Newark (N.J.) Sunday News, July 13, 1947, Front Page
Princeton Gadget Soars 20 Miles High; Records No Atomic Explosions
PRINCETON-- 28-balloon "train" which soared 20 miles into the stratosphere in an effort to capture data on cosmic rays was reported descending last night in the neighborhood of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Princeton scientists, who conducted the experiment as part of a Navy research program, said no atomic explosions were recorded by the instruments but that other useful data was obtained. They explained that "something went wrong" with the aerial apparatus.
The helium-filled balloons, linked by nylon rope, took off from the Naval Ordnance Laboratory here at 10:50 A.M., heading skyward at 1,000 feet a minute. Their cargo was a 17-pound cellophane-wrapped box containing a spherical ionization chamber filled with gases. A telemeter system was to transmit to the ground receiving station traces of nuclear explosions induced by cosmic rays passing through the gas-filled chamber.
Stayed There 3 Hours
Automatic transmitters in the flying device showed that it reached its peak of 100,000 feet in an hour and 40 minutes and stayed there for three hours until the balloons began to deteriorate from effects of [ultra-]violet rays. The rate of descent could not be determined, it was said.
The balloons were five feet in diameter at release but were estimated to have expanded to 22 feet in the thinner atmosphere of high altitude.
Dr. Henry DeWolf Smyth, director of the Naval research program sponsoring the flight and author of the War Department's report on atomic energy, said the atomic explosions are similar to those which produced the atom bomb. They are, however, single explosions and not a chain reaction as in the bomb, he added. He explained that the explosions are natural phenomena similar to atomic explosions induced artificially by the cyclotron.
The experiment was part of an 18-month $200,000 cosmic ray research program being conducted under a contract with the Office of Naval Research. Yesterday's flight was planned by Dr. Lloyd G. Lewis of the university's physics department, under direction of Dr. John Wheeler, an adviser to the Atomic Energy Commission. Dr. Lewis was assisted by Thomas Coor and George A Snow, graduate students in physics.
Authorization for the flight, obtained from the Civil Aeronautics Administration, called for visibility of 10 miles at the time of release. Dr. Smyth expressed hope that the apparatus will be returned to Princeton.
Santa Barbara (CA) News-Press, July 13, page 1
Stratosphere Atom Explosions Probed
PRINCETON, N.J., July 12. (AP) A group of Princeton University scientists sent into the stratosphere today a flight of instrument-bearing balloons to measure atomic explosions induced by cosmic rays.
Dr. Henry De Wolf Smyth, director of the Naval Research program sponsoring the flight, said the cosmic explosions were similar to those which produced the atomic bomb, but were single explosions and not a chain reaction as in the bomb.
He explained that the atomic explosions are natural phenomena similar to atomic explosions induced artificially by the cyclotron.
The 28 balloons, in several clusters secured by nylon rope, carried 17 pounds of instruments, and were expected to reach a height of 20 miles.
Newark Evening News, July 14
Sky Experiment Apparatus Found
Flight in Stratosphere Fails to Show Nuclear Explosions Data
PRINCETON Experimental apparatus sent more than 20 miles into the stratosphere by means of 28 helium-filled balloons Saturday afternoon has been recovered intact by the Princeton University scientists who conducted the experiment, it was reported yesterday by Dr. Lloyd Lewis, planner of the flight...
While the initial objective of the data on nuclear explosions in relation to altitude dependence was not achieved, a great deal of valuable material was compiled by means of a recording system transmitting data to the ground receiving station. Because of this, along with the fact that the equipment was recovered intact, the experiment was considered a success and gave a sound background for similar experiments in the near future.
The apparatus remained above an altitude of 85,000 feet for more than three hours, according to Dr. Lewis. Failure to obtain the chief objective was due to a breakdown in the gas-filled ignition chamber, through which cosmic rays induce nuclear explosions.
New York Herald Tribune, July 13
28 Balloons Fail To Send Reports on Cosmic Rays
--Attain 20-Mile Altitude, but Equipment Does Not Give Nuclear Explosion Data
Special to the Herald Tribune
Princeton, N.J., July 12. A chain of twenty-eight balloons was released to an altitude of 100,000 feet here today in the search for information about nuclear explosions induced by cosmic rays, but the balloon-borne equipment did not come through with the desired results.
The action of cosmic rays was to be recorded as the rays passed through a sealed ionization chamber filled with argon gas. But the Naval Ordnance Laboratory on the Princeton University campus said this afternoon, the chamber failed when trouble developed in part of the mechanism.
De. Henry de Wolf Smyth, author of the War Department report on atomic energy and head of the Princeton University physics department in over-all charge of today's experiment said late this afternoon that today's balloon-launching was "not a critical experiment--we will be doing many more of them."
Similar to Atom-Bomb Explosion
The Princeton cosmic-ray research program, headed by Dr. J. A. Wheeler, is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. Princeton has a one-and-a-half year contract with the Navy allowing the expenditure of $200,000 yearly in cosmic-ray studies.
