his, German organic chemists. Well, you know, half of them were dead, and many of the others had retired, but he simply — he was not abreast of modern organic chemistry at all.
Doel: Right. But of course he had been Harvard President for many, many years prior to his appointment to (???)?
Arnold: Exactly. He became President of Harvard, you know, about 1932 or three.
Arnold: And he certainly didn't do very much chemistry after becoming President at Harvard.
Arnold: And then he got involved in secondary education, and all that sort of thing. And —
Arnold: ...his attitude affected me. He knew that I was going to be there for 14 months ??? [laughter]
Doel: Okay, we'll break for —
Doel: Before lunch, if I remember correctly, we had just finished talking about Conant and his role in the Embassy. I wonder if there is anything else that had come to your mind when we stopped, concerning Conant and his administration, or involvement at all in the attache efforts?
Arnold: Well, of course, as I said, he did have the feeling before and certainly shortly after his arrival, that we was well enough informed himself, so that he didn't need an attache.
Arnold: And I think that was unfortunate, because I think Conant expressed his real ignorance by the comments that followed, because the persons whose names he could recall, generally, were either long since retired or died.
Arnold: And he knew, and for un-good reasons, he knew essentially none of the younger men, who were coming along, who really made German science. And I think he was unaware of what had happened to German chemistry in the sense that those who were informed realized that Germany had, in fact, lost a whole generation of chemists, and they had lost it. I'm sure the same statement would hold in certain other fields as well. But, for example, on two occasions, I had representatives from Springer-Verlag.
Arnold: The publishing house.
Arnold: Who came to me and said, "Can you recommend an American organic chemist who would write a book for us on modern organic chemistry? Because we realize that there is no German organic chemist, to our knowledge, at the moment, in Germany, who could write such a book."
Arnold: Now, you know, that sounds incredible, and, in fact, it was incredible, but the truth of the matter was, young Ralph Hueskin, whom I mentioned earlier.
Arnold: I think could write such a book, and I told him so. But I couldn't think of anyone else, and yet, they said, "Well, we have actually looked —" as I knew they had " — We've looked at several of these American and British books, and you know, they're just totally different from German organic chemistry," which is true. But I think that these visits, and their interests in finding an author who would write a modern text in organic chemistry, illustrated very well the terrible state the German organic chemistry had fallen into.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Yeah. That was a very telling point. Did any of the attaches who were in other European posts, say at Rome or Ed Piret at Paris, did they come through the Bond office on any kind of regular basis, or were they there at all?
Arnold: I'm trying to think of the name of Ed Piret's predecessor in France, in Paris, maybe you know it?
Doel: I can't pull it to mind at the moment.
Arnold: We did have a visit from him on one occasion, but so far as I know, we had none from Italy, and certainly wasn't — I thought our community — and this might be as much my fault as anyone else's — but I thought that we probably didn't communicate as much as we should with some of our colleagues in similar positions elsewhere, but when Ed Piret took over in France, of course, it was a different matter. But Ed came into his position in France, I think after I had left Germany.
Arnold: He followed in Paris. And then, as we know, he stayed for some time.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Were there any memorable meetings that come to mind when other scientists from outside of Germany came through and met you in Bond? Did that happen on a fairly regular basis? Would visiting scientists who came into Germany come also to visit with you?
Arnold: We had several visits. I mentioned the one of Darwin this morning.
Doel: That's one that you mentioned, I was curious if that was a regular occurrence?
Arnold: Actually he visited with us, he had come to Germany to attend a meeting in Frankfurt.
Arnold: But he made a deliberate stop in Bond to visit our Embassy on his way back home, so that it wasn't just a happenstance visit, he came with a purpose in mind, and wanted to get acquainted, and that was a very pleasant one. Of course we were in touch with our French and English counterparts.
Doel: Was Walter Nurnberg in Rome at that time, when you were over there?
Arnold: He may have been, I'm not sure.
Doel: One think that I'm curious about too, is whether it was possible in your position to have any contact with any of the scientists who were principally in East Germany? Did you have a chance to talk directly to them?
Arnold: We got to — I say "we", Doe and I were together on one occasion, but I got to Berlin on two occasions but we were warned internally by our own Embassy people that we should be very cautious if we intended to visit Berlin, because in the first place, you know, we had to ride in a train with pulled shades, things were in that state at the moment. And I remember taking the night train from Frankfurt to Berlin, and having them come through and deliberately pull down all the window shades in the train, and I couldn't resist, when we made a stop at Adelberg to pull to the shade aside for a little while, and just at a glance, I saw three or four Russian soldiers parading along the platform. So, we could, of course, fly in directly, to Tempelhof.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Right.
Arnold: But I wanted to get to Berlin for several reasons, one to visit the Central Institute of Physical Chemistry.
Doel: Right. That was one of the major centers, certainly, at the time.
Arnold: Right, where Otto Haun, you know, was earlier.
Arnold: With Lisa Meitner.
Arnold: And while I was there, one of the best known of the physical chemists, was I. N. Stransky, S-T-R-A-N-S-K-Y, and Stransky had acquired a very good reputation based upon work that he was doing on the mechanism of evaporation of atoms and molecules from solid surfaces.
Arnold: And he was publishing pretty steadily, but I think that, and obviously the Germans were quite intrigued with Stransky's work, in part because I think that it was so fundamental, he wasn't talking just about organic material, but inorganic materials as well. And I did meet Stransky, and he showed me through his institute there, and he was very happy about the establishment of our office in Bond, for one.
Arnold: And made no bones about it. But I had just those two visits to Berlin.
Arnold: But, I suppose I could have gone more frequently, but the fact that we had a couple of warnings about just being careful, making sure that we didn't take a taxi cab, and were driven across the line of demarcation, and so on.
Doel: Because you did have a diplomatic passport — or did you?
Arnold: We had diplomatic passports, but people were sort of disappearing behind that line in Berlin at the time, and we were told, of course, to be careful if we went out at night, and use some discretion as to where we went, etc. etc.
Doel: Mm-Hum. That makes it difficult to think about going to Berlin, then.
Arnold: It does. And the wall wasn't there at the time either. So, you know, for a stranger, there was no obvious demarcation. The demarcations were there, but you had to know where they were.
Arnold: And I could just imagine my straying away by a few blocks, only to be picked up by some Russian soldier, and said, "Sorry, but we're going in this direction."
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum. Right. Right. No, for sure. One of the difficulties that has begun to emerge from the declassified documents is the tension that intentionally existed between people like Koepfli, who was trying to develop the science office so that it would be independent of the pressure of intelligence gathering versus the CIA which did want to include the attaches as part of the overt means of gathering considerable amount of intelligence about the particular countries in question. How did that actually work out in practice in the Embassy?
Arnold: Well, we knew, of course, who the military attache was in the Embassy.
Doel: Right. Was that distinguished from the CIA science officer in the Embassy?
Arnold: I think not. Our friends at the CIA paid us some visits. Had no qualms about identifying themselves.
