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Oral History Transcript — Dr. Richard Tousey

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Interview with Dr. Richard Tousey
By David DeVorkin
At the Naval Research Laboratory
November 17, 1981

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Richard Tousey; November 17, 1981

ABSTRACT: Surveys Tousey's (b. May 18, 1908) family background and early interests before discussing his beginning interest in UV studies at Harvard during his graduate education (PhD, 1933, physics) and as an instructor there (1934-6). His pre-war years at Tufts University (1936-41) are briefly discussed before entering into the principal part of the interview concerning Tousey's work at NRL (1941- ), first as Head of the Instrument Section (1942-45) and then as Head of the Micron Waves Branch (1945-58). The interview provides a thorough discussion of Tousey's activities in this latter position, focusing on NRL's reorganization, and subsequent scientific research program as V-2s became available for upper atmospheric and solar studies. Tousey's own research is a central feature of the discussion, including his work in solar UV spectroscopy, in the innovative design of spectrographs for use in rockets, as well as other optical work, and in the use of photographic and photoelectric data recording techniques. Tousey also provides critical insight into the organizational and personal working relationships within NRL, as well as the research activities of other NRL scientists.

Transcript

Session I | Session II | Session III

DeVorkin:

Dr. Tousey, we have just spent some very interesting minutes looking at some of the instrumentation and possibly on tape later on this morning, I'll identify exactly what we looked at. But for now, to begin the interview, I know you were born in Somerville, Massachusetts, May 18, 1908. I would like to know a little bit more about your family history, what your father did, what your mother did, and what your family life was like.

Tousey:

All right. My father was Coleman Tousey, one of three children of William George Tousey and Katharine Hall Tousey. William George Tousey was born in Upper New York State on a farm, and ran away and enlisted in the Navy before he was old enough. I guess it was the Spanish American War. He served on a square-rigged ship. But even then, he was much interested in the Universalist religion. He went to Tufts College as a student in the 1850s, soon after the college was founded, studied religion and got a degree from the School of Religion. He stayed there and became a professor of logic and ethics. He spent his whole life at Tufts College in religion of some sort. Katharine Hall, his wife, came from Nova Scotia. She was a fine lady. The oldest of the three children was Coleman; the second was Ruth Tousey, who taught English at Tufts for many years, and the third was Maude Tousey, who became an artist by profession and married Guy Fangle, also an artist. Her pastels of babies graced the covers of the "Ladies' Home Journal" for many years. She was quite well known in art circles in New York City. Coleman and Ruth both graduated from Tufts College; Maude went to art school. Coleman graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in 1898, then went to the Harvard Dental School, and got his D.M.D., the doctorate in dental medicine. He was a practicing dentist for his whole life with offices on Boylston Street, Boston.

DeVorkin:

How did he meet your mother?

Tousey:

My mother was also at Tufts as a student and she was in the class of 1900, Jackson it was called those days; and I guess they met there at Tufts. My mother was the only child of Alfred Sumner Hill and his wife, Clara Hill. My grandfather on my mother's side was largely self-taught. He was a dentist, a self-taught dentist. In those days, one needed no license. He practiced dentistry for many years at the Colonial Building on Boylston Street in Boston. In fact, my father started his practice of dentistry in my grandfather's dental office. My grandfather continued dentistry long after licenses and formal training were required, but he was grandfathered-in as a dentist, so to speak (laughs). I actually preferred that he clean my teeth, because he was much gentler than my father.

DeVorkin:

What are your earliest recollections of home life?

Tousey:

That's difficult. I guess, my earliest recollection goes back to probably when I was about five; possibly younger. We lived in Somerville most of the year, which was not such a bad city in those days. In the summer, we went to Pemberton which is where my grandfather built several houses on the beach, and I lived in probably the second or third house that he built; and then in the fourth or final one. I can just barely remember possibly being doctored or fed medicine, or something or other there, probably when I was at the age of five. I remember much about summer life on the beach at Pemberton because I was probably eleven or twelve when we finally left. My father and grandfather commuted to work in Boston via the side-wheeler steamers that ran back and forth from Boston to Pemberton, and up as far as Nantucket Beach. They were probably on about a half-hour schedule. In those days there were many of them. It was a long time ago; they are gone now.

DeVorkin:

Did you have brothers and sisters?

Tousey:

Yes, I had a brother four years younger than I, who died at the age of sixteen of infantile paralysis, apparently contracted when we were in Europe. It picked him off almost as soon as we got back from Europe. It was around 1928. I have a sister who is eight years younger than I who is not married. She has worked intermittently in various school projects, centered mostly around nature and studies of birds. She graduated from Tufts also.

DeVorkin:

One of the appreciations of your life when you were the Ives medalist in 1960 or '61, indicated you had a long-standing interest in birds and nature, also. Was this something your family instilled in you?

Tousey:

No, not directly. It started from my earliest schooling. Maybe I should pass on to that subject, since you introduced it.

DeVorkin:

Was your family all Unitarian Universalist?

Tousey:

No, my father was brought up in a Universalist family, but never showed any particular association with any church. My mother was brought up in a Northern Baptist family, which my maternal grandmother was closely associated with. But my maternal grandfather objected to it because there was too much "hell and damnation." (laughs) So, I was exposed to the Baptist Church when I was small, but it didn't take. I guess I have not been a churchgoer for the years that have passed.

DeVorkin:

Let's move on, then, to your earlier school life; but I'm interested in identifying when you became interested in nature and in science.

Tousey:

I went to a private kindergarten for a while and liked it very much.

DeVorkin:

What was the name of it?

Tousey:

It was Miss Bell's School, but you probably will never find it. It was in a private home in Somerville. I went there for a year or two.

DeVorkin:

Was this something like a Dame's School?

Tousey:

It was just in a house. Next, I'm not sure how my parents happened to become acquainted with it, I went to what soon became the Harvard Cooperative Open-Air School. It was started by Prof. Hocking and Mrs. Hocking. Professor Hocking was the professor of philosophy at Harvard then and for many years. Anyway, my parents decided that the best schooling for me would be there, so in about the third grade I started in with the Harvard Cooperative Open-Air School. It met at that time on the upstairs back porch of the Hockings on Quincy Street, Cambridge. They managed to get me over there and back every day, a matter of a couple of miles. I don't know just how they did it at first. This grew rapidly, and it moved from the Hockings' home to Shady Hill and later became the Shady Hill School, which of course, is now quite well known as a private school in Cambridge. They built an open-air school, "open-air" being Mrs. Hockings' fetish. It was just about at the corner of Scott Street and Beacon Street in Cambridge. Anyway, it was, in effect, across the street from what is now the new building of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In fact, at recess we used to go and play French and Indians in the Norton Woods, where the academy building now is. Mr. Norton of Harvard or Cambridge owned that property at one time. My interest in science, I think, started about then, because there was an excellent teacher, a Miss Putnam. She was a science teacher; and I started right off in science with her. Mrs. Hocking was more interested in poetry, and I thought she was crazy. (laughs)

DeVorkin:

This could have been by your fourth or fifth grade?

Tousey:

Fourth grade, I think. The interest in nature started because Miss Putnam liked birds, among other aspects of science. She knew Prof. Neal of Tufts College. In the spring, Dr. Neal and Mrs. Neal — a professor of biology for many years at Tufts, took students on early morning bird walks in the Middlesex Fells Reservation. Some of the members of the Harvard Cooperative Open-Air School were invited to go along on those early morning walks to listen to the birds and see the birds. I did that. It was my first acquaintance with birds, and the bird songs of the morning, which formed a far greater, louder chorus than they do nowadays, of course. I don't think I went on more than five or six of those trips, but that started my interest in birds and in nature generally, I think. One can think of other individuals who contributed later on, but that's where it started.

DeVorkin:

What was your first course in science that you remember? Did it happen about then, or much later?

Tousey:

Well, Miss Putnam's course in science; I don't know if it was called anything in particular; and I don't know how many years that lasted. "Science" in those days was not taught in junior high school, or in high school, at least not commonly. I never took a formal course in science until I got to college, although I took courses in mathematics of one sort or another.

DeVorkin:

What were your developing interests as you went through — which junior high school did you go to, and then which high school?

Tousey:

I left the Harvard Cooperative Open-Air School, which by then, may have changed its name to the Shady Hill School and entered the last year of junior high school at the Southern Junior High School in Somerville, the equivalent of the first year of a four-year high school.

DeVorkin:

Is this public school now?

Tousey:

Yes, public school.

DeVorkin:

Is there any reason why you went on into public, rather than continue in private school?

Tousey:

I think that was just almost the end of the period covered by the Shady Hill School, and my parents decided it was time to make a move, I guess. Some of those public schools were excellent schools, the high school was an excellent high school in those days, and may still be, for all I know. There weren't any courses in science, commonly, at that time. It was mathematics, algebra and geometry, and languages, which were French, English, of course, and I studied Latin and Greek in high school.

DeVorkin:

Did your interest in science develop independent of this?

Tousey:

Yes, it developed through a friend of my father's, a long-standing friend, John F. Cole. I don't know whether he was a graduate of Harvard or not; but he was a highly intellectual individual, as well as a very practical man. He had his own machine shop in a small building in his backyard. He had a great library. He was associated with the Harvard Department of Astronomy, particularly with Harlan Stetson. I am not quite sure what he did, but he was more interested in the navigational aspects of astronomy, and instrumentation. But he was also interested in electricity and radio. I often went to his shop, and at his invitation to make something out of metal, usually, I watched him make it! (laughs.) He never quite trusted me to use the tools myself. He had a lathe and various other machine tools.

DeVorkin:

About how old were you during this time?

Tousey:

During this time, I guess I was between nine and twelve, roughly, possible thirteen.

DeVorkin:

A little young to use a lathe.

Tousey:

I suppose.

DeVorkin:

I'll bet you wanted to use it.

Tousey:

Yes, I would have been glad to use it.

DeVorkin:

Did he ever take you to the Harvard College Observatory?

Tousey:

I'm confused as to whether he took me to the Garden Street Laboratory, or whatever it was called, where Harlan True Stetson was located. Whether I went at some later date; I'm not sure. Anyway, I never went to the observatory proper. There was a small facility on Garden Street.

DeVorkin:

That's right. It was a students' observatory, wasn't it?

Tousey:

Something like that.

