Energy researcherRichard Post

During World War II, Post had an interesting title with the U.S. Navy: Civilian Scientist. Adm. Chester Nimitz, for instance, once ordered him to Guam to upgrade the sonars in submarines — and train the sailors how to use them, since a battle was pending. After the war, Post got his doctorate in physics and went to work for a newly opened energy laboratory: the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. It was 1952, and Post worked on harnessing energy to do more, and do it more efficiently. When his funding was cut (he was working on using “magnetic mirrors” to control the output of fusion reactors), he turned to energy storage. Fossil fuels are dirty, but the power they provide runs modern civilization. There are cleaner power alternatives, such as solar and wind, but they can’t be counted on all the time. That’s where Post came in: he thought he could improve flywheels to store massive amounts of energy to even out loads later, and do it much more efficiently than batteries. “His loss is a huge one for us, and we all believe it is also a huge loss to the scientific community and the field of alternative energy,” said his daughter, the actress Markie Post. “We thought he would be here a lot longer; we were spoiled by his vigor.” Post had never retired: “Use it or lose it,” he said, so he was still working for the Livermore Lab when he fell ill and died, on April 7. He was 96.

From This is True for 12 April 2015