BERNHARD BRUNO KINSEY
Bernhard Bruno Kinsey was born June 15, 1910, in London, England, and died in Austin, Texas, on November 22, 1995.
Kinsey earned his BA in 1932 from Cambridge University while studying and working in the laboratory of Lord Rutherford, discoverer of the atomic nucleus. Lord Rutherford oversaw Kinsey's first publication, Transmutation of Lithium of Protons and Ions of the Heavy Hydrogen Isotope, which appeared in Proceedings of the Royal Society of England in 1933.
After graduation from Cambridge, Kinsey was offered a Commonwealth Fellowship (equivalent to a Rhodes Scholarship) at the University of California. There, Kinsey worked on the earliest linear accelerator designs with E. O. Lawrence and J. Robert Oppenheimer from 1933 to 1936.
Kinsey left the Lawrence Laboratory to return to Cambridge, earning his PhD in 1937. From 1936 to 1939, he lectured at the University of Liverpool. From 1939 to 1942, during the German threat to England in World War II, Kinsey pioneered airborne microwave radar technology as a scientific officer with the Ministry of Aircraft Production. (He was one of the pre-war research scientists who would be directed to work on RDF (Radio Detection Finder) should war break out. In July 1939, he reluctantly followed instructions to visit the Chain Home station near Dunkirk in Kent as a familiarization exercise.
War was declared, and his first jobs were to survey and calibrate Chain Home stations. After the move to Purbeck, he was assigned to centimetric Air-to-Surface Vessel radars.—Added by Melvin Oakes from Purbeck Radar Web Site) He also continued his work as a research scientist at Cambridge until 1944.
After World War II, Kinsey migrated to Canada to research nuclear structure using neutrons as a probe. From 1944 to 1954, Kinsey worked with the Canadian National Research Council, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, and Chalk River Laboratories, producing much of the work for which he is still known. His research during this time brought him fellowships in the American Physical Society (1952) and the Royal Society of Canada (1954), while also establishing Chalk River as the leading Canadian nuclear physics research facility.
The University of California at Berkeley hosted Kinsey as a guest researcher from 1954 to 1955, and, immediately afterward, he crossed the Atlantic once more, serving as the deputy chief scientific officer at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Harwell, England, from 1955 to 1958. At Harwell, Kinsey continued his accelerator research, using protons as a probe.
Around this time, the University of Texas at Austin began the development of its physics program, focusing growth in general relativity and high energy nuclear physics. Tom Bonner of Rice University suggested to Emmett Hudspeth that Bernhard Kinsey's established international reputation might convince the University of Texas administration to fund a major nuclear physics research laboratory in conjunction with the new development. Hudspeth became instrumental in the recruitment effort, and in 1958 Kinsey joined UT Austin as professor of physics and director of the Center for Nuclear Studies.
While Kinsey's gruff and bearish appearance and memory for minute details could easily intimidate young professors, his colleagues describe him as a kind man with an irrepressible sense of humor, a love for animals, and a pencil precariously dangling from the corner of his mouth almost all the time. His reputation as "some sort of eccentric" often preceding him, Kinsey was regarded with considerable awe by young researchers and professors even in the earliest stages of his career. Although he has been described as "inclined towards disrespect for authority, particularly if that was in the least restrictive," "Kinsey enjoyed people and made a point of putting them at ease." Many colleagues and students have described the kindness and advice he offered that made them feel like part of his family and that revealed him as a truly caring teacher and friend. Family was important to Kinsey, and he always took particular pride in his children's and grandchildren's accomplishments.
Kinsey retired as director of the Center of Nuclear Studies in 1969, and from the physics department and UT Austin in 1976, being named professor emeritus that same year.
Kinsey's enthusiasm for life stayed with him after his retirement. He read avidly and followed world affairs, traveled, participated in swimming exercise programs at UT, and dabbled in the invention arena. He cooled his home with an improved-efficiency air conditioning unit he designed, and he penned A Bunch of Narcissus, a book he described as "a story of bigotry and megalomania in a Texas university." Failing health and advancing age did not slow Kinsey down. His regular long-distance visits to friends and relatives inspired those around him and showed many how one could make the best of life and enjoy it to the fullest no matter what the circumstances.