DeVorkin:

Yes. Do you remember the first time you ever looked through a telescope?

Tousey:

No, I have not looked through telescopes much (laughs).

DeVorkin:

That's true.

Tousey:

Well, I guess I can finish the early history on science fairly quickly. John Cole was interested in radio communications, then called wireless, of course. He helped me build a crystal receiver when I was twelve, and learn the code. Let's see, I was twelve in 1920, I guess. It worked after a fashion, and he also introduced me to the Ford spark coil. So I built a Ford spark coil transmitter without a license. I think I did succeed in communicating with someone else in the same situation a few blocks away. Things began to develop quickly, and I learned the code and went in and got my operator's license when I was thirteen. With the assistance of John Cole, I finally set up a vacuum tube transmission station. My call letters were "1-CIT;" and I operated that and went into it in a fairly big way, so it seemed to me. The vacuum tube was a Western Electric 25-watt tube. It was a long cylindrical thing. I forget how many watts it was, maybe the 25 was the number of dollars it took to buy it (laughs).

DeVorkin:

Where did that money come from?

Tousey:

Oh, I earned the money from my parents, doing odd jobs, washing clothes, for example. In fact, my grandmother paid me ten cents per Psalm for memorizing Psalms. You see, she had a slight Baptist bent.

DeVorkin:

Yes.

Tousey:

Of course, I don't remember the Psalms.

DeVorkin:

When you put the vacuum tube together, or the system that employed the tube, did Mr. Cole talk to you about how it worked and why it worked?

Tousey:

Yes, he did, and he helped me trouble-shoot the system, and encouraged me to set up the proper antenna. My parents went along with this. They gave me a fair-sized closet in which I was encouraged to set up the equipment and have my chair, transmitter, and receiver. They even went along with outrageous contraptions on the roof for antennas and so forth. I guess this was in the period between when I was thirteen to fifteen. I entered Tufts College when I was sixteen. I was kind of young, I still had the transmitter, but college soon took over all my time, and so that was the end of my radio career.

DeVorkin:

Considering that your family had a long tradition going to college, specifically to Tufts, I take it there was no question but that you were going to go to Tufts.

Tousey:

Yes, there was. That's a bit amusing. I was accepted at Tufts. My father never questioned that I would go to Tufts. But my grandfather, the self-taught dentist, had really attained a high degree of education on his own. He did a great deal of reading. He was a very able player of checkers, not chess. He decided that Tufts wasn't good enough for me, and he would try to get me into Harvard (laughs). My parents said, “okay, you can try it." I remember that he arranged a meeting with somebody named Pennypacker, who had something to do with admissions at Harvard. This was only in late spring when I had just turned sixteen when they tried to get me into Harvard. I was not accepted in Harvard. (laughs.)

DeVorkin:

Why was that?

Tousey:

I don't know, but I guess I was too immature and too young; and it was too late, although I had done well enough, I had done very well in high school, I guess. I don't remember, but I suppose I had. I was turned down by the Harvard College (laughs).

DeVorkin:

Was that anything that disappointed you terribly at the time?

Tousey:

No, it didn't disappoint me particularly. It was rather amusing. It just didn't matter to me.

DeVorkin:

Did your father support your college years, or did you have to work?

Tousey:

No, he supported me. I didn't work. I was very fortunate, if it is fortunate not to have to work. I didn't have to work, and my father was sufficiently well off as a dentist so that he had no trouble supporting his family of three children. As far as I know, none of us ever applied for a scholarship or anything. But then, it didn't cost very much to go to college in those days.

DeVorkin:

Did you live on campus at Tufts, or did you live at home?

Tousey:

At home, with the exception of the last year. In my senior year, I lived at Tufts.

DeVorkin:

Did you have it in mind to major in anything particular when you went to Tufts, or were you just going to college? Did you have any well-defined goals?

Tousey:

No, I didn't have any well-defined goals. I'm not quite sure how soon they developed. I suppose I took physics the first year as a freshman; this developing from my interest in radio. That steered me into physics. I guess you could say that.

DeVorkin:

Who was your physics teacher? Or who were they?

Tousey:

George Bacon was the head of the physics department. The instructor was named Lewis Coombs, who eventually became a professor at Tufts. He is not particularly well known in physics circles.

DeVorkin:

What was the nature of the course of instruction?

Tousey:

General physics.

DeVorkin:

Did you experience any lectures, or do you have any recollections of hearing about Sommerfeld and Heisenberg, and people like that?

Tousey:

No, I don't remember that. I don't remember the various courses that I specifically took. I think the oil drop experiment was in the forefront in those days. In fact, Millikan gave a convocation talk which was kind of amusing. I remember this very well, because the professor of physics, Prof. Bacon, had the job of introducing him, and he made one of those terrific slips and he introduced him as Robert A. Andrews. That was his middle name.

DeVorkin:

Andrews! (laughs) How did Millikan react to that one?

Tousey:

Nobody paid any attention. No one knew the difference, probably, except me. I suppose others may have noticed it.

DeVorkin:

How many physics students were there in the class with you?

Tousey:

For majors, I don't know. There weren't very many. I suppose, well under about a dozen, maybe five or six; but I think physics had a pretty good attendance at Tufts. In fact, it's been a good course of long standing, because the professor of physics at the end of the 19th century, named Dolbear, was quite well known, and a very able person. He invented the telephone independent of Alexander Bell, and then went through a considerable amount of litigation to try to establish his claim to it; but he was defeated. Whether it was right or wrong, it's hard to say. It's like the Civil War; it's one of these things that you can argue about forever, if you want to take sides, so to speak. I have some of his collection of books up in my attic. Those are the books I was telling you I had.

DeVorkin:

How did you come by them?

Tousey:

His son, Ben Dolbear, was interested in radio, and was involved in the American Radio Company "AMRAD," the company that set up a business just on the edge of the Tufts campus, and that put up the tall radio mast. I think he was involved with them, and he was also a patient of my father's, a dental patient and knew of my interest. When he wanted to get rid of his books, after I got through Tufts and was at Harvard. He asked if I would like them; and I said, "sure, I would be glad to take them.” They’re still around. I don't know if they are of any interest or not.

DeVorkin:

Well, they would be of interest that they would indicate what library he had; and then, in and of themselves, they would be good, I think. It depends on which books they are, if they're annotated. (Tufts might be contacted)

Tousey:

I think they are, yes. I haven't looked at them for years, and I suppose they are still up in the attic.

DeVorkin:

Well, it's good to know about. Well, you were taking physics. Was there any astronomy at Tufts?

Tousey:

No, I also took mathematics, and I got a major in both mathematics and physics. The professor of mathematics was a very brilliant person in his way. He was William R. Ransom, an excellent teacher. He was also interested in astronomy, and he tried to organize an astronomy department on the side at Tufts. He did buy a telescope; and I guess I do remember looking through his telescope one night and not being particularly excited about it.

DeVorkin:

That's what I'm trying to determine at this point, if you developed an interest in astronomy early on.

Tousey:

No, I didn't develop any interest in astronomy; in fact, it's questionable whether I still have any interest in astronomy.

DeVorkin:

That's very interesting.

Tousey:

Whether I as yet have any in the usual sense. I suppose you could say that my interest in the sun and the sky was a natural consequence of my interest in nature, because the sun and the sky are much more closely associated with the kind of nature that I was interested in than the stars, since my kind of nature was daytime nature.

DeVorkin:

That's interesting. That's very nice. Can you expand on that, when you realized that? Did you ever read books on the sun?

Tousey:

No, I guess I didn't. My interest in the sun and the sky from a scientific point of view commenced only after I came to NRL. As I have probably mentioned in various written articles, Prof. Lyman was interested in the spectrum of the sun, and the question of what it emitted short of what you could see. Apparently I was not interested in that, or at least, no one excited my interest. That's not true of everyone. Henry O'Bryan, who came as some kind of research fellow.

DeVorkin:

That was at Harvard?

Tousey:

Yes, that was at Harvard. He got his doctorate under R.W. Wood. He and Prof. Lyman, together, carried out an attempt to observe radiation of shorter wavelengths than had been detected from the ground. This was a forlorn hope. Henry O'Bryan's interest was in making thin film filters, or filters of evaporated materials. He made a filter of sodium. It has a band pass below 3,000 Angstroms. I forget where it is, but it is extremely opaque to the visible and the near ultraviolet; and so they thought that with the aid of this filter, there was a bare chance that they could pick up something with the spectrograph but they didn't.

DeVorkin:

Let me turn the tape over. You were talking about Henry O'Bryan's work with thin film filters. I wanted to ask you, in order to observe the far ultraviolet with the sodium filter, did they take their instrumentation up on top of a mountain, or was this laboratory work?

Tousey:

No, they just took it out in the yard. I'm surprised that they didn't, but I guess this is surmise on my part — probably, they found that it didn't look that promising: promising enough to take it to a mountain top.

DeVorkin:

Okay. Well, we're jumping ahead now; I take it, that's at Harvard.

Tousey:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

As you went through the physics curriculum, and the math curriculum at Tufts, what were your plans and hopes for the future? Did you know what you wanted to do? Did you talk with your father about it at all?

Tousey:

Yes, and he very properly and intelligently questioned whether I wanted to go into teaching, or research in physics, or whether I wanted to go into engineering, from time to time. I think if he had felt that he should push me one way or another, he might well have pushed me toward engineering, because, in fact, his best friend, named Knight, who had been a classmate, was high up in General Electric, and eventually became a vice president. My father was influenced toward engineering, I guess, as a result of Tom Knight, but he really didn't push me at all. He left it to me to decide what I wanted to do, and I just followed my nose, more or less. It's hard to say, but I assume that Prof. Bacon and the faculty at Tufts urged me to go to graduate school, since I got through Tufts (successfully). This may amuse you. I love to tell this story. I got "A" in everything, with one exception and that was English, where I got "B". (laughs)

DeVorkin:

One "B"?

Tousey:

One "B".

DeVorkin:

What year did that come in?

