Arthur Kantrowitz papers, 1934-2008 Rauner Manuscript MS-1097

Biography

Arthur Kantrowitz was born on October 20, 1913 in New York City. He attended Columbia University from which he received his B.S. in 1934 and his M.A. in 1936. During his graduate studies at Columbia, Kantrowitz started working as a physicist and chief of the Gas Dynamic Section for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). He held that position until 1946, when he became Professor of Aeronautical Engineering and Engineering Physics at Cornell University. In 1947, Kantrowitz received his Ph.D from Columbia and in 1955 founded the Avco Everett Research Laboratory (AERL) in Everett, Massachusetts. While at Avco he developed high temperature shock tubes which solved the re-entry problems by space vehicles into Earth's atmosphere, the magnetohydrodynamic power generator, and ground-based laser propulsion. With his brother Adrian Kantrowitz, a heart surgeon, he developed the intra-aortic balloon pump and the left ventricular assist device. His other early research included supersonic diffusers and supersonic compressors, an early scheme for magnetically contained nuclear fusion, and a technique for producing the supersonic source for molecular beams. Kantrowitz held 21 patents and published extensively. By 1967, Kantrowitz had become concerned about the lack of scientific expertise by policy makers. In order to solve that problem he proposed the establishment of a Science Court to assess the state of knowledge in scientific controversies of importance to public policy. He further developed the Science Court as its Task Force Chairman in President Ford's Advisory Group on Anticipated Advances in Science and Technology from 1975-1976. Kantrowitz was also a director of the Hertz Foundation and a member of the advisory board to the PBS show "Nova." In addition, he was on advisory boards to the Department of Commerce, NASA, the General Accounting Office, and the National Science Foundation. In 1978, Kantrowitz joined the faculty of the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College as professor and senior lecturer. At Thayer he continued his work related to the "Science Court" by developing scientific adversary procedures which were designed to provide reliable information about both the scope and the limitations of scientific knowledge in making science-related public policy. Kantrowitz died on November 29, 2008.

Finding Aids