Conrad Longmire

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Conrad Longmire
Conrad Longmire in 2002.
Born(1921-08-23)August 23, 1921
DiedMarch 28, 2010(2010-03-28) (aged 88)
ResidenceUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Illinois
University of Rochester
Known forPlasma Physics
Thermonuclear Weapons Design
Discovery of the mechanism of high-altitude nuclear electromagnetic pulse
AwardsErnest Orlando Lawrence Award (1961)
Scientific career
InstitutionsLos Alamos National Laboratory
Mission Research Corporation

Conrad Lee Longmire (August 23, 1921 – March 22, 2010) was an American theoretical physicist who was best known as the discoverer of the mechanism behind high-altitude electromagnetic pulse.

In 1961, Longmire was awarded the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award[1] "for continued and original theoretical contributions, requiring unusual insight, to the development of nuclear weapons and the progress of plasma physics."[2] In 2004 he was awarded the Los Alamos Medal, the nuclear laboratory's highest award.[3]

Key scientific contributions[edit]

Longmire performed several of the key design calculations on the very first thermonuclear weapons produced by the United States.

In 1963, he was given the electromagnetic pulse data for the 1962 Operation Fishbowl high-altitude nuclear tests code-named Bluegill Triple Prime and Kingfish. The electromagnetic pulse data had puzzled other physicists. Longmire successfully deduced why the electromagnetic pulse was so much stronger than had been erroneously calculated by Nobel-laureate Hans Bethe, and Longmire was able to derive the calculations that are still used today.[4]

Early years[edit]

Longmire graduated as valedictorian from Sibley High School in 1939[5] He did his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois in Urbana, graduating in 1942 with a degree in engineering physics. After spending some time working on radar at the MIT Radiation Laboratory, Longmire attended the University of Rochester in New York, where he received his doctorate in theoretical physics in 1948.

In 1949 Longmire joined Los Alamos National Laboratory, working in the theoretical division from 1949 to 1969. In his early years at Los Alamos, he took sabbaticals to teach at University of Rochester and Columbia University, teaching for one year at each institution. In 1970, Longmire co-founded Mission Research Corporation with two other scientists, but continued to be a Lab Associate for Los Alamos National Laboratories.

Death and legacy[edit]

Conrad Longmire developed multiple myeloma and died from complications from the disease on March 22, 2010 at the age of 88.[5] He was survived by his wife, Theresa, and by several children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Many of Conrad Longmire's papers on nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) have been declassified, and many of those papers now form the essential basic reading components for scientists and others learning about the phenomenon of high-altitude nuclear EMP, especially as this topic is increasingly discussed in the news media and by government agencies.[6]


  1. ^ Office of Science (March 21, 2011). "Award Laureates: U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science". United States Department of Energy. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
  2. ^ Office of Science (March 18, 2011). "Conrad Longmire". United States Department of Energy. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
  3. ^ News and Communications Office (June 22, 2005). "Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL): Harlow, Longmire awarded 2004 Los Alamos Medal". Los Alamos National Laboratories. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
  4. ^ Longmire, Conrad L., "Fifty Odd Years of EMP", NBC Report, Fall/Winter, 2004. pp. 47-51. U.S. Army Nuclear and Chemical Agency [1]
  5. ^ a b (April 9, 2011). "Conrad Longmire"., Bloomington, Illinois. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
  6. ^ SUMMA Foundation (2010). "The Notes of Dr. Carl E. Baum: Theoretical Notes". University of New Mexico. Retrieved May 22, 2011.

External links[edit]

American Institute of Physics - Oral History Transcript - Dr. Conrad Longmire