Tousey:

That was my freshman year, freshman English, and I hated English. I hated to have to write; still do, for that matter. The instructor was fresh from college, I guess, and I don't know whether he had anything but a bachelor's degree. I think his evaluation of one's performance in English depended less on the use of correct English, and more on style and the ideas that one would come up with or would generate on one's own, as though one were going into the business of being an author or something. Anyway, it was not scientific English by any means. It was just English. I didn't do too well, as well as I should in English. This is especially amusing, since I have had to do a great deal of writing ever since. While we are on this topic, before I forget it, Prof. Lyman wrote many papers, and he wrote a small book on the ultra-ultraviolet. When I finished the rough draft of my Ph.D. thesis, he returned it, and it was really all marked up. He didn't like my style, and he made all kinds of changes. I was quite taken aback at this, because I thought my English wasn't all that bad. I opened his book and I started criticizing that. I thought that was terrible (laughs).

DeVorkin:

How did he react to that?

Tousey:

I didn't tell him about that.

DeVorkin:

Oh, okay. (laughs)

Tousey:

No, he was a very formal gentleman; and one didn't do much casual joking with Prof. Lyman. This was his exterior. He was an extremely humane and really kind person in every way, but he was formal.

DeVorkin:

How did you decide to go to Harvard? What was the decision process there?

Tousey:

I guess that was supposedly the best place for physics.

DeVorkin:

What kind of physics was it that you were interested in by that time?

Tousey:

I didn't know at that time.

DeVorkin:

You certainly had laboratory experience at Tufts, experiments.

Tousey:

No, not very much really.

DeVorkin:

Did you find that interesting, more interesting than theory?

Tousey:

No, I don't think so. Really my experience in the laboratory went back to my radio days. The laboratory experiments were practically all ready to go. We just did this and that, and went through the cookbook procedures and wrote it up. I don't remember anything but that. It wasn't much. There was also an advanced laboratory. Again, this didn't require anything much in the way of inventiveness, nothing at all. I went into Harvard with no clear goal, from the point of view of what field of physics I might end up in. About the time I had to make a decision — that's the way to put it — as to what to take for a thesis project, two faculty members came to me with proposals. One was John Clark Slater, who was a brilliant young theoretician, a great lecturer; and I had done very well in his courses. And he said, "How would you like to be a theoretical?"

DeVorkin:

He did say that, in German form?

Tousey:

In the German form. And I said: "well, I would like to consider it." And he proposed — I can't quite remember — some theoretical work that would lead into solid state physics, which was just barely opening up at that time. At the same time, Prof. Lyman came along and said: "How would you like to do work in an experimental thesis?" And I said: "Well, I will consider that, too." He proposed that I take over the vacuum spectrograph that had been constructed by Paul Gleason for his thesis and who had just gotten through. He may have stayed one more year. He got his degree on the reflecting power of metals in the extreme ultraviolet. Lyman said: "how would you like to take that over and fix it up so that you could make measurements of reflectance at different angles of incidence; and from this, you ought to be able to work back to the optical constants." I can see how he and Slater must have been talking together about this: the one from the theoretical point of view, and the other from the experimental point of view.

DeVorkin:

Once you had the constants, you had some idea of what the atomic structure was.

Tousey:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Yes. But, was there any interest or contact with the spectroscopists at Harvard, like F.A. Saunders, people like that?

Tousey:

Yes, but he didn't propose anything to me. I think Saunders' interest in spectroscopy was declining, and changing over to acoustics at that time.

DeVorkin:

I didn't know that.

Tousey:

Yes, he did a lot of the original work on the study of the acoustics of violins and stringed instruments. That has since been continued by his protégé, named Hutchins, Mrs. Hutchins. You probably know of her.

DeVorkin:

Oh, yes. Yes, in New Jersey, yes. She wrote a "Scientific American" article recently.

Tousey:

Yes. She's a protégé of Prof. Saunders. That's where she learned everything, to begin with. She made the violins for him to test.

DeVorkin:

Oh, I see. That's fascinating. I'm interested in Saunders.

Tousey:

Oh?

DeVorkin:

Because of his contacts with, and collaboration with Henry Norris Russell.

Tousey:

Oh, yes, that Russell-Saunder coupling thing.

DeVorkin:

Right. During your first few years at Harvard in the graduate school, what kind of contacts did you have with the physics that Saunders was doing, if you ever had any courses from him. There were a set of courses to be taken at Harvard, were there not?

Tousey:

Yes. I did take a course in atomic spectra, and this was taught by Friedrich Hund, in '29, or possibly '30.

DeVorkin:

Wow. He must have been a visiting professor there, or something.

Tousey:

Yes, and he had just completed his book on atomic spectra. A number of us took his course.

DeVorkin:

Did he deliver it in German, or in English?

Tousey:

In English. He gave it both in the morning and in the afternoon; and we went out to lunch in the middle.

DeVorkin:

That's marvelous. Did you have any contact with Russell? Did you ever hear him speak there?

Tousey:

No, I don't remember. I suppose he must have, but I can't remember that he did. There were a few students in spectroscopy, but not very many. The only one that I remember was Willoughby Cady, the son of Cady, the Piezo-Electric Cady of Cornell. He was working on a thesis in a room adjacent to me, almost, in the old Jefferson Physical Laboratory basement. He was working on the spectra of highly ionized atoms in the extreme ultraviolet. I think he got his degree on that. I thought it was under Lyman, but Saunders must have had an interest in it, at least.

DeVorkin:

I know that Saunders, since 1910 or thereabouts, had done studies of the far ultraviolet spectrum of calcium.

Tousey:

Yes, he must have been.

DeVorkin:

The important thing for the interview here is that you had little contact with him. Is that correct?

Tousey:

Yes, he was a very genial gentleman. He was head of the department. That must have played a part in the decline of his interest in spectroscopy as such, and I think his increasing interest in acoustics, which he pursued after his retirement. I knew him very well. Rather late in my career there, he realized that I was interested in birds; and he was much interested in birds. In fact, the story is that when he was writing his textbook on elementary physics, which I always considered a really outstanding textbook in every way, he sat in his office at home, watching his bird trap. When a bird came in, he would pull the string and catch the bird and go out and band it.

DeVorkin:

He was an avid bird person, then.

Tousey:

Yes, and he invited me to join the Nuthall Ornithological Club, which is the first bird club in America, in which he was an active member. I must have just about gotten my degree when he invited me to be a member. And I am still a member of that club, although I don't go, of course. It used to meet in his home quite frequently, so I knew Saunders pretty well.

DeVorkin:

He never spoke of his collaboration with Russell?

Tousey:

No, I guess we talked about birds.(laughs)

DeVorkin:

During your graduate years at Harvard, you were a Whiting Fellow, 1929 to '31, and a Tyndall Scholar, 1931-32; and then a Bayard Cutting Fellow, 1932-33 and then in 1935-36. Were these substantive support for your Harvard work? They were scholarships?

Tousey:

Yes, I don't remember what the Whiting Fellow paid. Anyway, it was a substantial Fellowship; it may have paid my tuition, or part of it. And the next one, the Tyndall probably did the same. The Bayard Cutting Fellowship was the best one in the department. I remember that one, because it paid $1,000, which was an enormous amount in those days. I think it was largely through the effort of Prof. Lyman that I got this. It must have supported me in the first year after I got my degree.

DeVorkin:

Well, it was '32-33, and you got your degree in '33.

Tousey:

Then it was the last year of the thesis after ‘33; I got something for teaching part time. In '34-35, Prof. Lyman somehow wangled the Bayard Cutting for me again, because I had gotten married about then, and needed some more money.

DeVorkin:

Is it right to say that you started your thesis with Lyman.

Tousey:

Yes, I had to make this decision.

DeVorkin:

What went into that decision?

Tousey:

I don't know. For some reason, experimental physics won out. I don't believe I can give you a reason. It wasn't tossing a coin, however, not quite.

DeVorkin:

Could it have had anything to do with the fact that Prof. Lyman was already a senior and well-established person, and Slater was quite a bit younger?

Tousey:

No. I don't think so. I must have asked myself which would be the surer road toward a degree, and quicker road toward a degree. I suppose I must have asked myself what I would do later.

DeVorkin:

Yes. What was in your mind?

Tousey:

Nothing. (laughs)

DeVorkin:

You knew you liked physics.

Tousey:

Yes, I thought I liked physics, anyway. That seemed to be the way things were pointed.

DeVorkin:

But these were the Depression years. Did they affect you in any way?

Tousey:

Yes, I guess they did. They made it very hard to get a job. I wasn't much aware of the Depression, actually. I was busy, and didn't pay any attention much to what was going on in the world of politics and finances, or anything else.

DeVorkin:

Was your father's practice affected in any way to your recollection?

Tousey:

No, I don't think so. I didn't make any special effort to get a job, and stayed on at Harvard, because I guess, Prof. Lyman encouraged me to. I know he did. In fact, he even tried to get me into the Society of Fellows, and I did appear before A. Lawrence Lowell, who was running things in those days, and made a pitch. This was my first, I guess, attempt to sell myself. This is what one has to do all the time nowadays to get money. I didn't succeed, even though Prof. Lyman put in as strong a pitch for me as possible. I am sure that the committee must have had a very difficult decision to make as to whom to pick, what field to pick. This was still before Conant showed up. There wouldn't have been any question at all after Conant came. He would have had nothing to do with experimental physics. (laughs) There was an excellent teacher there, named Franzo Hazlett Crawford, and his degree had come from experimental molecular physics. He was really the best teacher in the graduate school, very well liked. He was an assistant professor; and this episode happened, probably in 1934 or 1935, when I had my degree and was continuing work in the same field with the same equipment. He came into my office one afternoon, and said: "I’d like to talk to you." I said, "oh, sure." He was very fidgety; in fact, he picked up a piece of equipment that I thought he shouldn't have touched; but I didn't like to say: "put that down." He was very nervous, and he said: "would you believe this?" (This is not verbatim.) "The day before yesterday, the faculty voted to give me tenure and today I was fired by Conant."

DeVorkin:

Why?

Tousey:

He said, "Because I'm in the wrong field. He has no interest whatsoever in molecular spectroscopy, or spectroscopy." And I said, "But you're a good teacher." And he said, "He has no interest in teaching. Conant says, if anyone wants good teaching, let him go to MIT (laughs)."

DeVorkin:

Hmm.

Tousey:

I remember that very well, because it was kind of a shock to me at the time. I found it hard to believe.

DeVorkin:

A lot of people did go to MIT at that time. Slater went.

Tousey:

That's right. Where did he get his degree, MIT?

DeVorkin:

Oh, I don't know.

Tousey:

He came to Harvard from MIT.

