This week on Exploration, we feature a special tribute to the the life, times, and politics of Albert Einstein. Fred Jerome and John Brinster comment on the legacy of this great scientist.
Fred Jerome is a veteran journalist and science writer whose articles and op-ed pieces have appeared in dozens of publications, including Newsweek and The New York Times. As a reporter in the South during the early 1960s, he covered the exploding civil rights movement, and, more recently, has taught journalism at Columbia Journalism School, NYU, and numerous other New York-area universities. In 2002, he developed and taught a course at New School University, titled “Scientists as Rebels.”
In 1979, he invented the Media Resource Service, a widely acclaimed telephone referral service putting thousands of journalists in touch with scientists. More than 30,000 scientists volunteered for the MRS, answering media questions in their areas of expertise. But the success of the MRS was before the Internet. “If I’d really been smart,” he says, “I’d have invented the Internet, instead.”
His most recent book, written with co-author Rodger Taylor, Einstein on Race and Racism, will be published in July 2005 by Rutgers University Press. (www.Einsteinonrace.com)
Born of Germanic parents, John Brinster enjoyed an early rugged country experience. He became interested in chemistry and electronics, and built small laboratories in his basement. He was an active radio amateur operator in communication with all countries. In preparatory school he was president of his senior class, played football, basketball, and other sports, and edited the school publication. He graduated from Princeton University magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.
The Manpower Commission required him to remain at Princeton to participate in war developments where he developed the first multichannel radio telemetry devices for obtaining data from distant moving vehicles. When the American army captured the German V-2 missile, Brinster was appointed a member of the National V-2 Panel to develop similar technology. He was given charge of five missiles to be fired at White Sands Proving Grounds working with Wernher von Braun. Von Braun went on to develop American Space vehicle capability and excursions to the moon. Brinster worked with physicists such as Wheeler, Pauli, Feyhman, and Wigner, and also enjoyed associations with Einstein and Oppenheimer at the Institute for Advanced Study. Brinster founded several small high tech companies in data acquisition and marine propulsion. His 1946 analytical report requested by the government was the first to recommend data transmission and manipulation in the form of binary code well before the availability of solid state devices.
As an alumnus, Brinster worked to emphasize the study of neuroscience at Princeton University, participating in the national “Decade of the Brain.” He donated a prize in perpetuity for the best senior thesis. Work with his class led to the realization of the new Princeton Neuroscience Institute. He made similar scholarship contributions to Rutgers and Drew Universities.