The steps on Verner Suomi's path to becoming a research scientist are examined. We argue that his research style—his natural interests in science and engineering, and his methodology in pursuing answers to scientific questions—was developed in his youth on the Iron Range of northeastern Minnesota, as an instructor in the cadet program at the University of Chicago (U of C) during World War II and as a fledgling academician at University of Wisconsin—Madison. We examine several of his early experiments that serve to identify his style. The principal results of this study are 1) despite austere living conditions on the Iron Range during the Great Depression, Suomi benefited from excellent industrial arts courses at Eveleth High School; 2) with his gift for designing instruments, his more practical approach to scientific investigation flourished in the company of world-class scientific thinkers at U of C; 3) his dissertation on the heat budget over a cornfield in the mid-1950s served as a springboard for studying the Earth–atmosphere energy balances in the space-age environment of the late 1950s; and 4) his design of radiometers—the so-called pingpong radiometer and its sequel, the hemispheric bolometer—flew aboard Explorer VI and Explorer VII in the late 1950s, and analysis of the radiances from these instruments led to the first accurate estimate of the Earth's mean albedo.
National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma
Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada
*Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada
+Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin