Theodore Rockwell






The author receives the Distinguished Service Medal, as sons Larry, Teed and Robert look on.

Spreading the word

Under the sea

Some Talks, Papers and Articles


“Frontier Life Among the Atom Splitters,” Saturday Evening Post, Dec 1, 1945.

“Bred For Fury,” True, Jul 1946 (First color stroboflash photos of fighting cocks in action).

“Water Chemistry of Pressurized Water Reactors” (co-author), presented at First International Conference on Atomic Energy (1955); published by United Nations and by Pergamon Press.

“Heresy, Excommunication, and Other Weeds in the Garden of Science,” New Realities, Dec 1981.

Brief Bio

THEODORE ROCKWELL has been directly involved in nuclear power for over 60 years, starting in 1943 in an elite Process Improvement Task Force at the war-time atomic bomb project at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. After the war he transferred to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and became Head of the Radiation Shield Engineering Group. In 1949 then-Captain H.G. Rickover hired him to work in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

In 1954, he became Technical Director, responsible to Admiral Rickover for helping to develop criteria, procedures and facilities for safe operation of nuclear-powered naval vessels and the world’s first commercial central station nuclear power plant. In 1960 he was awarded an honorary ScD degree for his contributions toward the development of atomic power. In 1964 he left with two colleagues to set up the respected engineering firm MPR Associates, Inc.

He was given Distinguished Service Medals by both the Navy and the US Atomic Energy Commission, an “Award for Exemplary Achievement in Public Administration,” by the William A. Jump Foundation, and the first “Lifetime Contribution Award, henceforth known as the Rockwell Award,” by the American Nuclear Society. One of his patents is listed in “a selection of [27] landmark US atomic energy patents from all the patents issued to date.”

He was the only non-medical member of the Advisory Group on the National Artificial Heart Program (1966) and a member of the Advisory Council, Princeton University Department of Chemical Engineering (1966-72). From 1965 to 1968, he was a Research Associate with the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (in connection with nuclear proliferation research). He was Chairman of the Atomic Industrial Forum's Reactor Safety Task Force (1966-72) and Consultant to the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy (1967).

He was co-founder of the Princeton Engineer magazine in 1941 and is listed in: Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, World Who’s Who in Science from Antiquity to Present, International Who’s Who in Engineering, American Men and Women of Science, Dictionary of International Biography, The Blue Book, World Who’s Who of Authors, Who’s Who in Theology and Science, Contemporary Authors, etc.

He is author or co-author of several key books on the early history of nuclear technology. He is editor of The Reactor Shielding Design Manual (GPO, McGraw-Hill, and VanNostrand), co-author of Arms Control Agreements: Designs for Verification (Johns Hopkins Press), used in US-USSR talks at the White House. He co-authored The Shippingport Pressurized Water Reactor (Addison-Wesley), cited by the American Library Association as “one of the best technical books of 1958,” and selected as one of the 13 official U.S. presentation volumes at the 1958 Atoms for Peace Conference at Geneva.

He is a member of the Health Physics Society, a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society and a vice president and a founding director of Radiation, Science & Health, Inc., an international non-profit organization of independent radiation experts committed to bringing radiation policy into line with the best scientific data and theory. He is a Life Member of the Philosophical Society of Washington, founded by Joseph Henry, and a Ruling Elder of the Presbyterian Church.

He has written numerous technical papers and several popular articles, including “Frontier Life Among the Atom Splitters” (SatEvePost, Dec 1, 1945), “Bred for Fury,” (first color stroboflash pictures of fighting cocks in action; True, July 1946), and “Heresy, Excommunication and Other Weeds in the Garden of Science” (New Realities, Dec 1981).

His latest book is a speculative science novel, The Virtual Librarian: A Tale of Alternative Realities.(December 2007). His oft-cited history, The Rickover Effect: How One Man Made a Difference (Naval Institute Press, 1992; John Wiley, ppbk, 1995), was excerpted by the Reader’s Digest in both U.S. and foreign editions. It was selected in 2002 by the Authors Guild for republication through iUniverse. This was followed by Creating the New World: Stories & Images from the Dawn of the Atomic Age, with a foreword by the late Glenn Seaborg. His works have been published in German, Dutch, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, which selected him in 2003 to be its first Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer.

In 2006, Doctors for Disaster Preparedness awarded him the Edward Teller Award for "outstanding and courageous contributions to American science." That same year, as designated Distinguished Speaker, he addressed the students and faculty of the World Nuclear University at its Summer Institute in Stockholm. In 2007, he played the same role for the Summer Institute when they met in Seoul.
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More Articles, Papers and Talks

"Report of Panel on Science and Unexplained Phenomena," American Society for Information Science, U.S. Bicentennial Conference, Apr. 12-14, 1976.

(Senior author) "Irrational Rationalists," Jour. Amer. Soc. Psychical Research, 72, 23-34, (Jan 1978) . Reprinted in The Battlefield of Psi (Japanese language anthology, 1987).

“Admiral H.G. Rickover’s Impact on Nuclear Power” Invited opening paper, Chairman’s Special Session, presented Nov 16, 1992 at the Joint International Conference of the American Nuclear Society and the European Nuclear Society, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Birth of Nuclear Power.

(Senior author) "Die Achillesferse der Wissenschaft: die Wissenschaftler," pp 334-352 in Der Wissenschaftler und das Irrationale, Hans Peter Duerr (Editor), Frankfurt, Syndikat (1981).

"Health Effects of Radiation," Invited address at 10th Congress of the International Radiation Protection Association, Hiroshima, Japan, May 15-19, 2000.

“How Should Science Handle the ‘Unbelievable’?” Testimony and report to Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, Oct. 30, 1988


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