Bulletin 13

Bull. 13. May 8, 1999. Can a lifetime of work on a science for complex systems be brought to fruition?

This member of the H-K group finds that question to be the ultimate antinomy. He will present you the facts as he knows them, and you can judge. Of a rather advanced age, the last week in March 1999 was spent in Atlanta, Ga. with over 10,000 other members of the American Physical Society at its Centennial, with a nominal theme: Physics for the New Millennium. A poster was presented to give passing readers a chance to dwell on its subject, a new branch of physics for that future. To make the test binding — whether its theme might go over — a large number of 3″x5″ cards were printed up, reproducing the poster, and handed out to attendees of all possible fractions, old, young, students, faculty, press, APS staff, publishers and editors, company and Government agency reps. A number had been preassigned as to how many useful encounters could be deemed a successful experimental test. Fruits it may produce will be judged in the future. The number achieved, from 6 days of interaction, was deemed a success. And yet there were a variety of lessons were also learned that were disconcerting. The topic that was presented, as an H-K subject, was a social physics. The poster is reproduced below, so that the viewer can make a personal judgment of the test exploration.

Social Physics — Next Century!

A. S. Iberall
Los Angeles, CA

H. Soodak
New York, NY

F. Hassler
U. S. Dept Transportation
Boston, Mass.

This is a 20th Century subject whose time to emerge, as a physics subdiscipline, has come [see J. Stewart, American J. Physics, May 1950]. Our interdisciplinary science group [www.trincoll.edu/depts/psych/homeokinetics] has been occupied with the study, within a physics for complex systems, for 27 years. Here is a single page overview.

Equations of change. People are not ping pong balls. They are physical-chemical atomistic units — persons — who engage in a very broad temporal range of intrapersonal as well as interpersonal interactions. The range in time scaling ratio between the former to the latter — in our group’s definition of complexity — makes the collective system complex. Action is measured by the integrated product of energy-time. The social collective may either be a small group who live or work together successfully, an organized polity, a civilization, or a species. That definition of complexity, at this level of units and organization, is not measured in h units of action, but as a “factory day” of action of Ho for people, Ho is about 2,000 kcal per Earth factory day. For other mammalian species, our biophysics has scaled H with the 4/5ths power of unit body mass. That human factory action scaling, its metabolic energy, is 2,000 kcal-days per Earth factory day. {That comprises the foundational definitions}.

Their fluxes. The fluxes, whose persistence defines the system, are five in number, and as left hand variables except for a steady state equilibrium, are in process of changing in time and space [DXi / Dt ¼ 0, i = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

X1 is the metabolic flux that supports the flow of actions (right hand side) – maintenance, voluntary, involuntary.

X2 are the individual flows of molecular matter — e.g., carbohydrates, fats, proteins, other daily requirements.

X3 are the flows of characteristic actions — e.g., rest, work, procreation, recreation.

X4 is the population number law — thermodynamically, that the productive change in population number is proportional to those who have been born before and are still alive.

X5 — for modern human societies is a value-in-exchange measure [to grasp our group’s usage of this economic variable, invented by humans out of mind, the reader is referred to the anthropological economics of Polanyi, rather than the mathematical economics of K. Arrow; see S. Hook,Human Values and Economic Policy, which will both perplex and inform you]. If these systems are hierarchically complex, e.g., are both consumer as well as producer societies with complex command-control governing processes, the balance extends to those levels also.

Equation of state. The left-hand variables in these five equations are also bound in common by a function that shows their codependence as their independent variables change.

Driving potentials. Such collective systems are embedded in an Earth’s environment that affords the following sheaf of driving potentials.

  1. Solar flux
  2. Earth’s atmospheric temperature potential
  3. Physical-chemical resources of support platform Earth
  4. On-board chemical genetic potential
  5. Technological rate potential emergent from physical-chemical brain that suggests tool changes that augment and increase the action flow streams [among hominids 2-3 Mya]
  6. A value system which — while foundationally physical-chemical — currently has to be identified by behavioral categories — world images of self, interpersonal relationships, of nature, of society, of ritual and institution, of other living organisms, of technology and culture, of spiritual causality (fathers, leaders, gods), of art forms (abstract attention-attraction in sensory modes), in a weak sense – of capability for abstract rational thought

[PNAS-USA, Sept. 1985; Foundations for Social and Biological Evolution, 1993; Phys. Today, Letters, Feb. 1992, Science, Aug. 18, 1978; Perspectives in Biomechanics, Vol. 1, 1980]”

Some of the unexpected finds were: that except for young undergraduates, all those who had any extensive exposure to physicists or training from them, could not deal with the association of social and physics. Linguistically, it was a forbidden connection. On the other hand, if confronted with a quantitative modeling of the proposed conservations, e.g., the daily power consumption or metabolism, the flow streams of materials, the action distribution, like 1/f noise, the biophysical scaling for other mammals over the entire adult mammalian size range, the demographic laws for population maintenance at the group or species level, a political-economic set of rules that resulted from civilizational binding rather than more primitive hunter-gatherer binding, e.g., by the alternation between trade and war (considering an exchange system derived from anthropological rules, e.g., Polanyi’s, rather than the mathematical rules of modern mathematical economists, some progressive entry could be made to the program. Some with a modicum of sophistication could also see the relevance of the American president declaring war on the day before the poster was presented; they also could dwell on the geopolitical-economic status of Russia, China, and Japan).

The central H-K thesis being pursued is the need for a physical foundation for complex systems. For much of both pure and applied physics, this is not a tremendous problem. It seems more common that when it comes to close up detailed systems that seem to require a great deal of management, or more particularly engineering physics systems, the difficulty seems to arise. Somehow it seems to arise that the systems are viewed too academically. Since this author’s background differs in total from that single characterization, having been devoted to near 60 years of experience in Government, industry, academia, and devoted to both pure and applied fields, the opportunity is taken to offer a brief biography of that experience, in the hope that it may shed some light on why the problems in a number of specific fields suffer from sufficient attention by those physically trained. In some significant way, this author considers this a ëlast’ chance’ to see if the physics community can be more enticed into attention.