DeVorkin:

I do know that by the mid 1930's he was at MIT, and he was sponsoring a large colloquium in spectroscopy.

Tousey:

Oh yes, along with George Harrison. Then he went to Florida in retirement, and was there for many years.

DeVorkin:

This is Slater?

Tousey:

Yes. I went on a picnic Slater organized once, to that lake in Concord that is associated with many famous people. Everyone went in swimming in the nude, I guess, except Slater; and he put knots in the clothes of this Willoughby Cady that I was telling you about (laughs). Cady was so mad that he and some of the other graduate students got hold of Slater and threw him in the lake (laughs).

DeVorkin:

That's good. You're looking for Slater now in the Who's Who.

Tousey:

Yes. John Clark. Oh, Yes, Harvard, Ph.D., '23, '30, then Professor and Head of Department, MIT from '30 on. So he did go there to MIT from Harvard.

DeVorkin:

Did you have any contact with that spectroscopy colloquium?

Tousey:

Not very much. I went to it a few times, but I was not especially interested in spectroscopy. I was putting all my effort into this other semi-spectroscopic work, really not spectroscopy.

DeVorkin:

Well, in a way, it was photographic photometry, spectrophotometry, reflectance characteristics in the far ultraviolet. Now, your thesis was just that. Your first paper in 1936 was an extension of your thesis?

Tousey:

I guess, it was a write-up of the thesis, probably. "An Apparatus for the Measurement of Reflecting Powers with Application to Fluorite at 1216 Angstroms".[1] This led to the paper in 1936: Optical Constants to Fluorite in the Extreme UV?"[2] Then there was this other paper that was a graphical method. That was part of it, too.

DeVorkin:

Right, in 1939.

Tousey:

That appeared rather later, but it was part of the thesis, really. It was used in the thesis.

DeVorkin:

Now, when you were working under Theodore Lyman, you'd say he was the root cause of your interest in the far ultraviolet? You didn't have any specific interest before he came along?

Tousey:

No, he introduced me to it, and threw me in, so to speak; and that's when I became interested in the extreme ultraviolet.

DeVorkin:

You were given the use of a vacuum spectrograph. What experimental set-ups were you responsible for? You worked with the machinist, David Mann; and you give him quite a bit of acknowledgement. What was your relationship there?

Tousey:

He was in charge of the shop, the Physics Department shop, and really the engineering design. I was given the equipment that Gleason had developed, and the first thing I was told to do was to get it to work.

DeVorkin:

You mean, it hadn't worked before?

Tousey:

Oh yes, it had worked before, but those things don't stay working. I had to make it work and show it working; and then after I made it work, I had to think about how to modify it for the purpose of making measurements of reflectance at other angles of incidence. Gleason's equipment was just for 45 degrees, as I remember it. There's a paper that Gleason published on this. I probably have a copy of it somewhere. It's in an obscure place in the Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Science. I worked away at that while I was still taking courses, from time to time. The first couple of weeks were spent in learning how to find vacuum leaks, which everyone has to learn.

DeVorkin:

You have a recollection in one of your reviews of the problem of pumping down these vacuum chambers, and then letting the air back in.

Tousey:

Ah, yes.

DeVorkin:

This must have been a very long, tedious process. Could you give me something of that recollection?

Tousey:

Yes, Prof. Lyman had, of course, been developing vacuum spectroscopy for, I suppose 20 years at that time, more or less. So he had pretty well-defined methods of doing things. He felt, correctly, that it was very difficult to pump out the water vapor from a vacuum spectrograph. And in fact, to get rid of the water vapor, he always put some phosphorouspentoxide in the vacuum system to clean it up. That was the standard method of getting rid of the last of the water vapor. It works, provided you don't let the P2O5 get to be too liquid. But in order to save the P2O5 and to speed things up, he felt that one should reintroduce very dry air. For this reason, he introduced it by bubbling it through concentrated sulphuric acid, very slowly. Well, I was sufficiently impatient, so I guess, I never was able to keep in entering as slowly as he thought it should be done, except when he was watching. It wasn't clear to me why, when I would open the system afterward and let in lots of water vapor anyway. But I suppose that he was thinking more about the systems which didn't have to be opened very frequently, except to change a discharge tube that was connected on the outside. I think he was probably correct in feeling that the driest possible air should be admitted for speed and pumping down later on.

DeVorkin:

Yes, but you were never quite sure of all of this.

Tousey:

I was never so sure. I must have given up the bubbling after a while. But I stuck with P2O5 . That was a pretty good way to clean up water vapor, for many years.

DeVorkin:

This continued after your thesis? You continued as a tutor, and then a lecturer in physics at Harvard?

Tousey:

Tutor and instructor. I never did any lecturing. I did teach sessions for about two or three years, to a certain extent. I had students come in, in the tutorial program that Harvard had. Maybe, it still has; I don't know.

DeVorkin:

What was your thesis program like? Did you have a defense, a committee?

Tousey:

Oh, yes. That was pretty much routine. The preliminary examination was the tough one. That had nothing to do with one's thesis. But the defense of the thesis had about four members of the faculty, and they asked a few questions. It wasn't rigorous at all.

DeVorkin:

Then, after your thesis, Prof. Lyman invited you to stay on. Did you continue your work?

Tousey:

The same work.

DeVorkin:

On fluorite?

Tousey:

I had not published it, so one of the jobs was to get it in print; and then extend it to other materials. I'm afraid I was a bit of a perfectionist, and I seem to remember that things didn't work out the way they should, it seemed to me.

DeVorkin:

You mean in the experiments?

Tousey:

Yes, and part of the trouble was to improve the methods of the use of photographic photometry in the extreme ultraviolet, to get the accuracy.

DeVorkin:

You mentioned in some of your papers, the use of oil emulsion photographic plates. How were these made available to you?

Tousey:

Oh, I made them. The history on photographic materials in the extreme ultraviolet is sort of like this: the original ones were Schumann-type emulsions, which Prof. Lyman had, in past years, made himself, and used. Then the idea of sensitizing by covering an ordinary emulsion with a fluorescent material came along; the names that stick in my mind were a couple of Frenchmen, Ducleau and Jante, who first proposed it, but it was picked up quickly, and Prof. Lyman, I guess, picked it up as soon as anyone. He coated his ordinary plates with Nujol, dissolved in petroleum ether. This is laxative oil that you can still buy in the drug store. He used that, a few drops dissolved in petroleum ether. And after dunking a plate in the solution it will respond to extreme ultraviolet. Then, George Harrison came along and improved this considerably. When Harrison was at Stanford, with P.A. Leighton they showed that Central Scientific Company pump oil was somewhat better than Nujol. They wrote a paper on it. They explained the way it worked in a more quantitative fashion; and explained how it could be used more properly for photographic photometry. That was their contribution.

DeVorkin:

Did you do any experimentation along those lines?

Tousey:

Yes, I continued with that; and I think I improved the accuracy with which photographic photometry could be performed with fluorescence sensitized materials. But my findings were not written up as a separate paper, but they are just hidden away in one of those two papers in '36, I guess.[3] My improvements were associated with the problem of reciprocity law failure. The trouble with photographic photometry in the extreme ultraviolet was that there was no way to reduce the intensity of the beam by accurately known factors. And the best that one could do was to assume that it would do just as well to give a reduced exposure. That involves assumption of the so-called reciprocity law where the intensity and the time are of equal effectiveness on a reciprocal basis. It isn't true, of course.

DeVorkin:

We were just talking about the reciprocity curve, and you indicated that it doesn't work; and what you are talking about is reciprocity failure.

Tousey:

It just wasn't understood very well at that time; and in fact, it wasn't understood well at all until John or somebody else at Kodak wrote a paper on reciprocity law failure, and it made sense. I went to a lot of trouble in attempting to measure the reciprocity law failure for that particular film that I was using. Harrison and Leighton showed that the film really responded to the fluorescence radiation from the oil, and that meant it was the longer wavelengths and blue that actually took the photograph. It is possible to set up equipment in the laboratory that would expose the film to the band of wavelengths emitted by the fluorescence of the oil, and to measure the reciprocity failure for those wavelengths. In this way, I could work back from the ratio or exposure times involved when one makes a measurement of reflectance, to the ratio of intensities. This turned out to be a rather tedious thing to have to do. I also found that the magnitude of the reciprocity law failure depended on the conditions under which the film was exposed. If it was exposed when very dry in a vacuum, the reciprocity law failure was different from when it was exposed in some other kind of situation. So I went to all kinds of trouble. I built a fifty-foot long box with which I could change the intensity of the beam — the illumination of the beam — by following the inverse square law. I put the film to be exposed in a chamber which I evacuated, and let the radiation in through a window, and moved it back and forth and determined the reciprocity law failure. It was a terrible job, but it should have worked properly, and probably did work properly (laughs). It seemed to me to be the best that could be done.

DeVorkin:

This was still at Harvard?

Tousey:

Yes, and actually, when I went to Tufts, they lent me the equipment and I carted it all over to Tufts, and operated it there for the period that I was at Tufts.

DeVorkin:

What was your reason for moving back to Tufts?

Tousey:

I got a letter, not really a form letter, but written to me personally, and written in hand by Prof. Saunders, explaining that the probability of one's being able to stay and become a tenured professor at Harvard were rather small, statistically, and he urged everyone who could to find a job sometime (laughs), which was a nice way of saying: "hurry up and get out."

DeVorkin:

Yes. Did they help you find a job at Tufts?

Tousey:

No, they tried to help find jobs. But jobs were almost nonexistent in those days. I went to Tufts through my father's pull (laughs).

DeVorkin:

It helps.

Tousey:

Yes, it helps. The president then was John Cousens. He had been for some time. He and my father and my father's family were well acquainted. John Cousens was a fairly well-to-do, wealthy-ish business man; and he put up the money for (I'm sure he put it all up himself) a research instructorship. I was called a research instructor in physics, which was the wrong thing to do, really, because it made the rest of the department mad to see me have a special title, and to be gotten in by pull.

DeVorkin:

Did you have any teaching duties, then?

Tousey:

Yes, I taught. I taught as much as I was supposed to.

DeVorkin:

Were there any real feelings of animosity by the other faculty?

Tousey:

Only by the head of the department — the then-head of the department.

DeVorkin:

Oh, I see.

Tousey:

That's a long story.

