1912 - 2007
This page is dedicated to the memory of Chauncey Starr, my
late-life mentor, inspiration, collaborator, and virtual
grandfather, but most importantly, a patriotic
a member of our Nation's Greatest Generation.
(Under continuous expansion and focus)
Starr (1912-2007), Physicist, engineer and leader in
the development of nuclear power," P. M. Grant, Nature 447,
789 (2007). [When I retired from IBM to
join EPRI, I was already in my late 50s. Little did I
know I was about to encounter a mentor two decades older!
Chauncey took me under his wing and taught me the realities
of the electric utility industry. He passed on in
April, 2007, and I had the melancholy honor and privilege to
write this and the following two obituaries. Please
take a moment to read all...each one relates different
aspects of this remarkable man.]
Starr," P. M. Grant, Physics Today, June 2007, p79.
[Chauncey and I were both
"alumni" (separated by one generation!) of the Harvard high
pressure physics group founded by Percy Bridgman in the
early decades of the 20th century. Read how Chauncey saved
Bridgman from possible embarrassment over a measurement of
the latter which seemed to violate the Wiedemann-Franz Law.
Chauncey's office mate at Harvard in the mid-1930s was none
other than John Bardeen. Chauncey once told me the
story of why Bardeen didn't get tenure at Harvard which I'll
relate at the appropriate time and place.]
Starr: A Personal Memoir," P. M. Grant, Power Magazine
151, 20 (2007).
[Focus here is more on Chauncey's role in the Manhattan
District Project, jumpstarting the nuclear power industry
and the founding of EPRI. It turned out one of the
young engineers who worked under Chauncey on the Calutron at
Oak Ridge was my cousin and godfather, Richard Whalen, later
to become a regional vice-president of IBM. This piece
relates the rather amusing circumstances under which
Chauncey and Wally Zinn agreed to combine efforts and
midwife the birth of nuclear power.]
Starr: A Biographical Outline," R. Schainker, EPRI
[An excellent biographical guide to Chauncey's life and
professional career. Stay tuned for updates.]
The Physics Years
(1936 - 1943)
From RPI to Harvard to MIT
Copper Oxide Rectifier," Chauncey Starr, Physics 7, 15
(1936). [I was barely
two months old when this paper was accepted by "Physics"
(today Physical Review B). It is summarizes he PhD
thesis at RPI. If Chauncey had dunked his
samples in liquid hydrogen, he likely would have discovered
high temperature superconductivity...think about how such
would have changed the history of physics and our world.]
Improved Method for the Determination of Thermal
Diffusivities," Chauncey Starr, Rev. Sci. Inst. 8, 61
(1937). [If you've
ever attempted measurement of thermal conductivity, you know
it's likely the most difficult of condensed matter physics
measurements. The problem is to differentiate
"addenda" data, e.g., thermal conductance from contacts,
etc., using an ac differential technique...which I and
countless others have employed ever since.]
Pressure Coefficient of Thermal Conductivity of Metals,"
Chauncey Starr, Phys. Rev. 54, 210 (1938).
[About this time, pressure
measurements of the thermal conductivity of several common
metals by Percy Bridgman (Chauncey's Harvard boss),
suggested that the Weidemann-Franz law, a cornerstone of
condensed matter physics, had been violated. Chauncey,
using his ac technique disclosed in RSI, showed that his
boss's results were an experimental artifact. It is
likely that Chauncey thus saved the subsequent 1946 Nobel
Prize for Bridgman.]
Conductance of Metallic Contacts," R. B. Jacobs and C.
Starr, Rev. Sci. Inst. 10, 140 (1939).
["The problem of a good
make-and-break heat contact between different parts of (a)
cryogenic apparatus, is a common one." How true!
This RSI paper reveals essential apparatus details
underlying the data behind "An Improved Method..." discussed
Magnetic Properties of Metallic Cerium," C. Starr and A.