Last March cosmic-ray recording on balloons were sent to 70,000 feet by scientists of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from an experimental site at Canton, Mass. The M.I.T. experiment was also sponsored by the navy.
Dr. Smyth said that the nuclear explosions which he hoped to record today were similar to the atomic explosions induced artificially by the cyclotron. They are single explosions, however, and not a chain reaction as in the atom bomb, he said.
The helium-filled balloons measured about five feet in diameter when they were released on the east campus. The naval laboratory estimated that the balloons would expand to twenty-two feet in diameter in the atmosphere.
Connected by Nylon Rope
Chained together by nylon rope, they reached an altitude of 100,000 feet in 100 minutes, and stayed there for three hours, the laboratory said. Then they started to disintegrate from the concentration of ultra-violet light, as was expected, and began their descent.
While scientists working in the laboratory recorded "some data" from the telemetering devices on the balloons, it was also hoped to recover the equipment for further study if it comes down on land instead of in the Atlantic Ocean.
For this purpose, Dr. Smyth attached name plates to the balloons. This morning they headed toward New York City as they rose into the sky, but late this afternoon they were still reported by scientists here to be over Wilkes-Barre, Pa., owing to wind changes.
PRINCETON --- The equipment attached to a chain of 28 balloons set aloft here by the Naval Ordnance Laboratory on the Princeton University campus was recovered yesterday in Essex County and returned to the university for further study of the results of the experiment.
Despite the failure of the equipment to function perfectly because of a mechanical defect, Dr. Lloyd G. Lewis, in charge of the ascension, said he considered the experiment successful in that the instruments had remained well above 85,000 feet for more than three hours, and had been recovered for further study.
The purpose of the experiment was to obtain information about nuclear explosions induced by cosmic rays, and the work is being done by Princeton University for the Office of Naval Research. The equipment, which, it was feared, might be carried out to sea, was found by Ben Thompson of Haskell, N. J., and Fred Hammond of Sussex, N. J., and turned over to the State Police Headquarters in Essex County, whence it was sent here.
Princeton Herald, July 18
Experiment With Helium Filled Balloons
Is Called "Successful"; Rise Twenty Miles
Last Saturday morning physicists at Princeton University released a 325-foot chain of 28 helium filled balloons in an attempt to transport seventeen pounds of electronic equipment to a height of twenty miles. Scientific apparatus, encased in cellophane, was sent aloft to record nuclear explosions induced by cosmic rays, and also to record electronically the barometers pressure and temperature during the flight.
While the balloons are on the ascent, a telemetering system transmits signals back to a ground receiver station on Campus. The signal strength will inform the Palmer Laboratory scientist of the frequency of the nuclear explosions caused by cosmic rays passing through the ionization chamber.
As a result of a purely mechanical failure, an open-circuit in the telemetering circuitry, the data depending on that instrument were not obtained. However, the flight was described as "successful, both from the standpoint of other information received and the experience gained in this type of work," by a Physics Department spokesman.
. All the equipment used in the experiment was returned to the Physics Laboratory in remarkably good condition, after being found in Sussex County, New Jersey. With slight modifications and after further laboratory testing the equipment will be ready to be sent aloft again.
At the time of future flights of the balloons airports in the neighborhood will be informed, in the hope that private airplanes will stay clear of the Princeton area. This is done for the safety of the plane and also because the ignition noise of the planes affect the receiving equipment in the laboratory where the flights are monitored. Air space for these experimental flights if obtained by allocation from the Air Space Sub-Committee of the Civil Aeronautics Authority, which conducts commercial planes and airports to route air traffic away from Princeton during the first five hours after launching the balloons.
Development work for the experiment was done mainly by two graduate students, Thomas Coor and George A. Snow, under the immediate supervision of Dr. Lloyd G. Lewis, Dr. Henry DeWolf Smyth, Chairman of the Department of Physics, and Professor John A. Wheeler had overall supervision. The project was sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and carried on in coordination with Princeton University.
Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES
PRINCETON, N.J., July 12-- Princeton University scientists released a 325-foot chain of helium-filled balloons this morning in an attempt to transport seventeen pounds of electronic equipment to a height of twenty miles.
While the balloons ascended into the stratosphere, a telemetering system transmitted tones back to a ground receiver station on the Princeton campus. The change in pitch of these tones will enable the scientists to calculate the frequency of nuclear explosions caused by cosmic rays passing through the ionization chamber. They also will indicate the altitude and temperature as the balloons ascend.
Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, the experiment is designed to reveal new knowledge about the cosmic rays. Dr. Henry De W. Smyth, author of the War Department report on atomic energy and the director of Princeton's cosmic ray program, expressed the hope that the apparatus will descend over land and be returned to Princeton. Prevailing winds indicate that it probably will come down over the Atlantic, however.
Today's flight was planned by Dr. Lloyd G. Lewis, a member of the Princeton University Physics Department.