Unknown The Manhattan Project
Robert Johnson Omohundro
Lloyd Albert Quarterman
Born May 31, 1918, in Philadelphia, PA; died after a long illness in 1982 in Chicago, IL.
Education: St. Augustine's College, B.S., 1943; Northwestern University, M.S., 1952.
Memberships: Society of Applied Spectroscopy (national officer); Scientific Research Society of America; American Chemical Society; American Association for the Advancement of Science; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Society of Sigma Chi.
Scientist specializing in fluoride chemistry, nuclear chemistry, and spectroscopy. Assistant to associate research scientist and chemist on the Manhattan Project, New York, NY, and Chicago, IL, 1943-46; nuclear and fluoride chemist at Argonne National Laboratories, Chicago, 1946-1970s; developed the "diamond window," 1967; performed initial research on synthetic blood during the 1960s; created new compounds and molecules. Author or coauthor of many professional papers in his fields of specialization.
Although Lloyd Albert Quarterman is best known as one of six African American scientists who worked for the U.S. government during the 1940s to develop the atom bomb, he is rarely mentioned in histories of that research. Consequently, before his death in the summer of 1982, no interviewer had made a point of documenting Quarterman's life or his inclusion among the scientists trusted with the most carefully guarded defense secret of World War II. What has been written on Quarterman stresses his dedication to scientific exploration; Ivan Van Sertima, who interviewed Quarterman in 1979 for Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern, concluded with this quotation from the then experienced chemist and physicist: "We are in an age of discovery.... We live in the world of the unknown. That's the only place to live."
Quarterman was born in Philadelphia on May 31, 1918. He developed an early passion for scientific experiment and discovery by occupying himself with toy chemistry sets. He headed south for college some time in the late 1930s, studying chemistry and earning a reputation for his prowess on the football field at St. Augustine's College in Raleigh, North Carolina. When Van Sertima interviewed Quarterman, he could still see the athlete in the distinguished, sixty-year-old scientist: "As he spoke, the shock of his voice and his occasional laughter seemed to contradict his illness and I began to see before me, not an aging scientist, but the champion footballer." But young Quarterman evidently prioritized his studies: after earning his bachelor's degree in 1943, he was immediately hired by the U.S. War Department to work on the research being conducted at high-security laboratories across the country: the Manhattan Project.
Quarterman began work as a junior chemist; he was, officially, an assistant to an associate research scientist and chemist. The government hired him to work with a huge network of scientists spread across the country at different laboratories, each team pursuing a separate portion of the work necessary to develop an atomic bomb. What his exact duties were no biographer or interviewer has ever documented, since each of the scientists was sworn to secrecy at that time, thereby placing a seal of silence on even the most mundane of activities.
We do know, however, that Quarterman was affiliated with two of the laboratories in the overall network. He worked at both the Columbia University laboratory in New York City and at the hidden University of Chicago facility in Chicago, Illinois. It was the Columbia team of scientists that first split the atom--the act of nuclear fission necessary to produce the tremendous release of energy that would fuel the atom bomb. Before they could split the atom, however, these scientists--including, occasionally, Albert Einstein--had to create the uranium isotope necessary for fission; consequently, Quarterman was predominantly involved in the experiments that led to what author Stephane Groueff has described as the "gaseous diffusion method of obtaining fissionable materials." That is, more simply, the transformation of solid uranium into huge amounts of a particular kind of uranium gas.
The work at the University of Chicago was no less or more important, but the facilities were considerably more confidential. The empty locker rooms and racquet courts beneath the unused football stadium, Stagg Field, were converted in 1942 into a giant, hidden laboratory for the team of scientists working on the "plutonium program." Here, Quarterman and his colleagues worked under the direction of Enrico Fermi, the preeminent Italian physicist responsible for much of the major development in the field of nuclear physics in the twentieth century. The scientists developed and built the first nuclear reactor, or pile; this structure--essentially the same core structure found in modern nuclear power plants--allows for the massive conversion of plutonium into nuclear energy.
