shortages, Director William Nierenberg surprised Judith and me in a SIO laboratory as we were using laser pulses to remove encrustation’s from a renaissance statue. “What are you doing?” Bill asked. “I am doing oceanography,” I replied.
Roger and I have collaborated on a number of papers: on a global compilation of the seasonal change in sea level, on an attempt to infer the melting of the Greenland ice cap from the slowing of the Earth’s rate of rotation and the motion of the pole toward Greenland, and on a 1977 National Academy of Sciences report (11) in which we traced the partition CO2 among the atmosphere, ocean, and biosphere. Roger’s way of working was anything but analytical; rather he followed a Sherlock Holmes procedure of eliminating one hypothesis after another. In doing his sums, he showed an accountant’s revulsion for dropping nonsignificant digits.
But my thoughts of Roger are not particularly related to these joint publications. He was my friend for 50 years. I remember weekends in the Revelle cottage in Julian, and sailing in the Aegean. I remember all-night sessions of Roger and Harry Hess at the Cosmos Club. I remember 9 months in the South Pacific, with a luncheon hosted by the Crown Prince, now King, of Tonga. I remember sleepless nights with Roger and John Steinbeck on the drilling ship CUSS I in Mexican waters prior to the demise of the MOHOLE Project.
Toward the end of his life, Roger’s health deteriorated; he walked in pain and with some difficulty. One year before his death, I was visiting John Knauss, then Administrator of The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to seek help for the Heard Island Expedition, when Roger unexpectedly showed up. He had walked the endless corridors of the commerce building to lend his silent support. During the expedition, when all the equipment was demolished in a gale on station in the South Indian Ocean, Roger sent a soothing message by fax: “Wish I were with you; and then I am glad I’m not.” Roger was upset by a critical news article on the Heard Island Expedition published in Science (14) and wrote a letter to the editor starting with the words: “Shame on you” (15). It was to be the last thing Roger published (Fig. 5).
In an obituary for the Independent of London (12), the oceanographer Henry Charnock spoke for many of us when he noted that, “[f]or an informed view on earth science, and on its repercussions on the human predicament, he was in a class of his own.”
Deborah Day at Scripps Archives is responsible for much of this material.
1. Revelle, R. ( 1956 ) The Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation: A Report to the Public ( National Academy of Sciences , Washington, DC ).
2. Sverdrup, H. , Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography . Letter to Comdr. Roger Revelle, Cosmos Club, Washington, DC, September 25, 1947 . Roger Revelle Papers (MC 6), Box 2, Folder 10. SIO Archives, UCSD .
3. Revelle, R. Letter to Dean M. P. O’Brien, University of California, Berkeley, November 7, 1947 . Roger Revelle Papers (MC 6), Box 2, Folder 10. SIO Archives, UCSD .
4. Fox, D. , Hubbs, C. , McEwen, G. , Shepard, F. & ZoBell, C. Letter to Robert Sproul, President of the University of California, Office of the President, Berkeley, April 12, 1950 . S. V. “Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Part I: Directorship 1947–50.” Bancroft Library , University Archives , University of California , Berkeley .
5. Revelle, R. & Suess, H. E. ( 1957 ) Tellus 9 , 18–27 .
6. Revelle, R. , Broecker, W. , Craig, H. , Keeling, C. D. & Smagorinsky, J. ( 1965 ) Restoring the Quality of our Environment: Report of the Environmental Pollution Panel, President’s Science Advisory Committee ( The White House , Washington, DC ), pp. 111–133 .
7. Revelle, R. ( 1982 ) Sci. Am. 247 , 35–43 .
8. Daddario, E. Q. “The Revelle Impact,” Transcription of a speech delivered at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography , March 10, 1984 , p. 3 . Accession 84–14. SIO Archives, UCSD .
9. Revelle, R. “On Starting a University,” Manuscript prepared but not published by Daedalus , 1974 , p. 3 . Roger Revelle Papers (MC6A), Box 158, Folder 19. SIO Archives, UCSD .
10. Lister, P. , “Revelle Awarded National Medal of Science ‘90,” San Diego Daily Transcript , June 27, 1990 , p. 1A .
11. Revelle, R. & Munk, W. H. ( 1977 ) Energy and Climate ( National Academy of Sciences , Washington, DC ), pp. 140–158 .
12. Charnock, H. , “Professor Roger Revelle,” The Independent (London) , August 5, 1991 .
13. Day, D. “Memorandum of Conversation with Dr. Francis P. Shepard , July 27, 1981 . SIO Archives, UCSD .
14. Cohen, J. ( 1991 ) Science 252 , 912 .
15. Revelle, R. ( 1991 ) Science 253 , 118 .