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Dr. Niel F. Beardsley

Dr. Niel Freeborn Beardsley, 68, Raytheon staff scientist and consultant, was considered a pioneer in the art and science of infrared.  Dr. Beardsley had been influential for 14 years of the militaries (seeing in the dark) technology.  During World War II, he pioneered optical shop techniques for the Manhattan project, and liked it so much that he continued the work at the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. 

At Wright-Patterson, he monitored the ATIC contracts and was especially proud of the contract at Syracuse University, N.Y. for detector research because it was still in force after fourteen years.  He wrote of this project, "What was my role?  I kept the money going there when money was hard to get, and I kept them following a middle path, doing some basic research, some design and development of cell construction, and the actual delivery of a limited number of finished, flyable detector cells, the best ever made."  Dr. Beardsley regarded the people who carried out the research as his "family." 

Dr. Paul Ovrebo of ATIC, under who he was then working, reports, "It was said at Syracuse University during the early years of their detector research that a pall hung over the place for three days after his visits.  And yet this vigorous insistence on rigor, turned out some of the most significant results." 

Dr. Levinstein, who directed the Syracuse University research under the Air Force contract wrote, "It is my feeling that Dr. Niel Beardsley, more than any other person in the U.S., was responsible for the rapid IR detector development in the period between 1948 and 1958."  When Dr. Beardsley joined Dr. Paul J. Ovrebo in infrared work at the Wright Air Development Center (WADC) in 1946, he had behind him a long career in the teaching of physics. 

A native of Wadsworth, Ohio, he obtained his B.S. degree at Hiram College in 1913 and taught elementary school for four years.  During WWI he taught at Ft Sill, Oklahoma.  In 1920 he earned his M.S. at Northwestern University and for the next nine years was on the faculty of Georgia Tech., leaving to join the Physics Department of the University of Chicago.  Here he remained for seventeen years, receiving his Ph. D. in 1932 and continued as Instructor and later as Assistant Professor.

Dr. Beardsley accepted the job at Raytheon, Santa Barbara, and moved to the area May 1959.  Dr. Beardsley was lost at sea and one of the three victims never recovered. 

Original source summarized:  Dr. Maxwell Krasno, IN MEMORIAM DR. BEARDSLEY, Proc. IRIS, 6, (1961).  Declassified 6Jan10 for Teresa Newton-Terres and the MARIE Commemoration distribution by the Research Reports Library of the Naval Research Laboratory.  Infrared Symposium Proceedings (Proc. IRIS) were published by the Office of Naval Research.  This document is an identified source in: SOME EARLY LEAD SALT DETECTOR DEVELOPMENTS

  * Image of Dr. Beardsley appeared in the Santa Barbara News-Press, Friday Evening, June 10, 1960




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