Kinsey is survived by his wife, Marian Hall Kinsey; children Jennifer Modigliani and husband Julian Rangel of Victoria, B.C., Nicholas and wife Andree of Quebec, and Peter and wife Katalina of Victoria, B.C.; step-children Clare Dyer and husband Jack Wilkins of Austin, and James Dyer of Berkeley; grandchildren Leah, Simone, Jessica, Jacob, Maia, Josee, Eve, Thomas, Nicholas, and Natasha.
This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Dr. J. W. Jagger (retired, UT Austin), Dr. V. D. Mistry of Austin, Texas, and Professors A. P. French (MIT), Austin M. Gleeson (chair, UT Austin), and Peter J. Riley (UT Austin).
Article below written by Gil Bartholomew and provided by Jim Jagger, colleague of Kinsey.
When Chadwick arrived in 1935, the laboratory must have looked much the same as it did when it was first opened 30 years previously. The electricity supply was still DC and the few machines in the workshop were operated by belts driven from an overhead shaft. However, there was plenty of space which had hardly been used, and Chadwick's plan was to construct a cyclotron in the basement rooms of the building. To help with this, and to start some research in nuclear physics, he brought with him six new staff members. The cyclotron was then a new device which had been invented by Lawrence in Berkeley a few years earlier. Chadwick's two experts were Bernhard Kinsey and Harold Walke, young research fellows who had spent several years working with Lawrence. The construction of the machine at Liverpool was to be, in some ways, a stressful learning process. The cyclotron magnet was 50 tons in weight, with pole diameter 37 inches, and was manufactured by Metropolitan Vickers at Trafford Park. The copper conductor for the coils was a gift from a local cable manufacturer. The magnet had been designed by John Cockcroft at Cambridge, where Rutherford had finally been persuaded to agree to the construction of a similar cyclotron. (from article by J. R. Holt, REMINISCENCES AND DISCOVERIES , James Chadwick at Liverpool, JSTOR, Notes Rec. R. Soc. Lond. 48 (2), 299-308 (1994) )
Soon, however, Chadwick acquired a promising advisor in Bernard B. Kinsey, a young British scientist who had worked under Lawrence on Berkeley’s cyclotron. Kinsey would not arrive in Liverpool until early October 1936, but he participated In designing the magnets through correspondence with Cockcroft, P.P. Starling of Met-Vick, and Chadwick, to whom he sent the latest information about cyclotron development at Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Princeton, and the University of Michigan.
Cockcroft outlined magnet specifications to Chadwick on March 30, 1936: diameter of the pole pieces, 90 cm; air gap, 9 cm; diameter of the uniform magnetic field, 72 cm; voltage of the accelerating electrode Dees, around 10 [kv]; magnetic field, 17,500 gauss. The pole pieces would be tapered from 150 cm to 90 cm. Cockcroft estimated the weight of the iron in the magnet, including the yoke, two end plates, and two pole cores at 51 tons. The hollow, water-cooled copper coil would weigh 8 tons. With 64 kW generating the magnetic field, 490 gallons of cooling water per hour would be required. Cockcroft thought to use his 60-ton magnet for something more than atom smashing. He wrote concerning the plane of the gap: “Most convenient vertical for Cambridge. Most convenient horizontal if only required for ion spinning. No use for cosmic rays and magnetic work then.” No one had proposed a cyclotron with magnetic pole pieces with vertical planes; Cockcroft’s idea reflected the Cavendish’s need for equipment to replace Kapitza’s device for producing strong magnet fields, which had been sold to the Soviet Union. Cockcroft asked Chadwick to decide how he wanted his magnet, vertical or horizontal, and gave his own opinion: “I think also it would be best to have the gap vertical in any case, since it would probably be more easy [sic] to support the D electrodes if they were hanging vertically.” Chadwick sought the opinions of Lawrence and Kinsey. Reasoning that it would be very difficult to handle the upper iron plate of the accelerating chamber containing the D’s, which would have to be inserted into the vertical air gap, Kinsey replied: “Please do not build a vertical magnet on any account.” Lawrence agreed that a horizontal air gap allowed easy removal of the accelerating chamber and approach from any direction. Chadwick decided to follow the recommendations from Berkeley and build a magnet having pole pieces with horizontal planes. Cockcroft eventually settled on a horizontal magnet, too, and also consulted Lawrence. Lord Austin’s gift assured that he could build a dedicated cyclotron magnet rather than one that would have to also serve research on cosmic rays and magnetism.
