Colloquium Lectures 2000

Langley Research Center: Contributing to the Quality of Life for Americans

by Dr. Jeremiah Creedon

Tuesday, January 11, 2000 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


NASA Langley Research Center was chartered to “…study … the problems of flight with a view to their practical solution”. Langley was founded in 1917 as the U.S. government’s first civilian aeronautical research laboratory, and after over 80 years of accomplishments, the Center continues to conduct high-risk, high-payoff activities that contribute to the quality of life. The talk will contain examples of past and current activities to illustrate how Langley efforts address significant problems and provide solutions to improve the air transportation system, help assure the pre-eminence of U.S. military aircraft, reduce the cost of access to space, provide understanding of the composition and evolution of the Earth’s atmosphere, and stimulate usage of aerospace technology benefits by non-aerospace organizations.


Dr. Jeremiah F. Creedon is the seventh Director of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Creedon graduated from the University of Rhode Island with bachelor and master of science degrees and a doctorate in electrical engineering in 1961, 1963 and 1970, respectively. In 1982-83, he was a Sloan Fellow at Stanford University and received a master of management science degree. Creedon began his NASA career at Langley in June 1963 and has conducted and managed research related to aircraft control and information systems, avionics technology, and aircraft flight control systems. As the senior management official of the research laboratory, Creedon is responsible for the Center’s aeronautical and space research programs, as well as facilities, personnel and administration.

Breaking The Sound Barrier: The Aerodynamic Breakthroughs That Made It Possible

by Dr. John D. Anderson, Jr.

Tuesday, February 1, 2000 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


On October 14, 1947, the Bell XS-1, with Chuck Yeager at the controls, flew faster than sound; this was the first piloted aircraft to exceed Mach one. It did not happen by chance. It was preceded by 30 years of research work carried out by the NACA that finally led to the proper intellectual understanding of the nature of high-speed aerodynamics around and above Mach one. This is one of the NACA’s most stellar success stories, and focuses on the work of John Stack and his colleagues at the NACA Langley Memorial Laboratory during the 1930’s. This presentation covers the exciting story of how we obtained our intellectual understanding of high-speed aerodynamics, making the design of the Bell XS-1 possible.


Dr. John Anderson, Jr. received his Ph.D. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 1966 from the Ohio State University. Dr. Anderson served as professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland where he became the Glenn L. Martin Distinguished Professor for Education in Aerospace Engineering. He is a Fellow of AIAA and of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Among his numerous accomplishments, he was awarded the AIAA Pendray Aerospace Literature Award “for writing textbooks in aerospace engineering which have received worldwide acclaim.” In 1999 he retired from the University of Maryland and was appointed Professor Emeritus. He is currently the Curator for Aerodynamics at the National Air and Space Museum.

Slippin’ and a-Slidin’ – A Researchers’ Dilemma

by Thomas J. Yager

Tuesday, March 7, 2000 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


A pneumatic tire rolling on a traveled surface performs a vehicle’s braking and steering. The ability of the tire to satisfy the vehicle’s steering and braking requirements can vary drastically depending on many factors. These factors interact — sometimes to advantage, sometimes not. Mr. Yager will describe these factors and how they interact. In addition, he will present highlights of his research in aircraft ground handling, especially aircraft landing safety. In reviewing his career experiences, Mr. Yager will discuss test sites, accomplishments, and unexpected problems. He will focus on cooperation with other people and emphasize that work can be a “joyful journey” that continues to offer new challenges.


Thomas J. Yager is a senior research engineer in the Structural Dynamics Branch at NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA. He conceives, directs, and conducts research into the mechanisms of friction and the wear of aircraft tires in order to define and predict the performance of aircraft steering and braking systems under adverse weather conditions. He is currently the NASA Program Manager of the Joint NASA/Transport Canada/FAA Winter Runway Friction Measurement Program. Yager earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering science from the University of Portland in Portland, OR, in 1963 and started work at NASA Langley in June 1963. He is the author or co-author of over 100 technical reports and papers.

Support of Shuttle Launches and Landings

by Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper

Friday, March 17, 2000 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper is assigned to the Astronaut Office Flight Support Branch where she serves as a member of the Astronaut Support Personnel team at the Kennedy Space Center. She will talk about her experiences in supporting Space Shuttle launches and landings.


Astronaut Stefanyshyn-Piper received bachelor and master of science degrees in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She served as an officer in the Navy where she specialized in diving and salvage and in ship maintenance and repair. She also qualified as a Surface Warfare Officer. Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper was selected as an astronaut candidate in April 1996 and completed qualification training for flight assignment as a mission specialist in 1998.

