Sunday, January 3, 2010

Moseley: Mighty Mind & Mighty Mite

Miller Moseley was only seven when he came to The Home after his father died of typhoid fever. Moseley became one of the Mighty Mites. Too small to smash opponents, Moseley mastered the difficult trick plays developed to outsmart bigger and tougher teams. His smarts didn't begin and end with football, though, and he went on to work with some of the smartest minds of the last century.

Weighing a scant 126 pounds upon graduation, he had little chance of being recruited to play college football on a scholarship so he headed to TCU in Fort Worth, encouraged by a Mason to apply there and find work to help pay for his college. This photo is from his college days at TCU where he graduated with degrees in physics and chemistry, finishing at the top of his class.

From the TCU Winter 2008 magazine:

He received a fellowship to pursue graduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he began working on a project separating isotopes for the U.S. Navy. Eventually he enlisted in the Navy and began working in the Naval Research Laboratory, then in the midst of a huge World War II push to develop a thermal diffusion process to supply the 235-uranium isotope used for the first atomic bombs.

It wasn't until he heard the news reports of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that he learned his group's research had been a pivotal part of something that had changed the course of the war and world history forever. He downplays his involvement, saying "I was just doing my job."
After the war, he finished his graduate work then returned to TCU - "to see old friends and find a job."He ended up doing both. Gaines, his former professor, offered him a position teaching and he joined the faculty in the fall of 1950. Apart from a sabbatical in 1957-58 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, he spent close to 40 years teaching at TCU, finally retiring in 1990.

Moseley was mentored in Chapel Hill by Dr. Nathan Rosen, who was a collaborator and right hand man to Dr. Albert Einstein earlier at Princeton. Rosen was directing Moseley's dissertation work and when Einstein called Rosen to come work with him to develop the atomic bomb, he in turn brought in Moseley to work on the Manhattan Project at a naval yard in Philadelphia where they were roommates. Jim Dent wrote, "His mathematical genius, developed at the Masonic Home, quickly emerged...as he was working with an all-star cast that included Einstein, Edward Teller, considered "The Father of the Hydrogen Bomb" and Robert Oppenheimer, "The Father of the Atomic Bomb."

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