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Dr. Warren Henry

(90 Years Young)

"Easily, Dr. Henry is the most eminent and one of   the oldest living  African American physicist.  He  has contributed  more than seventy years to the advance- ment of  physics and engineering.  He was inspired by interactions with Dr. George Washington Carver during Carver's visits to the family farm." (See bio sketch below)

Please send your well wishes to  Dr. Warren Henry.   All birthday wishes will be sent to him.

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Dr. Warren Henry

Pioneering Physicist
By Hattie Carwell

Dr. Warren Henry, has  taught at  Howard, Tuskegee, Morehouse, Spelman and the University of Chicago. He is the author of over 100 scientific publications, and has been associated with over 17 Nobel Laureates. At age 89(soon to be age 90), and after seven decades of research and teaching, he continues to give back to the field of engineering .

Still going strong at age 89, Dr. Warren Henry is world renowned for his achievements in magnetism, superconductivity and low temperature physics. Dr. Henry's work in these areas is superb according to Nobel laureate Dr. Glenn Seaborg who has known him for 40 years. "Easily, Henry is one of the most eminent African American scientists in this nation's history. Few can boast of working with or being associated with seventeen Nobel prize winners as Dr. Henry has. Not only does his research earn him praise, but his dedication as an educator and supporter of three generations of students is recognized by his peers and former students. His career oscillated between research in government, industry and teaching at historically Black Colleges and Universities."

His best known research was conducted at the Naval Research Laboratory during the early 1950's. His research data on magnetic susceptibility and paramagnetism, experimentally demonstrated precise proof of the Brillouin Equation and Pierre Curie Law which described the existence of magnetic susceptibility of certain classes of materials. His data is still found in the sections on electricity and magnetism in modern physics textbooks.

Among Dr. Henry's many inventions are: a metal dewar used to maintain samples at temperatures lower than 273 degrees F and the magnetic moment lift, which is used to move the sample in and out of the magnetic field in a stable environment.

Dr. Henry's graduate research was used to enhance radar signals while he worked at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Radiation Laboratory during World War II. This device, called a video amplifier, clarified and strengthened radar signals on the radar screen. Radar detection of enemy aircraft was a key technology used to help win World War II.

Dr. Henry's drive and determination were developed during his childhood. Both of his parents were graduates of Tuskegee University and were taught by Dr. George Washington Carver. His mother was a school teacher, and his father became one of Dr. Carver's farming agents. When Dr. Henry was a young boy, Dr. Carver visited the family farm regularly, where during walks in the woods, Dr. Carver would share his knowledge of plants with the youngster. Dr. Henry's interest in chemistry first developed while he was in high school when his mother, realizing that he had not included science in his course studies, gave him a chemistry book to read. He found the book fascinating.

After high school, Dr. Henry attended Tuskegee where he majored in math, English and French and minored in chemistry, physics and German. Although Dr. Carver was retired by then, he was still on campus doing research and conducting a bible study class, which Dr. Henry also attended.

Prior to receiving his Masters Degree in Organic Chemistry at Atlanta University in 1937, Henry held a series of teaching positions. He taught high school, became a high school principal, and later taught physics at Spelman and Morehouse Colleges.

It was his Atlanta University chemistry professor, Dr. Huggins, who inspired him to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry.  In 1941, he obtained his doctorate from the University of Chicago.

The period from 1938-41, during which Dr. Henry attended the University of Chicago, was exciting and stimulating. At the University, he was exposed to the latest thoughts of the originators of modern physics theories. It was for Dr. Henry, the beginning of a long association with scientists who either had already won Nobel prizes in chemistry and physics, or were destined to do so.

Arthur Compton taught him quantum mechanics, Wolfgang Pauli taught nuclear forces, Robert Millikan taught molecular spectra. He played tennis with Dr. Enrico Fermi who won the Nobel prize for achieving the first sustained chain reaction in a nuclear reactor. Over his career,  he has been associated with more than17 Nobel prize winners.

After receiving his doctorate, Henry returned to Alabama just in time to teach physics to the famous Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black WWII pilots. Henry ensured that these men thoroughly understood the physics of flight and were prepared to perform well, particularly since the nation doubted the scientific ability of African Americans, and many hoped that the experiment to include African Americans as fighter pilots would fail.

In the 1960's while at Lockheed Space and Missile Co., he developed guidance systems for the detection of submarines and helped to design the hover craft that was specially developed for use in night fighting during the Vietnam War.

For the past three decades, he has turned his focus to education and students. He has worked to build the physics resources at Howard University and to pass on his secrets for good research and success to students in the Minority Access to Research (MARC) Program, which encourages third and fourth-year college students to become members of scientific teams.

He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is also the recipient of awards such as: The Tuskegee Alumni Award, Carver Award, Outstanding Educator in America, Lifetime Achievement Award in the Community from the National Science Foundation and the 1997 Technical Achiever of the Year Award from the National Technical Association. In March, 1997 he received the 1st Annual Golden Torch Award for Lifetime Achievement in Engineering, which was sponsored by the National Society of Black Engineers.  He has also been nominated for the National Medal of Science , the highest US science honor given by the nation's President.

Having had a career that spanned three generations, Dr. Warren Henry continues to give back to the field of engineering. There are a very few who could ever dream of surpassing the impact that his work has had on modern science.  The nomination was submitted by Dr. Glenn Seaborg, and supported by Dr. Robert Schrieffer both Nobel Laureates and other noted scientists.

For more information about Dr. Henry, order a copy of  "In Pursuit of   Excellence: Dr. Warren Henry World Class Scientist", by Hattie Carwell.  This 75 page  in depth analysis of  Henry's struggle for success provides many first hand accounts of chararcter development, ingenuity and the desire to  succeed.  It offers many  lessons learned that all Americans can use in everyday life. 

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( Click on image to order)

The book is aimed at the 12 and up age group.  Cost - $8.00.  To order the book click on image. 

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