Lyman James Briggs

Lyman James Briggs

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Lyman James Briggs'
Start a new discussion about 'Lyman James Briggs'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Lyman James Briggs was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 engineer, physicist and administrator. He was a distinguished director of the National Bureau of Standards
National Institute of Standards and Technology
The National Institute of Standards and Technology , known between 1901 and 1988 as the National Bureau of Standards , is a measurement standards laboratory, otherwise known as a National Metrological Institute , which is a non-regulatory agency of the United States Department of Commerce...

 during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 and chairman of the Uranium Committee before America entered the Second World War. The Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Michigan State University is a public research university in East Lansing, Michigan, USA. Founded in 1855, it was the pioneer land-grant institution and served as a model for future land-grant colleges in the United States under the 1862 Morrill Act.MSU pioneered the studies of packaging,...

 is named in his honor.

Personal and academic history


Lyman James Briggs was born on a farm in Assyria, Michigan near Battle Creek, Michigan
Battle Creek, Michigan
Battle Creek is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan, in northwest Calhoun County, at the confluence of the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Rivers. It is the principal city of the Battle Creek, Michigan Metropolitan Statistical Area , which encompasses all of Calhoun county...

. He was the eldest of two brothers in a family that descended from Clement Briggs who arrived in America in 1621 on the Fortune, the first ship to follow the Mayflower
Mayflower
The Mayflower was the ship that transported the English Separatists, better known as the Pilgrims, from a site near the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts, , in 1620...

. He grew up in an outdoor life with duties to attend such as would be found on an active farm in the late 19th century. He went to the Briggs School built by his grandfather and later was a teacher there.

Briggs entered Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Michigan State University is a public research university in East Lansing, Michigan, USA. Founded in 1855, it was the pioneer land-grant institution and served as a model for future land-grant colleges in the United States under the 1862 Morrill Act.MSU pioneered the studies of packaging,...

) in East Lansing, Michigan
East Lansing, Michigan
East Lansing is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. The city is located directly east of Lansing, Michigan, the state's capital. Most of the city is within Ingham County, though a small portion lies in Clinton County. The population was 48,579 at the time of the 2010 census, an increase from...

, entering by examination at age 15. Michigan State was a Land Grant college, so courses were taught in agriculture and mechanical arts. He majored in agriculture, but by graduation time in 1893 his interests had moved on to mechanical engineering and physics. He next entered the University of Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

 in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County. The 2010 census places the population at 113,934, making it the sixth largest city in Michigan. The Ann Arbor Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 344,791 as of 2010...

, completing a Masters Degree in physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 in 1895. From there he entered Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States...

 in Baltimore, Maryland and began work on his PhD
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

.

In 1896 Briggs married Katherine Cook whom he met as an undergraduate at Michigan Agricultural College. Lyman and Katherine Cook Briggs had two children, a boy, Albert (known as "Bertie") and a girl, Isabel
Isabel Briggs Myers
Isabel Briggs Myers was an American psychological theorist. She was co-creator, with her mother, of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ....

. Albert died in infancy, and Isabel would eventually marry Clarence Myers and go on to generate the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator with her mother (http://www.capt.org/mbti-assessment/isabel-myers.htm).

In 1896 he also joined the US Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. While in Washington, he also continued his research at Johns Hopkins under Henry Augustus Rowland
Henry Augustus Rowland
Henry Augustus Rowland was a U.S. physicist. Between 1899 and 1901 he served as the first president of the American Physical Society...

. Although he spent time working with the newly discovered Roentgen Rays, he ultimately graduated in 1903 with a Ph.D. in agriculture with a dissertation On the absorption of water vapor and of certain salts in aqueous solution by quartz. He was also elected to the Cosmos Club
Cosmos Club
The Cosmos Club is a private social club in Washington, D.C., founded by John Wesley Powell in 1878. In addition to Powell, original members included Clarence Edward Dutton, Henry Smith Pritchett, William Harkness, and John Shaw Billings. Among its stated goals is "The advancement of its members in...

 the same year.

