EUGENE GUTH, Ph.D., (1905-1990)
Oak Ridge National Laboratory Physicist Research Professor of Physics,
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Professor Eugene Guth
Born in Budapest, Hungary, Aug. 21, 1905; naturalized 1942 (American), married 1947, wife's maiden name, Roma Claire Lynch,
4 children. Ph.D. (Theoretical Physics), University of Vienna 1928. Research Associate, University of Vienna, 1928-30.
Post-doc Research Associate (with Wolfgang Pauli), Austrian-German Science Foundation Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)
Zurich, and University of Leipsig, (with Werner Heisenberg) 1930-31. Professor, University of Vienna, 1932-37. Faculty,
University of Notre Dame 1937-41; Professor 1941-45; Research Professor 1945-55. Director, Polymer Physics Laboratory,
University of Notre Dame, 1941-55; Director, Office of Rubber Research Project, 1943-44; Office of Naval Research Projects
(Polymers and Theoretical Physics), 1946-55. Technical Adviser to the Director, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 1956-71.
Visiting Professor of Physics, Rice University, 1971-72. Part-time Prof. of Physics and Astronomy, University of Tennessee,
1968-90. Died July 5, 1990.
If students reflect the mark of the teacher, then students do him great credit. Four have been Physics Department Chairmen:
C.J. Mullin (University of Notre Dame), L. V. Holroyd (University of Missouri); L. S. Dart (Claremont College); P. Urban
(University of Graz, Austria) who also was editor of Acta Physica Austriaca and Director of the world-renowned
Schladming Winter School on nuclear and elementary particle physics. Also F. E. Dart (University of Oregon); R. L. Sells (Geneseo State
University); D. G. Ivey (University of Toronto); M. L. Wiedenbeck (University of Michigan); W. B. Thompson (University of California
at San Diego) formerly first professor of plasma physics at Oxford University, England, have all been students or research
associates of Guth, as was J. A. Thie, who wrote two books on reactor physics; R. S. Codrington (section head at Vairan's);
J.R. Feldmyer (Director of Franklin Institute Laboratories); J. F. Marshall (section head at Sacony Oil Company); R. L. Anthony
(Notre Dame); J. Mayerhöfer (Federal Librarian at Vienna); and R. Simha (Professor of Chemistry, Case Western Reserve, and past
chrm., Poly Division of American Chemical Society). Guth published papers with more than 40 co-authors.
Until 1955, Guth was at the University of Notre Dame as the first Research Professor there. In 1949, he received a faculty
award "for having distinguished himself by his contributions to he development and strengthening of the academic program
in the College of Science, and for having reflected credit on the University of Notre Dame by the establishment of the first
Polymer Physics Laboratory at an academic institution in America." He was instrumental in bringing to Notre Dame C. C.
Price, who was President of the American Chemical Society in 1965, as head of the Chemistry Department and A. E. Ross as head
of the Mathematics Department. Ross later became head of the Mathematics Department at Ohio State University. Thus, Guth
started these two outstanding scientists and administrators on their careers. Guth also advised numerous other schools
on faculty appointments.
In 1955, two years before "Sputnik," he tried to generate interest in the improvement of education. He talked to Admiral
Radford, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Killian, President of MIT, and to McGeorge Bundy, Dean at Harvard. In
1962, Hubert Humphrey, then Senator and Chairman of a Government Operations subcommittee, asked Guth to testify before Congress
on the creation of a new Department of Science and Technology. He always had a vital interest in education and gave
much time and effort toward its improvement.
Dr. Guth has an international reputation in physics and polymer science. In 1976, he was invited to deliver the first plenary
lecture on "Birth and Rise of Polymer Science - Myth and Truth," before the International Symposium on Applied Polymer
Science. Two years later, he received the University of Vienna's Distinguished Alumnus Award, and in 1979, he was awarded the
Honor Cross of Science and Arts by President Rudolf Kirschläger of the Republic of Austria, with a champagne reception in his honor
at the Austrian Embassy in Washington. In 1983, he was elected to Honorary Membership in Sigma Pi Sigma, the national physics
honor society. Throughout his life, he kept informed on new developments in physics and polymer science and was preparing several
original papers. He never left science or stopped being interested in it. His last article was published posthumously in 1991 in the Journal of Polymer Science.