The work in these labs came to an end in 1945, when the U.S. military won the war against Japan. The two bombs made possible by these scientists obliterated two major Japanese cities--Hiroshima and Nagasaki--in early December. On the sixth of August, Quarterman received a certificate of recognition from the U.S. War Department for his work "essential to the production of the Atomic Bomb, thereby contributing to the successful conclusion of World War II."
As soon as the Manhattan Project was officially closed down in 1946, the government converted what remained of the Chicago research team into Argonne National Laboratories. The laboratories hidden beneath the University of Chicago's football stadium became a multi-million dollar facility, still run by the University of Chicago, above ground in a Chicago suburb. Most of the work conducted at the lab was geared toward the exploration of the peaceful possibilities of nuclear energy production. An Ebony article written in 1949 profiled the ten African-American scientists working at Argonne, including Quarterman, and stressed the positive potential that scientists then saw in nuclear physics: "Most of the experiments at Argonne are involved in such projects as disease prevention, prolonging human life and producing new sources of power." At the time, Quarterman expressed his usual feeling of excitement at discovery: "You can expect almost anything when you are exploring. It's just like playing poker; you've got to keep your eyes open."
Quarterman stayed with Argonne for about thirty years. His work kept him in the midst of the most important scientific projects of the day, some with great public appeal, some much more obscure but no less important. He continued to work with Fermi's team of scientists, who contributed to the first nuclear power plant. Although the process of producing energy from nuclear fission has become controversial because of possible dangers and resulting pollutants, the scientists involved in this project in the late 1940s believed that they were creating a revolutionary peacetime possibility from their military research. For Quarterman, this became the opportunity to study quantum mechanics under a world-renowned scientist, augmenting and strengthening his skills as a chemist and physicist. In 1952, Quarterman earned a master's of science degree from Northwestern University.
The bulk of Quarterman's work involved his skills as both a nuclear chemist and a fluoride chemist: he primarily occupied himself with creating new chemical compounds and, consequently, new molecules, from fluoride solutions. Van Sertima described the nature and significance of this work: "When Quarterman was going to school there were no 'compounds' of zeon or argon or krypton. These were ... thought to stand sovereign and alone, reacting with nothing. But Quarterman and his team made them react with the fluorine atoms. They made zeon tetrafluoride--zeon difluride--zeon hexafluoride.... Quarterman took zeon difluoride and incorporated it in other experiments, making a whole series of new compounds." Van Sertima concluded that "for a period of time they were the greatest fluoride chemists on earth."
Quarterman also worked as a spectroscopist, studying the interactions between matter and radiation. Van Sertima compared this field of specialization to "a man peering into the depths of the universe with a dozen eyes or windows.... He can study the composition of elements in our universe that are either invisible or elusive or obscure to us." In order to "look at" a highly corrosive solution, hydrogen fluoride, Quarterman developed a unique, corrosion resistant "window" made of diamonds--aptly referred to as the "diamond window." It was after a long period of exploration that Quarterman succeeded with the "first discovery trial" of the diamond window in 1967. By 1971, his credentials were such that his alma mater awarded him an honorary doctorate of science in chemistry.
In the last twenty years of his life, before a paralyzing illness began to slow him down, Quarterman initiated research on a medical possibility known as "synthetic blood"--"work which," Van Sertima commented, "had he been allowed to complete it, might have been one of America's major medical accomplishments." The reason that Quarterman was not able to continue with this work has never been explained, although "the loss of an opportunity to work on this project, which he felt might have saved thousands of lives," is said to have greatly disappointed Quarterman. He told Van Sertima only that he "ran into socio-political problems."
