The History of InfoAge Science & History Museums

Oral Histories - Oral History of Samuel Stein – Tape 2

Interviewee: Samuel Stein

Interviewer: Michael Ruane
Date: 1998?
Place: Camp Evans – 9039
Media: NTSC Video
Summary: Mr. Irv Bauman


SAM STINE, PHYSICIST (Cont’d from Tape 2)

Sam returned to continue the exposition of his experiences at Evans. He began with an anecdote about a Washington D.C. happening. Here, he was invited to attend a dinner party there and found himself seated next to Mrs. Jackie Kennedy. She was pregnant at that time and, in the course of table talk, found her to be the coldest person. He felt that her husband, who was also present, was a ruthless politician, wanting only to win when running, and at any cost. He even involved Nuns, to help in his campaigns.

Sam identified Jim Goodin, who ran Meteorological Branch, as a brilliant man. It seems that Jim & Pres. Harry Truman attended grade school, high school & college together, and became good friends. Jim was welcome at the White House to visit Harry & Bess Truman. Sam accompanied Jim on several occasions on these visits, meeting Bess & Harry. Jim had worked On Weather Instrumentation at USAF at Dayton, Ohio. He was a good physicist and a fair mathematician. He displayed a drive when tackling an assigned problem. At the White House, Jim spoke to Truman about his work in Meteorology.

Sam traveled in aircraft extensively, having made 40 flights, some which featured wild turbulence and resulted in injury to passengers. On one flight where 3 nurses were aboard, one engine caught fire and a crew chief hurt his neck. The nurses treated him until they landed at Fort Dix, NJ where he was taken to their hospital. Sam experienced several aircraft landing problems, as well as 14 crashes, during his Air Corps service. He served there as Chief Inspection Forecaster, the 9th Weather Reconnaissance, assigned a Weather Station which covered the Caribbean thru to the Galigapos Island areas.

Sam next indicated that with his assignment to Project Cirrus, he experienced four crashes in aircraft and simply wanted out. He had 4 children and felt they certainly needed their father. In the Midwest, the rain was badly needed to grow corn. Under Project Cirrus to which he was assigned, the clouds were seeded, but in the mountains, the snowfall had increased excessively. To see a cloud, the dry ice had to be placed at a special point in the cloud to be effective. If done properly, heavy condensation would result. A typical cloud seeding mission would cost $20,000 for the use of the plane, plus the cost of a man.

Sam got involved in building 32 detectors, then built 2 Radar Systems. The second and more powerful would pick up signals more than 3 miles away. He had a Laser Radar that could pick up smoke from a cigarette, a very useful tool in Vietnam, and built by Honeywell. Later USAF used it for perimeter protection. Sam started his work specialty before the war and continued after the war ended. He worked in Bldg 37, Evans. He developed a laser that picks up a cloud particle movement. He knew Ratheon, Boston had a Laser Gun, so he rushed up to Boston, pointed the gun over their parking lot, and found that all the people on the ground there could be picked up. Based on that capability, Sam’s group had a unit built thru Honeywell, a pistol radar covering one mile that would pick up anything that moves.

Sam spoke of two especially useful men working with him, one who lives in Lakewood, NJ, and ran his temperature lab; the other effects in an aircraft. One of his men, later on, joined the Einstein group in Princeton. Though his speech and writing were especially poor, he proved extremely useful to his group. He would type rather than write his thoughts. Sam worked thru Dr. Ziegler, a brilliant man, who displayed the typical German arrogance. Sam was always traveling around in the course of his work yet, Jim wouldn’t hound him upon his return.

One experience he recalled, traveling to the West to witness the explosion of 100,000 lbs. of explosives where he had to measure the resulting waveforms and temperature. This explosion nowhere approached the White Sands Explosion. Phases of Project Cirrus were classified for many years. Once someone pumped his 4 yr. old daughter for information. Sam hates journalists, who report incorrectly. Sam enjoyed his work thoroughly. That work was appreciated and it directly helped the soldier in the field. His advice to young people: learn to type early. Sam works his computer 6 hrs/day. He feels computers should be used for computing not dating. He has a 200 megacycle computer on his desk. He met several meteorologists on the Internet, acquiring data from them, using intuition to supplement what he found out. He wished he could return to his past work today.

Radar contributed to Met. Branch programs. Project Cirrus measured droplet size. A Canadian Mathematician worked out a method for this form of measurement. Sam headed committees to include representatives from USAF, National Bureau of Standards, Dep’t of Commerce & Weather Bureau. He had involvement with the use of IR detectors, the perimeter sensors used in Vietnam. Sam was frequently approached by foreign countries for information but he responded only to those who coordinated with the State Dep’t. Sam worked on many highly classified projects. He identified the Thunder Lightning Bold Project with the University of New Mexico, studying electrical characteristics… The White House paid for the related flights, paying one million dollars a day for a flight, and $40,000 /day if none were made. Part of the project was to direct the energy of an exploding bomb.

All research today, he remarks, goes to the industry from whom information easily gets to the enemy. He further remarks that, in S.E.Asia, each group is killing the other, and U.S.Soldiers are sent there to try to control their actions. In the past, the Pentagon maintained a status board of all current data; today, information travels in seconds. There are no heroes in a war that is fought by killing every enemy man, woman, and child.
60 min.

Page created August 2, 2002

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