Advice from Berkeley was also instrumental in determining the size of the air gap. Cockcroft had specified 9 cm apparently based on the dimensions of the 90-cm cyclotron developed by Theodor Svedberg at Uppsala University. Kinsey reported the figures for the Berkeley cyclotron: an air gap of approximately 9.5 cm and a pole gap of 16.5 cm. Kinsey explained that the air gap of 9.5 cm was what remained after inserting the 3.5 cm thick iron plates forming the lid and floor for the accelerating chamber into the 16.5 cm pole gap. Kinsey emphasized the importance of having as deep an accelerating chamber as possible in order to decrease the electrical capacity of the D’s and conserve high-frequency output. Of course, it would also be possible to retain a given pole gap and increase the size of the air gap by decreasing the thickness of the steel plates forming the lid and floor for the accelerating chamber. In fact, this was the one measure that Hugh Paxton could take to remedy the deficiencies of Frédéric Joliot’s cyclotron, for which the magnet had been completed before Paxton arrived from Berkeley. Kinsey judged that a thickness of about 3.5 cm for the plates was a minimum from the standpoint of safety. Thus the magnet should have a pole gap of 16.5 cm at the very least. Cockroft agreed to a gap of 8” (20 cm): “The tests on the modified model were made and showed the expected improvement, bringing the field in a net gap of 15 cm up to 17500 gauss. There is, therefore, no reason why we should not go ahead as quickly as possible, once the drawings are completed.”
Staffing and funding
Correspondence between Chadwick and Lawrence shows that Chadwick started trying to recruit staff for his cyclotron programme in November and December 1935. He was fortunate to gain the services of Bernhard B. Kinsey, an ex-Cavendish man who was working with Lawrence in California on the latest cyclotron. Kinsey's Exhibition Scholarship finished in September of 1936, and he was pleased to be able to help in the design (and later the construction) of the proposed Liverpool cyclotron. Kinsey was able to convey the latest design and other details to Chadwick, as can be seen from the series of letters held in the Physics Department.
Help and information from the United States
In October 1936, Chadwick's team at Liverpool University was joined by Kinsey. The correspondence between Chadwick and Kinsey, between the end of 1935 and his arrival in Liverpool, gives some insight into the lack of information that was available regarding the safety criteria in building a machine that was, at that time. at the leading edge of technology. Kinsey informed Chadwick, for instance, that when the cyclotron workers at Berkeley had their red blood cells (RBC) counted early in 1936, almost 50% of the workers had an RBC count below 4 million per cubic mm, but, 'no one has felt any ill-effects yet."
Gil Bartholomew, Chalk River Colleague- December 1995
Memories of an Old Colleague and Dear Friend. It is difficult to express in words the sadness and feeling of loss at the passing of a respected colleague and stalwart dear old friend of almost 50 years, Bernard Kinsey.
It was Bernhard who introduced me to the practice of nuclear physics as a full-time professional researcher when, in 1948, I joined his research team at the Chalk River Laboratories. The team was just beginning a new series of experiments on gamma rays using a nuclear reactor. These were heady days because at that time, Canada had the most powerful reactor in the world, and Bernard had adapted a new form of measuring instrument for this type of study. And we made a clean sweep of the field, for several years, outperforming all competition - a unique and sweet research situation.