Protecting Our Planet – Securing Our Future: Linkages Among Global Environmental Issues and Human Needs

by Dr. Robert T. Watson

Tuesday, April 4, 2000 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


The Earth’s physical and biological systems have always been exploited to fulfill the basic needs (e.g., food, water, energy, soil generation, air and water purification) essential for our survival. During the last few decades the scale of our demands has grown so that we are degrading the ecosystems at local, national, and global levels. All environmental problems are caused by the same underlying driving forces: population size, level of consumption and choice of technologies. Governments have negotiated environmental conventions to protect the stratospheric ozone layer, the climate system, biodiversity, and arrest desertification and land degradation. The lecture will demonstrate the scientific and policy inter-linkages among these global environmental issues and our ability to meet basic human needs in a sustainable manner.


Dr. Watson received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from London University in 1973. Before joining the World Bank, he was Associate Director for Environment in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President. Prior to joining the Clinton White House, he was Director of the Science Division and Chief Scientist for the Office of Mission to Planet Earth at NASA. Dr. Watson has played a key role in the negotiation of global environment conventions and the evolution of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and from 1991 to 1994, was Chairman of the GEF’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel. He has received many awards, including the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility in 1993.

Magnet Science and Technology: From Quantum Wells to Floating Frogs

by Dr. Jack Crow

Tuesday, May 2, 2000 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Magnetism has fascinated us since lodestones were discovered thousands of years ago. The association of magnetism and electricity led to early studies of both in the 17th century and these subjects continue to capture the interest of researchers today. Magnets and magnetism are a central aspect of many of today’s technologies: motors and generators, medical diagnostic tools, and data storage. In the future, magnets may be the guide-ways for high-speed trains. Quantum wells are highly conductive “electron gas” regions at the interface between two semiconductors. Research on quantum wells in a magnetic field has produced new states of matter, resulting in two Nobel prizes. Magnets can be used to float biological materials, such as a frog, in a weightless state on earth. The lecture will present the history of magnetism with a focus on its application to science and technology.


Jack Emerson Crow is the Director of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL) and a Professor of Physics at Florida State University. He received his Ph.D. in Physics in 1967 from the University of Rochester. His research focuses on magnetism, superconductivity, and magnet-related technologies. Dr. Crow spent six years at the Brookhaven National Laboratory and 16 years at Temple University in the Physics Department and as the Director for the Center for Materials Research, for the National Science Foundation’s Solid State Physics Program, and for the Ben Franklin Superconductivity Center. Dr. Crow is a member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee and is on the board of editors for Superconductivity Review.

The Future of Scientific Computers

by Dr. Horst D. Simon

Tuesday, June 6, 2000 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Scientific computing in the 1990s experienced incredible performance increases and a fundamental technology transition. Performance soared a thousand fold from about 1 billion to 1 trillion floating-point operations per second (1Teraflop/s). In 1990 scientific computers were custom-built vector processors with shared memory; in 2000 they are commodity micro processors combined into distributed memory machines with thousands of parallel processors. The lecture will discuss extrapolations of today’s trends and several developing projects that promise to deliver another thousand-fold increase in performance by 2010. Further, the limit of semiconductor-based devices is expected about 2020. The talk will present some of the fundamental physical limits of computation and speculate about the potential replacement technologies. The vision of a rich and productive era for computing will be shared. The talk will conclude with some predictions and speculations beyond 2025.


Dr. Horst D. Simon is Director of the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing) Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, CA. NERSC is funded by the Department of Energy and is the principal supplier of production high-performance computing services to the nationwide energy research community. From 1994 – 1996 he was with the Advanced System Division of Silicon Graphics in Mountain View, CA where he managed SGI’s university and research laboratory programs. From 1987 – 1994 he was with Computer Sciences Corporation at the NAS Division at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA. Dr. Simon holds a Diploma in Mathematik from the TU Berlin, Germany (1978) and a Ph.D. in mathematics (1982) from the University of California, Berkeley, CA.

Composite Materials for Aerospace Applications

by Dr. Charles E. Harris

Tuesday, July 11, 2000 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


An assessment of the State-of-the-Art in the design and manufacturing of large composite structures has been prepared by the Center of Excellence for Structures and Materials. The background that motivated the assessment was a series of unexpected manufacturing and design problems with the composite structure of the X-33 and X-34 experimental hypersonic vehicles. The baseline for the assessment is the historical evolution of composites in actual aerospace vehicles. Applications of composites are reviewed for commercial aircraft, military aircraft, and space launch vehicles. The assessment of the state-of-the-art includes a summary of lessons learned, examples of current practice, and an assessment of advanced technologies under development. The assessment concludes with an evaluation of the future technology challenges associated with applications of composites to the primary structure of commercial aircraft and advanced space transportation vehicles.


