12.         The storm of protest against “New Theory of Thermal Stability in Boiling Systems” published in the May, 1964 issue of Nucleonics

 

Overview

 

First contact with Nucleonics, and endorsement by Professor Bonilla

 

Correspondence with Nucleonics regarding publication

 

Unedited version of “New Theory of Thermal Stability in Boiling Systems”

 

Published version of “New Theory of Thermal Stability in Boiling Systems”

 

Protest letter from the “Argonne Seven”

 

Purpose of the protest letter

 

Nucleonics’ planned response to the protest letter

 

Nucleonics’ actual response to the protest letter

 

“A Vote for Adiutori” in 1965

 

An endorsement in 1989

 

 

Overview

“New Theory of Thermal Stability in Boiling Systems”  (Nucleonics, May, 1964) presented the first quantitative understanding of the stability of the heat transfer process—ie thermal stability.  It was the first to present and derive the generic criterion for thermal stability—the first to treat heat transfer as a dynamic process that can and sometimes does result in undamped oscillatory behavior. 

 

Even though the article was at odds with what was generally considered accomplished, scientific fact, I expected heat transfer experts to recognize its validity and first order importance.

 

My expectation could not have been more wrong.  Within a few weeks of publication, the editor of Nucleonics received a protest letter signed by seven heat transfer experts employed at Argonne National Laboratory.  The protest letter stated “this article must either be a hoax, or . . . the paper reviewing procedures followed by Nucleonics are in need of reevaluation”.  When the editor surveyed other experts in the field, he found that they “supported the Argonne criticisms for the most part and took your side only on an occasional point”.

 

The letters section of the December, 1964 issue of Nucleonics presented the various criticisms and my reply.  My reply should have convinced any thinking reader that the article was rigorously correct, and that the Argonne group was seriously in error.  On the other hand, the fact that none of the experts “took my side” likely convinced unthinking readers that the article was without merit.

 

The letters section of the October, 1965 issue of Nucleonics contained a letter from Professor Graham B. Wallis (Dartmouth College), a recognized expert in the field.  The letter “took my side”, and was presented under the caption “A Vote for Adiutori”. 

 

My article in Nucleonics has seldom been cited in the literature, and other workers are generally credited with pioneering the original work presented in my article.  However, in 1989, an Erratum was published on page 248 of the ASME Journal of Heat Transfer, Vol. 111, May, 1989.  The Erratum was a communication that “took my side”.  It was from Professor John H. Lienhard, and stated

 

Many of us . . . have credited an important discovery to the wrong authors . . . Stephan, Kovalev, Grassman, and Ziegler.  . . To the best of my knowledge, Adiutori (Nucleonics, Vol 22, No. 5, pp 92-101) should be credited . . .”

 

The erratum has had little impact, and other workers noted in the Erratum are still generally credited with the pioneering work presented in my Nucleonics article.

 

 

First contact with Nucleonics, and endorsement by Professor Bonilla

In August, 1963, I went to New York City in the hope of meeting with Detlev J. Raymond, vice president of Pergamon Press, Inc., with whom I had been corresponding with regard to publication of a book on boiling that I proposed to write. 

 

I did not meet with Mr. Raymond, but on August 27, 1963, I met with Jerry Luntz, editor of Nucleonics, an international, nuclear energy magazine published by McGraw Hill.  I proposed to send Nucleonics a short series of articles on the stability of the heat transfer process—a subject I chose to call “thermal stability”.  (The term “thermal stability” had not been used in this sense before.  It had been used only to describe the stability of materials with regard to temperature.) 

 

I told Mr. Luntz that current heat transfer science did not include a quantitative understanding of heat transfer stability, and that heat transfer can and sometimes does result in undamped oscillatory behavior. 

 

Editor Luntz was interested in my proposal, and asked how Nucleonics could verify that I was knowledgeable on the subject of stability.  I suggested that he phone Professor Charles F. Bonilla at Columbia University, and ask for his opinion of my competence. 

 

(Professor Bonilla was the Chairman of the Chemical Engineering Department of Columbia University, and the author of Nuclear Engineering, 1957, McGraw Hill. For many years, this book was the “bible” for nuclear engineers.  Columbia University currently awards the Charles F. Bonilla medal “to that student in the graduating class in the Department of Chemical Engineering who best exemplifies the qualities of Professor Charles F. Bonilla.)

 

Professor Bonilla was familiar with my work because, while I had been working on experimental research on boiling liquid metals in the Space Power and Propulsion Systems (SPPS) department of General Electric, he had been a consultant to that department.  We had numerous occasions to discuss my work.

