Goethe's Faust, Part I, lines 1810–15.1

A dedication to research in the physical sciences together with the circumstances of World War II, led me into theoretical and observational studies of the global physical climate. For all practical purposes, I was on my own when working in Cambridge and London, England, and I went whereever my interests led me. I organized three atmospheric observatories (two in England). I have also worked at many astronomical observatories. As time progressed, I became increasingly involved in studies of atmospheric radiation as a controlling factor for the Earth's climate. I am often taken to be a specialist in atmospheric radiation, but I have never regarded it as more than an important element in climate studies.

But radiative transfer and global questions did not become important for climate science until later, and in the 1950s and 1960s I found myself drawn to studies of planetary atmospheres as an arena in which my skills were of central importance. Mars and Venus were the focus of my work for many years, and I was partly responsible for launching the Pioneer Venus mission, which placed probes into the Venus atmosphere in 1978. Much later, the experience I gained in space instrumentation and in the structure of atmospheres led me back to climate science, where I started. Then my interest was in observing the climate and testing the credibility of climate predictions. I still maintain some activity in this field.

Outside these research activities, I created a Center for Earth and Planetary Physics at Harvard University to take over the activities of the Blue Hill Observatory, when that Observatory ceased to be a viable facility. The purpose of the Center was to teach earth science in the context of the discipline of physical science. The Center had some notable achievements but eventually had to give way to requirements for environmental sciences in the University, a change that I regret.

During my active life in the United States, I invested a great deal of effort in support of the work of the National Research Council (NRC), including many years spent on report review. I am increasingly troubled by the postmodern view of science that appears to dominate these activities. But that may be no more than a biased rosy view of the past with its exciting early experiences and hopes.

Keyword(s): Autobiography

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