Arnold: Sometimes I found myself — in fact, very frequently found myself at the same meetings that they attended. Same scientific meetings.
Arnold: I was a little more sensitive, I think, than they were, about our recognizing each other, because I knew that the Germans had already identified a lot of our CIA people. And then for me to overtly, associate with them to frequently, and too often, I think, would rightly be interpreted by the Germans as meaning, well look, it really is part of the same organization.
Doel: Right. So, certainly, outside the Embassy you made a point of not being in contact with any of them.
Arnold: Not intermingling, yes.
Arnold: And I don't think I really hurt anyone's feelings, but I think that was the way to do it.
Arnold: Because I was never really accessed, after that first week that I mentioned, of being an overt spy.
Arnold: And I think it's safe to say, that my scientific friends felt perfectly comfortable. I say that because in many cases they invited us to their homes, and I don't think they would have done that if they felt otherwise. We were frequently invited by our friends in Bond, to their homes, and at Heidelberg, and Feround (?). I had many interesting visits in Gottingen, but I don't think I stayed — But on the whole, once that first week, after our arrival was behind us, I know of no German who tried to avoid me because he thought I was a spy.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum. Right. Karl Waver (?), I don't know how he pronounced his name, had already been in the Embassy at the time that you arrived there, and clearly, he was part of the CIA apparatus for German science and had coordinated what was, I think popularly called, the Vabor (?) Operation?
Arnold: I know the name, I'm not even sure I ever met — I never met him.
Really. Was the Embassy staff large enough that it could easily happen that many of the people who were there —
Arnold: We had a big group in Bond. In Malum (?).
Arnold: And the military people had an awful — although most of them were based on living in Frankfurt, there was office space for some of them in the Embassy.
Arnold: I know that because when they came and we did meet with them, we would meet with them in their offices, which were designated, and yet, I think their main office was not there, it was elsewhere. I think in Frankfurt.
Doel: That could well be, because certain documents indicate that for administrative purposes, they were attached to the high commissioner’s office, but yet were —
Doel: So that meant that their offices and personnel were —
Arnold: I think they were playing two roles. A double role.
Arnold: I think that was true.
Doel: Right. I'm just curious, within the Embassy, did these people turn to you for advice on the issues that they themselves had to deal with?
Arnold: We had quite a number of visits by our friends in the CIA, but they would also, they would always let us know that they were coming, so that if their coming would be an embarrassment to us, they would avoid it.
Arnold: And I appreciated that, but we had quite a number of them, in fact, well, I can only say they were reasonably frequent.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: These were not meetings generally where they gave us a weeks’ notice, that they were coming, but a couple of days would not be uncommon. And so far as I know, they never just walked in own us, for fear that we might have someone visiting with us at the time.
Arnold: But I think that we made it quite clear to them that we respected what they were trying to do, but by the same token, we didn't want to nullify our role by associating with them so openly.
Doel: Right. Right. One of the issues that, again, has begun to emerge from the recently declassified documents, is the extent to which the US scientists in the RDB and other agencies, were worried about chemical and biological warfare, as an area in which the US needed to have strong competence. Was that one of the issues that came up in discussions, or did they tend to be on other potential threats, or concerns?
Arnold: Well, that's a good question. We were frequently told about, and saw locations where Jews or prisoners — non-German prisoners — were put to work in areas of the chemical industry that were particularly true. In Frankfurt, and — Well, in Bottaship they had quite a number of prisoners there, some of whom were Jews, but most of them, I think, were non-German prisoners, who were picked up as prisoners of war, and they were put to work, oftentimes at jobs which Germans didn't care to do, and that was certainly true at Bottaship, and I was told that there were hundreds of them that were working there, how many, I don't know exactly. But there was no doubt about the fact that the Germans were making use, especially in their chemical plants, I think. Because they were short of laborers themselves. You know, their own Germans were at the Front, they were filling these spots as best they could with prisoners.
Arnold: Now the matter of chemical warfare came up on several occasions, and I was never able to find out, and neither were the people in the CIA were, the extent to which the Germans had decided that these weren't going to be used anyway. I don't think that there's any denying they were prepared to use them, if push came to shove, but my impression is that the Germans had decided that that was not going to be a decisive factor in winning or losing the war. They were much more interested in developing fuels for rockets, at Pitimunda (?).
Arnold: But I don't think chemical warfare, as such, was going much parol (?), that was my impression.
Doel: Were there other topics that came — that come particularly to mind when you think back to those meetings? What the different intelligence in military agencies were most concerned about? Clearly, as you say, the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles was a major concern as well in the US at the time, and certainly what many branches of the RDB emphasized.
Doel: Were there other concerns? I'm thinking particularly too of Germany as having been the crossroads between East and West. That was somewhat unique among the other Embassies where issues of this kind played out.
Arnold: Well, I'm not sure that I can give a good answer to that. In '52, that's we were talking now, you know, about seven years after the formal surrender. I think the broad picture that I saw was that there were certain places that had almost been completely rebuilt in the chemical industry.
Arnold: And there was still a lot of destruction around. Now whether this was because the Germans just hadn't gotten around to repairing, or rebuilding these areas, or — which I think is more likely — they — had to put a priority on their rebuilding.
Arnold: And they were rebuilding, or had rebuilt those things which they thought most important. And Laverkuson seemed to be in really quite good shape. At Ludwigshafen, what I saw there, when I visited Reppe, was some areas that were still totally destroyed, and others that looked very modern, so there was no doubt that they were already rebuilding.
Arnold: And Freudenberg, when I visited with him on one occasion at Heidelberg, said, "You know, I just told my friends elsewhere who had been bombed out, how lucky they were, because now the Americans were providing funds to rebuild for them, and Heidelberg wasn't damaged very much, and so there's no reason for rebuilding, so we're left with this old equipment, and these old buildings at Heidelberg."
Doel: Right. Which is one of the ironies, perhaps of that situation.
Arnold: One of the ironies of war, yes.
Doel: I'm curious too, if among the agencies that had an interest in the redevelopment of German science, did any of the people from the psychological strategy board ever come to visit you in Germany? Did they, as an agency, make an outreach to you? Clearly they were interested in —
Arnold: I don't think so.
Arnold: At least I'm — I don't have any information on that here.
Doel: Okay. Okay.
Arnold: We had, of course, during the first of the 14 months I was there, a lot of individual visits, and I can remember on a couple of occasions wondering what the real purpose of the visit was when the party left, but these could have been (???)
Arnold: But I wasn't really sure.
Doel: You mean the people coming in from the US who were —
Arnold: Yes. Exactly.
Doel: Right. Right. Because clearly at the time, people like Gordon Gray and others who were in the psychological strategy board, were looking at science as one of the metrics of issues that had to be addressed in thinking about expanding psychological warfare, as it was then being termed. I was curious too, if during the time that you were in Bond, were there other science attaches that were other Embassies already? I know by the late 1950s the Danish and the French, as well as the South Africans, had installed science attaches.