R. Kaufmann, Phys. Rev. 58, 657 (1940).
[This paper is one of the
first to reveal the polarization of a "more or less ideal"
free electron gas/liquid (cerium) by a paramagnetic impurity
(iron). This phenomenon was later explained by the
Ruderman-Kittel-Kasuya-Yoshida interaction, and today
exploited by every hard drive read head on the planet.]
Magnetic Properties of the Iron Group Anhydrous Chlorides at
Low Temperatures I. Experimental," C. Starr, F. Bitter
and A. R. Kaufmann, Phys. Rev. 58, 977 (1940).
[To put it briefly, this
paper is one of the premier disclosures of what became known
as the family of highly correlated transition metal oxide
insulators, eventually winning a Nobel Prize for Phil
Anderson in 1977, and formed the bulk of my later research
at IBM. Incidentally, Francis Bitter pioneered the
field pattern of permanent magnets by employing iron
Magnetic Properties of the Iron Group Anhydrous Chlorides at
Low Temperatures II. Theoretical," C. Starr, Phys. Rev.
58, 984 (1940). [Read
carefully the Summary of this paper. Could Chauncey
and his colleagues glimpsed evidence of "high temperature
superconductivity" in the R vs. T data of their CuCl2
and FeCl2-3. An exercise for an upcoming
Studies of Solid Solutions II. The Properties of Quenched
Copper-Iron Alloys," F. Bitter, A. R. Kaufman, C. Starr
and S. T. Pan, Phys. Rev. 60, 134 (1941).
[Really needs review wrt
hints of superconductivity, especially Fig. 5 amd Table I.
Are they any there?]
Dispersion Measurements at 77.3 K," C. Starr, Phys. Rev.
60, 241 (1941). [Chauncey
is the sole author. The abstract contains the phrase,
"...the thermal coupling between the magnetic spin system
and the lattice vibrations." Such is exactly the
central question addressing various models of high
temperature superconductivity. Did Chauncey find the
answer? Examine the equation for "Ɵ"
on page 242...and let's discuss.]
Design of Hydrogen Liquifiers," Chauncey Starr, Rev.
Sci. Inst. 12, 193 (1941).
[Historically ironic, given
the vision Chauncey and I developed which embodied the
SuperCable/SuperGrid vision of the co-delivery of chemical
and electrical power via a liquid hydrogen/high temperature
superconconducting cable (click
here). Maybe Chauncey's LH2 cryostat
will aid its realization.]
Properties of Solid Solutions III. The Paramagnetic Alloys
of Copper and Nickel," A. R. Kaufman and C. Starr, Phys.
Rev. 63, 445 (1942). [This
is Chauncey's last paper addressing a "pure physics" topic.
It reports on the magnetic field response of various
compositional alloys of copper and nickel as a function of
temperature, highlighting anomalies not accounted for by a
conventional Curie-Weiss framework. These measurements
exposed a conundrum still not resolved today, despite
efforts by "greats" such as Anderson, Hubbard and Feynman,
and many others, and perhaps contains the kernel of high
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the Nuclear Age (1944 -
From Bombs for War to Atoms for Peace
two of the following patents pertain to Chauncey's work on
the Calutron project at ORNL in WWII, and almost certainly
were classified at the time of submission, a common practice
at the time (and now as well) regarding protection of
intellectual property created during a need for national
security. The next two comprise the IP foundation of
the soon-to-emerge nuclear power industry.
Structure," C. Starr
(US 2,714,166, Filed 1947, Issued 1955).
[Filed 10/27/47. An
improvement on the governing patent of E.O. Lawrence on the
basic calutron concept filed 10/09/44]
for Producing Ions of Vaporizable Materials," C. Starr
(US 2,813,979, Filed 1944, Issued 1957).
[An amazing document.
Describes the vaporization chamber that produced the U-235
isotopes that were injected into the Calutron to accumulate
within therein to yield the material for the Hiroshima
warhead. This disclosure points to an amazing refernce,
a paper published in Physicalische Zeitshrift 43, 91-95,
submitted 24 January 1942 by Manfred von Ardenne, only 48
days after Pearl Harbor and 46 days following the
declaration of war by Germany on the United States.