[To underline our difficulty, we will report on an incident from 1980 which perhaps will further illustrate the difficulty to be found in trying to connect social and physics among many physicists. The incident involves the third of the names associated with our poster. In the 1970s, Hassler was our project officer at DOT when we were developing the H-K foundation for the kind of physics we have produced. By about 1980, DOT had a number of contracts and grants with outside contractors, helping to develop a social science for the Department’s scientific-technical needs. Two of them, with physicists, were with the Prigogine group, including Bob Hermann, Peter Allan, and Prigogine. They were pursuing the Prigogine reaction kinetics associated with their group. The other contractor was our H-K physical model program. Just as a small connection, Bob Hermann was next door neighbor and working associate with Ralph Alpher, who was Gamow’s student in the development of the Big Bang model of the universe, and co-author in the famous Alpher, Bethe, Gamow paper (Gamow’s humor) that carried the model forth. I was also Alpher’s next door neighbor, and Gamow’s student, at the time a little earlier when he and I were both graduate students at GWU. I was also friend-colleague to Hal Morowitz who in 1969 at an International Biophysics Conference at MIT, on a panel on life’s origins, with Prigogine and Morowitz and Stromwasser, Katchalsky, Pattee, and Atkinson, in which Morowitz tore up and challenged Prigogine’s modeling in the most devastating fashion. In any case, in the 1980 conference in Boston, with Hassler’s office playing host, when our respective positions had been laid out, including our dear friend’s, Jane Jacobs, the doyenne of urban planning, after we had presented ours, Prigogine, from across the room, said that no self-respecting physicist could possibly believe in the construction of a social physics. We had forgotten that attack, but considering what they were doing as our opposition or parallel tracker, it did not make sense and seemed to have a vicious quality about it that we could not grasp].

Personal history. The author trained and graduated from CCNY in general physics, with comparable mathematics courses, plus sitting in on a considerable helping of interdisciplinary studies, more so than most students, also — doubting scientific employ in those late 30s — he studied mechanical engineering. Before entering college, he had spent a number of summers and much of a wanderjahr hitchhiking around the country. At 17, he was an early hippie tucked away for a short period in Cal Tech dormitories, and — irrelevantly, irreverently — decided that one day he would solve the problem of how societies ran. This topic he did not return to until a career of about 35 years more experience had been acquired. At 22, having gotten married right after graduation before returning to engineering school, and shipping his wife off to a Federal job in Washington, but also having applied and gotten a rating on the Junior Professional Assistant Federal register in general physics, with a wife’s very strong urging, it became necessary to find a job in Washington. Desperation, good fortune, and a very fast talking tongue opened an opportunity in the Mechanics Division of the National Bureau of Standards, now National Institute for Science and Technology., in an Aeronautical Instruments Section. Thus, early in 1941, a very brash but respectful young man was ësaved’ for a career-to-be in science. In a short time of months he went down to GWU and registered for graduate work in physics, proposing and hoping to study with George Gamow.

Place, mode, time. Some introduction to the Bureau, i.e., NBS: NBS and APS are about the same age, both born near the turn of this century. While some American science started earlier, e.g., in the middle of the 19th Century, one finds that Government, industrial, and the land grant colleges quite frequently began in this same epoch. Further explosions took place in World Wars I and II and between. One of the most fantastic events in this country’s history, little known except to few, was a truly interdisciplinary science-and-engineering meeting held in NYC in late 1939, proceedings published in 1941, Temperature — Its Measurement and Control in Science and Industry, Reinhold Publishing. The meeting’s sponsors were (one salivates in reciting the list):

The American Institute of Physics (its member societies — APS, Opt Soc. Am., Acoust Soc. Am. Soc. of Rheol., Am. Assoc. Phys.Teach.)

NBS [ “the heaviest single burden [of cooperation] fell on the staff of the [NBS]”]

Natl. Res. Counc.

Am. Ceram. Soc.

Am. Chem. Soc.

Am. Instit. Min. Metal. Eng.

Am. Soc. for Met.

Am. Soc. Mech. Eng.

Am. Soc. Heat. Vent. Eng.

Am. Soc. Refr. Eng.

Am. Soc. Test. Matl.

Am. Stand. Assoc.

Am. Weld. Soc.

Soc. Auto. Eng.

Am. Found. Assoc.

Committees and subcommittees with active participation from the following organizations:

Companies: Tagliabue Mfg, Univ. Oil Prod., US Steel, Dow Chem., Babcock & Wilcox, Humble Oil, Standard Oil, Merit Oil, Sinclair Refin., Texas Co., Chicago Bridge & Iron, Schlumberger, Solvay Sales, Pennsoil, Gen. Geophys., Atlant., Refin., Merchants Refrig., GE, Bristol, Leeds & Northrup, Maxwell & Moore, Owen Fairchild, Taylor Instrument, Weston Electric, Wheelco Instrum., Carnegie-Ill. Steel, Intern. Nickel, Lucian Pitkin Inc.

Institutes: Russell Sage (Cornell), Dept. Chem. Eng. (MIT), Worcester Poly, MIT, Yale Univ., Univ. Penn., Lehigh Univ., Carneg. Instit.

Govt. org: US Geol. Surv. (US Dept. Inter.), Bur. Reclam. (Dept. Inter.), Brit. Coal Util. Res. Assoc., US Weather Bur.

On behalf of the two senior authors on the poster — they both are at the 80th year mark in their lives — the significance of this attendance list, the subject covered, and its implications for the character of science and engineering in the USA deserves some interpretation. It would seem clear that this conference was interdisciplinary, and very broadly attended. But it was more than that. It was a high point in American science and engineering. It had never been reached before, and it never has been reached again.