Doel: Were there also at that time?
Arnold: Well, I think the only ones — You see, we were asked, as I said, to cover —
Doel: That's right, you were covering such a broad area.
Arnold: And our occupation area of Austria, the German speaking part of Switzerland.
Arnold: And so these were defined pretty carefully for us, but I was under the impression when we went to Germany in '52, that there were only three or four of our Embassies that had science attaches actually assigned to them. I'm not sure of that, but I think that's true, and before the decade was out, I think they, for example, then had science attaches at New Delhi, and a few other places around the world.
Doel: Right. You mean the State Department's own effort?
Arnold: The State Department.
Doel: Yeah. What I had meant was, whether other countries already had science attaches working in Bond?
Doel: For the Germans.
Arnold: I don't think so.
Doel: You didn't have any contacts, in other words, with counterparts in other Embassies, while there?
Arnold: Well, I knew our counterpart, in the French speaking area, and I'm trying to think of his name. We were with him very frequently; his name slips my mind at the moment.
Doel: Again, we can always put that back on the tape later.
Arnold: Yeah. But the —
Doel: This was the person from the French —
Arnold: The English had science attaches at their Embassy in Bond, and the French were in, of course, Mittes.
Doel: Of course, right they were physically.
Arnold: So they were located there.
Doel: But you say you met with them on occasion?
Arnold: Well, I guess I should say, I think all of those visits were social.
Arnold: I think the British and the French sort of took the attitude that, you know, after all this is a part of Western Europe, and this is our territory, and you're coming in here for outsiders.
Arnold: I think we had a very good relationship with our French counterparts, and, oh, my, we exchange Christmas cards with them. He was with the Curie Research institute just outside of Paris, before accepting that assignment for the Prime (?) La (?) French government.
Doel: Don't worry about it, that's easily something that we can put on the tape later. Let me just flip this —
Doel: I think I do recall, and I'm just curious if this was something that affected you, Koepfli talked about the problem in late '52, and early '53, the claim that was being made from North Korea, that the US had used biological warfare, and it was an issue that, because of Joseph Needham's involvement in that commission that was set up created quite an international stir. Was that something that got discussed in Bond? Was it something that in any sense affected the operations there?
Arnold: You mean the question of whether we had used (???) warfare?
Doel: Yeah. Did that come up, say in any other conversations with your German colleagues?
Arnold: Yes, and the Germans asked about that. And I inquired from our military people, I thought I knew the answer, and their answer to me was unequivocally, "No, we didn't use it."
Arnold: And that we were sort of morally and ethically opposed to using it, we were prepared to use it if we had to, but we didn't want to.
Arnold: I think that was the official attitude.
Doel: Right. I was thinking about that too, in part, because certain of the communist leaning scientists in France, certainly took the position that it was possible, or probable that the US had indeed used those weapons. The Journal La France (?) carried a number of articles and editorials about this, and I was just wanting to get a feel for how much of a discussion that had — how much that had really been an issue in Germany, as well as it seemed to have been in France, at the time.
Arnold: Well, the Germans, of course, were primarily responsible for the nitrogen mustard and knowing, we picked up some information on their work fairly early, and I think, so far as I know, it was clear that we were prepared to use nitrogen mustard gases, as were the Germans, who had earlier developed them, if we had to, but I think there were was no — I think the Germans could make a pretty good story of their not having used them. They had them available, but so far as I know, they were never used, and I think in part, because they were concerned about retaliation.
Right. A few other questions that I had on the State Department years in particular, Walter Murphy of Chemical and Engineering News, made a point of calling attention to the fact that the attache program had been allowed to fall down in the mid-1950s, and ran quite a number of pieces about the attache program. I'm wondering, did you have any contact with him about this directly?
Arnold: I knew Walter very well. And I know about the articles too. I can't really speak to them.
Arnold: I remember they were written, and I think my first reaction to this was, "Well, Walter is really not all that well informed," but I really can't respond, I think, to that.
Doel: Yeah. His pieces were certainly among the most numerous of any of the major professional journals, or those associated with professions to argue for the continuation of the program, and I was curious if you happened to know what may have led to his interest in seeing the program sustained? Clearly there were a number of chemists who were active and involved in the attache efforts.
Arnold: Yes, that's certainly true.
Doel: Right. Right. In a general sort of way, how effective did you feel the State Department was in utilizing the information that you were able to provide them? Either as you saw it at the time, or as you look back on it now.
Arnold: I think that in our meetings at the Embassy, which were held regularly, some were just scheduled at certain hours, and you know, you simply made yourself available, any absents would have to be excused.
Arnold: I think Mr. Conant generally wanted to be informed, he did, of course, on several occasions ask certain specific questions, and directed them specific people.
Arnold: In some cases, his questions were more general, and he just sort of threw them out on the table, and said, "Please respond if you can, and give me any significant information."
Arnold: But I think that Conant generally wanted to be generally apprised of certain situations. And also, I think he wanted to feel comfortable that if something truly unusual was happening in one field, in my case, in the physical sciences, that, hopefully, we'd be in a position to at least call these to his attention. For example, very shortly before I arrived there, at the Max-Planck-Institut fur Kohlenforschung that Ziegler headed, in the Rhineland area.
Arnold: They had invented a process for polymerizing ethylene.
Arnold: And there was an Italian inventor who was given pretty much credit for the same thing. And that inspiration to both groups. This was a very significant commercial chemical development, and I made Mr. Conant aware of that. It was something that had actually been done before our arrival, but every — I think, all the organic chemists realized that this was a major invention by Ziegler and his group at the Max Plank Institute for Kohlenforschung. And we were aware that the Italians had done similar things, and they were having slightly different catalysts, but they were both ending up with very similar products.
Arnold: But this revolutionized the Ethylene Resident Industry, and the profits, the royalties that came from those patents, to Ziegler and his people, they were enormous, but our ambassador knew about those, not that it happened after his arrival, because it had happened before his arrival, but he was made aware of the fact that they had done this.
Arnold: And in terms of supply, the amount of ethylene available, was enormous, compared to the other things, and furthermore, the physical nature of the polymers you get from ethylene, hardness, melting point, deformation temperatures, and things of this sort, they're frequently — these features are frequently found in ethylene, and at very low costs, because of the enormous amount of ethylene versus propylene, or butadiene, or some of the others that were (???).
Arnold: So I attempted to make Mr. Conant available with certain developments that had taken place, or were in the process of taking place.
Arnold: I know that Ziegler and his people were trying desperately hard to improve on what they had already patented, and I knew something about the steps that they had taken, and I told Conant about those.
Arnold: So I don't think our — I think our ambassador had every grounds for being reasonably satisfied that he was informed about major issues.
Doel: Right. I was thinking, also in terms of when you came back to the United States and were debriefed, which I'm sure involved lots of people from a lot of different agencies, and what not.
Doel: Looking back on it, did you come away with the feeling that these representatives understood the essential issues and points at hand, or were disappointed with the quality of the questions and their own understanding of developments?
