Wednesday, December 14, 2005

An Obituary for my Father--

Lloyd Z. Maudlin - February 20, 1924 - January 20, 2005
Noted physicist, beloved husband, father, and friend.

"He had a very, very great soul and he made the world bigger everywhere he went." Mike Glyer, Hugo Award winner, upon hearing of Lloyd Maudlin's unexpected death.

Lloyd was born in Miles City, Montana. His mother homesteaded in northern Montana and Lloyd was raised in a log cabin near Rosebud, not far from Maudlin, Montana, which was named after his father Loyd. Every winter the Yellowstone River would freeze and the spring thaw brought massive ice floes that burst up onto the land, flattening everything -even buildings- in their path; the family would retreat to higher ground across the railway embankment and Lloyd had a vivid memory of riding the back of the buckboard, horses racing, while a block of ice ten feet tall gained on them.

The family moved to a farm in Iowa in 1932 but three years later Lloyd's father died and, as the oldest son, Lloyd became the farmer at the age of 11. Despite the hard demands of running a farm through the Depression years, he graduated valedictorian of Ladora High School and then served 30 months in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1943-46, primarily as the Lead Crew radio operator on a B-24 bomber ("the Liberator") flying missions out of Norwich, England.

In 1946, in fulfillment of his ardent hopes and dreams since first dating her in 1941, Lloyd married his beloved Lauralee Rose and they moved to Los Angeles where Lloyd earned his Bachelor's degree in physics from UCLA in 1949 and his MS in physics from USC in 1952, often studying with his young son on his lap. His thesis on the absorption of thin plastic film in the vacuum ultraviolet resulted in a new discovery and was presented before the American Physical Society in 1955. Lloyd did additional graduate work in physics and engineering at MIT in 1954.

Lloyd's career roughly paralleled the development of the computer: his professional life started in 1951 as a civilian working for the Navy at the Pasadena Annex of the U.S. Naval Ordinance Test Station, China Lake, California, and for the next 30 years he worked for the Navy through various iterations of the name (Naval Oceans System Center, Naval Undersea Center, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, etc.). Lloyd was a pioneer in the use of computers, working with such early computing luminaries as Grace Hopper (co-inventor of COBOL). When he started, "automatic computers" (to differentiate the machines from the men and women whose job title was "computer") filled huge rooms, used vacuum tubes, and were in constant danger of overheating - but a day before his death Lloyd was editing on a PC some of the World War II era love letters he had exchanged with Lauralee.

Lloyd shepherded the development of real-time torpedo simulation (the hydrodynamic simulator), which began as a flight table made from a surplus gun mount controlled by an early analog computer but thirty years later was a highly complex system utilizing a UNIVAC 1110, numerous array processors, ancillary support computers, and versatile graphics terminals. Their expertise in real-time simulation enabled his team to accurately predict outcomes of underwater torpedo performance tests and solve many problems in advance, at a tremendous cost savings to tax payers. He was instrumental in the development of the Polaris missile.

Lloyd was passionate about protecting America and influenced the development of anti-submarine warfare technologies, regularly traveling to Washington D.C. for meetings with elected officials, Naval personnel, and the President's Scientific Advisory Council.

When his meetings with other Navy labs were scheduled in the summer, Lloyd would load up the whole family, now numbering six, and drive cross-country for a month at a time, pulling a 21-foot travel-trailer, stopping to visit relatives still in Iowa. For all his brilliance as a physicist, Lloyd always laughed about his errant sense of direction and on the long road trips he taught all his children to read maps and navigate.

He was awarded a patent in 1964 for a three-dimensional means of describing underwater acoustics. In 1973 the Pasadena lab moved to Point Loma and Lloyd and Lauralee moved to San Diego. In 1979 he led a team of physicists in conducting a study of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident (March, 1979); the committee's recommendations were included in the last Congressional Act signed by President Jimmy Carter.

After retiring from the Navy Lab, Lloyd worked for several small technology companies and his work covered such diverse areas as: the Arctic, including studies of Arctic ice and survival in Arctic weather conditions; the ability of oil platform rescue boats to withstand a drop from the platform into Arctic waters, which might be at zero degrees Fahrenheit; undersea surveillance systems using advanced acoustic techniques; and utilization of desk-top computers on board ships for various command and control problems. He performed systems analysis to predict damage areas associated with explosive/radiation hazards and was responsible for the design of a computer based system to predict surf conditions in selected coastal regions; anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aspects of homeland security; and later conducted a study for the Department of Energy on the practicality of using methane gas recovered from pig farms.

In 2000 the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) awarded him a Millennium Award and in 1984 Lloyd was one of 1,984 recipients of the Centennial Award out of 300,000 members. The morning after September 11, 2001, he received a phone call from Washington D.C. asking what he knew about al-Qaeda.

