Gone Dark - or hidden within the Unified Field?

Gone Dark: Gossip from the Bifurcation Point

Oral histories are catnip for historians, and Gone Dark:  50 Years after Albert Einstein: The Failure of the Unified Field makes for giddy reading. This was published on the web in 2005 and the author was insistent that these pages, perhaps part of of a future book, should be not ever be copyrighted.

“W. B. Smyth” (aka “W”) is a pseudonym for a senior scientist who worked with both the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) and the Naval Research Lab during WW II.  An apparent heavyweight in his own right, “W” had a ringside seat to the  1943 “hosing” of the NRL by Vannevar Bush* of  the OSRD.

“W” also seems to have been in attendance at one or more meetings between Albert Einstein and Albert Hoyt Taylor, the Director in Perpetuity of the NRL.  He claims that Moore/Berlitz’s “Dr. Albrecht” was a pseudonym for Taylor and mathematician “Franklin Reno” was Lou Gebhardt, also of the NRL.  “Dr. Albrecht” came from an inside joke exchanged between the two Alberts. (p. 42). The USS Eldridge seems to  have been the actual ship in question, however.

The actual U.S.S. Eldridge
The actual U.S.S. Eldridge

Technically, I suppose “W” is just another of the anonymous Mysterious Insiders on the Net, or MIN in Black, who pop up, drop a few scraps of information, and drop out, never to be heard from again.  But his detailed recollections of obscure and granular details suggest that the account is from a reliable source.  If we assume that W. B. Smyth was noted CalTech professor,  W. R. Smythe, (1893-1988) this story takes on even richer colors.

Smythe’s seminal work on Static and Dynamic Electricity was a compilation of his lectures from a course so difficult that it washed one future Nobel Laureate (he taught several) out of  physics completely, sending him to Economics instead.  Smythe’s tenure on the CalTech faculty ran from 1924-1965.

When the war began,  large rockets were the province of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and small ones, generally less than 6 feet, belonged to CalTech.  But in 1943, the CalTech rocket faculty members left the University to become civil servants at the new Naval Ordinance Test Station, soon to be the Naval Ordinance Lab at China Lake, CA. (Willoughby Cady’s command, for a period of time after the war).

According to the oral history of Nobel Laureate William Fowler, Smythe did not transfer to the NOL, but sent over development projects which the group particularly enjoyed working on,  as they were always different from the norm.

With that newly minted University/Navy/Civil Service alliance in mind, let’s return to “W’s” narrative. It reads like a fan dance performed by someone who has a lot to say but reveals it only in strategic bits and pieces.

It seems that though the NRL – and  “Van’s” bitter personal enemy, Admiral Harold Bowen –  were conquered, they were far from vanquished. Apparently, Bowen remained the de facto leader of the lab throughout the term of his appointed successor, ensuring that the NRL continued  some particular project, furthered  through a new kind of military/civilian alliance.

More intriguingly, “W” claims that parts of this project remain secret “to this day.” But that day –sometime between 1985-2005 – has passed and much material is being declassified now. So let’s have it, Archival Folks. Chop! Chop!

Smyth/Smythe identifies Townsend Brown as the “junior officer in charge of magnetic mine sweeping” when  the Navy realized that the intense electromagnetic fields could bend light and produce optical, magnetic, and radar illusions; or even total electromagnetic invisibility.  And all these lines of basic science research were converging at the NRL, at the worst possible time.

They’d just lost a major fight with some of the most powerful figures of that period — Carnegie President [V.] Bush, MIT President [K.] Compton, Harvard President [J.] Conant, [F.] Jewett, the President of AT&T Bell Laboratories, and the wealthy [A.L.] Loomis of Tuxedo Park. They lost…. And it cost Bowen his position as NRL Director. However, the new Director – [Rear] Admiral [A. H. van] Keuren – covertly kept Bowen’s directives and kept Bowen himself informed. I guess the Admirals had their own agenda. (pp. 19-20)

The Admirals most certainly did have their own agenda.  Smyth/Smythe tells us that “This project originated from work done at the Naval Research Laboratory [NRL], located on the Virginia side of the Potomac, just south of Washington, DC and across from Alexandria” (p. 18).  The pursuit of of this Agenda a led to a significant bifurcation point in classified research. The MEP, Radar, and all of that may have gone black, but I believe this is the point at which some other vital research agenda went completely invisible.


*Should you wish a more contemporary connection to this name, Vannevar Bush is the character portrayed by the actor Matthew Modine in Oppenheimer.

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