DeVorkin:

Who was that?

Tousey:

That was Jamison R. (I think it was R.) Harrison.

DeVorkin:

Is there any reason to talk about that?

Tousey:

Well, not really. He ended up in the psychiatric ward eventually. Of course, the Smithsonian eventually fell heir to Leonard Carmichael, who was then president of Tufts, and was involved in the politics (laughs) surrounding my later years at Tufts, after John Cousens had died. Carmichael kept me there until the war came along; and then he had to decide between me and Harrison, I guess. But as I have told many people, and don't mind telling you, I went into Carmichael's office and told him I was taking another job, probably a day before he would have told me he was firing me.

DeVorkin:

Is that how it worked?

Tousey:

(laughs) He had tried to get me another job. Well, everyone was looking for wartime jobs. They could see the handwriting on the wall.

DeVorkin:

At that time, Tufts couldn't afford you as a physicist, or there was something else?

Tousey:

I can give you only my side of it.

DeVorkin:

Sure.

Tousey:

Obviously, there were people knifing me in the back; and I know that an awful lot of this went on at Tufts, in fact, an incredible amount. After being there only as a student it came as a shock to realize how much of this goes on, and went on. And I'm sure it still does in these places.

DeVorkin:

Well, you were 32 or so, or 33 by that time?

Tousey:

Let's see, I came here (NRL) in '41, so I was 33, I guess.

DeVorkin:

You were married, and did you have any children?

Tousey:

Yes, we had our one child. That's all we have, a daughter.

DeVorkin:

How did you meet your wife?

Tousey:

Oh, she was a student at Tufts, too.

DeVorkin:

Majoring in what?

Tousey:

History.

DeVorkin:

No English (laughs).

Tousey:

Not English (laughs). She's very good at writing English. She writes excellent English.

DeVorkin:

There was this problem that was obviously internal politics at Tufts. How was the support for research otherwise? Were you getting any support?

Tousey:

There wasn't any, no. I did have a small grant from the Rumford Fund. I don't believe I ever used it all. I used some of it for a steam valve. The room my equipment was in was just steam heated. There wasn't any control over the temperature, and I couldn't get along with it that way. They wouldn't do anything about it, so I said, "well, I'll buy the valve with the Rumford Fund, a motorized valve, and will set it up with a thermostat, if you will furnish the plumber to put it in."

DeVorkin:

Yes, did they do that?

Tousey:

Yes, it might still be there, for all I know. It worked very well and kept the temperature within a degree in that room.

DeVorkin:

It didn't sound like conditions were too pleasant there.

Tousey:

No. Another way of describing it is that I had three bosses; one said to do research; another one to teach; and the third to be a good guy with the students.

DeVorkin:

How did you react to those three? Was research your top priority?

Tousey:

Yes, it was my top priority. I gave demonstration lectures in physics, and taught the recitation courses. I don't know how good I was at recitations, but I still think I did an excellent job with the lectures. I invited Carmichael to come down and see for himself, but he never did.

DeVorkin:

Yes. By that time, in the late '30's, there were the Explorer II balloon flights, and there were other attempts to get into the upper atmosphere to study both the structure of the atmosphere and something about getting into partial vacuums. Was this interesting you at all? Were you aware of it?

Tousey:

I was not really very much aware of it. I was slightly aware of the Explorer II and the Explorer series. But I was not involved in it. Those were from the University of Rochester.

DeVorkin:

Right, with Brian O'Brien.

Tousey:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

He spent a number of summers at Harvard summer school of Astronomy during the late '30's.

Tousey:

I didn't know that.

DeVorkin:

You never went to those?

Tousey:

No. I do know that once, for some reason, the subject of Brian O'Brien came up with Prof. Saunders; and Saunders made some very disparaging remarks about Brian O'Brien. He didn't say why, but he said, no, he's of no account. Don't pay any attention to him (laughs). There was bad blood there, but I don't know why.

DeVorkin:

You never know these things.

Tousey:

Yes, you never know. I should tell you that I was exposed to astrophysics. My roommate for two years at Harvard was H.M. James, now retired from Purdue, a theoretical physicist who got his degree working with Arthur Sprague Coolidge on the quantum mechanics of the hydrogen molecule. He induced me to go to lectures by H.H. Plaskett in astrophysics. I went to a few and found they bored me, and I stopped (laughed).

DeVorkin:

You had no contact with any of the other people at Harvard?

Tousey:

In the astronomy branch, no, none.

DeVorkin:

Menzel or Shapley, none of those? Okay. I'm just trying to get that identification.

Tousey:

No. It's kind of amusing now, because of course, experimental physics and extreme ultraviolet spectroscopy were kicked out of the physics department a long time ago, I suppose, by Conant. But now it's been re-instituted, it's been brought into the Harvard College Observatory in a big way (laughs).

DeVorkin:

Absolutely.

Tousey:

It's funny to see. I'm never sure whether it's paradoxical or ironical; I have to look up that word each time I use it.

DeVorkin:

(laughs) It's ironic.

Tousey:

Ironic, that's it.

DeVorkin:

Was this another reason for your leaving, that the people in physics knew that there wasn't going to be as much support for experimental physics?

Tousey:

I expect it was, yes.

DeVorkin:

But Tufts wasn't any great experience for you, even though it was your alma mater.

Tousey:

No, it was just hard work, and I didn't know whether I expected I'd stay on there, or what.

DeVorkin:

You initially took a leave of absence, as your record shows, to go to NRL to do war work.

Tousey:

Oh, yes.

DeVorkin:

What was that?

Tousey:

Carmichael wanted it that way.

DeVorkin:

Why was that?

Tousey:

I don't know, really, whether he had some second thoughts about my departure, or what. In fact, I severed my connections pretty completely and felt that after a year or so, there was no point in leaving the equipment at Tufts, and returned it all to Harvard. When Carmichael found that I had returned it, he didn't like it. He thought I should have kept it at Tufts.

DeVorkin:

Even though nobody was there to use it?

Tousey:

Yes. I think he really must have had some idea that I might come back eventually. I don't know.

DeVorkin:

In your mind, as you moved to NRL, this was a permanent move or at least, a permanent move away from Tufts?

Tousey:

When I came to NRL I didn't know. I think I have covered some of that in stuff I wrote up, how it happened that I came to NRL. Did I cover that?

DeVorkin:

I haven't seen it. I would like to talk to you about it.

Tousey:

Somewhere around is a piece I wrote for a booklet, an NRL report for the fiftieth anniversary.[4] It has squibs by a number of people.

DeVorkin:

Could you give me the recollection now, and then maybe we can find the reference.

Tousey:

When it became apparent that I should find another position, Carmichael attempted to help me. He had various contacts. Of course, the radiation laboratory at MIT was just getting underway. I put in an application there, as did a number of the former graduate students. And my roommate, H.M. James, got in there, and so did Cady, and others. For some reason, I was not accepted (laughs). They apparently didn't want me as an individual. I have no particular explanation for this. But Carmichael knew of someone named Flood, who had a fire control project (laughs) at Princeton, New Jersey. I went down to talk to him at Carmichael's request. I was not especially interested in what he had to offer, and particularly with the amount of money he had to offer. I don't remember what it was now, but probably about the same as what I was getting at Tufts, which was, incidentally, $2,000, if I didn't say that. It wasn't a bit bad at all for those days. It was pretty good, in fact, but as the war came along, it was obvious that it was getting less and less attractive. I knew Dr. Hulburt in a curious or odd fashion as the result of a curious happenstance. Dr. Hulburt had married the daughter of some M.D., I guess, or biologist over at Hopkins, who had a summer place in Maine. His daughter, whom Hulburt married, was much interested in boating and yachting. Hulburt jumped into this. He learned yachting from his wife; and they had a smallish sailboat. We have owned one for many years, ever since my grandfather Tousey purchased quite a lot of land in Eastern Maine in the Town of Brooksville, which is on Bucks Harbor, one of the best harbors there is, especially for yachting. So, from as far back as I can remember, I have been exposed to boats. My father was involved. He was a yachtsman, too, because his father, William G. Tousey, was a very early yachtsman. He must have gotten interested after he got discharged from the Square Rigger of the Navy. With friends, he got himself a boat and they sailed the Maine Coast before many of the modern charts. So, my father was a yachtsman, and I went to Bucks Harbor every summer. Well, alongside us one day, this small sailboat came in and anchored, with Dr. Hulburt, Mrs. Hulburt and two small children aboard. We struck up an acquaintance. Hulburt was sort of halfway in age between me and my father. Then he came back during, I think, one or two more summers, with a larger sailing boat that he kept for a great many years. We became acquainted on more than a casual basis. I found that he was involved with the Naval Research Laboratory, and I said: "what do you do there?" And he said, "infrared;" he muttered out.

DeVorkin:

He just sort of stiffens up?

Tousey:

He just stiffened up, because everything was classified down there. He didn't want to talk about his work, it was classified.

DeVorkin:

But he knew you were a physicist?

Tousey:

Yes, he knew I was a physicist; and he had visited me casually at Harvard. This was when he attended some meeting there. He also had been involved in work on reflectance in the near extreme ultraviolet, under Pfund at Hopkins, which is where he got his degree. So there was this tie-in between Hulburt and me. I therefore decided when I was looking for a job, to write to Hulburt. I wrote to Hulburt, and he replied and said: "yes, I'll offer you a position at $3,200, contract." That was fine, so I said: "It is a fine offer, I'll take it." I moved down here in June, 1941.

DeVorkin:

Yes, with your family.

Tousey:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

What was your feeling at that time about getting into war work? Were you anxious to do that?

Tousey:

Yes, I was anxious to do that.

DeVorkin:

The NDRC had just been developed at that point, the OSRD.

Tousey:

And the Radiation Lab.

DeVorkin:

Did you have anything specific in mind when you wrote to him about what you would be doing, or what you were ready to do?

Tousey:

No, I said I'll do anything. Anything you think I can do and is of interest.

DeVorkin:

That would be, literally, wartime research?

Tousey:

Hulbert responded: "Come. We'll get you a project."

DeVorkin:

Well, how did you feel about leaving New England?