Arnold: Well, that's a good question. I can remember that I thought that some of these people were very effective, and I couldn't put all of them in the same class, I think. Some of them asked very pointed and pertinent questions, and others asked questions which were so broad so general that I couldn't really provide them very good answers. I think there was — to answer your specific question, I think there were marked differences in the person’s abilities to ask the right questions.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Did any agencies — considering that there were probably were a few people representing each of the agencies, or however that had worked. Did it seem like particular agencies, to you, were particularly well prepared, or was it more on a personal level that you saw those (???)
Arnold: Well, I think on the whole I was pretty — I was rather impressed with the CIA people that I ran into.
Arnold: And, needless to say, I hadn't — I didn't have too many meetings with them.
Arnold: And it's bothered me terribly in the last few years to realize, you know, that we have uncovered so many counter spies in our own organizations, like the Aims (?) people most recently.
Arnold: Because, in retrospect, and from looking at it from an earlier point of view, the human damage these people can do is enormous, and how many of our own people we've lost because of the Aims people, I don't know, but maybe I'm happier by not knowing.
Doel: Yeah. But certainly the cold war was at its depth at that period of time.
Arnold: Yeah, the cold war, at the time we were there, was certainly, maybe not at its peak, but it was — we were pretty high on the graph.
Arnold: I think it was a dangerous period, and I, frankly, I felt very relieved when the Berlin Wall came down. Of course, I don't want to get off onto a different tangent here, but you know, in retrospect, if — and I'm not a historian — but looking back over a period of roughly a thousand years, if the people of Western Europe had not fought such deadly battles against themselves, I don't think Eastern Europe would — and the far east, would ever have been able to move in on them. Unfortunately, the people of Western Europe have exhausted themselves by fighting with each other, and I think that's unfortunate.
Doel: Yeah. And that would have been extremely evident to you in traveling around Europe in those very early days of the Marshall Plan, and the slow redevelopment of —
Arnold: Right. Incidentally, the Marshall Plan, which came into effect, really, when we were there, I felt was a marvelous thing. And in general, what I saw in terms of posters, a few cases I saw posters pulled off of walls and just trampled on under foot, but that was certainly the exception to the rule.
Doel: Posters proclaiming the particular Marshall programs.
Arnold: Posters proclaiming the Marshall Plan, and what a benefit this was, etc., and this facility, or this building, etc., was made possible by a gift from the Marshall Plan.
Arnold: I think the Marshall Plan was a wonderful idea, and on the whole, I think it was pretty well carried out. Of course, it was never quite clear, you know, we were in Germany at a time when a lot of Germans still resented our being there. That is, resented the occupation.
Arnold: And so it was not always clear whether I was talking to someone who objected to that, or not, but one night coming back — you asked about my German — I was coming back from Munich to Bond, on the train, it was a late evening train, and you know how they build their railway coaches there, with banks of seats facing each other.
Doel: Where you have three — two groups of three opposing one another.
Arnold: Right you are. And a fellow sitting to my right started a conversation, and I was trying to respond to him, and a man sitting across from me in the middle was reading a newspaper, and every time I looked at him, he would be looking over his newspaper and directly at me. And then when I would catch his eye, why, he would raise his newspaper a little bit, and this kept up for some time, and I was getting a little uncomfortable as to who this character might be. And finally, when there was a break in the conversation, he lowered his paper and said to me, "I know you're not German, I know you're not English, I know you're not American, the (?) license (?) the (?) needer (?) launder." Perhaps you're from —
[Transcribers note: Both speaking here, couldn't understand what was said.]
Arnold: And then I realized that he had been listening to my conversation trying to determine, you know, from whence I came. And I had to laugh, and that's the best compliment that's been made to my German since I've been here.
Doel: Indeed. [laughter] That's a good certification, I'd say.
Arnold: But on the whole, I think I render personal interactions with the Germans were pretty good.
Doel: Right. Of course that had all —
Arnold: My —
Doel: Go ahead.
Arnold: My wife, well we both did considerable buying on the German market, and we had a couple of stores that we liked, and there was one little shop that my wife liked to use, and I can't remember what she wanted on this particular occasion, but early on, she went to this shop, and the store keeper let her in and he recognized from her appearance that she's probably an American or an English woman, so he asked her in English if he could help, and she responded in German, which amused him, and she said, "Sprechen kein Deutch." And he smiled, and then they carried off their business, and bid him auf weidersehen. The next time she came a few days later, he opened the door and he looked at her and he said, "Sprechen se Deutsche noch?" [laughter]
But you know, frequently when I would — I don't know if they still do it or not, but so frequently when we would buy things at the hardware store, or some such place, they would want our name and address, and my name, Richard T. Arnold, Thomas for T.
Arnold: And so frequently these German store keepers would say, "Oh, Richard Thomas Arnold, you're German." And I'd have to go through this spilled, you know, "Well, my parents came from England," and so on and so on.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Right.
Arnold: Finally it got to be such a hassle I said, "Yes, my grandfather." [laughter] But they accepted that without any problem.
Doel: You do figure out the abbreviations. [laughter] Okay, I want to make sure that we have time to talk too, about your work at the Sloan Foundation, particularly. The only question that I wanted to ask when we were talking about the debriefing, I'm just curious in a general way, did people like Marshall Chadwell, who was leading the Office of Scientific Intelligence, in the CIA, personally come in for someone of your stature for those debriefings, or were they done by the staff folks?
Arnold: I don't think I could name any of those people at the moment. I was questioned by — in the two weeks that I was there — well, by at least a half a dozen people, but I don't think I could identify any single name at the moment.
Doel: That's fine. And these would be the people who had cognizance of particular areas of science, who then had interests in hearing you?
Arnold: Exactly, and they did ask — some of them asked very specific and, I thought, thoughtful questions.
Arnold: And speaking of Ziegler’s discovery of the formalization of ethylene, that turned out to be one of the questions that was specifically asked of me. You know, do they have something else, or is this only the first step of something that is even bigger than we think?
Arnold: But I don't think that I could identify any names.
Doel: No, that's fine. I just was curious if someone who was actually leading that effort had made himself clear. On the Sloan Foundation project that emerged, clearly Roger Adams had been deeply involved in the initiation of the science effort.
Arnold: That is true.
Doel: I'm wondering when you began to remember conversations about this project.
Arnold: Well, I think I can give you a much more detailed story here, and perhaps a more —
Doel: I'd like to hear it.
Arnold: Roger Adams was, I think, the person who went to Alfred Sloan, and told him that he thought that we were not doing justice to science in the United States, that if all of our science were to be paid for out of government funds, there would come a time when the science was also dependent on government, and that would be a major break from what had happened in the United States earlier.
Arnold: And historically, I think he reminded Mr. Sloan that with the exception of two areas, namely agriculture and medicine, the federal government was doing essentially nothing prior to World War II to support science. It was only in agriculture where we had a whole department and a Secretary of Agriculture, and in the field of medicine, where everybody seems to have an inherent interest, and the medics can do no wrong.