US Department of Agriculture


In Briggs' first professional position he was put in charge of the Physics Laboratory (later the Bureau of Soils) of the US Department of Agriculture. He was one of a new breed of multi-disciplinary scientists studying the biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

 and ecology
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

 of plant life. His research work was concentrated on water retention of soils and he was a founder of the science of soil physics
Soil physics
Soil physics is the study of soil physical properties and processes. It is applied to management and prediction under natural and managed ecosystems. Soil physics deals with the dynamics of physical soil components and their phases as solids, liquids, and gases. It draws on the principles of...

. In 1906 he devised a soil classification technique called the moisture equivalent
Moisture equivalent
Moisture equivalent is proposed by Lyman Briggs and McLane as a measure of field capacity for fine-textured soil materials.Moisture equivalent is defined as the percentage of water which a soil can retain in opposition to a centrifugal force 1000 times that of gravity...

 based on centrifuging, which is now thought of as the first Pedotransfer function
Pedotransfer function
Pedotransfer function is a term used in soil science literature, which can be defined as predictive functions of certain soil properties from other more available, easily, routinely, or cheaply measured properties...

. In the same year he also organized a biophysical laboratory that later became the Bureau of Plant Industry
Bureau of Plant Industry
Bureau of Plant Industry may be:*Bureau of Plant Industry , an agency of the Philippine government under the Department of Agriculture*Bureau of Plant Industry , an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture...

. Briggs worked with Homer Leroy Shantz on the effect of environment on the water uptake by plants, and was an early contributor to ecology.

World War I


Briggs was detailed by an Executive Order to the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Standards in 1917 due to mobilization pressures of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. There he developed an artificial horizon device for naval vessels with John Hayford which established a stable zenith independent of the roll of the vessel for the aiming of naval guns. This allowed for the roll of the ship to be observed, so that the firing of the guns could be timed with the roll of the ship. The device was so successful it found its way into the control rooms of most naval vessels. A confidential report called the Hayford–Briggs report was given to the Navy, but never published.

National Bureau of Standards (1917–1945)


In 1920 Briggs officially left the Department of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...

 and joined the National Bureau of Standards, where he was chief of the Engineering Physics Division (later the Mechanics and Sound Division). He appointed Hugh L. Dryden to head the Aerodynamics Physics Section, and together they pioneered research in the aerodynamics
Aerodynamics
Aerodynamics is a branch of dynamics concerned with studying the motion of air, particularly when it interacts with a moving object. Aerodynamics is a subfield of fluid dynamics and gas dynamics, with much theory shared between them. Aerodynamics is often used synonymously with gas dynamics, with...

 of airfoils moving near the speed of sound
Speed of sound
The speed of sound is the distance travelled during a unit of time by a sound wave propagating through an elastic medium. In dry air at , the speed of sound is . This is , or about one kilometer in three seconds or approximately one mile in five seconds....

 in an airstream. This work had significant application in developing blade forms for aircraft propellers.

He also retained an interest in navigational devices, and with Paul R. Heyl invented the Heyl–Briggs earth inductor compasshttp://oldbeacon.com/beacon/earth_inductor_compass.htm. The compass used a spinning electric coil subjected to the magnetic field of the Earth to determine the bearing of an airplane in relation to the Earth's magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

. For this invention, they received the Magellan Medal
Magellanic Premium
The Magellanic Premium, also known as the Magellanic Gold Medal and Magellanic Prize is awarded for major contributions in the field of navigation , astronomy, or natural philosophy....

 of the American Philosophical Society
American Philosophical Society
The American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743, and located in Philadelphia, Pa., is an eminent scholarly organization of international reputation, that promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications,...

 in 1922. This type of compass was used by Admiral Byrd in his flight to the North Pole
North Pole
The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is, subject to the caveats explained below, defined as the point in the northern hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets its surface...

 and by Charles Lindbergh
Charles Lindbergh
Charles Augustus Lindbergh was an American aviator, author, inventor, explorer, and social activist.Lindbergh, a 25-year-old U.S...

 on his 1927 trans-Atlantic flight.

