Monday, January 21, 2008

Robert (Bob) E. Moore

(BOB Moore is cross posted on bartoncii,)

My father, who was 96 last week, has outlived almost all of his generation of scientists. My father cared very much about his co-workers and associates, and in a number of instances he wrote tributes to them after they died.

In this tribute to Bob (Robert E.) Moore, my father reveals the human side of science. My father was Bob Moore's group leader in the early 1950's. Nearly 20 years later my father still felt responsible for Bob, and rescued him for the collapse of the ORNL Reactor Chemistry Division. What comes through is this brief memorial is my father's care for his associates, and the deep human spark between my father and the dying scientist captured ever so briefly by the last sentence.


By Charles J, Barton, Sr.

My first contact with Bob occurred in early July 1950 when he reported for work at ORNL, in the Y-12 area, fresh out of school at-the University of Chicago with a Ph.D. in physical chemistry. The Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Project (ANP) at ORNL was just getting underway. Bob joined a group formed to make a literature study that initiated the effort to find a mixture of salts containing uranium tetra fluoride for an experimental molten salt reactor. I was put in charge of a group including Bob that did phase studies to define a fuel composition for this reactor.

Bob worked with me for a time on this project and his name appears on the publication or part or this research (J.Phys. Chem. Vol. 52, 555, 1953). Our boss, Warren Grimes, and I received a patent on the mixture or sodium fluoride, zirconium tetra fluoride and uranium tetra fluoride that was used in the ANP Reactor, the world's first molten salt reactor. This operated briefly in 1954, before the phase studies were completed, Bob was transferred to measurement or the physical properties of molten salt mixtures, outside of my jurisdiction, although he
worked nearby in the Y-12 area.

For a number of years Bob's work and mine went in different directions. In 1959 the Reactor Chemistry Division, headed by Warren Grimes, was having hard sledding and I went on loan to the Health Physics Division to work on the Plowshare Program with Don Jacobs. In 1971 Don had departed the scene and I was in charge or what was left of the program. Bob was part or a small group o~ ORNL scientists who had no program support and were taking intensive training in computer programming. Word reached me that Bob was among those who might get shipped out if work was not found for them. I badly needed someone with computer know how to help me in the Plowshare program and I put in a bid for him. Gerry Keilholtz also went to bat for him. I had the more urgent need and the money so Bob came to work with me in the section or the Health Physics Division that later became a part of the Environmental Science Division. Bob had an unusual ability to combine his knowledge of mathematics, physical chemistry and computer programming. His assistance contributed to completion or several aspects of the project. Bob's name appears on five Plowshare publications. His name properly preceded mine on one publication (Nuclear Tech., Vol. .24, 238, 1974). Word or Bob's computer prowess soon spread in our division and Bob became an indispensable person in our group.

I left the Lab in early 1977 and Bob was only a few years behind me. We had a rather loose connection for years, but I appreciated Bob's occasional phone calls that kept me in contact. In my brief visits during his last months, I tried to maintain a positive note. One statement about my difficulty in getting an article published elicited a laugh, giving me assurance that he understood what I was saying.

Note 2/10/08: Bob Moore, along with J. P. McBride, J. P. Witherspoon, and R. E. Blanco was a coauthor of a famous paper, "Radiological Impact of Airborne Effluents of Coal and Nuclear Plants" published in the December 8, 1978, issue of Science magazine.

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