Beyond that, note that it had passed the 20s and 30s. In that period, academic physics exploded and produced the science of nuclear constituents, as quantum theory. That science had no chance of beginning before 1900-1910. It exploded right after World War I. The two poster authors were not from that original generation. These were scientists who were born one decade or so earlier. They were born in or before 1910, were 20 or more years old in 1930, 40 in 1950, 60 in 1970 and 80 in 1990. The poster boys were born in 1920, were 20 in 1940, 40 in 1960, 60 in 1980, and 80 now at the APS Centennial. It was their teachers who were the cutting edge originators. But they are the ones who can carry the teaching on further now. That is the point of this exercise. Outside of or in addition to the academic line, what this author and his group and generation watched and participated in, was not so much an engineering explosion but an explosion into the process industries and scientific-technical industrialization. What the current reader of the Temperature book will not get is that such the attendees at that conference were this author’s mentors, and were the persons who this author watched create the fantastic product of an Instrument Society within that next decade, 1940-1960. It may not seem much, but from NBS, and with APS cooperation (almost no one in that society now can realize the importance of The Review of Scientific Instruments and other efforts to maintain an applied physics membership. “Such as we” all tended to drop out and find attachments in engineering societies. The effort is being tried again, but again being smothered in a second academic epoch). What that cooperative endeavor, sparked by the NBS, and the many components of industry, and engineering industries, and institutes, and even AIP, there was then a way that through all their engineering and even scientific societies, it was possible to develop a side organization or society that would also bind people with common interests in a variety of specialties. To illustrate, NBS sections with instrumentation and metrology interests were always found to participate in an NBS booth at the yearly Instrument Society shows. The attachment was nor pro forma. It kept NBS tied to its industrial and Government clients. Or when out interests became rather extended into regulation and control problems in all systems, it served the field’s needs to establish a biocontrol group in the American Automatic Control Council, also its international counterpart, The International Federation of Automatic Control, with representatives from all major American engineering societies. This represented further linkages with the American and World Union of Physiological Sciences, and the International Union of Biological Sciences. What is being said here is that some of us have understood for years the need to establish cross-linkages across scientific and engineering, pure and applied lines. On the other hand, there are too many academic-like organizations that resist such bonding. That criticism is not the main point, which is the need to promote both hierarchical and heterarchical bondings side-side and up-down or in- out. [To open April 2, 1999 issue of Science with the words on the cover that state that the issue is devoted to complex systems, and not find a single reference to any of our group’s work, which extends in publications over the past 50 years, is absolutely incomprehensible.

At this point, this author began to prepare to write a “Dear Alan Alda ” letter because of some further thrust received from a TV program that evening. It was a Scientific American special being conducted by Alan Alda, in which he was interviewing Steven Weinberg, wherein the topic was the series that Alda was going to lead on the nature of things, essentially all the stuff that H-K lays claim to. How could Alda do that? It was clear that Weinberg was pushing or biasing Alda toward a physicist’s or his physics specialty, which has tended to become somewhat generalist. But we have written Weinberg in not too a distant past and have a fair idea of issues on his mind, e.g., since he also has been co-opted intellectually by the NY Review of Books. Do we have a complaint? Is it necessary for us to assume that anything and everything we do is out of the picture? What was mainly galling was the fact that we were supposed to support, and have supported these persons and instrumentalities. We have supported Scientific American through four changes in ownership and management since 1931, yet we have continually been rejected from any contribution to their pages; we have supported the actor Alda’s efforts not only from his Mash picture and series forward, and through every one of his more or less serious movies, regarding both him and his father before as nice guys; we have supported many of the actors associated with Alda’a productions, for example Morgan, since he was an almost successful young movie star back in the 40s; we have been involved with the life and movie history of many movie comedians back say to Henry Armetta; and – through a wife’s cousins – with Bob Hope’s major screen writers, e.g., the Schwarz brothers, even from their oldest and current revival hits (e.g., Gilligan’s Island); we have supported and predicted the intellectual pathways taken by the NY Review from its startup without even the least acknowledgement from its editor, Silvers; and more examples if it were necessary. We did not pay the entire bill of support for these people, but our contribution, when we add it up, comes to rather enormous numbers. So Weinberg did not get his 10 Giga dollar Texas toy; it only paid off in the M dollar range; perhaps Hawking family did not make a 100M dollar return out of the total of his well publicized exhibitions, but it must have returned 10 M dollars. Silvers has his NY intellectual salon, etc. And us? About 50 years of bloody effort. It was some such letter we were going to unleash on a nice guy like Alda this morning. We looked at ourselves, mentally, as abject failures at about 5 minutes to 4 AM. Then, suddenly, the true issue, the solution to our problem arose. By 5 minutes after 4 AM we had solved this great problem. It truly was — as we said at the beginning — the ultimate antinomy of the lifetime of one and of all persons.

It would be nice if the individual’s contributions were or remained coupled to all that and those that came before and after. But it is not and does not. If you insist that you must have the connection, you are very foolish. The course and pathways taken by the human mind, not different from all of nature, goes on without recognition. One can say that we knew and know that. Thai is true. But that is not the same as perceiving it fully and formally in front of one. It is not simply that “virtue is and has to be its own reward” but also what is the deepest meaning of virtue and reward? The problem that we have elected in this bull is completely valid. We can never answer the question whether the work of a lifetime can be brought to fruition. If we can or will or must work on the problem, we can or will.].

In the spirit raised in the parenthetical remarks, it occurred to me to name two individuals that I want to speak of. One is my mentor, E.U. Condon, whom I call Ed, and a very Victorian-like gentleman, Lyman J. Briggs. I knew both of them as Directors of the NBS. Both had been Presidents of APS, Briggs in 1938, Condon in 1946. I, of course, am trying to hint at their broad interdisciplinary nature, even if their typology of character was somewhat different. Permit me a fast furious, sketch of my great idol and friend, Edward Uhler Condon.

This author wishes to project partial images of these two men against the background of his own life for reasons that will become clear. The projection is started against the background of the 1920s. In that decade, the author was minuscule — aged 2 to 12. He started kindergarten at 4-1/2 years, started to read and had a library card by age 7 or so, taking out 6 books a week by self every week. He started to caddy at a local golf course at 11 (being large for his age), and to hitch hike, e.g., as far as Albany and Boston by age 12; started to smoke at that age. A white haired lady teacher of advanced years created a love in his heart and mind for science at age 11. Within a year or so, he invented — in mind – his first perpetual motion machine.

