CREATING NUCLEAR SAFEGUARDS
Carl Bennett '40, M'41 was accepted into the Army in June 1944, but before he could report for active duty, the Manhattan Project came calling. The international research program working on creating the world's first atomic bomb needed a statistician and contacted the University of Michigan's math department in hopes of finding one. Bennett, who was pursuing his doctorate and teaching there, got word of the job on a Wednesday, interviewed on Friday and was at work at the University of Chicago on Monday.
"That was a career-determining moment for me," says Bennett, who earned a master's in math at Bucknell and Michigan (1942) before completing his doctorate in 1952. "I suspect that if I had not been available that week, I would have gone into the Army and then back to Michigan with no more idea of what to do other than getting a Ph.D. and teaching somewhere."
Bennett spent four months as a junior chemist at Chicago, then two years as senior chemist and quality control supervisor for the analytical laboratories at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. His job was to devise metrics relating to quality control and accurate tracking of nuclear materials.
Bennett's interest in numbers stemmed from his undergraduate days. He was just 18 when he graduated from Bucknell, but he was part of a strong nucleus of math students at the time. The intensity of the academics was extremely influential, Bennett says, as was the guidance of Professor Paul Benson '34.
"We got to be very close friends," Bennett says. "He's probably more responsible for my career in statistics than any other person."
His prominence as a statistical consultant continued to rise over more than four decades of work at the Hanford Works and Battelle Memorial Institute in Washington state. He was frequently asked by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to serve on specialized task forces and advisory groups. In the late 1960s, he served as a U.S. representative for several working groups the International Atomic Energy Agency convened to establish inspection protocols to ensure that nuclear materials in non-weapons countries were not being used for military purposes.
"Professionally, I had more influence on these activities and the continued development of inspection protocols and the evaluation of their effectiveness than on anything that happened back in 1944," Bennett says. "That was my bailiwick." .
-Patrick S. Broadwater
- Smith to give Class of 1956 Lecture Nov. 3
Howard Smith will give the annual Class of 1956 Lecture, "A Mathematical Scrapbook," Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. in the Gallery Theatre of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University.
- Ask the Experts: Lynn Breyfogle on mathematics standards and writing
Lynn Breyfogle, associate professor of mathematics and director of the Writing Program, talks about Common Core State Standards for mathematics, and writing.
- Meet Bucknell's new assistant professors
Eleven new tenure-track faculty members describe their research interests and the ways in which they are challenging students across the disciplines.
- Meet Bucknell's newly tenured professors
Sixteen associate professors discuss their scholarly interests, from brain signals to Hindu mythology, and their approaches to teaching.
- Beautiful Minds
Numbers and problem solving have always fascinated John Hoover '82, a math major who went on to become an actuary. As one who appreciates the beauty and power of numbers, he has created a new merit scholarship for first-year math students to help Bucknell recruit the country's top talent in the field.
- Ask the Experts: Tom Cassidy on birth, death, math
Tom Cassidy, associate professor of mathematics, studies the "birth, death and mathematics" connection. We asked him to explain.
- Student math teams honored in international competition
Two Bucknell University student teams have placed among the winners at the recent Mathematical Contest in Modeling, earning the designations of "outstanding winners" and "meritorious winners" among the 2,254 worldwide submissions.
- Math professor completes Fulbright in Uruguay
Assistant Professor of Mathematics Nathan Ryan, a computational number theorist, traveled to Uruguay this past fall with a Fulbright fellowship.