During that collaboration there were many occasions to appreciate Bernard's excellent personal qualities including, especially, his kindness and generosity, his dedication to hard work and his extraordinary sense of humour. This great sense of humour often focused on the fatuous, on ridiculous situations, or on pronouncements of the self-important. This practice, plus certain old-English professorial manners, early earned him the title of "Governor" among some friends and colleagues at Chalk River.
After Bernhard left Chalk River in 1954, there followed many years during which our long-lasting friendship was sustained by frequent visits from Bernhard when he came to Canada to visit family and friends from East to West. The unusual thing about these visits was that Bernard never slackened his pace. He came almost as regularly as clockwork. Even when ill health would have completely grounded the average person, Bernard would make these long painful trips from Texas by plane and bus to visit, not only family, but also his far-flung friends. Not just the Bartholomews in Deep River and later Vancouver, but also the Hinks in Ottawa and the Peppers in Nanaimo, to mention those best known to me, although I know there were others. How my wife, Anna, and I looked forward to the Governor's arrival! He was consistently a bringer of happiness, good fellowship and good humour and always ready for long discussions on science, politics, or whatever. And those of us who managed occasional return visits to see him and Marian in Texas were again rewarded by their warm hospitality bathed by Bernard's special and delightful personality and unmatchable good humour.
Bernhard taught us all how to make the best of life, even when it included a large helping of failing health. In his old age, he was a real model of how to live it out to the end. Although his passing leaves an immense emptiness, we can be consoled that he should be very happy as he travels through the worlds above reuniting with old friends who preceded him there.
Don Preist, L.F.I.E.E.E., F.I.E.E. ex Bawdsey Research Station, A.M.R.E. Worth Matravers, T.R.E. Malvern. Major Contributor to Radar Development in England during WWII. December 1995
I first met Bernhard in 1940 at Worth when we were both working on radar. We kept in touch. Our last telephone conversation was in November 1995. He was in good spirits. We had many things to talk about, not only the past, rich in memories, but the present.
Why did I like and admire Bernhard so much? Above all, for his kindness of heart. And for his humility. And for his love of life. And in recent years for his indomitable spirit. A very severe physical handicap seemed to have no effect on his outlook.
He was an appreciator of life. He never stopped learning. We often talked about the books we were reading.
As the years went by, many we knew passed away ..... Hilary Belloc .... Vivian Bowden of Chesterfield who was close to us both. Whenever this happened, we would commiserate over the phone, ending with "there are not many of us left. We must stick together." We did indeed. Recently Bernard and Marion both gave me helpful comments and advice about the memoirs I am writing. I was convinced that this would go on for many more years, but it was not to be. Death sneaked in through the back door.
The best tribute to Bernhard I can think of is for the rest of us to carry on the way he would have wanted us to. I‘m quite sure what that is. It is to extract as much enjoyment as possible from life whatever the problems and to share it with those around us.
During our very last 'phone talk, Bernhard told me a story about a man who had survived a very bad accident. He said "My friends tell me God has more work for me to do.” Maybe they‘re right, but I‘m not going to do it!!"
Peter Riley, UT Professor- December 1995
The book, Lawrence and Oppenheimer, by Nuel Pharr Davis, discusses the birth of the “atomic age” in the U. S. from about 1930 to 1954, emphasizing the roles of those two giants, Ernest Lawrence, the designer/builder of accelerators, and J. Robert Oppenheimer, the so-called “Father of the Atomic Bomb.” Lawrence the great experimentalist, and Oppenheimer, the consummate theorist. Early on in the book there is a discussion of early designs of linear accelerators in Lawrence’s laboratory at Berkeley to compete, with Lawrence’s backing, against the cyclotron.
I quote: “The second kind (of linear accelerator) accelerated lighter lithium ions. When Thorton came in 1933, he worked about a year on this one with Sloan and Bernhard Kinsey, a burly Englishman with a lisp. Kinsey is remembered for his glass blowing. When the tubes broke in the flame, the staff was fascinated to hear him curse horribly in a lisping British accent. This accelerator was also finished and tested in 1934. It produced disintegration, but not on a worthwhile scale.”
