In America, it’s where you finish that counts, not where you started

Happy 4th July

“Do you know where Ishpenning is?” – Nobel Prize winner Glenn Seaborg, to prestigious audiences

“IT’S RIGHT NEXT TO NEGAUNEE,” he would say. The weekend of the fourth could bring to mind many rags-to-fame stories, but this one is unusual in its degree. I’ve been to Negaunee and Ishpeming, and have seen the Seaborg display in the Superior Dome at NMU nearby. He contributed to the Manhattan Project that saved many lives and helped end World War II.

Glenn Theodore Seaborg (/ˈsiːbɔːrɡ/; April 19, 1912 – February 25, 1999) was an American chemist whose involvement in the synthesis, discovery, and investigation of ten transuranium elements earned him a share of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.[3] . .

Seaborg spent most of his career as an educator and research scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, serving as a professor, and, between 1958 and 1961, as the university’s second chancellor.[4] He advised ten US Presidents—from Harry S. Truman to Bill Clinton—on nuclear policy and was Chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission from 1961 to 1971, where he pushed for commercial nuclear energy and the peaceful applications of nuclear science. Throughout his career, Seaborg worked for arms control. He was a signatory to the Franck Report and contributed to the Limited Test Ban Treaty, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty . . Toward the end of the Eisenhower administration, he was the principal author of the Seaborg Report on academic science, and, as a member of President Ronald Reagan‘s National Commission on Excellence in Education, he was a key contributor to its 1983 report “A Nation at Risk“.(from Wikipedia)

From the “frozen tundra” near the shores of Lake Superior to nearly the shores of the Pacific Ocean, his life exemplifies our freedom to move about as well as the right to upward mobility, given enough time, luck, and exertion. I think his parents were immigrants. Swedish was spoken in the home, and his father was an employee of the iron mines. If he had been born in a Communist country, the state might have decided he should spend his life working in the mines, but people were “comin’ to America”! And the family moved to Los Angeles County, where most of his schooling was experienced.

What brought this story up was an article in the current issue of UP magazine. As I said on Facebook the other day:

“Glenn Seaborg was born somewhat north of flyover country but died in 1999 at 86 as the author of 25 books and holder of 43 patents.”


P.S. Well that’s the gist of it. If you’re reading this weekend, you probably want to read something short and sweet. This is both. Have a nice July 4th week!

To read more articles by Curtis Dahlgren click here.

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About the Author

Curtis Dahlgren
Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in the frozen tundra of Michigan's U.P., and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton. In the intro to The Fenton Bible, Fenton said: ​"I was in '53 a young student in a course of education for an entirely literary career, but with a wider basis of study than is usual. . . . In commerce my life has been passed. . . . Indeed, I hold my commercial experience to have been my most important field of education, divinely prepared to fit me to be a competent translator of the Bible, for it taught me what men are and upon what motives they act, and by what influences they are controlled. Had I, on the other hand, lived the life of a Collegiate Professor, shut up in the narrow walls of a library, I consider that I should have had my knowledge of mankind so confined to glancing through a 'peep-hole' as to make me totally unfit for [my life's work]." ​In 1971-72 Curtis did some writing for the Badger Herald and he is listed as a University of Wisconsin-Madison "alumnus" (loosely speaking, along with a few other drop-outs including John Muir, Charles Lindbergh, Frank Lloyd Wright and Dick Cheney). [He writes humor, too.]