UB Yesterday: 1954

Beta Ray Spectrometer

Photo: University Archives

While the machine front and center here looks like something out of Marvel Comics, it’s not a shrinking ray, and it won’t vaporize your enemies. According to alumnus Harold Box (PhD ’55, MA ’52), this is a beta ray spectrometer, used to examine properties of electrons emitted during nuclear decay. Although At Buffalo couldn’t confirm the location (we think it might be what is now called Parker Hall), nor the identities of the two men pictured here, Box thinks the machine was built by the late Walter Wurster (PhD ’57, BA ’50) when the two were both getting their PhDs in physics at UB. Wurster went on to work for the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory/Calspan in Cheektowaga, N.Y., where he conducted research instrumental to safe re-entry for NASA spaceships, and earned the nickname “Dr. Optics.” Sounds like a superhero story after all!