Arnold: But in all the basic sciences, he said, "You know, we're becoming more and more dependent on federal permission to support science." And he suggested that instead of limiting our suggestion — or our federal support of science to the support of projects, of various kinds, and having people submit projects and request approval of these, and monies to back it up.
Arnold: But what ought to do, is to simply select some very key individuals who have great potential, and support them as individuals, and not even ask them what they were going to work on.
Doel: Hum, very interesting.
Arnold: Give them real freedom.
Arnold: Alfred Sloan, I think, for several reasons, first, I think he agreed in principal with what Roger was saying, and secondly, he had great respect for Roger Adams. The end result was a committee was formed, and that committee included Arthur Culp (?) of MIT.
Arnold: And Albert Tucker, of Mathematics at Princeton.
Doel: At Princeton, right.
Arnold: And Noise, Albert Noise of Rochester.
Doel: From Rochester. Right.
Arnold: And Fred Seitz.
Arnold: Frederick Seitz.
Arnold: Who, I think was then at Carnegie Tech, later went to Illinois, now whether he had actually moved to Illinois before this happened, I'm not quite sure, but he was inter-billed to that committee.
Arnold: And I served on the committee. And later on, Polly Car (?) Coosh (?) replaced Fred Seitz.
Arnold: This was really a blue ribbon committee.
Doel: Right. Was this the same committee that M. J. Kelly was on as well, or was this separate?
Arnold: Kelly was a trustee of the foundation.
Doel: That's interesting.
But he was not —
Doel: He was not on the committee, per se.
Arnold: He was not on the committee. Fisk, from Bell Labs was a member of the committee. James Fisk. He was on the committee. I think that does it.
So, what Alfred Sloan asked this committee to do, was to come up and formulate a program which we thought would in effect, do what Roger Adams thought the country ought to do. And he indicated that — at least at the start — that he would be prepared — the foundation would be prepared, if we agreed on a program, to spending at outsets, say, a million dollars a year, this science program. Well, our committee met several times with Art Culp being — sort of being the formal chairman, and we came to the conclusion that we knew what we wanted. We wanted to support people, we not only didn't want them to submit projects, we didn't even want them to tell us what they were going to work on, or what they thought they might like to work on.
Arnold: Well, we thought that the best thing for us to do would be to gather information from senior colleagues from around the country, they know who the young people are, who are really competent, and who are potentially very creative, have them submit names to us, and documentation for their belief that this is a worthy candidate.
And then we would apportion these funds that we had, so as to meet every — in some cases, some mathematician might need nothing more than a semester off, an extra sabbatical leave of six months.
Arnold: Somebody else might need a piece of equipment, that he can't get otherwise, etc. So we wrote up our program on about a page and a half. Alfred Sloan called all the members of the committee together, and said, "I want you to sit in a circle here." And he listened. He said, "I want each one of you, if you will, tell me whether you support this plan, or not. Or whether something is wrong with it." Well, without a doubt, every single person there said, "This is exactly what I think we need, and what the country needs."
That's real interesting. And was there, before you reached that consensus, did any member of the committee have a very different concept of what — or was there already uniformity?
Arnold: No. On the base, everybody agreed. Many of them were concerned that in some cases, the federal government, or agencies of the federal government, would take the position that they had certain subjects, or certain projects they wanted to support, and if you were willing to work within their project limitations, you could get some support, otherwise, sorry fellows.
Arnold: But no, we have no money to support you. And we were afraid of the extent to which that might take place. Well, I think a lot of that ultimately did take place. In any event, it got around the circle, and finally Alfred Sloan turned to me and he said, "Well, Dr. Arnold, this calls for a program administrator, why don't you come to New York and administer it?"
Was this entirely out of the blue? Let me —
Arnold: I think what happened was, that some of my colleagues on the committee, like Arthur Culp, in particular.
Arnold: Got together and decided that they wanted me to do this, and they got to Alfred Sloan before I did. I said, "Oh, I'm honored to be even considered, but I just couldn't possibly leave the University of Minnesota."
Doel: You had just been back for two years by that point, having —
Arnold: Yes, and I had served as Chairman of the Department, for the last two years.
Doel: That's right. That's right. Yeah.
Arnold: From '53 to '55. He said, "Well, without an administrator, we can't have a program. Do you have any lectures on Monday?" We had met with him early Sunday morning, so he said, "tomorrow." I said, "No, I have nothing tomorrow." He said, "Will you stay over and talk to me about it?" So I met with him on Monday, and reiterated the fact that he wanted me to come, and I said, "Well, one part of my problem stems from the fact that I still have some research going on, I have some things I want to do, and you know, this is not something that I can do at 530 Fifth Avenue." And he wanted to know about my salary and a few other things, and about my retirement plan, which, the information I gave him as best I could. And he said, "Well, think about it. Talk to Mrs. Arnold, and think about it." So I got home and I talked to Doe, and the next day I got a call from Alfred Sloan, and he said, "There is in the mail a contract, which I have signed, and I hope that you will sign it, and I hope you will come to New York." And I said, "Well, in the meantime, I thought that maybe I could do two things at one time. Namely I could run this program for the Sloan Foundation, and if I had some lab space, at a place, say, like Columbia, and had a little money so the university wouldn't have to pay my way, maybe I could have two post doctorate fellows working with me at Columbia, and I would administer this program of the Sloan Foundation."
Arnold: And I said, "I have actually called my friends at Columbia, and they're heartily in favor of this plan, and said that I shouldn't worry about lab space, they'd have it available."
Arnold: And he said, "About how much would this amount to?" And I said, at that time, "About $20,000 a year." He said, "Well, that contract is in the mail, when you receive it, you will notice that there's space at the bottom of two or three inches. I want you to put in there, this additional condition, and sign it, and I agree with it." So that's what I did.
Arnold: So I went to New York with the promise that I would have two post doctorate fellows, and a minimum of $20,000 a year, which was then enough money for that purpose.
Arnold: In 1955.
Arnold: And the post doctorate fellows were costing us, in our field, about $5000 a year, you know, and I would have that much more for basic supplies.
Arnold: Well, everything went along very well and the very first year, I generated a program sheet, which we would use as a contract with the universities. And basically it simply identified the person, the field that he's working in, and there was a statement that said in effect that these monies are to support, you know, Professor X's research in physics, or chemistry, as the case might be.
Arnold: Or astronomy, or mathematics. And I, with my committees help — and the other members who were on that committee, were now an operating committee, an advisory committee to me.
Doel: What had been the initial committee became —
Arnold: Viskin (?), Cope (?), and Noise (?), and Fred Seitz, and Al Tucker.