 

(Professor Bonilla later told me that Jerry Luntz had called to ask about me, and he had been happy to tell him that I was quite competent in heat transfer in general and stability in particular.)

 

 

Correspondence with Nucleonics regarding publication

The following is a list of the important correspondence regarding publication of my article.

 

My letter of August 28, 1963 summarized my proposed series of articles.

 

The letter from Nucleonics dated August 29, 1963 requested a description of how thermal stability related to oscillations in nuclear reactor coolant flow rate and power level.

 

My letter of September 3, 1963 described how thermal stability related to oscillations in nuclear reactor coolant flow rate and power level.

 

My letter of September15, 1963 submitted the first of two planned articles.

 

The letter from Nucleonics dated September 27, 1963 recommended changes to the article submitted on September 15, and suggested that the series of two articles become one article.

 

My letter of October 27, 1963 submitted the completed manuscript in the form of a single article. 

 

The letter from Nucleonics dated October 29, 1963 acknowledged receipt of the manuscript, and promised that I would have “full opportunity to review any editing that we do prior to publication”.

 

The letter from Nucleonics dated December 20, 1963 transmitted their edited version of the manuscript.

 

My letter to Nucleonics dated January 5, 1964 listed my comments on the edited version.

 

The letter from Nucleonics dated June 17, 1964 indicated that Nucleonics had received critical, unspecific comments about my article.  It also indicated that Nucleonics would not publish the full page ad I had submitted for the July issue until they received specific comments they had solicited from various workers in the field.  (The ad is presented in Nucleonics ad, and is discussed in Narrative on my 1964 paper accepted for publication in the AIChE Journal, but never published there.)

 

My letter to Nucleonics dated August 27, 1964 was a reminder that, in his letter of June 17, the editor of Nucleonics had stated “You will be hearing further from me later.”

 

The letter from Nucleonics dated September 9, 1964 transmitted the protest letter signed by seven employees of the Argonne National Laboratory, and the specific comments Nucleonics had solicited.  The letter from Nucleonics stated:

 

“Our plan at this point is to publish the Argonne letter in the version we enclose . . .”

 

My letter to Nucleonics dated September 17, 1964 transmitted my response to the critical comments.

 

My letter to Nucleonics dated September 25, 1964 was a thank you for publishing both the critical comments and my response.

 

The letter from Nucleonics dated August 3, 1965 indicated that Nucleonics had received a “Letter to the Editor” that praised my article, and stated that the letter would be published in an upcoming issue.

 

 

Unedited version of “New Theory of Thermal Stability in Boiling Systems”

The unedited version of “New Theory of Thermal Stability in Boiling Systems” was an attachment to my letter of October 27, 1963. 

 

 

Published version of “New Theory of Thermal Stability in Boiling Systems”

Note that the first paragraph of the published version is written in the first person, whereas the first person is not used in the original version.  I felt that Nucleonics recommended this change in order to emphasize that the article did not necessarily reflect Nucleonics’ view.  Since such a disclaimer seemed reasonable, I did not object to the change.

 

Protest letter from the “Argonne Seven”

I was notified about the negative response to my article in a letter dated June 17, 1964 from Jerome D. Luntz, editor and publisher of Nucleonics.  The letter stated: 

 

. . . we have gotten a number of comments from people in the field regarding your article that we carried in the May issue.  The letters were critical, but provided no details.  I am presently seeking specific comments from the individuals who wrote us.

 

The “number of comments from people” apparently referred to a protest letter written by seven heat transfer authorities employed at the Argonne National Laboratory.  (I refer to them as the “Argonne Seven”.) 

 

I received a copy of the protest letter (undated) enclosed with a letter dated September 9, 1964 from Harold Davis, managing editor of Nucleonics.  The protest letter stated:

 

Dear (Editor of Nucleonics):

            The undersigned, having read  “New Theory of Thermal Stability in Boiling Systems” (NUCLEONICS, May 1964, pp. 92-101), conclude that this article must be either a hoax, or that the paper reviewing procedures followed by NUCLEONICS are in need of reevaluation.

 

H. K. Fauske

J. B. Heineman

B. M. Hoglund

P. A. Lottes

J. F. Marchaterre

R. R. Rohde

R. P. Stein

ARGONNE NATIONAL ABORATORY

 

(Presumably, the Argonne seven were Ph. D.’s, and therefore were well qualified to determine that my article was a vast departure from what was conventional heat transfer science at that time.)

 

 

Purpose of the protest letter

The real purpose of the protest letter from the Argonne Seven is reflected in the phrase

 

“the paper reviewing procedures followed by Nucleonics are in need of reevaluation”. 

