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Henry S Gurr

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Henry S Gurr

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My Story
I grew up on a farm in North Central Ohio and have always been interested in machinery, electronics, and building things. In such interests and abilities, my brother and I both followed in the foot steps of our Father. One of my earliest recollections is the idea of building, as an artistic sculpture, a model of the atom with the electrons whizzing in orbits around the central nucleus. I wanted this sculpture to be placed at the entrance to our farm. When it came time to go to college, a good friend of the family suggested I go to Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1959, I achieved a BS in Engineering concentrating in electronics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and instrumentation. During the last year of my engineering training, I did not desire to go out in the world to make money and had discovered that the material world, as we know it, is composed SIMULTANEOUSLY, both of particles and waves! Since I wanted to learn more about this seeming contradiction, and learn about Einstein's Theory of Relativity, I entered graduate school in physics at Case. As a new graduate student, I had to choose a PhD adviser. The only professor who needed graduate students was the new chairman of the Physics Department, Dr. Frederick Reines. As part of my PhD This, it was my responsibility to assist in the setup of a 200 foot long neutrino detector, in a mine tunnel 2 miles below the surface in the East Rand Proprietary Gold Mine, Johannesburg, South Africa. My PhD dissertation used the data from this detector to establish that nuclear matter is highly resistant to disintegration with a so called "decay half-life" exceeding the cube of the age of the universe. After I received my doctorate in 1966, I continued neutrino research at one of the Savannah River Plant's nuclear reactors, near Aiken SC. This research, sponsored by the University of California-Irvine, Physics Department, established that neutrinos coming from the reactor would collide with electrons in a Multi-Element Scintillation Detector (a 4x4 array) at the rate predicted by Richard Feynman's V-A Theory. It took fifteen years to eliminate overwhelming problems with nuclear radiation background, especially stray neutrons from the reactor.

During the time I was working in nuclear physics research, I became aware that our country had something like 20,000 nuclear warheads that could be delivered at intended targets in less than 40 minutes and that the Russians had the similar capability. I began to see that humanity was facing a crisis. Although I understood that one person could not make much of a difference in reducing this threat to humanity, I switched into teaching in 1975 as my way of making a small contribution.

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