In the last months of his life, Dr. Guth followed the development of a collected papers volume to be published in his honor.
Originally, the book's publication was to occur in celebration of his 85th birthday. However, Dr. Guth died six weeks before his
85th birthday. The book was then published as a tribute to Eugene Guth, and it was co-edited by his long time friend and colleague
Professor J. E. (Jim) Mark of the University of Cincinatti, and is entitled ELASTOMERIC POLYMER NETWORKS, Prentice Hall Publishers,
1992, ISBN 0132494833. The following picture adorns the inside Preface to that book.
Eugene Guth made pioneering contributions to Polymer Physics and significant contributions to Nuclear and Solid State Physics.
At the age of 23, he wrote the first comprehensive history of quantum theory in a 170-page Handbuch der Physik (Vol. IV) article,
which was highly praised by Niels Bohr and Wolfgang Pauli.
Polymer Physics and Polymer Physical Chemistry
Dr. Guth is one of the chief founders and developers of Polymer Physics and Polymer Physical Chemistry, both
theoretically and experimentally. For this work and for basic contributions to rheology, he received the 1965 Bingham Medal,
the Society of Rheology's highest award. H. Leaderman (former president of the Society) writes ".... the foundations of
polymer chemistry were established by Staudinger with his demonstration of the existence of the long-chain molecule; the
foundations of polymer physical chemistry and physics were established by Guth and Mark with their treatment of the
flexible, randomly kinked molecule in Brownian motion." (Physics Today, August 1965).
Polymer authority Staverman writes, ". . . Guth and Mark's explanation of the entropic origin of the elastic force,
derived from the observation that this force is proportional to the absolute temperature, implies the assumption that the
molecule is a dynamic system, and also that the number of configurations decreases if the rubber is deformed. At
this time, this dynamic conception of the macromolecule was new and may be considered as one of the great strides forward
in the history of science, comparable to the conception of the kinetic theory of gases." (J. Polymer Science
Polymer Symposium, 51, 45 (1975)).
And Professor Herman Mark credited Guth with the discovery: "Since I was not mathematically skilled enough to handle such
a problem, I asked the famous Viennese theoretical physicist Hans Thirring for help. He recommend to me Dr. E. Guth, one
of his best collaborators. In fact, in a very short time he developed an important equation which represents the entropy
gain during the coiling of linear flexible molecules. This equation became the foundation of the now famous kinetic theory
of rubber elasticity." (J. Chemical Education, 58, 527 (1981))."
Guth and his associates checked many conclusions of the kinetic theory of rubber elasticity and established a basic assumption,
flexibility of the "strings," using nuclear magnetic resonance. Beginning in 1939 Guth and James developed the first and
only consistent network theory of rubber elasticity. They obtained an equation of state corresponding to van der Waal's
equation for real gases.
Guth and his associates also generalized in various directions the viscosity theory of suspensions, first developed by Einstein
in his Ph.D. thesis (1906). As stated in a modern text on Low Reynolds Number Hydrodynamics, (Happel and Brenner, both Bingham
medalists), "Einstein's viscosity theory for suspensions of spherical particles and Jeffrey's extension of it to particles of
ellipsoidal shape were further extended in several directions by Guth and his coworkers at the University of Vienna in 1936."
While director of the University of Notre Dame's Polymer Physics Laboratory, which he established, Dr. Guth later proved the
viscosity theory's isomorphism to a "solid suspension," like carbon black in rubber, and verified the theory experimentally.
In nuclear physics, Guth, according to Nobel Laureate Robert Hofstadter, "foreshadowed" the exploration of nuclei by electrons.
He also suggested and participated in the first disintegration of nuclei by electrons. Dr. Guth proposed the first detailed
theory of the nuclear photoeffect, including the first nuclear application of the distorted wave Born approximation, the first exact
theoretical work on Coulomb excitation, and the first treatment of nuclear excitation by x-rays (closely related to the
Mössbauer effect). Morevoer, coulomb fission, one of the few forms of fission discovered since 1966, was first predicted
by Guth (and Wilets) and was subsequently experimentally observed.
