Topsy-Turvy Science: A Personal Narrative of a Half-Century in Science

Dr. Terence J. Hughes
Department of Earth Sciences/Climate Change Institute/University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469-5790, USA
1 April 2006


My scientific career can be understood as postulating a number of theoretical mechanisms that might operate on scales ranging from local to global. Some ideas never took hold. Others did, after a lag of 10, 20, 30, and more years. Few if any took hold immediately. That is because most proposed interpretations were directly contrary to the prevailing wisdom. Hence, they propose topsy-turvy science.

My formal career in science began at Northwestern University, where I got a masters degree in 1962 and a doctorate in 1968, after traveling overland around the world in 1966 and 1967. Both degrees were in Materials Science, under Dr. John O. Brittain, a mechanical metallurgist. I did thermal expansion and x-ray diffraction studies from -200 to +1400 degrees C on Ni-Al alloys having the cesium chloride structure from 46 to 60 percent Ni. That work was published in Physical Review (1964), Acta Metallurgica (1967), and the Journal of Applied Physics (1971). The 1964 paper presented a theory of thermal expansion for these and related alloys that matched observations. A good start.