Arnold: And we received, first off, enough suggestions for people, oh maybe upwards of 75 or so. Anyway, from the initial group, we picked out 13 that we wanted to support immediately. So I drew up these very simple contracts and submitted them to Arnold Zeker (?), who was the director of the Foundation. Well, in about three days, I got a memo from a fellow who defined himself as being an attorney for the Alfred B. Sloan Foundation. And he said in no uncertain terms, this is not only stupid, it's illegal. You can't possibly do this. So these 13 applications will have to be reformed and resubmitted, etc. I couldn't believe what I was reading. So I sent a memo back to him, then he sent a response to me, and I replied to it, then I got a phone call from Alfred Sloan, asking me if I could come down and talk with him.
Doel: Mm-Hum. This is all in the course of a few days?
Arnold: This is in the course of literally three or four days.
Arnold: And I went into his office, he greeted me with a very fine gentlemen, and he asked me to take a seat, he pulled out a drawer, and he had carbon copies — blind copies of these memos from the lawyer. He said, "I've received these copies of these memos, it looks like you and one of our attorneys are having a problem. But I know only half the story, because you haven't been sending me your copies." I said, "I didn't send you a copy Mr. Sloan, because I didn't think that it was worthy of your time." And he said, "Well, tell me, what is the problem?" So I described it to him. I said, "It's very fundamental." And when I finished talking to him, I said, "You know, I thought we were completely in agreement on the fundamentals of this program, and if the attorney is correct, I'll have to go back to Minnesota. I wouldn't possibly stay in New York and run a kind of program that he wants."
Doel: Right. Did the lawyer outline for you the kind of program that he thought was appropriate?
Arnold: Oh yes. He said, "One you had to support projects. It's totally irresponsible to support people, as such, with foundation funds." That was his basic thought. So Alfred Sloan said, "Well, you have a project, you're own things up at Columbia, why don't you take three or four days off from the Foundation and go up and work with your young chemists —" as he put it, "— and let met talk with this fellow." I said, "I thank you very much." So I left and for the next three or four days I was up at Columbia getting my Ph.D.s organized, and I got back on Monday morning and he stuck his head in the open door to my office, and he said, "Do you remember the discussion we had about that memo involving the attorneys?" And I said, "Oh indeed I do." "Well," he said, "in the meantime I've talked with him, and now he agrees with us."
Doel: One wonders what those meetings were like.
Arnold: I can believe it. He said, "You go ahead, we're going to run the program your way." I said, "I thank you very much. I'll do the best I can."
Doel: All of that —
Arnold: It was a marvelous —
Doel: It must have been a marvelous moment for you.
Arnold: That was Alfred Sloan. And somehow, I have a feeling, you know, that I ought to get on the rooftops, and say, "Hail Alfred Sloan, you have been good for this country. You have just been good for this country." I didn't have another problem. To this day I don't even know who that attorney is or was, but after I had resubmitted these, and they had gone through, and I had made my trips to the universities, and so on, I talked with him about it, and he said he was so pleased with the way things were going, and he was sorry that there had been this misunderstanding by an attorney from the Foundation, he didn't tell me that the attorney probably wasn't even with the Foundation any longer, but I told him that, you know, the attorney just had a fundamental objection. I said, "I would not have stayed in New York to run the kind of a program he wanted."
Arnold: I said, "I would have moved my family right back to Minnesota."
Doel: Right, and I gather the door was left open for you to return to Minnesota, had there been a problem.
Arnold: Oh yes. And he said, "Well, frankly I have strong feelings about lawyers." And I thought this was interesting. He said, "I stay away from them as often as I can, and as far as I can."
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum. That's interesting. Particularly in the context.
Arnold: He said, "Avoid lawyers if you can possibly," he said, "there are times when you can't avoid them. But in general avoid them if you can." Well, I've learned that that was good advice.
Arnold: So that's the story of the beginning of the Sloan Foundation's program.
Doel: I'm wondering in a — how much contact did you have with other foundations in New York, at the time which were also supporting science? Ford was, probably not even then so much, but certainly, in the '50s developing its program.
Arnold: Well, I had my closest contacts with Warren Weaver.
Doel: I was going to ask you about Warren Weaver.
Arnold: Warren was not only a trustee of the Sloan Foundation; he was the number two officer of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Doel: Right. And had been one of the key people in developing the science programs there in the 1930s, late '20s.
Arnold: Exactly. Exactly.
Arnold: And as a matter of fact, and I don't know how many people now know this, but it was the Rockefeller Foundation, you know, that really made the first money available for the psyclotron at Berkeley.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Yes.
Arnold: And that took, I think, a great deal of courage and foresight, since it was such a new idea. And it was a pretty sizable project at the time.
Doel: Mm-Hum. And, of course, Weaver was also interested by the 1930s in biochemistry.
Doel: And helped to develop that field.
Arnold: And he was a great supporter at the Memorial Hospital.
Arnold: Alfred Sloan and the — I've gotten a block. A chap from General Motors who — oh Kettering, Charles Kettering. Then setting up Sloan-Kettering.
Arnold: Now Sloan-Kettering was legally a separate entity. Ultimately, Kettering set up his own foundation. So legally, there's the Kettering Foundation, there's the Sloan-Kettering Institute, and then there's the Alfred B. Sloan Foundation.
Arnold: But I've always been, frankly, proud of what that program in the Sloan Foundation has done. Now, for the money that we spent, it was marvelous.
Doel: Yep. I want to get into a few particulars on them in a moment, but I'm wondering what kinds of contacts you had with Warren Weaver, and with others who were —
Arnold: Well, I had more contacts with Warren Weaver, certainly on an average of week, sometimes more often, because they were in the same building, for one thing. And Warren was over at our place in the Sloan Foundation very frequently.
Doel: Did he play a role in the initial deliberations of the committee, about what kinds of grants would be appropriated?
Arnold: No. He was never on the committee that made the choices.
Doel: Right. But even outside the committee proper, he wasn't a force in helping to shape or suggest the program?
Arnold: Well, I think Warren was a little envious, I think he was sorry that the Rockefeller Foundation hadn't done the same thing earlier.
Arnold: He agreed in principal with what we were doing, and had nothing but praised for what we were doing. But I thought often that Warren would have been even happier if the suggestion had been made to the Rockefeller people, and they had accepted it.
Arnold: I'm not sure they would, because they were so — they were very generous in dealing with scientists under their programs, but they were so heavily involved in medical programs, and agricultural programs, and of course, you know, the green rice business was the green revolution that they, of course, supported, and they supported a few large, and what turned out to be, very successful, programs. I think their program on their dealing with the rice revolution was of enormous value.
Doel: Right. Indeed. And of course, they were also interested in the social sciences and crusade by that time.
Arnold: And they were interested in social sciences. I have nothing but, you know, praise for the Rockefeller Foundation. Knowing Warren as well as I did, and I was with him very frequently, I think he liked the idea of supporting individuals. And it was fun running the program because, I would, for example, there was a young mathematician at Harvard, who had been selected one year, and we found out what his salary at Harvard was, and — I'm trying to figure out what his name was. His father was the chairman of the physics department at Minnesota for a while.
Doel: It should come to me too, but it doesn't. We'll make sure of getting it on tape.
