By E. N. Brandt
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Additional info for We Called it MAG-nificent: Dow Chemical and Magnesium, 1916-1998
McGranahan, assistant manager of the Texas Division; Nelson D. Griswold, assistant manager of the Texas Division; and G. F. ”9 While January 21, 1941, became a historic date in the Dow calendar, behind the scenes at this date there were a bunch 45 Chapter Four 46 of grim-lipped Dow chemists. The electrolytic cells in which magnesium was made were not behaving as they were expected to. The cells had been started up on December 31, 1940, using cell feed shipped in from Midland. When they were switched over to cell feed made from seawater early in January, strange things began to happen.
Anderson (soon promoted to captain) as general assistant, and Captain Stevens as scientific observer. Stevens said he considered Kepner and Anderson the army’s best balloonists. 48 miles, and appeared to be headed easily to a new record height. Unfortunately, at that altitude they discovered that some small rips were occurring in the balloon soaring above them, and they decided immediately, and wisely, to descend. Throughout these flights the balloonists had problems with the balloon fabric freezing in the extreme cold of the upper atmosphere, and then beginning to crack and tear.
Up to this time, all of the balloons involved had carried aloft a globe-shaped aluminum sphere called a gondola, in which were housed the balloonists and a variety of scientific instruments to measure cosmic rays and other phenomena in the stratosphere. S. agencies looking at the Soviet challenge with growing interest was the Chicago World’s Fair—or “Century of Progress,” as it called itself—which was scheduled to open shortly. The promoters of the Fair were more and more intrigued by these balloon flights.