OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Final Horning lecture to look at science, military

04/25/2000

CORVALLIS - The role of the U.S. military in the funding and control of science projects is the focus of the final lecture in the 1999-2000 Horning Lecture Series at Oregon State University.

Naomi Oreskes, an associate professor of history at the University of California at San Diego, will speak on "Science and Security: The Loyalty Case of Harald Sverdrup and Military Control of Oceanography." The free public lecture will begin at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 4, in OSU's Memorial Union Room 206.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Horning Endowment for the Humanities and the Department of History at OSU.

One focus of the lecture will be the case of Harald Sverdrup, who in 1941 was denied security clearance to work on Navy-sponsored research in underwater acoustics applied to anti-submarine warfare. Sverdrup, the Norwegian-born director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., was a world-renowned oceanographer and explorer.

The government claimed a threat of blackmail involving the security of Sverdrup's family in occupied Norway was the basis of his security denial. Oreskes says declassified documents tell a different story.

Questions about his loyalty - he subsequently was accused of being a Nazi sympathizer - surfaced and Sverdrup fell out of the loop of Navy-sponsored oceanographic research. He lost his unofficial position as a leader of American oceanography, Oreskes pointed out.

Clearance to do military-sponsored research continued to be an issue through the 20th century, she added.

Oreskes studied in London before completing a Ph.D. in geological research and the history of science at Stanford University. A recipient of the National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, she has done geological and historical research.

Her book, "The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science," was published by Oxford University Press in 1999.