 

For the past five decades or so, American engineering journals have largely been under the control of a rather small, close-knit group of “experts” who allow the publication of only those articles that conform to mainstream thought.  (For example, see Narrative on my 1964 paper accepted for publication in the AIChE Journal, but never published there, and also A narrative on my futile efforts to publish “A Transformed Moody Chart that is Read Without Iterating”, including the mind-boggling rejection by the Editor of the ASME Journal of Fluids Engineering.)

 

The real purpose of the protest letter was to point out to the editor of Nucleonics that only members of the control group (such as the Argonne Seven) were qualified to determine which technical articles should be published by Nucleonics.

 

 

Nucleonics’ planned response to the protest letter

In a letter dated September 9, 1964, Harold Davis (the Managing Editor of Nucleonics) stated:

 

Enclosed is a copy of the Argonne letter which you had mentioned hearing about in a recent letter to Jerry Luntz.  We have already sent the letter to other people in the field for comment.  We also enclose one of the responses—namely, the short discourse by Tong.  We have not included the other responses as we are still checking with the various persons involved to obtain their permission to use their remarks.  In sum, however, the half dozen or so people we questioned supported the Argonne criticisms for the most part and took your side only on an occasional point.

 

Our plan at this point is to publish the Argonne letter in the version we enclose plus Tong’s remarks and extremely brief excerpts from the other solicited letters.

 

We, of course, invite you to add your own comments although I’m sure you understand we must also ask you to be as brief as possible.

 

Enclosed with the letter from Harold Davis were:

 

·        A copy (undated) of the protest letter from the Argonne Seven.

 

·        A copy (undated) of a follow up letter from the Argonne group that contained specific comments, but was signed by only four of the Argonne Seven—J. B. Heinman, H. K. Fauske, P. A. Lottes, and B. M. Hoglund.  (I was surprised that R. P. Stein was not one of the authors of the follow up letter because I had heard (without confirmation) that he was the prime mover behind the protest letter.)

 

·        A copy of “the short discourse by Tong”. 

 

 

Nucleonics’ actual response to the protest letter

I was pleased that Nucleonics was going to publish the Argonne protest letter “in the version we enclose”.  Its disdainful tone, and particularly the word “hoax”, gave me considerable license to deal with the Argonne Seven in a stern manner.

 

I was greatly dismayed to find that Nucleonics’ actual response did not include publishing the Argonne protest letter “in the version we enclose”, and did not include the names of all seven authors.  Instead, the protest letter and the follow up letter were combined in a single letter signed by only four of the Argonne Seven, and the protest letter portion was sanitized into the following innocuous statement:

 

The undersigned, having read “New Theory of Thermal Stability in Boiling Systems” by E. F. Adiutori (Nucleonics, May, 1964, p. 92), find it totally unsatisfactory.

 

Note that the innocuous nature of the published version of the protest letter caused the stern nature of my reply to be inappropriate.

 

The published version of the protest letters, the solicited comments, and my reply, were all published in the Letters section of Nucleonics, December, 1964.  

 

 

“A Vote for Adiutori” in 1965

The letters section of the October, 1965 issue of Nucleonics contained a letter from Professor Graham B. Wallis (Dartmouth College), a recognized expert in the field.  The letter “took my side”, and was presented under the caption “A Vote for Adiutori”. 

 

In his letter, Professor Wallis neglected to mention that he was present at a 4 hour seminar he had invited me to give at his 1965 summer course on two phase heat and mass transfer held at Dartmouth College.  At that seminar, I presented the stability analysis of Berenson’s boiler that Professor Wallis repeated in his letter to Nucleonics.  (See the letter to Professor Wallis dated June 14, 1965, and also the letter from Professor Wallis dated June 30, 1965.) 

 

 

An endorsement in 1989

My article in Nucleonics has seldom been cited in the literature, and other workers are generally credited with pioneering the original work presented in my article.  However, in 1989, an Erratum was published on page 248 of the ASME Journal of Heat Transfer, Vol. 111, May, 1989.  The Erratum was a communication that “took my side”.  It was from Professor John H. Lienhard, and stated

 

Many of us . . . have credited an important discovery to the wrong authors . . . Stephan, Kovalev, Grassman, and Ziegler.  . . To the best of my knowledge, Adiutori (Nucleonics, Vol 22, No. 5, pp 92-101) should be credited . . .”

 

The erratum has had little impact, and others noted in the Erratum are still generally credited with the pioneering work presented in my Nucleonics article.