Tousey:

I didn't feel too badly about leaving New England especially because the countryside down here is very interesting. Some of my earliest experiences in nature were visiting a friend of my family (in Washington area), who was interested in botany and flowers. She took me around and showed me wild flowers. I should have mentioned that the bird interest was very early. I soon dropped the birds and took up flowers, because this friend exposed me to flowers here. Flowers are much easier to study. They didn't take the patience looking for birds did; I could get the flower easily and work on it. I didn't have to waste time looking (laughs).

DeVorkin:

That was down here in the Washington area?

Tousey:

Yes. And then I transferred this interest, which started, I suppose, in Washington, to the flowers and ferns of New England. I ran that quite hard for a long time, and still. I know all the common flowers.

DeVorkin:

Well, you had a certain feeling, then, for the Washington area.

Tousey:

Yes, so I had a feeling for Washington, and didn't mind having a go at it. The other thing I can say, I guess, is that it was immediately apparent; almost from the first day I was here at NRL, that the conditions at NRL were immeasurably more pleasant, more compatible, and more conducive to everything than those at Tufts College. There was no cutthroat competition. I never was able to find any cut-throat competition at NRL, although I think, perhaps in more recent years it may have developed; but certainly not then. (laughs)

DeVorkin:

Sure.

Tousey:

Certainly not during the war — there was always the struggle to get the most pay you could, naturally. But there was never any knifing in the back that I could find, especially in our group. It was all above-board.

DeVorkin:

Who was in your group? Dr. Hulburt ran the group, and then there was you.

Tousey:

There was Dr. Dawson who was very much interested in the outdoors. There was John Sanderson, whom you probably know. He is living over in Alexandria, though I don't know how well he is. He was from Hopkins. And there was Dr. Maris who was interested in the upper atmosphere; and went on the first Polar year to Alaska. He was very well known in those days. He got soured on things. I don't know quite why, and transferred to the David Taylor Model Basin, and got involved in stress analysis with birafringent techniques. The David Taylor Model Basin is the towing place up by Carderock. I'm sure you know it.

DeVorkin:

Carderock, no, I don't.

Tousey:

Oh? Well, it's the mile-long towing basin, part of the Navy, alongside the canal, before you get to Great Falls. There was also one other, a young man, whose name I've forgotten, and that was about it.

DeVorkin:

When you came it was to do applied physics in pursuit of military needs. I have a list of the six primary problem areas that you were involved in, from your own vita; and I'd like to spend some time talking about them, because much of it helped determine some of your work in later years. The first one, the visibility of stars in the daytime sky; this was for navigational needs, I take it?

Tousey:

Yes, that was the project that arose apparently because Dr. Hulburt was approached by the then Bureau of Aeronautics about the time I wrote to him. They wanted him to consider the possible use of stars for navigation from aircraft in the daytime. That was the project I was put on. I had never been exposed to physiological optics, particularly, or to matters dealing with the brightness of the sky and I didn't know anything about stellar magnitudes.

DeVorkin:

Did you do any specific reading that you recall?

Tousey:

No, not much reading, just looked things up. I read Helmholtz, "Physiological Optics" we had a copy at NRL. That was the Bible on physiological optics. Dr. Hulburt had been interested in these matters as related to the visibility through haze and fog; obviously, it is connected with how far you can see. An obvious naval need. He had written several papers on this, so he was already interested in it. This tied in, in a way, with his personal interest in sailing and the sea.

DeVorkin:

Were these problems, then, delegated completely by Dr. Hulburt?

Tousey:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Were you aware of the agencies in the Navy who were making the request? Did you have any contact with them?

Tousey:

Yes we did. An officer or two from the Bureau of Aeronautics who were supplying the money, and had the interest, came down quite frequently to see how it was going. They were interesting people. I don't seem to be able to remember their names. Perhaps one was Emil Wolfe.

DeVorkin:

That's all right.

Tousey:

They were personally interested in the progress, and we worked rather closely with them. Somebody arranged for the availability of aircraft over at the Naval Air Station. It was obvious that one needed to make use of a telescope, or binoculars, or some kind of magnification. We could not do much with the naked eye in seeing stars. The project was farmed out to three places: NRL, the Smithsonian, and the Farrand Optical Company. So we were in competition. No less than Dr. Abbott was in charge of it at the Smithsonian.

DeVorkin:

Oh yes?

Tousey:

He made up a telescopic sextant, and was personally interested in the whole project. He had his way of trying to do it and I don't agree with his way, as I remember. He had someone on the staff during most of the work. Dr. Aldrich was involved also. And the third person's name I have forgotten, but he left after a while and went to Kodak's Hamburg plant in Rochester. That's where he retired from, or died at, I forget which. Anyway, we three groups were involved in doing the same thing, but pursuing it independently pretty much.

DeVorkin:

One was a military-based research center, one a private institution but with government ties, and one an industrial firm; what contact did you have? It sounds like you did have contact with your competitors, so to speak. But in what way were they competitors? Were you designing prototypes, or simply trying to find the best way to do it.

Tousey:

We were trying to design prototypes.

DeVorkin:

The telescopic instruments?

Tousey:

Yes. I designed and built a periscopic type of telescope that would go on aircraft; it had a prism you could turn to look at different parts of the sky and search its altitude. Farrand Optical designed the same sort of instrument and built it together with the Kollsman Instrument Company. A very fancy periscopic sextant was built by them. It must have cost a great deal. Abbott's thing was just a pretty crude telescopic type of sextant arranged so that, in principle, you could find two stars (if I'm remembering this correctly). You know the angle between the two stars and set this into the instrument. Then, you look through one telescope, at the brighter star which you should find rather easily and then rotate the instrument around the axis of that telescope until the other star appears in the second telescope.

DeVorkin:

Then the orientation would give you a fix. Which design was finally used?

Tousey:

(laugh) All three were tried. I got my first trip to Colorado out of this, first trip to the West.

DeVorkin:

Hmm, why Colorado?

Tousey:

It was immediately obvious that around here there are very few days when the daytime sky, even in those days, was clear enough (dark enough) to see much, let alone stars. Abbott's man got a trip back to Oregon or Washington State out of it, where the skies were supposed to be clear (laughs). I said to myself, well, if he can go on a trip for this purpose, why can't I? I put it up to Hulbert, and he said, "Sure, go ahead."

DeVorkin:

That included taking the instruments.

Tousey:

This in itself is an interesting tale. We'll go on for all day at this rate, but that's all right. Since I need to have a record of this junket for my grandchildren anyway (laughs)!

DeVorkin:

If you went out to Colorado, did you fly around in airplanes out there with the sextant?

Tousey:

No, no. We shipped it all out. Here's where my first meeting with Menzel came in. I asked: "where will I go in Colorado?" and he didn't know. He said, "Well, I guess Menzel ought to know, because he has just set up a chronograph station in Colorado. Let's talk it over with him." Menzel was in uniform at that time and was up at what was a super-secret decoding place, I guess. I think he did decoding. He was at a place that is still owned by the Navy up on Nebraska Avenue.

DeVorkin:

Oh, here in town?

Tousey:

Yes. Hulburt and I went up to see him, and he came down, sort of formally; he was very much impressed with himself as a lieutenant commander in the Navy. And said, "I'm sorry I can't take you into my office, but security won't permit it." Well, that struck me as very strange, because Hulburt was certainly just as much cleared as Menzel. We had a discussion for a few minutes down in the entrance hall (laughs), and he said, "Then you should go to Climax, Colorado." But he said, "I'm awfully sorry, but you can't live up there. We don't have suitable facilities, and so forth and so on; but you can live at Leadville." He was closely associated with Leadville personally. He suggested a hotel there.

DeVorkin:

Did you talk with Menzel at all about the astronomy he was doing?

Tousey:

No, no, in fact, when I got there, I became acquainted with Walter Orr Roberts, who had just got the station going; and he had been told not to talk about it.

DeVorkin:

What?

Tousey:

Not to talk about it because it was classified.

DeVorkin:

What, the High Altitude Observatory? (laughs)

Tousey:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Why was it classified?

Tousey:

It was funded with military money for the purpose of predicting ionospheric disturbances, a thing that's gone on and on and on, and still is (laughs).

DeVorkin:

I am curious as to why you found this remark humorous? Was it because of the classification, or the need for such work?

Tousey:

First, because I thought as a Navy Department employee with clearance I should have been told about it. Second, because Menzel/Roberts were so sure it was going to lead to an immediate solution of prediction of radio blackouts, and even now, after being pursued for 40 years or so, it has a long way to go!

DeVorkin:

Did you talk with Roberts about it?

Tousey:

Yes, somewhat.

DeVorkin:

You did?

Tousey:

He was just getting going.

DeVorkin:

He has a deep-seated interest in the sun and solar spectrum.

Tousey:

Yes, he was interested in it, then and still is but he was really gung ho on coronagraphs at the time. I don't believe it had been in operation for more than a few months. It was working and that was just great.

DeVorkin:

You did get a chance to see the coronagraph there?

Tousey:

Oh yes.

DeVorkin:

Were you interested in it?

Tousey:

Yes, but not terribly much interested in it, because I was more interested in the project that I had. The way it was arranged; things were very simple in those days. I took my wife along as my assistant (laughs). We shipped the gear out by rail. The Navy procured a panel truck for us, and it was sent by rail from Salt Lake City, where they kept trucks. It came without license plates, just "USN" on the side. They gave me a pocket full of gas ration coupons; and we took the train out there, and found that the stuff had arrived. We tried to get the truck. I finally located it at the Recruiting Station Garage about three miles away. So we went up there and got it. We found to our amazement that it didn't have any fan belt (laughs).

DeVorkin:

Rubber was expensive at that time. (laughs)

Tousey:

It must have been. Somebody had stolen it, probably.

DeVorkin:

Oh no.

Tousey:

So we got a fan belt put on, drove the truck down, loaded the gear into the panel truck and set off. This is unbelievable now. You couldn't possibly allow anyone who wasn't an employee (to use a vehicle). You would have to give them all kinds of tests, even to ride in a Navy vehicle, probably.

DeVorkin:

You were a civilian through all of this?

Tousey:

Yes, yes.

DeVorkin:

But at that time the restrictions weren't that much.

Tousey:

Yes. So we set out, and we drove to Leadville and engaged a hotel room. We went up to see Walter Roberts and his set-up there. And we went up there and set up equipment to look for stars every morning, and lived in Leadville. And almost always by the time we got the equipment set up, it had either clouded over or started to snow, although this was late in May of '43. And after a week of that, we decided that it wasn't worth the trouble to try to work at Climax, and we ought to be able to find a better place than Climax. So we drove to various other places in Colorado. Among them was Mesa Verde; and there we did see some stars in the daytime. We got done what I felt needed to be done.

