Remember Betty Henderson and her thoughtful gift to Rice, a Collins Helium Cryostat? I’ve recently managed to dig up a couple of things that may begin to shed a little more light on this. I was a bit surprised to find a photograph in the Woodson’s files of her with her husband, Frank. From what I can tell, he was a native of Oklahoma who got rich in the oil business.
Luckily, the picture is labeled with the exact date of the event–April 20, 1954–which was missing from the original article. I haven’t had time yet to go look at the microfilm of the Houston papers but I will soon.
Also, almost unbelievably, it turns out that the instrument itself is still sitting in the basement of the old Physics Building! The case is missing, but here are the guts:
But the smartest thing I did was go back and look at the old faculty research reports so we can see who used it for what. Rice began printing these reports, which were initially quite simple affairs, sometime after William Houston became president so I wasn’t sure that one would exist for this fairly early date. One did, though. Here’s the relevant entry for 1955:
And here’s a whole page worth from 1958:
A couple of things jump out at me. First, for several reasons that I won’t go into right now, I’m very interested that President Houston used this machine. And second, the common denominator in all this work (besides the instrument) is a then-brand new assistant professor named Bud Rohrshach. Who was also from Oklahoma.
I’m not finished here yet.
Bonus: Here’s link to Betty Henderson’s obituary. Wow.