Solid State Physics
In solid state physics, Guth and Mayerhöfer gave the first discussion of the limits of Ohm's law at high current densities, convincing
P. W. Bridgman that his experimental work was not related to such deviations. (Bridgman, in his introduction to his
collected works, refers explicitly only to this work.) Furthermore, Guth (and Mullin) gave the first theory of emission of
electrons from metals in electric fields, explaining among other things, the periodic deviations from the Schottky line.
Selected Polymer Publications
"On Intramolecular Statistics, Particularly for Chain Molecules," with Herman Mark, Monatschefte für Chemie, 65,
93 (1934). This pioneering paper contains, among other contributions, the first theoretical description of statistical
mechanics of polymers with application to viscosity and rubber elasticity, and an expression for the entropy gain during the
coiling of linear flexible molecules: the foundation of the kinetic theory of rubber elasticity. Independently, and at
about the same time, W. Kuhn also discussed the statistics of long chains but without application to rubber elasticity.
"Elastic and Thermodynamic Properties of Rubberlike Materials: A Statistical Theory," with H. M. James, Industrial
Engineering Chemistry, 33, 624 (1941), presented earlier by Guth at the American Chemical Society meeting of 1939.
This pioneering paper contains the first outline of the network theory of rubber elasticity. The resulting Guth-James
equation of state is analogous to van der Waal's equation. Uhlenbeck described van der Waal's equation as "qualitatively
unsurpassed, but quantitatively wrong." Empirically, the Guth-James equation is actually somewhat better than van der Waal's
"Theory of Elastic Properties of Rubber," with H. M. James, Journal of Chemical Physics, 15, 2941 (1943). This
more detailed version of the network theory was not published until 1943, because both authors were involved in government
projects. The paper used average forces to some extent instead of thermodynamical functions. In statistical thermodynamics,
these two procedures are equivalent. Yet some misunderstandings, even in the recent literature persist. After a long delay,
the James-Guth network theory is now generally accepted for larger extensions. See, e.g., Paul Flory's comments in Proc.
Royal Soc. A. 351, 351 (1976).
"Theory of Filler Reinforcement," Journal of Applied Physics, 16, 20 (1945). Proves the mathematical isomorphism
of the elasticity problem for "solid suspensions," such as an incompressible solid like carbon black in rubber. This paper
generalizes Einstein's Ph.D. thesis on fluid suspension viscosity and developed the first theory and experiment for rigid
spherical and rodlike fillers.
"Rise of Temperature on Fast Stretching of Butyl Rubber," with S. L. Dart, Journal of Chemical Physics, 13, 28 (1945).
This and earlier work in 1942 were the first since Joule (1857) using fast enough galvanometers, made especially for this
"Theory of Increase in Rigidity of Rubber During Cure," with H. M. James, Journal of Chemical Physics, 15, 669
(1947). Guth and James had pointed out from the beginning that a network's existence imposes constraints on the segments
which, in general, will introduce a front factor; this paper derived a general expression for the front factor.
"Simple Presentation of the Network Theory of Rubber, With a Discussion of Other Theories," with H. M. James, Journal of
Polymer Science, 4, 153 (1949). This paper demonstrated that crosslinks participate in internal Brownian motion, and thus
the network's junctions could not generally be assumed to be fixed.
"Statistical Theory of Networks of non-Gausian Flexible Chains," with M. C. Wang, Journal of Chemical Physics,
20, 1144 (1952). Title indicates content.
"Statistical Thermodynamics of Rubber Elasticity," with H. M. James, Journal of
Chemical Physics, 20, 1039 (1952), discusses critically work on rubber elasticity.
Sample theoretical and experimental papers on natural and synthetic rubber's static and dynamic properties: temperature
increases on fast stretching, retraction, and stress propogation include "Theory of Retraction of Stressed Rubber,"Physical Review,
66, 33 (1944), "Wave Equations for Finite Elastic Strains," Journal of Applied Physics, 16, 643 (1945), both with H. M. James;
"Equations of State for Natural and Synthetic Rubbers I," Journal of Chemical Physics, 46, 826 (1942), which verified
extensively the statistical theory of network elasticity; and "Propogation of Ultrasonic Bulk Waves in High Polymers," with
D. G. Ivey and B. A. Mrowca, Journal of Applied Physics, 20, 486 (1949). Title indicates content.
"Statistical Mechanics of Polymers," Journal of Polymer Science, Pt. C 12, 89 (1966). Summarizes the network theory
of rubber elasticity developed jointly with H. M. James starting in 1939.