This little paragraph, although incorrect in one respect—Bernie did not have a lisp, but rather, a wonderfully distinctive way of speaking—tells a lot about Bernie. He was a burly Englishman, almost always with a pencil lodged precariously in the comer of his mouth, and a twinkle in his eye, not above shocking people with unexpected retorts and remarks! He also lived through, and contributed to, the whole history of nuclear science as we know it. He was truly a historic figure–far more so than most of us.
Bernard Kinsey was a student at Lord Rutherford’s laboratory—I think he was one of Rutherford’s last students. This is the Lord Rutherford—discoverer of the atomic nucleus. At age 23, fresh from a Cambridge degree, Bernie came to Lawrence’s Laboratory as a Commonwealth Fellow, and there worked on the earliest designs of linear accelerators. Later, huge modern linear accelerators would be built at SLAC and at LAMPF (Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility); countless linear accelerators have been built and are still being used for medical cancer irradiation treatments all over the world. During World War II, Bernie worked on the development of radar in Britain. After the wa,r he moved to Canada’s Chalk River Laboratories, helping to make that place one of the premier nuclear science laboratories in the world. It was there that Bernie’s best science was carried out with Gill Bartholomew. Their pioneering papers on neutron capture gamma ray studies were famous world-wide. Even I, who entered graduate school in the area of experimental nuclear physics in 1956 at UBC (University of British Columbia), very soon heard of the work of Bartholomew and Kinsey at Chalk River.
Bernie returned to the British Atomic Energy Research laboratory at Harwell, England, for the period 1955–1958. In 1958, he left Harwell to join the University of Texas, where he became Professor of Physics and Director of the Center for Nuclear Studies. At that time, UT Austin was seeking to build and expand its physics department. The golden age of the tandem van de Graaff, that would last until the early 1970’s, had just begun. Emmett Hudspeth was instrumental in bringing Bernie here. Emmett had started a fine “home built” Van de Graaff laboratory at what was then Balcones Research Center.
Emmett believed that by bringing in a senior scientist with an established international reputation, UT’s administration might be convinced to fund a major nuclear physics research laboratory here. Emmett's former mentor, Tom Bonner of Rice University, one of the world’s foremost experimentalists in neutron physics, suggested Bernie to Emmett. Gerry Phillips, who later succeeded Tom Bonner as director of the Bonner Laboratory at Rice, also knew Bernie and his reputation and recommended him to Emmett. During a trip to Europe, Emmett visited Bernie at Harwell, and persuaded him to come to UT.
Soon after Bernie arrived here, UT agreed to purchase from High Voltage Engineering Corporation a package of three Van de Graaff accelerators for $3M. It was, at the time, the single largest sale of accelerators made by HVEC. The generators were built in 1961 and delivered about 1962. You might be interested to know that the smallest of these three accelerators is still used in its original location by the Center for Fast Kinetics. I arrived at UT, with my fresh PhD in experimental nuclear physics in 1962, and joined the Center for Nuclear Studies. During the 1960s, the UT Center for Nuclear Studies, directed by Bernie Kinsey, was a vibrant, dynamic, and successful laboratory. Bernie retired from the directorship in 1969, and from UT Austin in 1976.
Bernie and his wife, Marion, made Austin their permanent home, and during his retirement years, Bernie could often be found working on papers in the RLM library, consulting with his old friend, Jim Jagger, the “Colonel” (none of us ever knew why), who had become the Chief Engineer for the Fusion Research Center, or attending various physics scientific and social functions. He attended Al Bromley’s recent talk of a couple of years ago, for he had been a good friend of Allan’s while both were at Chalk River. Sir Denys Wilkinson, who visited here about a year ago, was also a friend. Bernie was a close friend of my old physics advisor at UBC, the founder of TRIUMF, John Warren —another well-known “Englishman.” Bernie and Marian were most recently at the physics chairman’s party this fall. He enjoyed his retirement years, and as far as I could tell, didn’t slow down a bit!