Arnold: Okay. But in any event, I went to him and I told him that he had been selected for support from the Sloan Foundation, and it was our understanding that he wanted a year off, to have a year’s sabbatical, and that we had inquired about his salary at the university and the extraneous expenses of insurance and that sort of thing. And we were prepared to provide enough funds for him to have the year off and do whatever he wanted to do. Well, he couldn't believe it. A couple of days later, I received in the mail a letter from him, with all this mathematics in it, saying, "This is my project that I want supported."
Arnold: I got on the phone and said, "Look, I'm tearing up your letter, we don't care what you're project is, we want to support you, and there's a fundamental difference." He said, "I can't believe what's happening to me." And I said, "Well, here we go." So, he wrote to his friends in Paris, and they said, "Well, don't come now because it's very difficult to get an apartment, and they're very expensive, and apartments are very hard to find." They said, "Why don't you go down to the Italian Riviera, and relax in the sun down there, and while you're gone, we will try and find you an apartment." And he said, "That's what I have done, Dr. Arnold, I have just returned to Paris, and I want to tell you that while I was down there basking in the sun I solved a problem which is much more difficult, and much more interesting than the one I wrote to you about earlier."
Arnold: It was marvelous.
Arnold: He was thrilled. Given total freedom, you know, and time of his own, he was able to really do something that was much more important in mathematics than what he intended to do earlier.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: But I enjoyed doing it.
Arnold: What happened was, that my work at the Foundation — I was being pulled more and more into the affairs of the Sloan Foundation, and into the other programs, and away from my own chemical research at Columbia, and I could see that I was literally, pushing my own interests back, and you know, those of necessity.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: I would arrange to go up to Columbia at certain times, you know, and meet with the men who were working with me, only to find out at the last minute, that the Foundation had scheduled a meeting, and it was essential for all of us to be there at a certain time.
Doel: So you were becoming more and more program officer, in essence of the Foundation.
Arnold: I was, and I had to call Columbia and say, "Well, sorry, I guess I'll have to come some other time, I can't come tomorrow because of this meeting here."
Doel: Mm-Hum. Right.
Arnold: And then Mr. Sloan kept getting me more and more involved in other programs in the Foundation, and first, you know being on some committee of a totally new program, and that was required, every was chewing up my research time.
Arnold: My own research. Well, I was in that state when I got a visit from a friend of mine from, Mead, Johnson, who came to New York and said, "We want you to come to Evansville as Director of Research for Mead, Johnson, and Company."
Doel: And this is in 1960 that he comes to visit, or is it a little before that?
Arnold: Well, early in 1960, because officially I made the move in April, and it was very late '59. And when I got to Mead, Johnson they told me what they wanted me to do, and I told them that I wanted at least one research chemist, to be free to work on things I'm interested in, without regard for the possible interest they might have for Mead, Johnson. And Dean Mead, Johnson, who was president of the company at the time, said, "I agree to that." And I accepted the position, and officially went there on April 15, 1960.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: So that's my story.
Doel: Okay. Before I touch on any of that, I had a few more questions I wanted to ask about the Foundation, period. In addition to Warren Weaver, did you have contacts with any of the other foundations that were still supporting the physical sciences at the time? Ford Foundation was, of course, just getting into physical science, right?
Arnold: That's right. See, at the start they were wholly — if I'm correct — they were wholly in the social sciences.
Arnold: And they had nothing to do with the physical sciences.
Doel: And then some of the grants were first developed for the European Observatory, for example, and related work. I was wondering if you had any contact at that time, with any of their people on talking about projects that effected foundations generally, or any — just to the degree to which you really had any contacts with counter-parts?
Arnold: Well, I had, you know, the research preparation?
Arnold: I had a lot of contacts with the research preparation.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Mm-Hum.
Arnold: And in a sense, they were more like us than the others.
Doel: Mm-Hum. That's true.
Arnold: Generally speaking, their orientation was to faculty members and small or large quantities.
Arnold: And I appreciated what they were doing, but they weren't making the same — they differ from us, I think, on two scores. One, our grants tended to be larger than theirs, and secondly, our grants tended to be people in pretty distinguished institutions.
Arnold: They were not directed to small or large collage faculties, just because of the nature of the program.
Arnold: But I had every respect for what the research corporation was doing, and I knew the people that were there very well.
Doel: Who were the particular people that you knew at the research cooperation?
Arnold: Well, there were a couple. One was a former president of Bowden College, who became president of the research preparation. I'm trying to think of his name.
Doel: I should know his name too, and it doesn't come to mind. Again, this is something we'll make sure to put on later. You also had a — if I remember his first name correctly — Luther Farinholt (?) was also with you at that time?
Arnold: Oh yeah. Monk Farinholt.
Arnold: They called him Monk.
Doel: That's right.
Arnold: Yes. Monk Farinholt was my successor, and he was a full time — he was tenured professor of chemistry at Columbia.
Arnold: And a very good chemist with good connections, and when I left the Foundation, he took my place. He was my successor.
Arnold: And I was happy with that selection. I was asked for some input, and I think Monk Farinholt was a very good person.
Doel: Right. He had also been an attache at one point, had he not? I don't have my list in front of me.
Arnold: That may be.
Arnold: That may be. I do know that exact date on which he followed me at the Sloan Foundation —
Doel: Was that in April of 1960 when you went?
Arnold: Officially, yeah. Officially I terminated at the Foundation on April 15, I think.
Arnold: And started at Mead Johnson on the 16th.
Arnold: I think for legal purposes, I was remaining.
Doel: One thing I'm curious about, one year earlier, just after the science attache was redeveloped, re-initiated with in the State Department, did you have any contact with your — the later successor at Bond Audrea?
Arnold: Oh, Lou Audreas Theis.
Arnold: Oh yes. Now Lou Audreas I know very well. He was professor of inorganic chemistry at Illinois when I was a graduate student there.
Arnold: And I not only knew him well as a graduate student, I became even better acquainted with him after I joined the faculty at Minnesota. Lou Audrea was an international authority on nitrogen chemistry, and specifically on liquid ammonia chemistry.
Arnold: And he indeed did serve there in Bond.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Had you talked with him about the appointment and what it was likely to be like, before he went over?
Arnold: Only in a telephone conversation.
Arnold: He called me and asked — said that he'd been invited to do this, and he needed some information because he knew I had been there.
Arnold: But I think that was it.
Arnold: And I encouraged him to do it, because I thought, one, I knew he would do a good job, and two, I thought he would be interested.
Doel: Mm-Hum. That he would also gain from simply the experience of being able to be over there.
Doel: Let me —
One other question I did want to ask about the late 1950s, was whether you have any contact as a former attache once the program was redeveloped at State. Did you have any contact with Wallas Brode, for example, did you he ever talk about redeveloping the —?
Arnold: Yes. Wallas Brode, well, you know a great deal him, he's a spectroscopist.
Arnold: At Ohio State University. And I saw him — well, generally at least twice a year at ACS meetings. I remember discussing with him some aspects of the program, but not in detail. But I did know him, and that was a good appointment too.
