Bernard Vonnegut Jr.
||BERNARD VONNEGUT - GUILDERLAND -- Bernard Vonnegut, Ph.D. died April 25, 1997. Bernard
Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, August 29, 1914. |
He attended local public elementary schools, Shortridge High School, and the Park School, from
which he graduated in 1932. He continued his studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
majoring in chemistry, and received his B.S. in 1936. He entered the graduate School at M.I.T. and ]
received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 1939.
His doctoral thesis involved measurement of the freezing points of dilute aqueous solutions. From 1939
to 1941 he was employed by the Hartford Empire Company to carry out research on the surface
properties and breaking stress of glass.
He performed this work first at the Preston Laboratories in Butler, Pennsylvania, and later at the Hartford
Empire Laboratories in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1941 Vonnegut returned to the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology as a Research Associate. He worked on aerosol generation and filtration at the chemical
Warfare Service Development Laboratories in the Chemical Engineering Department. From 1943 to 1945
in the Meteorology Department he did research on the icing of aircraft, the adhesion of ice, and the
properties of supercooled clouds.
In 1945 he joined the General Electric Research Laboratory in Schenectady, New York. In the chemistry
group his research efforts involved the supercooling of liquid tin metal. Later, with Irving Langmuir and
Vincent Schaefer, he worked on cloud seeding and other problems related to cloud physics. During this
period he found that supercooled clouds co uld be seeded with silver iodide, and devised techniques for
seeding with this material from the ground and from airplanes. In connection with his research in cloud
physics at General Electric, Vonnegut devised instruments for specialized measurements, such as the
vortex thermometer for measuring true air temperature rom an airplane, and an automatic condensation
nuceli meter for measuring aerosols.
Vonnegut joined Arthur D. Little, Inc., n 1952. Here he proposed an idea to explain thunderstorm
electrification based on the transport of space charge in updrafts and downdrafts. He also suggested
that thunderstorm electrification may possibly be important in precipitation formation and tornadoes.
In association with Charles Moore, he was primarily involved with research into atmospheric electricity and
cloud physics. He also was concerned with research on problems of aerosol production and measurement,
the miniaturization of electrical recorders, electrostatic hazards in industry, glass fiber formation, and the
behavior of evaporating, electrified droplets.
In January 1967, Vonnegut joined the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center of the State University of
New York at Albany as a Senior Research Scientist. Here he continued his research, investigating
electrification in thunderstorms, the role of electricity in precipitation formation, and the kinetics of
nucleation. Vonnegut also holds the academic rank of Professor in the Department of Atmospheric
Science where he teaches courses in atmospheric electricity, atmospheric instrumentation and atmospheric
Vonnegut is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Meteorological Society, the American
Geophysical Union, the Royal Meteorological Society,the Meteorological Society of Japan, the Weather Modification Association, and
the Electrostatics Society of America. In 1976, Vommegut was awarded the American Meteorological Society Award for Outstanding
Contribution to the Advancement of Applied Meteorology 'for his pioneering discoveries of artificial techiques for the nucleation
of ice crystals which have continued to provide the basis for weather modification'. In 1977 Vonnegut was awarded the Weather
Modification Association Vincent J. Schaefer Award for 'scientific and technical discoveries that have constituted a major
contribution to the advancement of weather modification'. Vonnegut is Honorary President of the International commission on
Atmospheric Electricity of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics. In February 1984 he was named Distinguished Research
Professor by the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York. He is the author or co-author of over 160 refereed articles
in the scientific literature, 11 technical reports, 4 chapters in books on atmospheric electricity, 4 articles in encyclopedia, and
a variety of shorter contributions in the scientific literature, book reviews, and pop ular magazine articles. He is the recipient of 28 patents.
Husband of the late Lois B. Vonnegut. Father of Peter Vonnegut of East Greenbush, Scott Vonnegut of South Hero, VT, Terry
Vonnegut of Albany, Kurt Vonnegut of Schuylerville, NY and Alex Vonnegut of Cohoes. Brother of
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
of New York, NY and the late Alice Adams. Also survived by seven
grandchildren. Friends are invited to a Memorial Service, 12:15 p.m., Friday, May 9th at the Campus Center Assembly Hall at SUNY-Albany.
Contributions in memory of Dr. Vonnegut may be made to Langmuir Labs, c/o New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology, Socorro,
NM 87801, Att: William P. Winn or to The Community Hospice of Albany, 315 Manning Blvd., Albany, NY 12208.
Times Union, The (Albany, NY),Date: May 7, 1997, Page: B7
Bernard Vonnegut, a physicist and one of two researchers who figured out how to wring more raindrops from cloud cover for croplands,
died Friday in Albany, N.Y. He was 82.
Mr. Vonnegut, a brother of novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr., was a distinguished professor emeritus of atmospheric sciences at the State
University of New York at Albany. Although he formally retired in 1985, he continued to work in his office at the university until
earlier this year
His expertise in meteorological phenomena ran the gamut from lighting bolts to tornadoes to updrafts and downdrafts in thunderstorms.
He developed and explored theories about the role electrical charges play in the formation of precipitation as well as in tornadoes.
Mr. Vonnegut was working at the General Electric Research Laboratory in Schenectady, N.Y., when the technique of cloud seeding took
flight in the 1940s. A colleague, Vincent J. Schaefer, discovered that a tiny grain of dry ice produced many millions of ice crystals
when dropped into a cloud of water droplets below the freezing point.
Mr. Vonnegut soon established that silver iodide got better res ults than dry ice. Since then, no other process has been found that
wo uld rival theirs for making rain efficiently.
Mr. Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1936, and received his Ph.D. in
physical chemistry three years later. He worked for industrial laboratories and at MIT before joining the GE labs in 1945.
Survivors include five sons and five grandchildren. His wife, Lois Bowler Vonnegut, died in 1972
Chicago Tribune (IL), Date: April 28, 1997, Page: 5