In 1926 Briggs was appointed assistant director for research and testing by National Bureau of Standards Director George Kimball Burgess
George Kimball Burgess
George Kimball Burgess was an American physicist, considered one of the most notable scientists of his era. He authored and translated numerous studies, was a leading member and president of many scientific societies and, for the last nine years of his life, served as director of the National...

. On Burgess's death in 1932, Briggs was nominated by US President Herbert C. Hoover to Burgess as director of the National Bureau of Standards. However, none of Hoover's nominations were acted on by the US Congress before he left office. After Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 took office as president in 1933 he was pressed to name "a good Democrat" as director of the National Bureau of Standards. Roosevelt, not wishing to make a patronage appointment, replied, "I haven't the slightest idea whether Briggs is a Republican or a Democrat; all I know is that he is the best qualified man for the job."

Briggs took over the Bureau during difficult times. It was the height of the depression and his first task was to reduce costs 50%. He managed to save the jobs of about 2/3 of the career employees by putting many on part-time employment and transferring others to the American Standards Association while they continued their work at the bureau. He emphasized doing work with direct economic impact and got money from the Works Progress Administration
Works Progress Administration
The Works Progress Administration was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions of unskilled workers to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads, and operated large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects...

 to hire unemployed mathematicians to develop math tables. Due to Briggs outstanding persuasive powers, he managed to get Congress to increase its appropriation for the Bureau in 1935, and many of the employees that were let go were re-hired.

Uranium Committee (1939–1941)


In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt called on Briggs, by then aged 65, to head "The Uranium Committee
S-1 Uranium Committee
The S-1 Uranium Committee was a Committee of the National Defense Research Committee that succeeded the Briggs Advisory Committee on Uranium and later evolved into the Manhattan Project.- World War II begins :...

", a secret project to investigate the atomic fission of uranium, as a result of the Einstein–Szilárd letter. Even though Roosevelt had sanctioned a project, progress was slow and was not directed exclusively towards military applications. Eugene Wigner said that "We often felt we were swimming in syrup". Boris Pregel
Boris Pregel
Boris Pregel was a dealer in uranium and radium. He was born in the Ukraine but moved to Paris after the October Revolution. In 1937 he married Alexandra Avksentiev, daughter of Nikolai Avksentiev...

 said "It is wonder that after so many blunders and mistakes anything was accomplished at all". Leó Szilárd
Leó Szilárd
Leó Szilárd was an Austro-Hungarian physicist and inventor who conceived the nuclear chain reaction in 1933, patented the idea of a nuclear reactor with Enrico Fermi, and in late 1939 wrote the letter for Albert Einstein's signature that resulted in the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb...

 believed that the project was delayed for a least a year by the short-sightedness and sluggishness of the authorities. At the time Briggs was not well and was due to undergo a serious operation. He was unable to take the energetic action that was often needed.

Meanwhile in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 German refugees Otto Frisch and Rudolf Peierls
Rudolf Peierls
Sir Rudolf Ernst Peierls, CBE was a German-born British physicist. Rudolf Peierls had a major role in Britain's nuclear program, but he also had a role in many modern sciences...

 made a breakthrough, indicating that it would be possible to make a bomb from purified U-235. From June 1940, copies of British progress reports were sent to Briggs via a British contact in Washington, Ralph H. Fowler
Ralph H. Fowler
Sir Ralph Howard Fowler OBE FRS was a British physicist and astronomer.-Education:Fowler was initially educated at home but then attended Evans' preparatory school at Horris Hill and Winchester College...

. In March 1941 a British committee of Nobel-Prize winning scientists, called the MAUD Committee
MAUD Committee
The MAUD Committee was the beginning of the British atomic bomb project, before the United Kingdom joined forces with the United States in the Manhattan Project.-Frisch & Peierls:...