Dr. Harris leads the Structures and Materials Center of Excellence (COE) at Langley Research Center. The principal functions of the COE are to promote the enhancement of the preeminent structures and materials technical expertise and facilities distributed throughout NASA and to foster collaboration among the NASA Field Centers. The COE also conducts technology assessments and advocates for future research and technology development programs. Prior to joining NASA in 1987, Dr. Harris was a professor of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University and earlier a structural engineer for the Babcock & Wilcox Company. Dr. Harris earned a BS in Aerospace Engineering and PhD in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Harris is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia.

Mars Program Assessment–Findings and Recommendations

by Tom Young

Tuesday, August 1, 2000 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Following the unsuccessful Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space 2 missions, the NASA Administrator appointed Thomas Young to head the Mars Program Independent Assessment Team to independently assess current and future Mars programs. The team started work on January 7, 2000, and delivered its final report to NASA in mid-March.

The team’s charter was to review and analyze successes and failures of recent mission to determine why some succeeded and some failed; examine the relationship between and among NASA Headquarters, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the California Institute of Technology and industry partners; assess the involvement of scientists; identify lessons learned from successes and failures; review the Mars Surveyor Program to assure lessons learned are utilized; oversee Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space 2 failure reviews; and evaluate the risk management process.

Mr. Young will describe the team’s findings in which everyone worked toward the same goal: finding ways to make the Mars program successful.


Tom Young retired as Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin in 1995. He had served previously as President and COO of Martin Marietta. Prior to joining Martin Marietta, he was Director of Goddard Space Flight Center and had served as Deputy Director at Ames Research Center, Director, Planetary Programs at NASA HQ, and Mission Director of the Viking Project at Langley, for which he was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Mr. Young received BSME and BSAE degrees from the University of Virginia and a Masters in Management from MIT, which he attended as a Sloan Fellow. He is currently a member of the NASA Advisory Council and Chairman of the National Academy of Engineering Committee on Technology Literacy.

Recent Progress in Understanding Hurricanes

by Dr. Kerry A. Emanuel

*RESCHEDULED due to Safety Stand Down Day* Tuesday, September 12, 2000 at 3:30 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


The last few decades have seen substantial progress in understanding and predicting hurricanes. In this talk, I will review what is known about the basic physics underlying hurricane genesis, development and maintenance, and will emphasize recent research developments that show that the hurricane’s eyewall is an example of an atmospheric front, that the eye subsidence is driven by turbulence produced mechanically in the eyewall, and that the response of the upper ocean to the hurricane’s wind field has a substantial, and sometimes fatal, feedback on the storm’s intensity. I will end the talk with an exposition of a new theory that suggests that hurricanes may drive the oceans’ thermohaline circulation, which strongly modifies the earth’s climate.


Dr. Kerry A. Emanuel is a Professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the former Director of MIT’s Center for Meteorology and Oceanography. He received a S. B. in Earth Science and a Ph.D. in Meteorology, both from MIT. Dr. Emanuel’s research interests include the dynamics and energetics of tropical cyclones and their genesis and steering, and cloud and water vapor feedbacks in the climate system. He is an international authority on hurricanes. Dr. Emanuel is author or co-author of about 85 scientific publications. He authored the textbook, Atmospheric Convection, published by the Oxford University Press. Prior to joining the faculty of MIT, Dr. Emanuel was a faculty member at UCLA.

The International Space Station

by Astronaut Gus Loria

Monday, September 25, 2000 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


The presentation will be an update and review of the preparation of the International Space Station for habitation and research.


Major Loria (USMC) graduated from the Naval Academy and is earning an M.S. in aero engineering. Naval Test-Wing Atlantic Test Pilot of 1995-96, he graduated first in all phases of flight training. He has 2,000 hours of flight time, in over 35 different aircraft. He was a test pilot on the X-31 and the F/A-18 High Alpha Research Vehicle. He also participated in physiology testing for the F-16XL program. He is Capsule Communicator (CapCom) on the current shuttle mission (STS-103), a role that can be held only by a past or future shuttle pilot. Recipient of a number of awards, Major Loria is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), and Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA), among others. On Sept. 26, Astronaut Loria will speak to middle- and high-school students at the Amphitheater at the Va. State Fair in Richmond, meet with the public at the NASA LaRC exhibits, and lunch with gifted students.

