Guiding Physicists Through White Sands Missile Range

By Phil Esser, Architectural Historian, Epsilon Systems
Originally published in The Epsiloneer, Epsilon Systems News, 2023 Issue 3

On May 6th, Epsilon Systems’ client site architectural historian, Phil Esser, volunteered to provide an escort for VIPs visiting White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in southern New Mexico. Phil was fortunate to be able to provide a tour to noted theoretical physicist Dr. Paul Steinhardt and his colleague, theoretical physicist Anna Ijjas, which included Trinity Site, where the first atomic bomb was tested, and the McDonald Ranch House where the plutonium device was assembled for the test in July of 1945.

Dr. Steinhardt, the Albert Einstein Professor in Science at Princeton University, is the co-discoverer of the concept of quasicrystals, a new form of matter formed under extreme conditions of pressure and temperature. Once deemed “impossible” in nature, Steinhardt found evidence in meteorites and in a sample of Trinitite, the green-colored glassy substance formed by superheated sand on the ground at Trinity Site, under the conditions of the atomic test. He published a book on his worldwide journey of discovery entitled The Second Kind of Impossible, visiting locations where meteorite samples were held by institutions and to a remote Russian location where one sample in particular was sought. Trinity was the one place he had yet to visit. He plans to test samples of so-called “red Trinitite,” a Trinitite type that was infused with copper from electrical wiring during the Trinity test.

Phil Esser has been working with Epsilon System for 14 years, spending his first five years at Epsilon’s Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake office in Ridgecrest, California. He has been at WSMR for over eight years, working as on-site support for the historic built environment compliance needs of the Army Garrison White Sands Missile Range. Phil also volunteers twice a year to assist the WSMR Cultural Resources Division in providing information to McDonald Ranch House visitors who visit Trinity Site in the bi-annual open house.

One thought on “Guiding Physicists Through White Sands Missile Range

  1. I hope they were all extremely impressed & thankful for the work of the Scientists & professionals of the 40’s on what they had accomplished.

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