Bernie was kind, and possessed an irrepressible sense of humor. He loved animals, and usually had a menagerie of large dogs at his home. He almost always, it seemed, dressed in wrinkled grey suits. There was no mistaking the sound of his flat-footed footsteps coming down the hall. He was, as in his boyhood days, a burly Englishman, usually with a pencil lodged precariously in the comer of his mouth, and a twinkle in his eye. He enjoyed people - I think that he knew, personally, everybody who was anybody in all countries and on all continents in the the field of nuclear physics. Rory Coker, whom he hired as a post-doc from the University of Georgia in 1966, remembers that, after his interview, Bernie drove him back to the airport to catch his plane for the return to Georgia and walked him to the exit gate. Saying goodbye, Bernie patted Rory on the back and commented “see you in September.” Only after getting on the plane did Rory realize that he had been offered his first job as a post-doc! I remember, returning briefly to UT in 1966 while on research leave at ORNL, that Bernie put me up in his house and treated me like a member of his family.
Bernie loved physics, and had a memory for the minutest detail in nuclear physics. If, during a discussion, he would say something like: “I seem to remember that the 13th excited state of Cr (or Ti, or Fe, or Zn!) has spin parity 11/2-,” you could bet your boots that it was true!
He was my friend, and a family friend, and we shall miss him. I don’t know whether or not you’re listening, but good-bye Bernie–it’s been good knowing you!!
James Jagger, UT Engineer- December 1995
I've known Bernhard Kinsey for 44 years as a colleague and good friend. We first met in 1951, when I joined the Canadian Atomic Energy Research Center at Chalk River. At that time Bernard was a well-established senior research scientist with an international reputation, and as you might suppose, he was regarded with considerable awe by young engineers such as myself. However, Bernhard was a very likeable person who made a point of putting people at their ease. During the four years I spent at Chalk River, I saw Bernie frequently although we worked in different fields, he in nuclear physics research, and I in engineering. I returned to Harwell England in 1955, and, later that year, I was very surprised to meet Bernie again, apparently he had been posted to Harwell at about the same time.
In 1957, Bernie was offered a position as professor of nuclear physics at the University of Texas, and, in 1959, he asked me to join him, to help him with the commissioning of a large new nuclear physics laboratory that the Regents had agreed to build. I joined him in Austin in the fall of 1960, and worked closely with him until his retirement in 1975. We have since remained firm friends. Bernie and his family welcomed my wife and me and our two daughters to Austin in September of 1960 and were so helpful in helping us settle into our new life. He introduced us to some of the best things in Austin—the University of Texas, Barton Springs pool and the hills west of Austin. He later became godfather to my son.
Bernie was very proud of the accomplishments of his children and was always eager to talk about their achievements, their travels, and most importantly their children–his grandchildren. To Bernie, home was in the hills above Austin with Marion, Clare and Jimmy, and, after retiring, he found other outlets for his energies. He launched into a study of the efficiency of air conditioning and equipped his home with an experimental unit that he had built. Bernie, as I'm sure you know, is unsurpassed in understanding and analyzing the fundamentals of physics, but when it came to the engineering of such systems he felt that this really was of little importance. As it was, only he could maintain the system–I know because there were times when I was asked to fix it, and I found myself confronted with a maze of undocumented wiring.
For the past four or five years, Bernie was dogged by failing health, but he seldom complained and never allowed it to change his outlook on life. He would come to the University twice a week to take part in the retirees exercise program of swimming. Afterwards, he would sometimes come to my office to eat a brown bag lunch and, more particularly, to make copies of some article that he had read in the past week and felt should be sent to his friends around the country. Sometimes I was there and sometimes not, but I always knew if Bernie had been there, since he always had hard boiled eggs for his lunch and cracked them by wacking them on my desk --I would find the shells amongst my papers for the next few days-enough to tide me over to his next visit.
A few months ago, Bernie went to use the copying machine, and shortly afterwards, l heard a commotion outside, and then, in came the secretary looking distraught, saying, "He set fire to the copying machine! “ Apparently, he had made a composite using some inflammable material. Bernie's comment was "You ought to get better equipment, Jim.” Since then, I should tell you that when he comes to see me, the secretary is right on his heels to take care of any copying he may have. I think Bernie was quite pleased with this outcome.