Doel: You felt good about the work that he had done in the —
Arnold: His spectroscopy was very well done.
Arnold: And I had great respect for him. I think on the whole of the people that I'm acquainted with who filled these positions, I think the State Department did a pretty good job in filling some of the people there who would make the most out of everybody's going to be.
Doel: There were —
Arnold: So I would certainly say the Brode appointment was a good one.
Doel: Okay. One other issue in particular from your Sloan days, to turn back to that, in part to close, you were also deeply involved in the national symposium on basic research that was held in 1959?
Doel: I was curious how the plan for that came about? How that idea merged, do you remember?
Arnold: I don't have the slightest idea. I remember giving a talk there, I was invited to give a talk. But frankly, I don't know who was responsible for that.
Doel: How deeply involved were you? I suppose I should have asked in sitting that up.
Arnold: Well, I was just in the process, you know, essentially of making up my mind to leave the Sloan Foundation.
Arnold: And to go to Mead, Johnson, so it came at a rather awkward time.
Arnold: For me, but I remember being there, and I remember giving a talk. It was sort of a broad talk, in support of what I was doing at the time. And also, I know there are many people who will disagree with me, and I'm thrilled that the federal government has supported science to the extent that it has. But I think that they would have gotten a lot more for their money if they had used a different approach.
Doel: If it had not been, you mean, so directed towards applied problems.
Arnold: To applied problems. And to projects that were either so far along that you could almost guess the outcome of them, if given enough money to do it.
Arnold: And the scheme that I have always supported, and I think one which I supported in the talk that I gave in '59, what I wanted the federal government to do, was not to eradicate the programs that it had under way, but to take the total sum of money, and take some fraction of that, let's say 10 percent, spend 90 percent of it the way it had been spent.
Arnold: But take 10 percent of the whole, and give that to universities and colleges to support creative work. I didn't really think that the programs that the federal government has had are bad, but what I am saying is, I think they have overlooked, and deliberately, a great deal of good, which could have been done if these monies had been funneled through the universities. In a sense, I think that some accounting is in order. What the university would be able to spend some money on some young mathematician who was just getting started.
Arnold: Whom nobody knew at the moment. In any event, I would in no way scrap the programs, I would simply take some fraction, and one can argue about how big that ought to be, I don't think that it ought to be 50-50, I think that's too much, but I would certainly take 10 or 15 percent of the whole, and divide it amongst universities, based on some established formula, so that even some small colleges could be represented, and make those monies available, and let the universities and colleges be responsible for the payments made. I wouldn't want some college president, as they did at Stanford recently.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Yes.
Arnold: Buy a yacht for his weekend friends who might give the money to the university.
Arnold: I think there should be some courting, but I don't think the accounting costs should eat up 10 percent of the grant either.
Doel: Right. Right. At the time, how effective did you feel the NSF programs were in supporting general science?
Arnold: I think generally good.
Doel: Okay. Did you have much contact, at the time with Allen Waterman or others?
Arnold: I was on a lot of committees in Washington at the time. I knew him reasonably, and I think he did a pretty good job too.
Arnold: I liked the idea, I think on the whole, the National Science Foundation has done a good job.
Doel: Okay. All that I have now are just a few general questions, and that will conclude everything. And I'm curious in particularly given your work as a science attache, one of the arguments that is repeatedly made by scientists in the 1950s in defending the attache program, including people like George Kistiakowsky, when he became Science Advisor to Eisenhower, is that it helped lead potentially to democratization of the communist nations, that one had a better shot at talking through the scientists and maintaining communications. I'm wondering if that's a view that you felt and you saw through the work that you were doing? In Germany, did many scientists of your acquaintance feel similarly?
Arnold: You mean that we could improve communications, or that —
Doel: That science and scientists would — were in a position to —
Arnold: Were in a position to support democratic governments?
Arnold: Well, I would agree with that. In the first place, I think just in the nature of things, science is truly a pretty international affair, and I think in general, and because of the nature of things, it's relatively simple for scientific people to communicate with each other, and I think in the process of communicating with each other, the scientists from the democratic countries — without even trying hard — can, from our point of view, favorably influence this interaction.
Arnold: I think when scientists in communist countries realize how much freedom we have, it must look awfully good to them. And I think that the fact that the question then arises, "Well, that's fine, but how do you communicate?" Well, I would go back to the fundamental position that I think that of all the professional groups around the world, the scientists have an as easy in time in communicating with each other as anyone else, and maybe better. So then I think the combination of having a good mechanism, was when two scientists can talk, they can eliminate politics completely, if they want to. But I think that even taking a position that A and B, both of whom are discussing science, I have enough faith in democracy, so that I feel that given enough time, and with this interaction, my communist colleague, will wish he were doing the same thing as I'm doing.
Arnold: To that extent, I think it can be useful in bringing about democratization.
Arnold: In governments. Do you agree with that?
Doel: I've seen evidence of it in looking at this project for some time now.
Arnold: Well, I feel so — it's strictly a gut feeling on my part, but I feel so strongly that this is true.
Doel: Certainly scientists were much better able, through much of the cold war, at keeping the international contacts going. Certain elements within the State Department clearly wanted to shut off contacts to, say, the non-recognized rashness for political purposes, which they were much more easily able to do in the non-science fields.
Doel: Scientists were much better able to find ways of maintaining these contacts, and that certainly was very significant.
Arnold: I agree with you.
Doel: One final question, and you've already mentioned it a little bit, I think, I wanted to hear more about your personal outlook, and I'm curious about any religious affiliations, if you have any, or other very strong personal convictions that you feel have influenced you in your life and in your career.
Arnold: Well, I am not an irreligious person. And the more fundamental sense, I guess I don't separate my science and my religion. There are many things that I don't know and don't understand, and never will. I don't see how one can possibly avoid believing in evolution. What went on before the big bang, I'm not quite sure, and so one can — why, I think when you get down to the $64,000 question, it's fine to say, "Well, with all of this evidence supporting evolution, to me, it's clear as a bell."
Arnold: The physicists have decided, and the astrophysicists, you know, that the whole universe as we know it started with one big bang. And, of course, what none of us know is what happened — how did the big bang come about? I think that that's simply an unanswerable question. I don't know. But I'm not, in any way, what I would call a religious freak. [laughter] And I think I'm, you know one has good solid scientific evidence in support of an idea, then I have to accommodate my other thoughts to this — to the validity of this. So I'm not sure I can give a very good — Somehow it seems to me that there must be something magnificent beyond what we already know, and what it is, I'm not quite sure.
Doel: Mm-Hum. I think that puts it rather well. I want to thank you very, very much for this long session. Certainly much longer than we had first thought that it might be. And we will of course, and this should go on the tape, not make the tape available to anyone, or its transcript without your expressed knowledge and approval, as defined in the permission forms that we're going to be sending you, concerning the interview.
Arnold: It's my pleasure being here.
Doel: Thank you.