, concluded that an atomic bomb was "not only feasible, it was inevitable". They also pointed out that a large part of a laboratory in Berlin had been devoted to nuclear research. A copy of the MAUD Committee's interim report was sent to the Briggs in the USA because Britain lacked the resources to undertake such a large and urgent program on its own. Britain also wished to move its key research facilities to safety across the Atlantic. The MAUD Committee issued another report giving technical details on the design and costs on 15 July 1941.

Britain was at war and felt an atomic bomb should have the highest priority, especially because the Germans might soon have one; but the USA was not at war at that time and many Americans did not want to get involved. One of the members of the MAUD Committee, Marcus Oliphant flew to the United States in late August 1941 in an unheated bomber to find out why the United States was ignoring the MAUD Committee's findings. Oliphant said that: "The minutes and reports had been sent to Lyman Briggs, who was the Director of the Uranium Committee, and we were puzzled to receive virtually no comment. I called on Briggs in Washington, only to find out that this inarticulate and unimpressive man had put the reports in his safe and had not shown them to members of his committee. I was amazed and distressed."

Oliphant then met the whole Uranium Committee. Samuel K. Allison
Samuel King Allison
Samuel King Allison was an American physicist, most notable for his role in the Manhattan Project — where among other things he read the countdown for the detonation of the "Trinity" test — and his postwar work in the "scientists' movement".-Biography:Samuel K...

 was a new committee member, a talented experimentalist and a protege of Arthur Compton
Arthur Compton
Arthur Holly Compton was an American physicist and Nobel laureate in physics for his discovery of the Compton effect. He served as Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis from 1945 to 1953.-Early years:...

 at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

. "Oliphant came to a meeting", Allison recalls, "and said 'bomb' in no uncertain terms. He told us we must concentrate every effort on the bomb and said we had no right to work on power plants or anything but the bomb. The bomb would cost 25 million dollars, he said, and Britain did not have the money or the manpower, so it was up to us." Allison was surprised that Briggs had kept the committee in the dark.

Oliphant visited other physicists to galvanise the USA into action. As a result, in December 1941 Vannevar Bush
Vannevar Bush
Vannevar Bush was an American engineer and science administrator known for his work on analog computing, his political role in the development of the atomic bomb as a primary organizer of the Manhattan Project, the founding of Raytheon, and the idea of the memex, an adjustable microfilm viewer...

, director of the powerful Office of Scientific Research and Development
Office of Scientific Research and Development
The Office of Scientific Research and Development was an agency of the United States federal government created to coordinate scientific research for military purposes during World War II. Arrangements were made for its creation during May 1941, and it was created formally by on June 28, 1941...

, undertook to launch a full-scale effort to develop atomic bombs. As the scale of the project became clearer, it came under direct military control as the Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

.

World War II


Briggs was always finding ways to get new business for the Bureau. In 1939 he sent Secretary of Commerce Daniel C. Roper a list of services the Bureau could provide in the event of armed conflict in Europe. By 1942 90% of the Bureau's activities were classified efforts for the war effort. Some of the Bureau's activities were the non-rotating proximity fuze
Proximity fuze
A proximity fuze is a fuze that is designed to detonate an explosive device automatically when the distance to target becomes smaller than a predetermined value or when the target passes through a given plane...

, guided missile
Guided Missile
Guided Missile is a London based independent record label set up by Paul Kearney in 1994.Guided Missile has always focused on 'the underground', preferring to put out a steady flow of releases and developing the numerous GM events around London and beyond....

 developments (see the Bat
Bat (guided bomb)
-External links:*...

http://museum.nist.gov/panels/batmissile/index.html), establishment of a Radio Propagation
Radio propagation
Radio propagation is the behavior of radio waves when they are transmitted, or propagated from one point on the Earth to another, or into various parts of the atmosphere...