Bernie was my very good friend and I shall miss him. His passing is a great loss to all of us.
Dr. Vitthalbhai D. Mistry, Medical Physicist and Grad Student of Kinsey–December 1995
I came to know Professor Kinsey in 1967, when I was a graduate student at The University of Texas here in Austin. I found him to be hard-working and talented at devising experiments for the research projects he was involved in. He liked to try new things, both in his work as a researcher as well as a household at his home. He enjoyed cooking. He would make vegetarian dishes with lots of curry powder so that I and a student of his, Prakash Shrivastave, both from India, would feel at home. Both of us enjoyed his cooking and felt very much at home. He showed concern for everyone he came in contact with. And so I remember Professor Kinsey as a truly caring teacher.
After my graduation, I left Austin but I kept in touch with him and Mrs. Kinsey. I had a standing invitation from both of them to dine with them anytime I was in town. We talked on a variety of subjects. He was truly very knowledgeable. It was early 1970s, when research grants were extremely difficult to find for young physicists, that he suggested I change my field. With his help, I entered into an area of physics not known to me or anyone else at the time. This new area of physics is known as medical physics. He saw a lot of potential for research and practical application in this new area of physics. I found this new field to be challenging and very enjoyable to work in. It has been twenty years since I changed my field from experimental nuclear physics to medical physics, and I am grateful for Professor Kinsey for convincing me to do so. And I remember Professor Kinsey as a concerned friend with practical advice.
For the past few years, Professor Kinsey shared with me issues related to his health. What I learned during our conversations was his inquisitive nature, calmness with which he accepted his health issues, and fearlessness in trying something new to deal with the problems at hand. It was quite amazing to me that he kept up with his daily swimming till his last day on this earth. He survived several surgeries and several cancer growths in the late years. One must wonder how his body could survive the surgeon's knife, high doses of radiation and the sickening chemotherapy that followed, not once, but many times. The answer lies in his optimistic, pleasant and positive outlook towards life that was the "spirit" I remember in Professor Kinsey.
He was truly a kind-hearted, loving, and remarkable soul that I will not forget. May God bless the soul that we all intimately came to know as Bernie.
Mrs. Kinsey and the whole family, please accept my heartfelt condolences.
Austin Gleason, UT Professor –December 1995
Bernie Kinsey came to the University of Texas at Austin in the fall of 1959. In 1957, the department had decided to focus its growth into two areas of physics, general relativity and, what, at the time, was considered high energy nuclear physics. These development efforts were both very successful. In relativity, Texas became the place to be. The famous "Texas Symposium" is still the significant meeting in relativistic astrophysics. We identify this period of growth with the efforts of our deceased colleague, Al Schild.
In nuclear physics we were equally successful; we built a major experimental facility and a program that was among the best in the world. A program that had both theoretical and experimental strengths. This effort really began to take shape when we recruited Bernie to Texas.
Bernie's background was ideally suited for this task. His first scientific publication was titled the Transmutation of Lithium by Protons and of the Heavy Hydrogen Isotope published in 1933 and co-authored with Oliphant and Rutherford. He worked with the father of nuclear physics on a seminal work on the transmutation of elements. He was a Commonwealth Fellow from 1933 to 1936 at the University of California working with the other legendary figure in nuclear physics, E. O. Lawrence. For Lawrence, he worked on the building of the machines that helped establish that laboratory as the best in the world. He returned to England and was awarded his PhD in 1937 from Cambridge University. Following a brief stint as a Lecturer at the University of Liverpool, Bernie, like so many of his peers in England, was drawn into the scientific efforts necessary for the defense of England from the Nazis; he was a scientific officer at the Ministry of Aircraft Production from 1939 to 1944. Again, he was a significant part of the wonderfully successful effort that developed radar that not only was a major part of the defense effort but also subsequently became a major scientific instrument.
