Recent paper on Long-Period Seismographs

Maurice Ewing, Frank Press, and the Long-Period Seismographs at Lamont and Caltech

DEBORAH JEAN WARNER

National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. warnerd -@- si.edu

ABSTRACT

The name attached to a scientific instrument may identify the scientist(s) who contributed most to its design or, as was the case with the first successful long-period seismographs, the scientist(s) who captured credit for this achievement. These notable instruments were developed at the Lamont Geological Observatory in the early 1950s and funded by the Department of Defense. They were used to understand the structure of the earth and to detect underground bomb tests. Maurice Ewing and Frank Press, the principal investigators, were alpha males whose competition with each other resembled the Cold War relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union. Press moved to the Seismological Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in 1955. Lehner and Griffith, a small Pasadena firm that was closely connected with the Seismo Lab, began manufacturing “Press-Ewing” seismographs in 1958, and Press was soon applying this term to all devices of this sort, even those that had gone before.

PDF copies of the full paper may be requested from the author at the above email address.

The following images may be found in the paper which was published in Earth Sciences History, Vol. 33, No. 2, 2014 pp. 333–345.

 

Maurice Ewing (left) and Frank Press (right), circa 1950

Maurice Ewing (left) and Frank Press (right), circa 1950

Press-Ewing long-period vertical seismograph made by Lehner & Griffith, Pasadena

Press-Ewing long-period vertical seismograph made by Lehner & Griffith, Pasadena

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