“Some Things We Don’t Know,” Vannevar Bush, 1954

The other day I found this great picture of President Houston with Vannevar Bush at the first Rice Associates Dinner in the spring of 1954.( Houston brought the idea for an associates program with him to Rice from Cal Tech, which had already established an effective group.) During World War II Houston had worked in the Office of Scientific Research and Development, which Bush headed, and the two knew each other well. Bush, a key figure in the transformation of American scientific research into a largely government funded enterprise, would have been a big draw as a speaker. (Here’s a short assessment of Bush and his career. It’s hard to sum it up briefly and still be fair but this is reasonable.)

Here they are, clearly in Fondren, both sporting double-breasted dinner jackets:

Some years ago I scanned most of an article about this dinner. It came from one of those enormous scrapbooks kept by alumni volunteers and I have no idea what happened to the rest of it. I’m pretty sure from the general tone that it’s from the Houston Press and I have no online access to those archives to retrieve the rest. Still, there’s a lot to chew on here, in particular the part about Bush’s involvement in the suspension of Robert Oppenheimer’s security clearance:

(If you want more, here’s a link to Bush’s remarks that evening: Vannevar Bush Rice Address )

And here’s a surprise: For no good reason I also happen to have a picture of Houston with Robert Oppenheimer. This was taken at a conference at Yale in 1958:

I don’t have anything like the strength to get into the Oppenheimer security clearance issue right now other than to point out that Ken Pitzer also had significant role. Maybe later.

Bonus: Grandson, locked down.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to “Some Things We Don’t Know,” Vannevar Bush, 1954

  1. Sandy Havens says:

    Melissa, are you familiar with, or aware of, the docu-drama “In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer?” It deals with the Senate hearings into his security clearance.

  2. Mark Linimon says:

    Great picture of the kiddo.

  3. Charles Upton says:

    The main hearing was before the AEC, and a multi-volume transcript (redacted for security issues) is available on line.

  4. George Webb '88, '91 says:

    Quick quiz: name the two Rice faculty members who have won the Vannevar Bush Award, given by the National Science Foundation in recognition or outstanding contribution “toward the welfare of mankind and the Nation” through public service activities in science and technology.

  5. Texas SPQ says:

    What a lovely “prison” your grandson has!

  6. What we don’t know is what holds us back. In order to progress, it is important to know what we don’t know.

  7. Philip Walters says:

    Having just finished reading “American Prometheus”, I understand why one would need to gather a considerable strength to touch upon the issues surrounding Dr. Oppnheimer’s security clearance. A dark place in history, one that I’ve been long aware of, but I learned a lot from Bird and Sherwin’s book that I did not know before.

    There are many things about the Project that cast shadows in my heart, but I have found a place of peace that is related to it as well. I frequently travel to Santa Fe, and I like to take a little detour over to the river crossing at Otowi and pull off the highway on the west bank, and look across the fence at Edith Warner’s tea house. Thinking of all the amazing scientists, amazing people who came down off the Hill with Dr. Oppenheimer to dine there with Edith and her Pueblo friend Tilano brings a lot of peace to my soul. I sometimes leave little notes to them stuck in the barbed wire before I go.

    Perhaps a topic for a shared beer sometime.

Leave a Reply