Following the war, he emigrated to Canada and began a program of research on studies of nuclear structure using neutrons as a probe. His work on this problem was widely quoted and, not only led to his being elected to Fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada, it helped establish Chalk River as the pre-eminent facility for basic research in nuclear physics in Canada and among the best in the world. In 1955, he returned to England to Harwell as the Deputy Chief Scientific Officer and began a program of research that returned him to his scientific roots. He was again doing physics with an accelerator and using protons as his probe.
When Texas was looking for a man with an outstanding scientific reputation and experience with the administration of a large laboratory, Bernie Kinsey was a natural choice. He was suggested by another well-known nuclear physicist and a Texan, Tom Bonner of Rice University. Texas successfully brought Bernie here in 1959. At this time, the Center for Nuclear Studies and the department entered a decade of tremendous growth, the greatest growth in any period in our history. It was this period that established the framework for the current department. Besides building strength in the areas of relativity and nuclear physics for which Bernie had direct responsibility, we developed world class programs in plasma, statistical, and particle physics.
We continue to develop and grow, but in that effort, we must never forget the contribution of the people that laid the foundations. Not only was Bernie the Director of the Center for Nuclear Studies during its most successful years, he was a respected member of our department. When I came here in 1969, Bernie was one of the many senior faculty members that could intimidate a young assistant professor. A gruff bear of a man with enormous feet and a pencil hanging down from one corner of his mouth, he was not aggressive in providing you with his opinion in any matter, but when you heard from him, it was always a trenchant, but insightful reading of the situation. Bernie did not “suffer fools gladly."
We have all benefited by our long and successful association with Bernie.
Memories of Bernie and Marian Kinsey by Clare Dyer, Bernie's stepdaughter and Marian's daughter.
In January 1968, my mother, Marian Hall Dyer, and Bernie Kinsey married. It was the second marriage for both of them and was by all accounts a very happy union. They were smitten with each other and called each other “dear”. Every Sunday for many years, Bernie made breakfast-in-bed for Marian. They had much in common: both loved their children, loved good food, loved to entertain their many friends, loved to travel, garden, and read, and each had many hobbies. Bernie was always adding on to the house, and together with Marian, built a second fireplace and added a front entry room for watching television. They enjoyed all things on Public Television, especially the McNeil-Lehrer Newshour, Masterpiece Theater, and Mystery. They would happily settle in each evening in front of the television with a drink and hold hands while watching their favorite shows.
Bernie and Marian also shared a frugal nature, which enabled them to save and travel around the world for two months every summer. They often travelled to England and Canada to visit family and Bernie’s children, Nick, Jennifer, and Peter, but also went to Greece, New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, Mexico, southern France, and Alaska. In the early days of their marriage, they also took long camping trips around the United States and Canada with Marian’s son Jim and Bernie’s son Peter and daughter Jennifer and her young family.
Bernie was a wonderful step-father to me and my brother, Jim. We were already in our teens when Marian and Bernie married. Bernie encouraged us in our studies and also taught us many practical things, such as how to tape-and-float sheet rock (me) and to use a chain saw (Jim). From helping him around the house, I gained the confidence to tackle just about any house repair. The one thing Bernie did not do, however, was call attention to his work as a physicist. It was not until his memorial service 28 years later that I learned how preeminent he had been in the field of nuclear physics.
Weekly, for many years, my husband Jack and I would meet Bernie and Marian at a wooded creek area near Austin and walk our four dogs. We still miss those weekend mornings, often followed by lunch (which always started with a sherry and some soup), or dinners when Bernie made his famous steak and kidney pie or Mom made her Swedish meatballs or another tasty dish. Tea was always at 4 p.m. with sweet biscuits, and Christmas was always around a roaring fire and a local cedar tree that Bernie and Jim would have cut and Mom and I would have decorated. So many happy memories. I am glad these two people found each other and to have had them both in my life.
Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Jennifer Kinsey Modigliani and Clare Dyer for picture contributions.
Bernhard Bruno Kinsey Photo Album