DeVorkin:

Did you do the polarization and brightness in the daytime sky at high altitudes during this trip?

Tousey:

No.

DeVorkin:

Okay, that was something else. Okay, we'll get to that next.

Tousey:

Then, we wound it up. I should mention that the truck ran very well, but when we got up into Mesa Verde I decided that I ought to have it checked over by the garage there at the National Park. And they found there wasn't any transmission grease! But it had gone all right just the same; they filled it up with grease and we drove back to Denver (laughs). We thoroughly enjoyed the two weeks in Colorado.

DeVorkin:

A nice way to spend May.

Tousey:

Perhaps after that or perhaps it was before, Dr. Hulbert and I flew on a small plane from the Naval Air Station to look for stars in the daytime sky above Washington from above 10,000 feet, where it was pretty clear. And I guess that has been written up, more or less, in the News reports. I found it almost impossible to pick up a star, even with a low power if you don't know where you're looking. We saw Venus with the naked eye from there very well; but we still had to know almost exactly where to look.

DeVorkin:

This never really became a very viable technique?

Tousey:

No, it didn't. I guess we can wind that project up, in a way, by citing the final test on which all three of us attempted to fly to 20,000 feet altitude; Hulburt and I, the man from the Smithsonian, whose name I can't remember, and the fellow named Barcus from Farrand. We went to Philadelphia to the Naval Air Station, and flew in at Amphibious PBY, with these big Mae West blister things that could be opened. We had oxygen; and we climbed to 20,000 feet over Philadelphia. I couldn't see any stars at all; but the man from the Smithsonian with Abbott's instrument kept seeing stars all the time. I thought, "What's the matter with him? Is he crazy, or am I crazy, or is he a liar?" And then, when he thought he was seeing stars he said, "Well, maybe my place down here is better than your place. Let's swap; you can take your equipment to this other position. Maybe you're looking through the slip stream of the propeller blasts.” So we swapped, and we swapped oxygen and I put on his oxygen mask, and I found that it was completely frozen up. He wasn't getting any oxygen! I nearly got scared to death. I thought, "Well, my gosh, I'm sure to die up here at 20,000 feet without oxygen;" and so I reported "no oxygen" to the crew. They thought that was serious! So they terminated the flight and we went down pronto. I think that he was seeing stars because of anoxia (laughs).

DeVorkin:

That's marvelous.

Tousey:

That's a good story. Nothing ever came of it. And, of course, radar was coming along, and there was Loran, and I don't know what else in the way of navigational aids, and so the visual thing petered out. The last thing I did, I guess, was to take both the Farrand equipment and my equipment down to Eglin Field, together with Kai Strand, who later became head of the Naval Observatory. He was a Second Lieutenant down there (laughs). The workings of the Air Force Base were terrible and tied up with red tape; and we couldn't get anything done properly. He wasn't particularly happy with it, either. At least, he did finally get the Farrand equipment installed in a B-29, to try to see the stars, and I think it got flown satisfactorily just once. I don't think anyone ever saw a star through it.

DeVorkin:

Yes. It sounds like a tough operation.

Tousey:

It was very difficult. It was theoretically possible, but I think it would have only been of value in the Artic, or Antarctic where the sun is low all the time and the sky is fairly dim.

DeVorkin:

Yes, you need a very clear sky for that, certainly. The other areas that you identified here include the brightness and polarization of the daytime sky at high altitudes. Again, were these high altitudes achieved by airplanes?

Tousey:

Yes, and that was of scientific interest. It grew out of this attempt to see stars in the daytime, because the brightness of the sky makes it hard to see stars, of course. This led to work on the visibility of point sources in fields of extended brightness, simulating a star. It connected with our participation in the Army-Navy OSRD Committee on Vision.

DeVorkin:

Right. That's Number 6 there. What was your primary scientific interest there: getting to know by the scattering characteristics of the atmosphere where the structure of the atmosphere, what the structure of the atmosphere was?

Tousey:

I think Dr. Hulburt was more interested in that than I. It turns out that he had more of a theoretical bent than I guess surfaced with me; and he was interested more in the theory of the brightness of the daytime sky. He published various papers on that, and of course, the observations of the brightness of the daytime sky, and of the polarization were the quantities which one would have to calculate by means of theory, and have available for comparison with the results of the theory. To reach a really perfect sky we wanted to get above all pollutants, and to see a so-called pure Rayleigh sky, in order to make this comparison properly. With aerosol types of pollutants, we couldn't very well set up a theory that would be of any value; at least, it was not likely. It would have to be very complex. It's a horse of a different color, so to speak.

DeVorkin:

Right.

Tousey:

That was the reason for the project to make measurements of the brightness of the daytime sky, and its polarization at very high altitudes. I didn't go on this myself; Don Packer was the one who did that work. He joined our group at the end of the war. During the war he was at the Naval Gun Factory Optical Shop Design Section, working for the then-well-known geometrical optics man, whose name I can't remember. Anyway, he was involved in the optical design section over there, and saw that it was going to fold. It wasn't terribly interesting, anyway. Packer, in turn, was Brian O'Brien's first and the only Ph.D., and had been involved in the Explorer II project.

DeVorkin:

The balloons, yes.

Tousey:

Yes. He joined us and stayed in my group with me until he retired a few years ago.

DeVorkin:

Did he talk at all about his experiences with Explorer II?

Tousey:

Not very much. I think he must have been sort of peripherally involved in that. Harold Stewart, who also came here, worked for Brian O'Brien all during the war and was also involved in Explorer II. Brian O'Brien was sort of tough. He put the wartime effort and, incidentally, perhaps also his own interests, above the needs of his students. Martin Koomen, also at NRL, was another one of that group, by the way. He got a master's degree from Rochester, but he was working on the OSRD projects for Brian O'Brien and came here. Brian O'Brien made no effort to give any Ph.D.'s at all after Don Packer, as far as I can tell. I don't know if he ever gave another one; but he pursued his own interests, aided by his students. So Harold Stewart came, and Stewart was involved more directly in the Explorer II experiment.

DeVorkin:

Were you developing any interests at that time in the attainment of high altitude for the continued studies of these kinds of things: the brightness and polarization of the sky; transmission of light through the atmosphere; all of these wartime interests? Did you ever get interested in balloons at that time?

Tousey:

No. Balloons were just coming in, that is, the modern balloon. The Explorer balloons, of course, were completely different. The balloon projects were just starting, and it appeared to me that we could do better from high-flying aircraft at that time, which we attempted to do, and did. The rockets came along, you see, in 1946, so the number of years was very short, really, between the end of the war, 1944 and 1946.

DeVorkin:

When did you first hear of the availability of the V-2's?

Tousey:

I first heard at almost the beginning of 1946 — probably February 1946.

DeVorkin:

Through whom did you hear this?

Tousey:

I heard from Hulburt; and Hulburt knew because he was higher up in the laboratory and head of the division. He knew of it through Krause, Ernie Krause. Krause knew of it through his various contacts in connection with guided missiles in which he was involved. I don't know what he did during the war, but at the end of the war, Krause started a project here connected with guided missile development.

DeVorkin:

That was before the V-2's?

Tousey:

Yes, before they came over.

DeVorkin:

I see. Was Milton Rosen involved at all?

Tousey:

Yes, he was in that same group, just about from the very beginning.

DeVorkin:

Have you had a chance to look at Homer Newell's book, Beyond the Atmosphere?

Tousey:

I've had a chance, it's an excellent book, but I haven't read it much. It's around here somewhere.

DeVorkin:

He recalls a specific meeting here at NRL that was initiated by Krause, where a lot of people got together and said: "What are we going to be doing after the war? What will our research be?" And there were a number of things listed on the blackboard; and one of them down the line there was research with V-2 rockets. Were you in that meeting?

Tousey:

No. I think that must be the meeting that Hulburt was in. As the result of that meeting, possibly the same day, he spoke with me and said: "this is sort of interesting," and "could we get the extreme ultraviolet spectrum of the sun from a V-2 rocket." And he said, "what would you think about flying this old quartz spectrograph that Dr. Maris took to the Artic, to Alaska during the Polar Year?"

DeVorkin:

Is that the instrument that was at first intended to fly?

Tousey:

Well, that was his first idea.

DeVorkin:

That was Hulbert’s idea?

Tousey:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Where is that quartz spectrograph?

Tousey:

I don't know. It lay around for many years; maybe it went to the Antarctic after it went to the Artic.

DeVorkin:

Is it a Hilger of some sort?

Tousey:

No, I don't know what it was. No, it was a little thing, and it could have gone on a rocket. But I thought: "My gosh, that won't do; if we're going up that high, why not make a spectrograph that will go the shorter wavelengths which might be really interesting." And so I said, "Why don't we make a grating spectrograph?" And he said: "Well, I guess we could." And he'd think about it. That's the way it started. The project sort of took off from that conversation with Hulbert. Money was not so tight in those days; and so I proposed that.

DeVorkin:

How was that proposal made?

Tousey:

Just orally, as far as I know.

DeVorkin:

But, did you talk with people in the group, because you eventually worked with a good number of other people?

Tousey:

No, Hulburt and I proposed it, as far as I know.

DeVorkin:

Was it to Krause?

Tousey:

Yes. But Krause was very protective of his group (laughs).

DeVorkin:

What was his group?

Tousey:

He and Newell, I guess, had assembled what must have been the former group of guided missiles; I don't know what group it was, but a group here. And he started right in to put together a group for doing experimental research from the V-2 rockets. I don't know when Newell came, but he came because Krause knew him at Wisconsin, I think. Isn't that the way it was? They brought in some others, or had some others who were interested in it. So Krause insisted that it be a joint project between optics and his group, and that's the way it was. Actually Hulburt pretty much backed out, or bowed out of it. I headed our group which included Frank Johnson, who showed up here and asked if he could have a job (laughs).

DeVorkin:

This was after the war?

Tousey:

Yes. Frank Johnson had gotten a master's degree in extreme ultraviolet work at the University of Saskatchewan. I think I'm wrong on this. So Frank Johnson was given to me (laughs).

DeVorkin:

What about the others, William A. Baum?

