Published in The Asbury Park Press on December 17, 2000 by John A. Harnes
FORT MONMOUTH – Dr. Stanley Kronenberg may have jokingly referred to himself as a “mad scientist,” but this world
recognized authority on nuclear-radiation technology and detectors had an imaginative mind that never stopped seeking new truths.
Born in Poland, Kronenberg had worked at Fort Monmouth from 1953 until his death at his home in Skillman, west of Princeton, on Dec. 9.
During his decades of research at the fort, he published approximately 100 scientific papers on nuclear-radiation physics and was awarded 22 patents based on his research, according to the Army’s Communications-Electronics Command legal office records.
“He was a giant, whose contributions in the Camp Evans Laboratory have made a major difference in much that we, as a country, have done as the world’s pre-eminent technical force,” said Maj. Gen. Robert L. Nabors, commander of CECOM and Fort Monmouth.
Visiting Kronenberg’s offices at the fort’s Camp Evans facility, or later at the post’s new radiological building in the Charles Wood Area, Building 2540 on Laboratory Road, it was easy to see this scientist loved his work.His desk was often covered with tools of various shapes and sizes, and he was an expert at designing machines that he would make himself out of cans and other. materials, to prove that his theories would work. At one time, a pressure cooker from his home was pressed into service for an experiment.
Co-worker Dr. George Brucker, of Long Branch, once commented: “Stanley makes everything from scratch.”
During their careers, atomic research allowed Kronenberg and Brucker to witness numerous atomic-bomb tests in Nevada and the Pacific, and over the years lead the scientists to perform groundbreaking research in their field.In addition to these accomplishments, Kronenberg often talked with pride of the murals they created inside both research facilities at the post.
In 1960, after determining that his laboratory building at Camp Evans, a former Army research site in Wall, with its extra-thick walls, reminded him of an Egyptian tomb, Kronenberg persuaded Brucker to help him create their first mural. It depicted the trial of a deceased queen as she tried to enter the land of the dead.
Kronenberg copied an illustration of a papyrus scroll dating from 1300 B.C., which was originally found inside an Egyptian tomb.
With a background of hieroglyphics, the scene depicts the god Anubis balancing the queen’s heart on a scale against a feather.
The lighter her heart, the better are her chances for an afterlife. Osiris, lord of the afterworld, sits in judgment on a throne as the god Tot takes notes of the proceedings.
“Someday, someone will dig it up and say,
Hey, the Egyptians were here, guess they discovered New Jersey first,' " Kronenberg once joked.mad scientist,’ and the clerk just typed whatever was on the form. That’s how he became the official Army Mad Scientist.”
After moving into a new laboratory when Camp Evans closed, the pair painted another mural on a large back wall there.
That 30-foot-long by 9-foot-high mural depicts the creation of the world as perceived by an ancient :Mayan artist.
The original scene was taken from a cylindrical vase known as "The Vase of the Seven Gods."
“It was painted about 800 A.D.,” Kronenberg once said. The picture of the painting, in black and white, was obtained from a book published several years ago.In describing his new work, Kronenberg said he made changes to the original artwork, adding colors that would normally be found in Mayan art and rearranging the seven gods and the hieroglyphics so that the mural would fit on the large wall.
The first two glyphs of the picture text indicate the date of the creation of the world, which according to Maya legends took place on Aug. 13, 3114 B.C., Kronenberg once said.
On the right side of the mural, one of the principal gods, "Lord One Death," is depicted sitting on a jaguar throne. His hand forms the signal "bright star." This signal results in the creation of light.
The mural took 75 hours of leave, lunch hours and compensatory time to complete. Dated Feb. 29, 2000, it is signed by both Kronenberg and Brucker.
Born in Krosno, Poland, on May 3, 1927, Kronenberg studied physics and chemistry at the University of Vienna, Austria, specializing in quantum mechanics and nuclear physics. He earned his doctorate in physics in 1952.
Hired by the Army Signal Corps, then based at Fort Monmouth, he became a member of its Nucleonics Division, becoming the director of that division in 1962.He headed that organization for the next 21 years, while its name and the laboratory of which it was part changed several times.
Most recently, Kronenberg was an employee of the CECOM Research, Development and Engineering Center's Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate.
Edward Groeber, radiac product manager for nuclear, biological and chemical defense systems, first met Kronenberg in 1968, when Groeber was a second lieutenant in the Air Force, and their friendship continued for 32 years.
"A man with a brilliant mind, highly skilled hands and a gentle soul," Groeber said, describing his friend.
As an example of Kronenberg's style of getting things accomplished, Groeber said that just before Operation Desert Storm, the Army was procuring 15,000 radiation dosimeters that were developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These devices are used to keep track of radiation exposure."They had never been tested in a military environment," Groeber said. The Federal Emergency Management Agency found that these devices would not meet the Army's specification for exposure to high humidity, he said.
"Stanley obtained some samples, and in a few days had a simple modification using aluminum foil and some, epoxy that sealed the lower end of the dosimeters from the effect of the humidity," Groeber said.
FEMA tested Kronenberg's revisions and used them to make the dosimeters they delivered to the Army, he said.
"Stanley enjoyed his job more than anyone I have ever met," Groeber said. "He was a gentle spirit with an enormous innate curiosity."
Fred Carl, a member of the Camp Evans Restoration Advisory Board, who is also director of INFOAGE Inc., a nonprofit group working to establish an information age learning center using historic buildings at the former military site, said Kronenberg deserves to be remembered."The 'mad scientist' title came about as a joke," Carl said. "On one of his identity
badge applications, he jokingly put
“Stanley was fun and entertaining and a wonderful person to talk to,” he said. “I remember one time he was asked why he kept driving the long distance back and forth to his home in Skillman. I remember him saying he used the time while he was driving to think.”
“Our Mad Scientist deserves acclaim,” Carl said. “He did so many good things over the years, but he did them quietly.”
Kronenberg was known to say he loved research so much he never wanted to retire.
But, Carl said, Kronenberg would say in the next breath, “But the important thing to remember is that we are scientists and will always be scientists.”
page created December 24, 2000