At some point, he stumbled on Johnson Smith and Co. (Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Amazing Stories), their toys, e.g., how to look through girl’s dresses, and also Haldemar Julius 5 cents Blue Books. Among these — the whole point of these paragraphs — this author is certain he soon stumbled on a quota written by Condon (at least one). The point is that the author did acquire a collection of these books at a tender age, and that authors of those books were phenomenal, of the same character – but abbreviated – as what Dover sought out as classics another two decades later.

Forget the Blue Books. Why Ed was writing them, this author doesn’t know. Now, the sketch of Condon will begin. Ed was a homegrown USA product (1902-1974). Hold on to your seats. The speed of his life and its breadth will astound you. I knew a fair amount but the added details that a formal bio gave even astounded me. Graduating high school at 16, he put in 3 years as a newspaper reporter. He couldn’t be much in a small town and so young, but it colored his views always. In 1921, he was pushed into Berkeley as an astronomy major, soon transferring over into physics. In 1926 he got his PhD there. His thesis extended Franck’s work in what became known as the Franck-Condon principle in subatomic physics. In 1926, he then obtained an International Fellowship and went to Gottingham and then Munich to study with Sommerfeld. In 1927, he took a job in Public Relations for Bell Labs in which his newspaper background was of considerable help. But theoretical physics continued to grab him and he lectured in physics at Columbia in 1928. (For some small flavor of connection to a broader picture of the quantum players, and in fact how our CCNY connections of a later date fit in, it is thrilling to skim through QED and the Men who Made It, by Schweber PUP, 1994. Condon is just a small meteor who passes through that book very casually, but you can get the Columbia flavor from there). And then in 1928, he becomes an Asst. Prof. of physics at Princeton. He returns there in 1930, becomes an Assoc. Prof. until 1937. In 1929, Morse and Condon’s book on Quantum Mechanics comes out, the first English text in the subject. Having studied with Sommerfeld did not hurt that endeavor. By mid decade, he and Gamow, independently, about a month apart, were responsible for the theory of the quantum tunnel effect. In the 30s when this author and colleague were CCNY physics students, Condon and Shortley’s Theory of Atomic Spectra textbook came out, and lasted for decades. His research in molecular and nuclear physics, including the tunnel effect, became well known. He began to be known as a great teacher.

In 1937, he became Assoc. Director of Research at Westinghouse (As a display toy, he had a first electronic digital computer built that played the game Nim against human challengers. Simple, but amusing, it was exhibited at the NY World Fair in 1940. His son, later at Bell Labs, has done much more seriously with chess playing programs!). He got involved in microwave radar at Westinghouse. Part of a National Defense Research Committee, they began to study control of nuclear fusion. He helped found the Radiation Lab at MIT. In 1943, Condon was appointed Assoc. Director of the Manhattan District Project, where he started to serve at Los Alamos as Associate to Oppenheimer. When Groves insisted that Condon pay very strong attention to security management, he simply resigned.

In 1946, together with Bethe, Szilard, Urey, Weisskopf, Condon was a member of the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists of which Einstein was Chairman. This was one more illustration of his strong position on the civilian control of atomic energy.

Soon after the end of World War II, Condon was nominated for director of NBS. (As part of an employee organization, this author very strongly urged that appointment within the executive circles of the Dept. of Commerce). His appointment went through easily, but – as one might suspect — there was considerable hidden political opposition. He also became advisor to the Senate Committee (the MacMahon committee) on Atomic Energy. For that role, he was one of the most knowledgeable persons available. In 1948, he also became president of the APS.

In 1948, as not so hidden political opposition, the House Un-American Activities Committee, under the chairmanship of Parnell Thomas, called Condon a security risk. In administrative hearings held in the Department, no basis for the accusation was found, but Congressional enemies did not bother to retract their accusations. Condon publicly called for a Congressional hearing to reply to those accusations against him, but he was not able to get any reply from any Congressional source. Unfortunately that sort of character assassination had become somewhat endemic.

President Truman tried at least some sort of partial reply by publicly defining the role of the independent scientist, and Condon was permitted to stay on as Director of the NBS. Condon helped establish an applied math division at the NBS for its utility to what would become the computer age. Actually, it was an extension of an NBS math division that had been created within NBS during WPA days in the 30s.

In 1951, Condon left the NBS and took on the job of Director of Research at Corning glass. Within the scope of his work he revolutionized the making of optical glass.

In 1953, he became president of AAAS (One notes his willingness and enthusiasm in taking on all the technical and public tasks that a great human being feels should be attended to).

In 1954, his political enemies once again found a pathway, through his Corning affiliation to challenge his security clearance there. That only could be made an issue because Corning was involved in some security work. The challenge, in this instance, arose from Vice President Nixon, who requested Charles Thomas, Secretary of the Navy, to reconsider Condon’s clearance at Corning. Thus it is fair to say that besides Nixon’s role in bringing down Voorhis (1946), Helen Gahagan Douglas (1950), stumping strenuously for McCarthy (1952), besides Hiss, finding it very convenient to brand as politically subversive, Truman, Acheson, Service, Davies, and Stevenson, he also helped destroy the career of one of America’s great scientists, as well as Government science. Few scientists were better prepared to create interdisciplinry science than Condon.

To Condon this attack on his security status was a last straw. Doubting that in the political environment of the time, there was any possibility of obtaining fair treatment, Condon withdrew his request for clearance and resigned. He went on then to devote himself to teaching. In turn, he went to Oberlin, to U. Penn. 1956, and then to become Chairman of the Dept. of Physics at Washington Univ. in St Louis. He took on editorship of the Review of Modern Physics for the period 1957 to 1968. Memory says that he also steered through issues of RMP through the topic of Biophysics, uncertainty says in 1952. These two issues, occurring so soon after World War II bound the new instrument developments in electron microscopy very strong to physics so that the field of ‘biophysics’ took a significant turn away from biochemistry to a more equitable combination of biochemistry and biophysics.