Tousey:

Oh yes.

DeVorkin:

He is an astronomer now, but where did he come from?

Tousey:

He got his master's degree from the University of Rochester. And then he got into the Navy. He was an ensign and got himself assigned here and to us. And he was given to me to do with as I pleased, (laughs) pretty much.

DeVorkin:

Had he been interested in astronomy before then? I could ask him, of course.

Tousey:

I don't remember if he had been.

DeVorkin:

Okay. What did you put him to work doing, electronics?

Tousey:

(laughs) I didn't know what to do with him, at first.(laughs) We had an enormous number of simple lenses we had bought from Bausch and Lomb once, and the first job I gave him was to sort those out and catalog them. They are still across the hall. And then the V-2 project came along, and I put him on this, along with Frank Johnson, and he jumped right into it.

DeVorkin:

Yes. There was also J.J. Oberly.

Tousey:

And Durand and Rockwood. They were Krause's people.

DeVorkin:

I see.

Tousey:

It was very highly competitive. This was the first time that I ran into anything aggressively competitive at NRL. And it was aggressively competitive, but we didn't do any knifing in the back. It was just competitive.

DeVorkin:

In what manner was the competition? Whose design was going to be used?

Tousey:

Yes, and who would get the credit: who'd be first author, and who would be in charge. It ended up that I was in charge for Optics and Strain, I guess, was for Krause. I think I and my group were the only so-called outsiders who were not directly under Ernie Krause's thumb. He was quite a dictator, of course, and wanted everybody to be directly responsible to him, and he didn't like the idea of people who weren't (laughs); kind of amusing.

DeVorkin:

Did Dr. Hulburt have to run interference for you sometimes?

Tousey:

Not very much. He didn't go for this kind of politics at all. He traditionally stayed out of all that sort of thing. He was never one to do any aggressive fighting. He was very gentlemanly, and he got what he wanted 99% of the time that way.

DeVorkin:

Yes. Now, in being in charge of the Optics, were you also in charge of the overall design of the spectrograph itself? In other words, who decided that you'd have those two beaded entrance windows, and things like that?

Tousey:

Well, I think that was my idea. I had to convince everyone that it was a good idea; but the seeming urgency of this project was very great, the beads were accepted. The urgency was only because we wanted to beat out everyone else; and because we weren't sure how long rockets were going to remain available in those days.

DeVorkin:

Really, rockets were made available by the Army? G.E. was responsible for the launch.

Tousey:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

And so you really had no direct control over anything, did you?

Tousey:

No, we didn't. But Krause was very good at all this, and he maintained more control of it than anyone else, I should say.

DeVorkin:

Yes. He was running the rocket panel?

Tousey:

Well, yes. I was not on the rocket panel at first.

DeVorkin:

Right.

Tousey:

The rocket panel was supposed to assign priorities and divide up the space, and give everyone his fair share, and so forth. I think it functioned quite effectively.

DeVorkin:

Was that because of its membership, or because of Krause?

Tousey:

I think because of the membership in general, because it lasted long after Krause moved out of the project, as you know. At a rather early stage, he chose to go into Pacific testing. He was in charge of NRL's part of Pacific testing.

DeVorkin:

Was this just a bigger job for him somehow?

Tousey:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

He didn't move out because of any difficulties in the group?

Tousey:

No, no. He moved out because he was so effective (laughs). Then Newell stepped in, I guess, at that time and took over for him.

DeVorkin:

How long a time was it in the design, construction and testing for the production of your first ultraviolet spectrograph?

Tousey:

We started the project, I think in February 1946; and we saw that we would never get it designed and built by going through the NRL shops. So we placed a contract with Baird Associates, which became Baird Atomic after a while. I think I was responsible for this, probably, because I knew Walter Baird very well. He was the president of the company, a Johns Hopkins Ph.D., and was interested in the extreme ultraviolet and spectroscopy generally. He was in Cambridge and knew Prof. Lyman. There was a connection there between Baird Associates. Baird took on Carmilo Lanza, who was a technician at Harvard for many years, at first for Prof. DeWayne in x-rays, and later for Prof. Lyman. He was Prof. Lyman's technician, his last technician. So a connection was there in the extreme ultraviolet through Lanza, who was picked up and hired by Baird when Lyman no longer needed him. We placed a contract with Baird to design the instrument and build it.

DeVorkin:

Again, there was no problem with funding?

Tousey:

No. I don't even know where the funds came from.

DeVorkin:

What was the problem with the NRL shops? They just weren't fast enough?

Tousey:

Oh yes, they were not fast enough. There had been problems with the NRL shops for years, and sometimes they were fast, but they weren't usually.

DeVorkin:

It sounds from your reaction that it's a long term frustration with the shops.

Tousey:

Yes (laughs). Somewhere in my collection of tapes I have a recording. I set up a tape recording during a meeting with the commander in charge of the engineering services to try to iron out the problems. He was named Harrison and did his best to thwart me. That was another Harrison who entered my life in a negative way.

DeVorkin:

Oh, that's too bad.

Tousey:

Anyway, he didn't thwart me. (laughs)

DeVorkin:

How well did you work together with Krause's people, you and Bill Baum?

Tousey:

We worked very well together, I think, generally.

DeVorkin:

When did you know what your launch date was going to be, and how much of a rush was it to get the instrument finished?

Tousey:

Oh, it was a great rush. I think the first V-2 was launched successfully in April of that year. And we got the thing finished and into the V-2 that was launched in late June of that year.

DeVorkin:

Yes, the specific dates are in Newell's book.

Tousey:

That was a successful flight.

DeVorkin:

In June.

Tousey:

Yes, but it came down, just like this.

DeVorkin:

You mean, straight into the ground?

Tousey:

Straight down, and disappeared within a great big crater. You've seen pictures of that.

DeVorkin:

You have a very fine collection of photographs of this, I understand.

Tousey:

I hope so, yes.

DeVorkin:

What do you mean, you hope so?

Tousey:

I hope I can find the ones that I think I have. Friedman published some of them in a booklet.

DeVorkin:

That's right. Now, you were out at White Sands when this launch went?

Tousey:

No, I wasn't. I don't remember why.

DeVorkin:

Any members of the group out there?

Tousey:

I don't know who was there. Bill Baum may have been. He's the most likely one. Then, because of this armor-piercing projectile material for the photographic casing; I was sure that the film that was in that was recoverable, and should have had spectra. All we had to do was to find it.

DeVorkin:

Let's explain that for the tape. The armor-piercing projectile — go ahead.

Tousey:

The armor-piercing projectile was the strongest thing that we could think of for its weight and size, and that we could put in the spectrograph to shield the film after it had been exposed, in the case of a very serious explosive impact. The film was wound in through a narrow slot. I guess it had some felt or something or other on it. And the film was Eastman-Kodak 103-0, the most sensitive type of film that they made, but with their fluorescent lacquer on the surface, which was their improved fluorescent coating taking the place of oil.

DeVorkin:

Yes.

Tousey:

So that was wound into the cassette. As I have said and written on various occasions, we decided we ought to be able to dig it out. There was this big crater. I don't remember how deep it was, and there was a little bit of junk around the crater; and that's about all. We thought it ought not to be too difficult to dig it out. We had the Army out there digging for a month or so when they weren't doing something else.

DeVorkin:

Boy.

Tousey:

And a fellow named Allen was out there to advise and to try to find something. They never got more than a bushel basket full of junk out of that crater.

DeVorkin:

How did you feel after that? Did you feel as if there was a more fruitful way to do science?

Tousey:

I wasn't at all discouraged. I figured we would have better luck, for some reason or other, another time.

DeVorkin:

Now, this was in the nose cone.

Tousey:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

But you had made no provisions at that time for recovery?

Tousey:

No recovery, no.

DeVorkin:

Yes, just let it crash and pick it up.

Tousey:

But immediately thereafter, or soon thereafter, somebody, and I don't know who suggested putting the spectrograph in the tail fin. It could have been one of the German crew there. Von Braun was not actually a part of the team that was involved in the V-2 launches, but he was sitting off with the more intellectual ones in the Army facility at Fort Bliss, designing bigger and better vehicles. But his crew from Peenemunde was involved in the actual launches.

DeVorkin:

Did that include Stuhlinger?

Tousey:

Yes, Stuhlinger was with von Braun.

DeVorkin:

Oh, okay, yes.

Tousey:

It was only the more technician-types that were there. I guess G.E. was involved in it, too.

DeVorkin:

Right.

Tousey:

Well, then, soon thereafter they figured out that they could blow the vehicle apart, and that the tail fin and maybe the body would come down in maple leaf fashion. And the next time we flew it was in October.

DeVorkin:

That was also a nose cone?

Tousey:

No, that was not; in a tail fin.

DeVorkin:

Who decided to change that?

Tousey:

I don't know. It was not our group. It was a suggestion that came via Krause and via the panel, probably. It came from somewhere amongst the many people involved. Maybe from the Germans.

DeVorkin:

Yes. But it was modified so that your same spectrograph would fit in these?

Tousey:

Yes, it fitted in, and projected on each side of the tail fin a little bit. One bead looked out one way, and the other bead the other way, so it was nice.

DeVorkin:

Nicely designed. Did you ever have it in mind that they would have made that adjustment?

Tousey:

No.

DeVorkin:

It just worked out.

Tousey:

We put in two beads just to double the probability that it would see the sun.

DeVorkin:

That's right. In your contract with Baird in Cambridge, how many instruments did you contract with them for?

Tousey:

I think, three.

DeVorkin:

Three.

Tousey:

Then we placed a later contract for some additional ones. DeVorkin! Again with Baird?

Tousey:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Yes, okay, so you flew in October. Did you go out to White Sands then, yourself?

Tousey:

No, I didn't. I think I did not. I went out very soon thereafter — I may have gone out on that one.

DeVorkin:

Well, that's okay. I think this is a good place to stop now. We've gone three hours. And I thank you very much for this session.

[1] Dissertation, Harvard University, 1961.

[2] Physical Review 50 1057 (1936), Contributions from the Physical Laboratories, Harvard Univ. Series II, vol 3., No. 44 (1936).

[3] Optical Constraints of Fluorite' in the extreme Ultraviolet, Physical Review 50 1057, (1936).

[4] Highlights of Twenty Years of Optical Research, Applied Optics 6,(1967): 2044-77.

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