 Laboratory, critical materials research on optical glass which Germany had previously supplied, on quartz
Quartz
Quartz is the second-most-abundant mineral in the Earth's continental crust, after feldspar. It is made up of a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall formula SiO2. There are many different varieties of quartz,...

 and synthetic rubber
Synthetic rubber
Synthetic rubber is is any type of artificial elastomer, invariably a polymer. An elastomer is a material with the mechanical property that it can undergo much more elastic deformation under stress than most materials and still return to its previous size without permanent deformation...

 and measurement and calibration services. Briggs changed the Bureau's culture from one of open access to one of secrecy.

Briggs retired from the Bureau in 1945, at the age of seventy-two. He was appointed director emeritus of NBS after working for forty-nine years in federal government. Bureau employees erected a bronze sundial in his honor through their Employees Welfare Association. At his request the names of the first three directors of Bureau are cast onto the rim of the instrument: Samuel Wesley Stratton
Samuel Wesley Stratton
Samuel Wesley Stratton was an administrator in the American government, physicist, and educator.Stratton was born on farm in Litchfield, Illinois on July 18, 1861. In his youth he kept farm machinery in repair and worked as a mechanic and carpenter...

, George Kimball Burgess
George Kimball Burgess
George Kimball Burgess was an American physicist, considered one of the most notable scientists of his era. He authored and translated numerous studies, was a leading member and president of many scientific societies and, for the last nine years of his life, served as director of the National...

, and Lyman James Briggs.

In 1948 Briggs received the Medal of Merit
Medal of Merit
Several countries award a military or civil medal called Medal of Merit:* Medal of Merit of the Dominican Woman* Medal of Merit * Medal of Merit * Medal of Merit...

 from US President Harry Truman for his distinguished work in connection with World War II.

At the request of Secretary of Commerce Henry A. Wallace
Henry A. Wallace
Henry Agard Wallace was the 33rd Vice President of the United States , the Secretary of Agriculture , and the Secretary of Commerce . In the 1948 presidential election, Wallace was the nominee of the Progressive Party.-Early life:Henry A...

, he wrote a 180-page account on NBS war research that was published in 1949.

Later life


In his retirement Briggs returned to research, establishing a laboratory for studying fluids under negative pressure at the National Bureau of Standards. This topic was directly related to his earlier research in the water uptake of plants. In one famous experiment he measured the negative pressure (or tension) that would break a column of water held in a capillary tube by capillary action
Capillary action
Capillary action, or capilarity, is the ability of a liquid to flow against gravity where liquid spontanously rise in a narrow space such as between the hair of a paint-brush, in a thin tube, or in porous material such as paper or in some non-porous material such as liquified carbon fiber, or in a...

. It turned out that at room temperature the maximum attainable tension in water was 250 bar and in mercury nearly 500 bar. This was published in several papers between (1950–1953), and the 1950 paper remains a classic and is still regularly cited in the literature on metastable water.

Briggs' love for baseball triggered another piece of research. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 the government had mandated that rubber in baseballs be replaced by cork. Complaints about the new balls lead Briggs to test them, and in 1945 he demonstrated that the new baseballs were inferior. This was done by addressing the issue of whether or not a pitched baseball could curve out of the plane of the pitch. With the help of two pitchers from the Washington Senators
Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins are a professional baseball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They play in the Central Division of Major League Baseball's American League. The team is named after the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis and St. Paul. They played in Metropolitan Stadium from 1961 to 1981 and the...

 baseball club and his 1917 wind tunnel he studied the effect of spin and speed on the trajectory
Trajectory
A trajectory is the path that a moving object follows through space as a function of time. The object might be a projectile or a satellite, for example. It thus includes the meaning of orbit—the path of a planet, an asteroid or a comet as it travels around a central mass...

 and established the relationship between the amount of spin and the curvature of the ball (see curveball
Curveball
The curveball is a type of pitch in baseball thrown with a characteristic grip and hand movement that imparts forward spin to the ball causing it to dive in a downward path as it approaches the plate. Its close relatives are the slider and the slurve. The "curve" of the ball varies from pitcher to...