In 1968, he and Odishaw edited the Handbook of Physics, extending for 1959 ??. {Odishaw came with Condon to the NBS as his administrative assistant. We at the Bureau, regarded our two new prize persons, Condon and Odishaw, particularly Odishaw, as being rather naïve and green in running a Government agency. It fell upon us, as our duty, to educate them into the problems of Government and its employees. It was both a labor of love and a great challenge. We would like a little credit for having helping Odishaw to learn much of the ropes, and becoming a very fine administrator, and we always enjoyed our interactive dual role with Ed, our boss.

In 1963 Condon moved on to the Univ. of Colorado in physics and astrophysics. In 1966, he bought into an Air Force project to evaluate UFO’s. In a sense, this gave Condon more notoriety and public exposure than he had ever gotten before, since the media ate up the subject. In 1969 he came out with the statement that there was no reliable evidence for UFO existence.

In 1964, he took on the job of president of AAPT (the American Physics Teachers Society). He also became president of the Society for Social Responsibility in Science in 1968-1969. He ran for the US Senate from Colorado, but it was too early an effort for a physicist to succeed at and he did not.

He retired in 1970, and he died in Boulder in 1972. This author interacted with him a number of times in Colorado.

Turn to the second individual I named: Lyman J. Briggs. He was director of NBS when I went to work there early in 1941. I got to know him by a freak of fate. As the youngest member of the Aeronautical Instruments Section, but reasonably bright, I inherited the job of going over to the Director’s office early each Monday morning and winding up his very high quality barograph and replacing and storing the past week record. Briggs was an enthusiast for that information and of course it led to a modest discussion each week on what had transpired weather-wise for the past week and what might be the week to come. And of course it had to become a little more personal, and the like. So, a very young man got to know a very proper Victorian scientist-gentleman, in some small way. Since I also got involved in political and personnel problems at NBS, my interactions with him and with the Asst. Director did become more intense. What was clear was, that like with Condon, there were few jobs of significance to NBS that Briggs turned down. He looked into such problems as the tensile stress that liquids like water could withstand, or whether — at the request of American Baseball Leagues – pitchers could throw curved balls, as well as difficult factors involved in a number of other sports, also whether the Bureau could solve the problem of making some of the very difficult ingredients that were needed for the atom bomb project. During FDR’s days, he also helped lead into the project that each technical department in Government was asked to contribute to, namely what they could offer in support of the social welfare of the nation. NBS’s contribution was to low cost housing, a program that was managed under the leadership of our Division Chief, Hugh Dryden. A specific personnel program that we pushed at Briggs was an in-house ediucational program to help in the advancement of subprofessionals. Briggs was helpful. We have not pointed out that the 1939 Temperature Symposium about which we spoke so very highly was acknowledged by the Chairman, John T. Tate, of the Governing Board of the AIP as being “particularly appropriate[ly] indebted to Lyman J. Briggs”. Tate, was chairman of APS in 1939, in the year after Briggs was. One need not stress that the Symposium was a true work of achievement of Briggs. We can add an irrelevant assertion, to be believed or not, it was these two men, Briggs and Condon, who inspired me to pester subsequent directors of NBS to try to create a systems’ modeling foundation in NBS programs rather than simply pursuing measurement standards; namely, the kind of program that finally led to NSF in the 40s, and to NIST later. Even at that, we do not seek a great deal of credit, because our Instrument Section had already developed a first such standard, in the Standard Atmosphere at NBS for NACA, and the Bureau had also developed technical assistance programs for various scientific-engineering associations attached to a number of industries. Having grown up in that technical institute environment, all that we were doing was stretching these concepts further. What we are attempting to do now is just a continued furtherance of these same ideas. So if I jump now to personalize some of the contents of my career, it is not any search for personal credit but to illustrate the scientific-technical content of a career that is more concerned with the general public merit and contribution to the social welfare than any great individual award.

Some of the contents of a more minor individual career.

The content or thrust of various projects that come to mind will be mentioned very briefly, just to provide some sense of things I was occupied with. A first one to be recalled was CO2 discharge from saturated liquid or gas at room temperatures below 30oC critical through a long tapered transparent nozzle discharging metastably into low subatmospheric room conditions. The object, as a fire extinguishing system for military aircraft, was to study the discharge in the face of small water impurities in the storage tank which might affect the nature of the discharge. Such metastable flows at or near the critical had never been studied at that time by observing the flow field.

Isentropic flow of an ideal gas expanding in a nozzle is described by the expression pvg = constant. A general expansion in the form, pva = constant was derived for precision flow metering for nonideal gases, determinable from their equations of state.

A recording accelerometer was developed as a panel instrument in test aircraft so that its maneuvering gravity force could be measured in the range up to 10g by means of spark recording from a low friction sliding bob which produced a trace on chemically prepared rolls of treated tracking paper.

By about 1950, using strain gage and strained wire transducers incorporated into relatively high frequency galvanometers, such dynamic instruments became fashionable in the laboratory. Another element making the outburst possible was the development of accurate high stability D.C. amplifiers. (We threw out the example of the Temperature symposium, its effect on the instrument and measurement field, and that many of my mentors were at that meeting, involved in the instrument field. It is in this period, World War II and post-war, that this explosion came to fruition. I would punctuate that remark by saying that in the mid-50s, having joined the ASME Instruments and Regulators Division, I inherited chairmanship of the Division’s Theory committee, with illustrious membership of such persons as George Philbrick, C.E. Mason. These were individuals why led us youthful ones into the measurement revolution I am discussing. We were fortunate!). Under those circumstances, I could develop a theory for the dynamic response of relatively high frequency pressure waves of appreciable pressure amplitude traversing relatively long lines, and determining their attenuation. There were two classes of problems that called for such solutions. On one hand we has breathing apparatus in aircraft of increasing length — bombers — developed during World War II wherein the front cockpit had to know the state of health, e.g., existence of very remote personnel, such as 60 feet away. Remote indicating pressure indicators were needed. At the same time, in the process industries, in a period before electronic recording was really available with any precision, the recorders were mechanical. A process plant has thousands of feet up to miles of mechanical pressure recorders. But they had no theory that could account for the reliability of the pressure transmission. Thus it was also that problem we were designing for. Our 1950 NBS paper came along just at the right time. And an instrument company, Statham, had stiff enough sensitive pressure instruments that if someone could give them a theory of response, they could sell a lot of instruments. My J. Res. NBS paper came out at a time that they could afford to buy thousands of copies of my report and broadcast them to all potential customers. That is how and why my paper got to be so well known. You could say serendipity; I say darn fool luck.

