Barry Commoner

Commoner, Barry (1917-) is an American biologist and educator who has become known as a leading environmental activist. Since the 1950's, he has been an outspoken advocate of environmental protection.

Barry Commoner was born in New York City to Isidore and Goldie Yarmolinsky Commoner. He earned a degree in zoology with honors from Columbia University in 1937 and a Ph.D. degree in cellular physiology from Harvard University in 1941. Commoner served on the faculty of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, from 1947 to 1981. That year, he joined the faculty of Queens College of the City University of New York.

Commoner has made many important contributions as a scientist. He has worked hard to make biology a useful tool in the solution of various human problems, and he has urged other scientists to also share their special knowledge with the public. Commoner's early work included research on how viruses multiply in living tissue and on the role of molecular fragments called free radicals in the human body. In 1966, he founded a pioneering ecological research center called the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems (CBNS), which is now part of the City University of New York.

Some of his greatest concerns have included the widespread use of toxic chemicals in the environment and the development of technologies that are not ecologically sound. In 1980, Commoner was the presidential candidate of the Citizens' Party, an environmentalist political party that he helped found. Though he lost to Ronald Reagan, Commoner garnered a total of 200,000 votes in the election.

Commoner has written extensively on environmental issues. His books include Science and Survival (1966), The Closing Circle (1971), The Politics of Energy (1979), and Making Peace with the Planet (1990).

Edward Uhler Condon was an American physicist who made great contributions to theoretical physics. In 1928, he helped apply new quantum theories to radioactive processes.

Condon was born on March 2, 1902, in Alamogordo, New Mexico. He was the son of William Edward Condon, a railroad engineer, and Caroline Barr. His parents separated when Condon was 6 years old. He and his mother moved a number of times, and he attended 14 elementary schools as a child. After graduating from high school, he worked as a newspaper reporter in Oakland, California. In 1921, he worked parttime as a reporter. He graduated with honors from the University of California at Berkeley in 1924 with a B.A. degree. He did graduate work in physics at Berkeley and received his Ph.D. degree in 1926. That year, he moved to Germany to study, because it was at the center of quantum mechanical activity. In 1927, he returned to the United States and joined the public relations department of Bell Telephone Laboratories.

In 1928, Condon joined Columbia University as a lecturer in physics. Later that year, he became assistant professor of physics at Princeton University. The next year he taught physics at the University of Minnesota. He returned to Columbia in 1930, where he remained until 1937.

Condon developed most of his original contributions to the advancement of theoretical physics while at Princeton. His interpretation of high energy proton-proton scattering clarified the nuclear strong force, which provided the basis for modern nuclear theory and dramatically influenced the development of research in atomic energy. He also made contributions in the mass spectroscopy of molecules and in the understanding of the quantum mechanical basis of molecular vibrations measured by infrared spectroscopy and the rotation of light by molecules.

In 1937, Condon moved to Pittsburgh to join the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Corporation as associate director of research. He helped lead the company into the nuclear age by improving and focusing basic nuclear research programs. In the early 1940's, he was a consultant for the National Defense Research Committee and helped to develop airborne radar systems for use in World War II (1939-1945). He also helped to found the Radiation Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Also in the early 1940's, J. Robert Oppenheimer appointed Condon an associate director of the then-secret Los Alamos laboratory, where he applied his work on mass spectroscopy to the separation of uranium isotopes for atomic weapons. From 1943-1945, he worked at the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley on mass spectrometric uranium isotope separations for the atomic bomb. After the war, Condon began writing and speaking in an effort to educate the public on policy decisions about the military use of nuclear energy. He believed that civilian control over nuclear weapons development and production was one of the keys to avoiding nuclear war.

In 1945, he became director of the National Bureau of Standards and worked as a science adviser to the Senate Special Committee on Atomic Energy, chaired by Senator Brian McMahon. In 1946, the McMahon-Douglas bill established the civilian Atomic Energy Commission, in part as a result of Condon's work.

From 1951-1954, he worked for Corning Glass Works in Corning, New York, where he developed applications of solid-state physics. In 1956, he became professor and chairman of physics at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1963, he worked at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics at the University of Colorado. In 1966, he headed a project for the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research on Unidentified Flying Objects. His work led to the 1969 Fuller Report, which found a lack of proof of the exist-ence of UFO's. Condon retired in 1970.