The Lifting Bodies

by William H. (Bill) Dana

Tuesday, October 3, 2000 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


The manned lifting body program, which flew several versions of the wingless vehicles, produced data that helped in development of the Space Shuttle. This talk will use slides and videos to describe the development of lifting bodies from their origins in the 1960s to current lifting bodies. Mr. Dana will describe the advocacy and flight test of the first piloted lifting body, a lightweight plywood version of the NASA Ames-designed M2 shape. The talk also documents the flight test of the heavyweight M2 and of the NASA Langley lifting body, the HL-10, and the formation of a joint NASA/U.S. Air Force lifting body test force, which tested the Air Force lifting bodies, the X-24A and X-24B. The current NASA Johnson lifting body, the X-38, and the Lockheed Martin reusable launch vehicle prototype, the X-33 will be discussed.


William H. Dana was Chief Engineer at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA when he retired in 1998 after almost 40 years of distinguished service to NASA. During his career as a research pilot, Dana was involved in some of the most significant aeronautical programs carried out at Dryden, including the X-15 hypersonic research aircraft, the F-100 variable stability research aircraft and the F-18 High Angle of Attach research program. Dana was a project pilot on the manned lifting body program, which flew several versions of the wingless vehicles and produced data that helped in development of the Space Shuttle. He has received numerous awards for his contributions including NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal in 1997. Dana received a BS degree from the U.S. Military Academy and a MS in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Southern California. He is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Nanotechnology and Space

by Dr. Ralph Merkle

Tuesday, November 7, 2000 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Manufactured products are made from atoms. The properties of those products depend on the arrangement of those atoms. Today’s manufacturing methods arrange atoms statistically, without control over the placement of individual atoms. In the future, nanotechnology will let us inexpensively manufacture most arrangements of atoms that are consistent with physical law. This will let us make (among many other things) molecular computers and new materials of remarkable strength and lightness.

Materials with a strength-to-weight ratio over fifty times that of steel or aluminum alloy have major implications for reducing the weight and increasing the payload of space craft. Further, the reduced size and weight of molecular computers and sensors will allow remarkable decreases in payload weight while increasing mission capability. These improvements, coupled with low per-kilogram manufacturing costs, will usher in a new era in the exploration and use of space. Not just a place for the elite few to explore, space will become a place where the rest of us can live and thrive. These possibilities will likely require many years to a few decades to realize — putting them well beyond the planning horizon of most commercial organizations but within the multi-decade horizon of NASA’s strategic plan.


Dr. Merkle received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1979 where he co-invented public key cryptography. He joined Xerox PARC in 1988, where he pursued research in computational nanotechnology until 1999. He is now a Principal Fellow at Zyvex, where he continues to pursue research in nanotechnology. He chaired the Fourth and Fifth Foresight Conferences on Nanotechnology, is on the Executive Editorial Board of the journal Nanotechnology, was corecipient of the 1998 Feynman Prize for Nanotechnology for theory, and was corecipient of the ACM’s Kanellakis Award for Theory and Practice and the 2000 RSA Award in Mathematics. Dr. Merkle has published and spoken extensively and has eight patents. His home page is at

Galileo’s Journey to Jupiter: The Twisted Path and the Successes

by Dr. Ronald Greeley

Tuesday, December 5, 2000 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


The Galileo project was initiated in 1977. After nearly two decades of delays, false starts, and a trajectory that carried it on a looping path through the inner solar system, the orbiter reached Jupiter in late 1995. Along the way, new insight was gained for Venus-Earth-Moon, and the spacecraft enabled the first close views of asteroids (Ida and Gaspra) and the discovery of the first asteroid-orbiting moon (Dactyl). After releasing an atmospheric probe, the spacecraft began orbiting Jupiter with repeated flybys of the four major moons, IoEuropaGanymede, and Callisto. This seminar will highlight the major results from the Galileo mission, focusing on the geological aspects, including:

  • High-temperature volcanism on Io
  • Europa and its potential for exobiology
  • Ganymede and the development of a new planetary concept, termed tectonic resurfacing
  • Callisto and the mystery of its eroded surface

These topics will be illustrated with data from the imaging, magnetometer, and near-infrared mapping spectrometer experiments. The colloquium will conclude with discussion of the joint observations of Jupiter by the Galileo and Cassini spacecraft, possible scenarios for the end of the Galileo mission, and the potential for future exploration, including the Europa Orbiter.


Ronald Greeley is a Regents Professor of Geology at Arizona State University. He has been involved in lunar and planetary studies since 1967. Current research is focused on gaining an understanding of planetary surface processes and geological histories. The approach involves a combination of spacecraft data analysis, laboratory experiments, and geological field studies on Earth of features analogous to those observed on the planets. Greeley received his Ph.D. in Geology in 1966 from the University of Missouri at Rolla. Current planetary mission involvement includes science team membership on the Galileo Jupiter mission and the European Space Agency Mars Express mission. Greeley has served on various NASA and National Academy of Science panels to assess space science and planetary geology activities.