By the way, the availability of such equipment in our lab made it possible for me to work with a researcher who was interested in precision stress-strain measurements in single textile fibers. We were able to study the viscoelastic properties of such materials. In about 1952, my section chief, Brombacher, lent me to a group doing dental research both for the ADA and the US Navy. They were interested in a high-speed turbine drill for dentistry. I asked why they did not turn to some group like Westinghouse for turbine expertise. When they made clear the size and possible speed range they were interested in, it was clear that our instrument experience was more suited. So I had to make power measurements and determine that I wouldn’t trust them with more than say 4-5 watts in my mouth, and with an added use of fashioning crowns and other artificial teeth we might let them have up to 6 watts. Then it was simple enough to estimate that a speed in the range near 20,000 rpm would suit; that one of our instrument shaft ëquills’ would do; that they wanted a 90o turn and would like either a water or a wet air drive; and that we could carve out a turbine from about a no.6 hex nut, soon led to a first experimental high speed turbine drill. What did I get from the help? Free dental care for a number of years!

Our breathing regulators for high altitude aviators — Navy, Army (then Air Force) — were required for the conduct by the use of high altitude in flight, developed during WW II. WW I had just begun the air age. And we do not have to tell the story of the airplane and mail delivery, etc. between the two wars. Suffice it to say, it was another W.W.II explosion. By the middle of the war, we were dealing with 35,000 feet flight altitude. That posed particular problems for breathing. It could not be supplied adequately with even 100% pure oxygen supply so that we had to develop a ësafety pressure’ breathing at as much higher pressure that the human could breathe out against, e.g., perhaps 12 inches of water extra pressure. The regulation for that portion of the high altitude domain required some very fancy aneroid control and leak tight regulation in the higher region. I will not go into the very clever and difficult new inventions we had to provide. Instead, I just want to allude to one of our pieces of test equipment that we had to develop. It was rather inexpensive instrumentation, what we called ëlinear’ flowmeters. The industrial flowmeters of the time were built around orifices and nozzles, and venturi tubes and reentrant tubes. These were all nonlinear flow elements based on the Bernoulli principle of pressure drops proportional to rv2. For a uniform instrument range this v2 sensitivity was very poor. We, instead wanted to develop resistive elements proportional to mv, where m is the shear viscosity and v velocity, is proportional to Q, the volume flow, in a tube. That is more like a Fick or an electrical resistive diffusion. Namely, we wanted to take flow metering into the electrical instrument practice in which one has a galvanometer of a certain sensitivity from its magnetic design properties, and one then makes a voltmeter by adding a series resistance, or an ammeter to measure current by adding a parallel resistance. If we could get a good viscous drag element that permitted us with a very considerable design range, we could achieve design similar to electric instruments. Not quite, because the current element in the electrical case is the electron whereas the current element in the flow case is the molecular species which provided the viscosity measure. For example, the viscosity of a common gas, air, is about 2 x 10-4 poise whereas for a common liquid, water, it is 10-2 poise. And if one switches a liquid, say, from water to glycerol the difference in viscosity if very large. But at least for a given fluid, one is dealing with a linear sensitivity. Our first election was to design a single capillary flow element with good properties for the instrument application, and then add as many parallel elements as we needed to create the parallel flow ëammeter’. We were limited in ëvoltmeter–like’ characteristics because we has to select a convenient ëvoltage’ range of say 10 inches of water. Why? Because it could easily give us 1% discrimination, 0.01 inches, and its resistance, compared to one atmosphere, 34 feet of water, was only 2-1/2%. We reconsidered flow standards based on thin slots of some fair design width and length similar to our capillary election. Also by designing very long inclined manometers, with careful choice of a manometric fluid, we thought we could reach 0.0001 inch sensitivity. What this story is telling you is that good and standard flow elements had not been achieved in commercial practice, that in our division, there were the best possible collection of mechanics theorists you could select, and we had sufficient reason to try to chase up all the required results – in sensitivity, in accuracy, in environmental ranges, in time dependent properties, in frequency range, in matching mechanical and electrical fits. As services to the section and division, at various times I prepared seminar series devoted to metrological and instrument theory, so that we could bring successive ëgenerations’ of our ëyoung’ up to par. There really was no other training ground in that field. This became problematic by the time of the 50s. So, for example we developed a cheap form of the flowmeter. Instead of the capillary as the primary unit, we elected to do design on the basis of glass wool packed randomly into cylindrical can with spaced pressure taps. The freedom we obtained was that associated with the election of the glass wool diameter, and the packing density. That design art was a fundamental one we developed in a J. Research NBS article in 1953. The theory of permeability for material of differing porosity had become an important subject in a number of fields, such as geology (water flow in sands and natural ground beds). Our contribution was neglected until one author Scheidegger, devoted a number of chapters in his book to our high porosity media, (e.g., more like textile materials than sands). Once again, referring back to the Temperature symposium, another of our mentors E. Buckingham, was at that meeting. He had pioneered in scaling relations for flowmetering in the 20s in Europe before coming to the USA, where he brought the Reynolds number to this country, developed flowmetering standards for ASME in mid-20s, and when they thought they could correct his writing, he simply resigned. He then went on to develop what became known as the Buckingham scaling relations, the pi numbers. Operating in our division, to a considerable extent I inherited the task of extending his scaling relations for aircraft as they began to travel faster, e.g., increased Mach number, and Reynolds number. I was forced to develop new methods of dealing with these extended ranges and scaling arguments, and at the same time guaranteeing accuracy in the theory I was using. Thus we had to fall into greater concordance with Bridgman’s so-called theory of dimensional (or dimensionless) analysis. This did not get around to physics until Domb began to deal with scaling. Meanwhile I had pretty much free run of the field