Apparently Germany felt its victory was inevitable and no
effort was made to protect this extraordinarily important
development that proved vital to the American victory in the
Pacific theater. Click
here to see the published paper (in German).
of Impregnating Graphite with a Uranium Compound,"
M.C. Sanz, R.R. Randolph, and C. Starr
(US 2,946,699, Filed 1947 Issued 1960).
[The main thrust of this
patent was to promote the use of a graphite moderator to
also house the uranium oxide fuel as well and to slow the
neutron flux therefrom without absorbing them...the
so-called slow neutron reactor. Interestingly, this design
was also under consideration to power rockets!]
Reactor," C. Starr
(US 3,072,553, Filed 1948, Issued 1963).
[This patent was filed when
Chauncey headed Atomics International and was assigned to
the Atomic Energy Commission. It deals with the
formulation of coatings to protect fuel and coolant rods
from chemical erosion due to reactive gases such as air or
hydrogen. Interestingly, the material composition of
the "coating" is not clearly disclosed.]
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The EPRI Years
(1972 - 2007)
Reaping the Grapes of Wisdom and (Sometimes)
Green Book," Report of the R&D Goals Task Force to the
Electric Research Council, June, 1971.
[Organized in 1965 by a small
group of utilities, 8 from investor-owned utilities and 5
from government-run entities, in order to support R&D
efforts in the public and private sectors on behalf of the
industry as a whole, the Electric Research Council in 1971
proposed a greatly expanded agenda which became the "Magna
Carta" for EPRI. Much in the report was motivated by
the spectacular Eastern States power outages of the late
1960s, which resulted in the introduction of congressional
legislation to nationalize all such efforts under Federal
for the Job," Chauncey Starr to Jack Horton, 12 May
1972. [One afternoon,
while packing up for one of EPRI's periodic "space
rearrangements," Chauncey called over to me, "Paul, come
take a look at this. I thought I had lost it."
It was essentially Chauncey's application letter for the job
of EPRI's founder, written to J. K. Horton, then board
chairman of Southern California Edison Company, and also a
member of the ERC. Note Chauncey also copied Shearon Harris,
CEO of Carolina Power and Light, who Chauncey confided to me that
he credited as the original inspiration for what became EPRI.
Chauncey Starr, Nature 406, 679 (2000).
[Nuclear power has taken a
meandering route, but it is here to stay.]
Energy Planning for the Century: The Continental SuperGrid,"
Chauncey Starr, Nuclear News 45, 31 (2002).
[Chauncey Starr's call to construct, over the next five decades,
a combined national energy generation, transmission and
distribution system based on nuclear, hydrogen and
Power Grid for the Hydrogen Economy," P.
M. Grant, C. Starr and T. J. Overbye, Scientific American,
July 2006, p.76.
[Explores the vision of cryogenic, superconducting conduits
connected into a SuperGrid that would simultaneously deliver
electrical power and hydrogen fuel.]
EPRI Journal, Summer, 2007, p. 4.
Contains factual error in associating Chauncey with the Los
Alamos project under Robert Oppenheimer. Chauncey's
Calutron effort was carried out at Oak Ridge.]
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Videos & Visuals
Caution: Some of these files are real
big, like > 100 MB. Be sure you have a streaming
client...I recommend Windows Media Player and Internet
Did It My Way," Celebrating the 90th Birthday of Chauncey Starr,
EPRI, Spring 2002.
[24 minute documentary on the
founding of EPRI and the role Chauncey played at the
beginning and throughout its formative years.]
to SuperGrid II," Chauncey Starr, Interview by Paul
Grant, Fall 2004.
[11 minute introduction to
the UIUC-hosted SuperGrid II Workshop, 25-27 October 2004.
Lots of humorous anecdotes.]
Grant With Chauncey Starr," Diego Grant's 8th Grade
History Project, Spring 2005. [36
minute interview of Chauncey (93) by Diego (14) on the
development of the first atomic bomb and its consequences.
Note Chauncey's answer to the question regarding Truman's
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Still Under Construction)