In his interview with Van Sertima, Quarterman was especially apt at describing his work--complex and specialized--in terms that made it exciting and accessible even to readers with little or no education in chemistry. Van Sertima noted that Quarterman devoted time to talking with black students in the Chicago public schools, demonstrating that careers in science are not only open to them, but also rewarding and interesting. Quarterman maintained a commitment to the African-American community in other ways as well, including dedicated membership in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Quarterman died of his ailments in the late summer of 1982, at the Billings Hospital in Chicago. Not surprisingly, the one thing noted in his obituary notice in Jet, aside from his work on the Manhattan Project, was that he had donated his body to science.
Certificate of Recognition, U.S. War Department, 1945; honorary doctorate of science from St. Augustine's College, 1971.
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/lloyd-albert-quarterman#ixzz1kbg...
William Jacob Knox
Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on January 5, 1904, William Knox is remembered for two achievements. He was among a handful of black scientists to work on the top secret Manhattan Project, which produced the atom bomb during World War II, and following the war he held a key development position at the Kodak Corporation, a major manufacturer of camera equipment.
Knox was the oldest of three brothers born to William and Estelle Knox. The elder Knox was a clerk at the U.S. postal service in New Bedford. All of the brothers attended Harvard University as undergraduates with William graduating from the institution in 1925. All three Knox brothers would go on to earn Ph.D.s. The middle son, Everett, studied history. The youngest son, Lawrence, studied chemistry and, during World War II, joined his eldest brother on Manhattan Project research.
William Knox earned his Master’s degree and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1929 and 1935 respectively. From 1935 to 1942, Knox was a professor in the chemistry department at North Carolina A&T; College. He left in 1942 to become chair of the chemistry department at Talladega College. One year later, however, he joined a team of scientists at Columbia University who were devising a way to separate the two uranium isotopes using gaseous diffusion, a complex process that made use of uranium hexafluoride, an extremely corrosive material. Though he did not know it at the time, his work was essential to the development of the atom bomb. Knox also holds the distinction of being the only black supervisor on the project.
Knox was one of the few black scientists who successfully transferred his wartime science expertise into private industry. Because of his work on corrosive substances, he was hired as a research scientist for Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York in 1945. During his time at Kodak he received patents at a rate of nearly one per year, totaling 21 patents in 25 years. Knox retired from Kodak in 1970. Knox briefly returned to teaching at North Carolina A&T;, remaining there until his permanent retirement in 1973.
Knox married Edna Knox (nee Jordan) and the couple had one daughter, Sandra. William Jacob Knox died on July 9, 1995 in Newton Massachusetts. He was 91.
James A Parsons Jr.
James A. Parsons Jr. was a scientist, inventor, and university professor, whose research with rust resistant metals and iron alloys is credited with leading to the development of stainless steel. During his lifetime, he received several patents pertaining to metals for his achievements. Parsons was highly respected among his peers in the scientific community and widely regarded as one of the nation’s leading metallurgists.
James Albert Parsons Jr. was born in Dayton, Ohio on May 30, 1900. His father was a butler in the home of an executive at the Duriron Company, a metals manufacturing firm. When Parsons was young, his extraordinary ability in mathematics came to the attention of his father’s employer. Parsons attended Steele High School in Dayton and after graduating in 1917, turned down an opportunity to attend the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Instead, he took an interim job at the Duriron Company as foundry laborer and in 1918 began his undergraduate studies at the highly competitive Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Duriron provided Parsons with summer employment while he was in college. The 1922 Rensselaer yearbook describes Parsons as hard working, ambitious, and popular with his peers. His love of music gave him the nickname “Jazz,” and his dormitory room was a hub for aficionados like himself. His was also known for his love of smoking a big black pipe and being generous with sharing his tobacco with friends. The yearbook notes that Parsons spent a lot of his spare time at the pool and was such a skillful and enthusiastic swimmer that some of his classmates call him “Fish Parsons.” He studied electrochemistry and electrometallurgy while majoring inelectrical engineering and was a member of the AIAA club.