A typical type of analysis I developed was log-log presentations. The logic was the following. In flow you might imagine flow elements consisting of combination of ëpure’ rv2 Bernoulli elements and mv viscous shear flow elements. Thus typically you might expect a flow element to be describable by a two parameter flow description i.e., Dp = Amv + Brv2 for a pressure drop flow unit or a long line gradient law ldp/dx = A’mv + B’rv2. Instead one would find only a poor fit with such rules. For two parameters, one would find much greater precision in a format like Dp = Amv (rv2/ mv) 1+n if the elements were nearly linear viscous friction elements or Dp = B rv2 (mv/rv2)1+m if flow elements at the other extreme. A typical element was a long line at high Reynolds number or flow between parallel plates. In this case, the flow law could resemble a 7/4ths power law. Another example was the subject of Oceen’s 1911 Nobel Prize in physics, flow around a cylinder (or a sphere). He derived a flow law of the indicated form but did not satisfy the boundary conditions at the wall of zero velocity. We characteristically would take a flow element, of near one extreme or another, and plot its pressure sensitivity in a dimensionless log form, e.g., L/D Dp/DL or L/D dp/dx (as pressure difference or pressure gradient) against the Reynolds number in log form D Q/n D2 (D2 = Ao = area).The two extreme forms would either be a straight line with slope 1 or slope 2, at least for some region. By extending the measurement range far beyond what would be reasonable for a flow element, we could show that the distribution would start out with one slope and gradually make a transition to a second slope in perhaps two or three on more decades of flow. Now the problem was to account for that changing flow law. What we were able to show was that the best form for a single flow unit was not the power law but a log law. Namely, the flow law (A log Qo + B log Q) / (C log Qo + E log Q) = grad or diff pressure law. Note that at the starting flow Qo, not equal to zero, the pressure unit starts at A/C. This is a disposable constant, e.g., let C = 1 At a high value of Q, the final pressure measure has changed to B/E. This provides the second parameter measure. But the remarkable fact is that the power law expansion leads to this unit expansion. Therefore the law for an extended number of series-parallel units is represented with high precision be the ratio (a + b log Q + c log 2Q + d log 3Q + Ö +(n+1) log nQ) / {1 + bo log Q + co log 2Q + Ö + (no+1) log no Q)} = the pressure measure.

As will be shown, this exploration was very important to us for our excursions into solving the N-S equations of flow, particularly for turbulence in the years to come, 1956 to 1969.

By the end of WW II, we had learned enough about the Man at high altitude problem that as NBS consultants to the Navy, then by 1946 to the Army becoming the Air Force, we could say to our Navy support group, Navy Safety Equipment Branch, that when they had a plane on the drawing board that could exceed 60, 000 feet in flight altitude, we would begin to develop a full pressure space suit for the Navy. In 1947, our liaison officer from the Navy’s Safety Equipment Branch dropped around and said that they had a plane on the drawing board. We went to work immediately on the development of a full pressure suit. (Actually, it was important for me to note that in 1946. Col. Gagge then of the Air Force — see his MD-physiologist’s role earlier in the Temperature Symposium — dropped around to our NBS section and asked our Section Chief, Brombacher, to take on physical consultancy for their Physiology Group at Wright-Patt. He had fought for years with our Asst. Section Chief, and when that person, Bill Wildhack, my immediate supervisor, wherein I was his right hand man, took the job of Asst. Director for Instrumentation at NBS, I was asked to take over his projects. Gagge was more than happy to adopt me as their consultant. So I considered my task to be then to use the Navy base as the foundation for achieving both Navy and Air Force goals into space. This should not have been too great a surprise. My Division Chief, Hugh Dryden, instead of taking over the Bureau — note that Condon took it over instead — Dryden took over the project that became the Skunk Works in NASA and was responsible for the development and evolution of essentially all the high performance aircraft that came forth at the end of WWII and launched the USA into the space age with piloted space craft. It was a thrill and with some amusement that we can say that we beat our boss into space just a little in our space suit work. As a humorous illustration: when we started on space suits, we needed a test body on which to practice. One of our earliest set of experiments was on dolls. We proposed to build a thick rubber cover for a doll with movable arms and legs and joints and head. We located a group of antique dolls in a store that fit our bill. It had to be signed for with a purchase order. In pride, humor, and teasing, I elected to go over to our Division Chief’s office and ask Dryden himself to sign our requisition for dolls — “not to play with, but to assist us in our first experimental venture into space!” At least we all enjoyed the moment). The physiology branch in the Air force that we consulted for in time was taken over by Stapp, the sled man.

The research was quite serious and a history of our efforts can be found in a summary report we wrote in 1970 (Iberall, The experimental design of a mobile pressure suit, Trans. ASME, J. Basic Eng., 92,251 1970).