). To measure the spin, he attached a lightweight tape to the ball and counted the number of twists in the tape. This was a very popular topic in the newspapers and is probably the most widely known of his research.

Another of Briggs many interests was the National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
The National Geographic Society , headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical...

 and in 1934 he chaired the Society's Committee on Research and Exploration. During this time he instrumented two stratospheric balloon flights, the second of which broke the existing record for altitude in 1936. During retirement he became even more active in the Society, and lead an expedition to study the solar eclipse in Brazil in 1947. Briggs often wrote articles for the National Geographic Magazine
National Geographic Magazine
National Geographic, formerly the National Geographic Magazine, is the official journal of the National Geographic Society. It published its first issue in 1888, just nine months after the Society itself was founded...

.

Briggs died March 25, 1963, aged 88, after a diverse life of scientific exploration and service. He is remembered for his range of interests. Further, Briggs was almost universally liked, and had a reputation for even headedness and serenity. Edward U. Condon, Briggs successor at the Bureau said: "Briggs should always be remembered as one of the great figures in Washington during the first half of the century, when the Federal Government was slowly and stumblingly groping towards a realization of the important role science must play in the full future development of human society."

In 2007, Michigan State University honored the Lyman Briggs school, named for Briggs, by allowing it to become the Lyman Briggs College.

Awards, honors and distinctions


Positions:
  • Philosophical Society of Washington
    Philosophical Society of Washington
    The Philosophical Society of Washington is the oldest scientific society in Washington, D.C. It was founded in 1871 by Joseph Henry.Its aims are "the promotion of science, the advancement of learning, and the free exchange of views among its members on scientific subjects."Since 1887, the regular...

    , President, 1916
  • Washington Academy of Sciences, President, 1917
  • Federal Specifications Board, Chairman, 1932
  • Federal Fire Council, Chairman, 1933–1939
  • National Bureau of Standards, Director, 1933–1945
  • National Geographic Society
    National Geographic Society
    The National Geographic Society , headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical...

    , Life Trustee, 1933–1964
  • Special Advisory Committee for Stratospheric Balloon Flights, Chairman, 1935–1936
  • National Conference on Weights and Measures
    National Conference on Weights and Measures
    The National Conference on Weights and Measures is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to developing and regulating the United States technical standards for weights and measures...

    , Chairman, 1935
  • American Physical Society
    American Physical Society
    The American Physical Society is the world's second largest organization of physicists, behind the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft. The Society publishes more than a dozen scientific journals, including the world renowned Physical Review and Physical Review Letters, and organizes more than 20...

    , President, 1938
  • Uranium Committee S-1
    S-1 Uranium Committee
    The S-1 Uranium Committee was a Committee of the National Defense Research Committee that succeeded the Briggs Advisory Committee on Uranium and later evolved into the Manhattan Project.- World War II begins :...

     of the National Defense Research Committee
    National Defense Research Committee
    The National Defense Research Committee was an organization created "to coordinate, supervise, and conduct scientific research on the problems underlying the development, production, and use of mechanisms and devices of warfare" in the United States from June 27, 1940 until June 28, 1941...

    , Chairman, 1939
  • Research Committee of the National Geographic Society
    National Geographic Society
    The National Geographic Society , headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical...

    , Chairman, 1937
  • National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
    National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
    The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was a U.S. federal agency founded on March 3, 1915 to undertake, promote, and institutionalize aeronautical research. On October 1, 1958 the agency was dissolved, and its assets and personnel transferred to the newly created National Aeronautics and...

    , Vice-chairman, 1942
  • National Bureau of Standards, Director Emeritus, 1945–1963


Honorary doctorates by the following institutions:
  • Michigan State College in Science (1932)
  • South Dakota School of Mines, Engineering (1935)
  • University of Michigan
    University of Michigan
    The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

    , Law (1936)
  • George Washington University
    George Washington University
    The George Washington University is a private, coeducational comprehensive university located in Washington, D.C. in the United States...