After Renesselaer, Parsons returned to his hometown and was hired by Duriron in 1922 for the job of analytical chemist, a position that was certainly more befitted to his credentials and intellect than foundry laborer. He worked with aluminum bronze and made a lasting contribution to the Aluminum Bronze Foundation. In 1927, Parsons won the prestigious Harmon Foundation award in science, the first of its kind, for the advances he made with rust-resistant or non-corrosive metals. His gold medal was presented by Orville Wright, one of Ohio’s most famous sons, and Charles Kettering, an acclaimed engineer, gave the address for the event. During the early 1930s, Parsons continued to rise through the Duriron company ranks.
In 1935, Duriron had a reputation as the sole world manufacturer of specific kinds of non-corrosive metals. A 1939 article in the Journal of Negro Education mentions that the president of Duriron wrote Parsons a laudatory and appreciative letter praising his performance and his “valuable development work,” as well as commending him for the patents the firm had been credited with because of Parsons’ accomplishments. Citing Parsons’ “executive ability,” the letter indicated that he was not only superlative in his chosen field of electrical engineering but could hold his own in chemistry and metallurgy.
Between 1929 and 1949, Parsons received eight patents pertaining to the development and application of non-corrosive metals, which were credited to the Duriron Company. In 1929, he received Patent Number 1,728,360 on an iron alloy, and four years later he acquired Patent Number 1,819,479 for discovering a way to make silicon iron compounds. In 1934 and 1935, Parsons acquired Patents Number 1,912,103 and CA 348312 for inventing a process for treatment of silicon alloy castings. During the two-year span between 1938 and 1940, Parsons received three patents (2,134,670; 2,185,987; and 2,200,208) on corrosion-resisting ferrous alloy. Not one to rest on his laurels, he achieved Patent Number 2,318,011 on a cementation process for treating metals in 1943. Parsons was awarded his final patent, Number 2,467,288, in 1949 for a nickel-based alloy.
According to Margaret Peters, who interviewed Stevens and has written extensively about notable black Ohioans, six of the patents were issued solely to Parsons, one was issued to Parsons and Earl Ryder (2,318,011), and another was credited to Parsons and Guy Baker. All of the patents were assigned to the Duriron Company. Parsons’ scientific achievements did not go unnoticed by the African American academic community. Wilberforce University, a historically black Ohio university, awarded Parsons an honorary doctorate of science at its June 1941 commencement.
In the 1940s, Parsons became the chief metallurgist and a laboratory manager at the Duriron Company. Parsons’ department, which was comprised of an entirely African American staff with chemical expertise, researched aluminum bronze and tested treating iron and steel to be resistant to the corrosiveness of acids, such as sulphuric and hydrochloric. Parsons was so successful in discovering new measures for testing and protecting metals from corrosion that by 1950 he was widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading scientists, an expert on rust-resistant metals.
Begins Teaching Career
In 1951 or 1952, Parsons retired from Duriron and made a transition from the corporate arena to academe. During the 1952–53 school year he accepted a faculty position in the Department of Metallurgy at Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial University in Nashville, Tennessee, now known as Tennessee State University. During his thirteen years at the institution, Parsons served as chairman of the Department of Metallurgy and as acting dean of the College of Engineering. He resigned from the university during the 1966–67 school term. In an interview with the author, Professor Yvonne Y. Clark, a junior faculty member in the Metallurgy Department during the time of Parsons’ tenure, praised him as a “brilliant man.” His daughter, Ann Parsons Shipp, said in a letter to Homer Wheaton that he “thoroughly enjoyed his commitment to his students” and he cherished the time he spent training African American students to become engineers.