Since our group was quite skilled and fast on the research draw, we were consulted a great deal both within the section, the division, in the bureau, and in the broader instrument field that began to develop to serve the process industries. Thus we began to mix both our specific agency consultancies and the others. So, for example, we helped develop high quality standards for the dynamic measurement of hygrometry. The standard at NBS was a set of standard humidities achieved by putting various solvents into a container holding thermostatted water and vapor and a vapor pressure reducing solvent which produced a standard humidity. Instead we developed a flow divider which mixed rather precise flow mixtures of 100 % vapor pressure water at a thermostatted temperature with a second precise measured dry airflow at the same thermostatted temperature. These streams could be adjusted between widely differing large streams of precisely humidified air. Some years later, after we had left the Bureau and the humidity research person, Arnold Wexler had become Section Chief, we once again helped him to establish the difference in the flow laws between an adiabatic saturation psychrometer and a ëwetted’ bulb psychrometer (see Iberall, Schindler, Shannon, General Systems Science — Part III, Illustrating the Technical Methodologies for Fairly Well-Developed Systems Problems, Final Report, contract No. DAHC 19-69-C-0027. Prepared by Gen. Tech. Serv., Inc for Army Research Office, Arlington VA 22204, April 1970). Greenspan and Wexler had developed a swirling funnel apparatus wherein a dry gas was introduced at the top so as to swirl around a wetted and thermostatted funnel surface and become increasingly saturated towards 100 % humidity. They had tested the apparatus with a considerable variety of ëwetting’ agents, and had shown the precision by which a unit value of psychrometric constant could be achieved. Our group showed that what was being measured was the value of the adiabatically saturated psychrometric constant for different values of the ratio of the mass transfer Schmidt number to the heat transfer Prandtl number. That result is what one would expect for low values of the Graetz number (equilibrium saturation as would be obtained from a long line in which the saturation of the inside of a tube which is temperature thermostatted and wetted moves increasingly to complete adiabatic saturation, namely what their swirling apparatus was achieving). On the other hand for a short line, e.g., one for which the length to diameter ratio is about 1 (in which it does not matter whether the psychrometer is an externally wetted ëbulb’, e.g., a standard wet bulb in a dry bulb-wet bulb psychrometer) or inside a 1 diameter tube wetted on the inside with the passage of dry air through that short section), we developed the theory for the variation of the psychrometric constant with an extended range of S/P from 0.6 to 5 for long Graetz numbers (short tubes). What was ingenious about the theory was that it not only held very well to verify the standard air-water psychrometric constant of 1’s theory, but we showed that it tested for subliming solid saturation as well as liquid saturation. This was a very important result for our much later theory for gases, liquids, and solids that related to complex field flow, brain systems, and social systems. Our wide range heat and mass transfer theory in this report provided a very strict theory not only for rivers (see our paper on rivers in GeoJ.) but for transport phenomena in the N-S equations, including the results we have for the Earth’s interior in Foundations, 1993.

We jumped rather abruptly to 1970 and a part III report, without characterizing our earlier work. In particular, just to short circuit our reporting, we could reference say Iberall, Schindler, Cardon, To Apply Systems Science Concepts to Biology, Contract 19-72-C-0004, for US Army Research Office, Life Science Division, from Gen. Tech. Serv, Inc. Upper Darby, PA, July 1973, which lists 72 reports, papers, and studies that we provided Government agencies with in the period 1950-1973. That just covered work in the biological sciences, mainly for NASA and Army and Air Force. Continuing beyond there, our CV has another 100 or so work references in hydrodynamic problems, in complex systems, in biology, in psychology, in social physics starting from Iberall, Cardon, Schindler, Toward a General Science of Man-Systems A Venture into Social Physics: Beginnings, Final Report: Contract DAHC 19-72-C-0022.

To bring this to an end, I will single out 5 references, which cover the time domain with some interesting specific concentrations. After my 1950 paper that showed how we could factor the small amplitude N-S equations, I then helped run an International Union Pure and Applied Physics meeting in Freiburg, (Gortler (editor), Boundary Layer Symposium, 1960) in which I provided a set of coupled equations for the large amplitude non-linear N-S equations for laminar and turbulent flow. In 1969 in Rome, I showed how those equations can be solved, at an ONR international conference (see ONR report of 1971 on that Naval Hydrodynamics Conference). In 1972, our systems book, Toward a General Science of Viable Systems, was published by McGraw-Hill. It became a major book in the world market for systems science. In 1993, we published a collection of pieces plus one added piece on the physics of the Earth as Iberall, Wilkinson, White, Foundations for Social and Biological Evolution, Cri-de-Coeur Press. And, as we announced at the beginning of this Bull, we have prepared a Primer for the basic principles of H-K, 1998. In passing, I find it suitable to close this career story with a note regarding a main theme in Foundations, and what is in the LA Times, p. A6, and the Washington Post and the NY Times and in Science, all on this particular day April 30, 1999.

In Foundations, we made the point that the early history of the Earth and Mars were quite alike (actually, the particular chapter, Chapt. 9, was originally published in 1989 in GeoJ.). Yet we were not able to get Foundations reviewed in any physics journal, in any scientific journal, in and news media, whether TV news or periodical news, or daily news.We called our article to the attention of the press the day that NASA had a press conference about the first results from the Mars Lander, when the question was raised what had NASA gotten for its multihundred million dollar project. We pointed out that much of what they had gotten was already available in our chapter at effectively no cost to the Government but none of those remarks made any impression whatsoever. The only review we had gotten was in Ecological Psychology. This is true even though we had also presented the story at US Geological Survey at Reston in front of a widely advertised audience in D.C. in 1992. It is fascinating that Science, the Washington Post, the LA Times, as well as the NY Times all announce of this date that “Mars Developed More Like Earth, Scientists [associated with the Mars Global Surveyor from NASA, and at a NASA news conference, and in Science] Say”. Regardless of what we wrote in faxes on the initial conference held by NASA on the Lander, it simply was disregarded.

I have left out all the work we did, e.g., in social physics, from the 1970 to the 1990 period. A flavor of our work is provided in Feb. 1992 Physics Today, in a letter and response on our contributions to a physics for complexity.

Do we draw the inference that a lifetime of work on a science for complex systems can or cannot be brought to fruition? I still do not know after 60 years of scientific experience, and 80 years of living. In any case, it remains life’s major antinomy. And we continue to be driven to my friend Ed’s conclusion: that there comes a time when you are faced by otherwise driven opponents (money, fame, success, further publicity?) with whom you cannot compete with. in the long run. We had the same problem with NASA over pressure suit development, in what it takes to pursue long space voyages, in what the ultimate failure might be to mammalian organisms from long exposure to space, in a complete thermodynamic model of the major six systems that interact on Earth. We have it now in attempting to indicate what a physics for society might reveal about the operation of society. We leave this bull and test to you.

[One last postscript: the current week April 29,1999, has a book review in Nature (p. 763, by Kevles, of a book by J. Wang, relating to an American obsession with loyalty in Government), which touches on security issues and the Condon affair. Our bull was written earlier, except for repeated editing, and we make no judgments of comparison between the two author’s presentations. As antinomies, we prefer to let the reader judge for him/herself. Besides which, our feelings about E.U. Condon are our own and private.