In the last decade, although Lloyd's professional focus was on counter-terrorism and global warming, he was most proud of his 58 year marriage to Lauralee, his "beautiful redhead," and within the last few years spent much of his time writing his memoirs and transcribing hundreds of pages of their World War II love letters. He delighted greatly in his four children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, as well as his church family. He continued to have reunions with his WWII flight crew.

Lloyd always generously served his community, both Los Angeles and San Diego, through involvement with the Boy Scouts of America, the YMCA, and as a founding member and president of the Gifted Children's Association, to name a few. He was a particularly gifted grandfather and, though he could not carry a tune, he could nonetheless sing any fussy grandchild to sleep. His commitment to the United Methodist Church was steadfast, serving the church at the local and District levels, both in Los Angeles and San Diego, in dozens of different ways over his lifetime. He found no conflict between his orthodox Christian beliefs and his observations as a scientist. He noted, "At the high school physics level we understand things and have laws - at the graduate and post-graduate levels there is a real understanding that we really don't know anything; there really are no ultimate 'laws' that we know or understand." One of his favorite quotes came from Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727): "I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

Monday, December 12, 2005

England Sank (Cinq - Part the Fifth)

Being the Fifth Part in Lord Only Knows how many parts!

I'd better hurry up before I forget!!!

Another day of excessive driving through Cornwall - we drove out to the Chysauster Roman Village, another English Heritage site, this one dating from pre-Christian times, and spent several hours wandering the hillside, speculating how the buildings were used, enjoying the view, and taking lots of photos (these aren't the ones we took, but there's quite a good selection here). We eventually left and drove to down to Penzance, getting a fabulous view of St. Michael's Mount along the way, where we inadvertently turned right instead of left and drove through Mousehole (but after Fowey, it wasn't nearly so bad as most people would lead you to believe! yes the streets are narrow, but now THAT narrow!!!). After we worked our way back to Penzance we had lovely fish'n'chips on the seashore and pondered - what next?

We decided we were close enough to go to Land's End but when we got there we were horrified by the presence of a monolithic, garish hotel and "Land's End Experience" structure - Ellie was terribly disappointed, having really enjoyed Land's End before the appearance of this "improvement." We refused to be dismayed - we simply eschewed the modern atrocity and drove a few miles up the road to Sennen Cove where we spent several idyllic hours climbing the hill (view in the photo is very like ours from the hill - including the flowers!), watching the sun set, and eventually wandering up the little road to a lovely pub for one of our favorite pub meals in the whole trip; the place was a well-populated, half-timbered building, with good music on the soundsystem, a good selection of real ales, and some very fine homemade soups as starters. YUM! Long drive home after a long day of driving, but very satisfied we were.

One day we stopped and took a picture of me and "my village" and when I figure out how to post the photo to this blog, I will.

We stayed pretty close to "home" the next day, heading in to Bodmin, (here's a traffic circle I remember well!) having a pub lunch at "The Weavers" - heavy on the atmosphere but not such a great lunch (or perhaps it was merely the crab salad which disappointed me)and then we tried to use computers in the library but Bodmin was offline for bizarre reason. We were nonetheless able to drive to nearly Wadebridge and use their library computers - it's such a different travel experience to throw internet access into the mix! But Ellie was still getting details for the Mythopoeic Awards that she would present the following week in Birmingham, so she needed it. I don't remember if it was Monday or Thursday but one of those days, in wandering close to our digs, we drove through Lostwithiel and here you see the great juxtapositions of architecture and culture! (and, boy, do I remember those road signs!).

Friday we drove back out to the Penwith peninsula and St. Ives and saw a number of mine engines spotted along the coast and drove back in daylight, back to Trernython Manor where I'd booked a massage (!!! yes !!!) while Michael took pictures in a nearby woods. Ellie and I went for dinner in the hotel's "bistro" (as the restaurant proper was booked for a wedding) - but the bistro was fabulous - the best meal yet, and very possibly of the whole trip - yum!). I was such a happy soooooothed soul, between an hour-long massage, a bottle of vino rosso, and excellent food. Michael eventually joined us and they scared him up a sandwich (which was also great - we kinda kicked ourselves for not eating there until the night before we left!).

And in the morning we ate up the rest of our breakfast foods, packed our bags, cleared our bill, and hit the road. We drove together to Exeter where we dropped Michael at the local Hertz (he got a great deal on a 4 day one-way car rental up to Birmingham) and then we continued along the very busy road back toward town. Cornwall is a glorious place to visit, but in the summer school holidays the roads are all VERY crowded and the traffic abominable - and I speak as a regular L.A. driver, so I know from abominable traffic!

Next installment: STONEHENGE!!!