    , Science (1937)
  • Georgetown University
    Georgetown University
    Georgetown University is a private, Jesuit, research university whose main campus is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States...

    , Science (1939)
  • Columbia University
    Columbia University
    Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

    , Science (1939)


Briggs received the following honors:
  • American Philosophical Society
    American Philosophical Society
    The American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743, and located in Philadelphia, Pa., is an eminent scholarly organization of international reputation, that promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications,...

    , Magellanic Premium
    Magellanic Premium
    The Magellanic Premium, also known as the Magellanic Gold Medal and Magellanic Prize is awarded for major contributions in the field of navigation , astronomy, or natural philosophy....

     (1922)
  • National Academy of Sciences
    United States National Academy of Sciences
    The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...

    , Elected Member (1942)
  • Medal of Merit
    Medal of Merit
    Several countries award a military or civil medal called Medal of Merit:* Medal of Merit of the Dominican Woman* Medal of Merit * Medal of Merit * Medal of Merit...

     by President Harry S. Truman
    Harry S. Truman
    Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

     (1948)
  • Franklin R. Burr Award, National Geographic Society
    National Geographic Society
    The National Geographic Society , headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical...

     (1954, 1962)


Served as president of:
  • American Physical Society
    American Physical Society
    The American Physical Society is the world's second largest organization of physicists, behind the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft. The Society publishes more than a dozen scientific journals, including the world renowned Physical Review and Physical Review Letters, and organizes more than 20...

  • Washington Academy of Sciences
  • Philosophical Society of Washington
    Philosophical Society of Washington
    The Philosophical Society of Washington is the oldest scientific society in Washington, D.C. It was founded in 1871 by Joseph Henry.Its aims are "the promotion of science, the advancement of learning, and the free exchange of views among its members on scientific subjects."Since 1887, the regular...

  • Cosmos Club
    Cosmos Club
    The Cosmos Club is a private social club in Washington, D.C., founded by John Wesley Powell in 1878. In addition to Powell, original members included Clarence Edward Dutton, Henry Smith Pritchett, William Harkness, and John Shaw Billings. Among its stated goals is "The advancement of its members in...

    , Washington, D.C.
    Washington, D.C.
    Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

  • Federal Club, Washington, D.C.
    Washington, D.C.
    Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....


Publications

  • Lyman J. Briggs with:
  • J. W. McLane, The moisture equivalents of soils USDA Bur. Soils Bull. 45. (1907)
  • J. W. McLane, Moisture equivalent determinations and their application, Proc. Am. Soc. Agron. 2:138–47. (1910)
  • H. L. Shantz, A wax seal method for determining the lower limit of available soil moisture, Bot. Gaz. 51:210–19. (1911)
  • H. L. Shantz, The wilting coefficient for different plants and its indirect determination, Bot. Gaz. 53:20–37 (1912)
  • P. R. Heyl. The earth inductor compass. Proc. Am. Phil. Soc. 61:15–32. (1922)
  • G. F. Hull and H. L. Dryden. Aerodynamics of airfoils at high speeds. Natl. Adv. Comm. Aeron. Rep. 207. (1925)

  • Lyman J. Briggs:
  • Summary of the results of the stratosphere flight of the Explorer II. Natl. Geogr. Soc. Technol. Pap. Stratosphere Series. 2:5–12. (1936)
  • NBS War Research: The National Bureau of Standards in World War II. NIST archives (1949)
  • Methods for measuring the coefficient of restitution and the spin of a ball. J. Res. Natl. Bur. Stand. 34:1–23. (1945)
  • Lyman J. Briggs, Effect of spin and speed on the lateral deflection (curve) of a baseball and the Magnus effect for smooth spheres. Am. J. Phys. 27:589–96. (1959)
  • Lyman J. Briggs, Limiting negative pressure of water, J. Appl. Phys. 21:721–22. (1950)
  • The limiting negative pressure of mercury in Pyrex glass. J. Appl. Phys. 24:488–90. (1953)