"Birth and Rise of Polymer Science- Myth and Truth," keynote address of the International Applied Polymer Science
Symposium 1976, Stockholm, Sweden, reprinted in Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 35, 1 (1979). Clarified some
misconceptions about the birth and rise of the physics and physical chemistry of polymers, in general, rubber elasticity,
in particular, and the statistical mechanics of rubber elasticity.
This is a sample of more than 50 papers by Guth and his colleagues and students on polymers. Many of these papers, including
those found in this selected papers list, were reprinted in a variety of texts and volumes.
The theoretical and experimental work of Guth and his associates on polymers is considered to be classic and is described
in detail not only in specialized literature like:
L. R. G. Treloar, The Physics of Rubber Elasticity, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958); P. Measres, Polymers:
Structure and Bulk Properties. (New York: Van Nostrand, 1965);
but also in general statistical mechanics like:
D. ter Haar, Elements of Statistical Mechanics, (New York: Rinehart, 1954), with entire chapter XV devoted to
the statistical theory of rubber elasticity by James and Guth.
A. H. Wilson, Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics, (Cambridge University Press, 1957), theory of James and Guth
adopted as "most soundly based."
M. V. Volkenstein, Configurational Statistics of Polymer Chains, (New York: Interscience, 1963). Whole chapter
devoted to the "most perfect" network theory of James and Guth. This author prepared a preprint for the International
Macromolecular Conference in Prague, 1957, extending a theory by R. Kubo and criticizing the James-Guth theory. However,
convinced by Guth and James that his and Kubo's theory were incorrect, Volkenstein withdrew his paper and became an
enthusiastic expositer of the James-Guth theory.
SELECTED NUCLEAR, SOLID STATE, AND GENERAL PHYSICS PUBLICATIONS
"On the Interaction Between Fast Electrons and Nuclei," Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien, No. 24, 299 (1934).
First treatment of the use of fast electrons to explore nuclear structure. Hofstadter stated this work "foreshadowed" all later
theoretical and experimental work on nuclear electro-disintegration.
"Radiative Transition Probabilities in Heavy Nuclei: Excitation of Nuclei by X-rays,"Physical Review, 59, 325 (1941).
First treatment of this process related to the Mössbauer effect.
"Photo-and-Electro-Disintegration of Be9," with C. J. Mullin, Physical Review, 76, 234 (1949). First
detailed shell-theory type treatment of suchprocesses utilizing one of the first nuclear applications of the distorted wave
"Unified Hamiltonian Theory of Relativistic Particle Equations, Annals of Physics, 20, 309 (1962).
Generalizes Schrödinger's treatment of "Zitterbewegung" to all spins.
"Proposal for an Experiment on Adiabatically Induced Coulomb Fission," with L. Wilets, Physical Review Letters,
16, 30 (1966). One of the last new forms of fission discovered since 1966.
"On the Deviations from Ohm's Law at High Current Densities," with F. Mayerhöfer, Physical Review, 57, 908
(1940). First treatment. This work convinced P. W. Bridgman that his own experimental work was not related to such
"Electron Emission from Metals in Electric Fields, I, Explanation of Periodic Deviations from Schottky Line," with C. J.
Mullin, Physical Review, 59, 575 (1941). First quantitative theory.
Again, this is just a selection from more papers including (1) Coulomb excitation and disintegration, (2) Photodisintegration
of the deuteron, (3) Multiple scattering, (4) Electron excitation of nuclei, (5) further work on "Zitterbewegung" and the
uniqueness of the Dirac equation (1973), (6) General relativity (1968), (7) its history (1970), (8) Photo and cold emission
from metals, and (9) Determination of the quantum state by measurements.
As of July 1983, Dr. Guth had 153 professional publications with additional work in progress.
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