Born in Dayton, Ohio on May 30
1922 Receives B.A. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; hired as analytical chemist by Duriron Company
1927 Receives Harmon award in science
1929 Receives first patent on an iron alloy
1929–48 Receives eight patents pertaining to metals, which were assigned to the Duriron Corporation
1941 Receives honorary doctorate of science from Wilberforce University
1946 Serves as chief metallurgist and laboratory manager at Duriron and supervises all black lab department
1952–67 Serves as professor in and later as chair of the Department of Metallurgy at Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial University in Nashville, Tennessee
1972–87 Teaches at Ohio State University and Garfield Skills Center
1989 Dies in Dayton, Ohio on March 4
After leaving Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial University, Parsons returned to his native Ohio. He later came out of retirement: he became an adjunct professor at Ohio State University where he taught until 1971 and also an instructor at the Garfield Skills Training Center. In fact, he continued to teach until he was 87. He was a member of Trinity United Presbyterian Church, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, and the Sigma Pi Phi fraternity Boulé. The highly selective Sigma Pi Phi is the oldest black fraternity in the United States. At the time of his death, on March 4, 1989, Parsons had been married to his wife, Blanche, for sixty-one years and the couple had two daughters and one son.
James A. Parsons was dedicated to excellence. His patents are a testament to his abilities to achieve beyond the ordinary in his chosen field. His career as a college professor shows his willingness to share his knowledge and skills with a future generation of engineers, scientists, and inventors.
Read more: Parsons, James A., Jr.(1900–1989) - Inventor, scientist, educator, Begins Teaching Career, Chronology - Duriron, University, Metals, and Patents - JRank Articles http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/4406/Parsons-Jam...
Louis W Roberts
Roberts was a pioneer in optics and microwave electronics technology. He was
also one of the highest-ranking African-American scientists working for NASA
during our race to the moon. Roberts holds eleven patents for electronic
devices and is the author of papers on electromagnetism, optics, and
Roberts was born in Jamestown, New York, in 1913. He earned his bachelor's
degree in physics at Fisk University in 1935. After earning his master's at the
University of Michigan in 1937, he started his career as an associate professor
of physics, first at St. Augustine's College and later at Howard University.
Roberts began his research on optics and microwave electronics. Over time, his
pioneering work earned him 11 patents and led him to a research position with
Sylvania Electric. Eventually he left Sylvania and formed his own company to
continue research and development of microwave applications. He eventually
started three other research companies that were a catalyst for rapid
development in this new field.
pioneering work brought him to the attention of NASA in the early 1960s. The
space agency pulled him away from private research and made him chief of NASA's
Microwave and Optics Laboratory. This position made him one of the highest
ranking African-Americans in the space program at the height of the Apollo era.
Louis Roberts stayed with NASA for the better part of a decade.
When the big
budget cuts began at NASA at the end of the Apollo program in the early 1970s,
Louis Roberts moved on to the Department of Transportation, where there were
new opportunities for microwave applications.
Director of Energy and Environment at the Transportation System Center in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, from 1977 to the present, Louis Roberts helps develop
energy conservation practices for the transportation industries. Currently,
transportation accounts for over half of the United States' consumption of
petroleum. However, the Energy Conservation Policy Act requires the
transportation sector to reduce fuel consumption in all types of vehicles.
David Nelson Crosthwait Jr.
Engineer, inventor, writer. Born on May 27, 1898, in Nashville, Tennessee. An African American pioneer in the field of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC), Crosthwait attended Purdue University where he studiedmechanical engineering. After graduating in 1913, he took a job with the C. A. Dunham Company (now known as Dunham-Bush, Inc).
During his time with the company, Crosthwait held many positions, including director of research. While at Dunham, he conducted research in several areas, including heat transfer and steam transport. His work led to many innovations in HVAC devices and technology and held more than 30 U.S. patents. Crosthwait designed HVAC systems; the heating system at Radio City Music Hall in New York City is perhaps the best-known example of his work.
Besides research, product development, and HVAC system design, Crosthwait also advanced his field by writing articles and revising sections of several editions of American Society of Heating and Ventilation Engineers Guide. His accomplishments were recognized by many in his field. He won a medal from the National Technological Association in the 1930s and was made a fellow of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in 1971??the first African American to received the honor.
Crosthwait officially retired from Dunham in 1969 after serving as an advisor since 1930. He died on February 25, 1976.
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