Retired Navy physicist to lead MU's Sidney Kimmel Institute for Nuclear Renaissance

Friday, March 8, 2013 | 5:44 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A nuclear physicist with 40 years' experience at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory will lead MU's Sidney Kimmel Institute for Nuclear Renaissance.

As its first director, Graham K. Hubler will oversee the year-old institute's search for new energy sources. Hubler has served in the position since November 2012 and said he will continue to commute between Columbia and his home in Washington, D.C.

A release from the MU News Bureau said Hubler will lead a team of scientists in investigating alternative forms of energy, including "anomalous heat effects," whose origins have yet to be explained. Previously known as "cold fusion," scientists have seen the phenomena but have had difficulty replicating the experiments. 

"In my experience, Missouri is the foremost lab in exploring this area," Hubler said Friday. "I'm very excited and optimistic to make good progress."

Before taking the position at MU, Hubler worked at the Naval Research Laboratory for 40 years until retiring as the head of the Materials and Sensors Branch, the news release said. He received a bachelor's degree in physics from Union College and a doctorate in nuclear physics from Rutgers University. 

Rob Duncan, vice chancellor of research at MU, said in the release that the university was fortunate to attract Hubler.

"He's very well-versed in nuclear and solid state physics and has a long history in highly responsible positions," Duncan said. "I know him as a brilliant and very open-minded scientist, making him well-suited to study yet unknown phenomena, which is the underlying charge of (the institute)."

The institute was created by a five-year, $5.5 million gift from the Sidney Kimmel Foundation to help research new energy sources and encourage collaboration between scientists in physics, the MU Research Reactor, engineering, material science and chemistry, the release said.

Hubler has written 100 journal articles, edited four books and procured six patents, the release said. He has received awards including the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award, the NRL 75th Anniversary Technology Transfer Award and the Veneto Research Consortium Award. 

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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Ellis Smith March 9, 2013 | 7:21 a.m.

Interesting. One way to considerably reduce carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) emissions would be to stop using combustion to produce electrical energy and substitute nuclear fission instead.

Aside from producing carbon dioxide as a product, fuel combustion by its chemical nature is NOT a particularly efficient process.

But nuclear fission creates radioactive waste.

Nuclear FUSION, on the other hand, would not create a waste problem. Have we ever seen practical application of nuclear fusion, aside from the star called our Sun? Yes, a hydrogen bomb was detonated at Bikini Atoll following WWII, but that can hardly be classed as "contained fusion."

Will UM System's other nuclear reactor be used in any experiments? Probably not. There are two of them, you know. The other one is low power and doesn't employ enriched fuel.

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