NUCLEAR RADIATION LABORITORY MAYAN MURAL

BUILDING 2450 FORT MONMOUTH, NEW JERSEY

June 2011

NUCLEAR RADIATION LABORITORY MAYAN MURAL BUILDING 2450 FORT MONMOUTH, NEW JERSEY

Location:

The Mayan mural is located on the grounds of Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, on the rear wall of the high radiation room within Nuclear Radiation Laboratory Building 2450. Building 2450 is located in the Charles Wood Area, approximately 2 miles from the main post of the former Fort Monmouth. United States Army. None. Vacant. Before closure under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Act, Building 2450 served as a radiation laboratory for the US Army. The Mayan mural is significant as it possesses high artistic value. Created by two renowned 20th century nuclear physicists, Dr. Stanley Kronenberg and Dr. George Bruckner, the mural interprets an ancient Mayan artwork that depicted the Mayan creation myth as having a parallel meaning with the hand signals of the US Army Signal Corps and the creation of the universe in terms of nuclear radiation.

Present Owner: Present Occupant: Present Use:

Significance:

PART I. HISTORICAL INFORMATION A. Physical History: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Date of erection: 2000 Artists: Dr. Stanley Kronenberg and Dr. George Bruckner Size: Approximately 30 feet wide by 9 feet high. Materials: Tempera paint on unfinished concrete. Alterations and additions: The mural has not been altered since its completion in 2000.

B. Historical Context: Fort Monmouth, New Jersey (1917-2011) Fort Monmouth was an Army installation occupying approximately 1,126 acres in Monmouth County in central New Jersey, approximately 40 miles east of Trenton. Fort Monmouth was comprised of two operational areas known as the Main Post and Charles Wood Area. A third area, the Evans Area, was located approximately 12 miles south of the MP. Fort Monmouth’s Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) can trace its roots to the establishment of a Signal Corps training facility and radio research and development laboratory at Fort Monmouth, NJ in 1917. The installation was originally named Camp Little Silver and was responsible for training the 1st and 2nd Reserve Signal Battalions. The installation was granted permanent status and was renamed Fort Monmouth in August 1925. It was named in honor of the soldiers of the American Revolution who died in the battle of Monmouth Court House. In 1929, the Signal Corps’ Electrical Laboratory of Washington and the Signal Corps’ Research Laboratory of New York merged with the Radio Laboratories at Fort Monmouth to form the consolidated “Signal Corps Laboratories.” Increased wartime mission necessitated the purchase of additional sites throughout NJ in the 1940s. This included field laboratories at Camp Coles, Camp Wood, and Camp Evans. Field Laboratories were located at these sites. In the early 1950s, a Nuclear Radiation Laboratory was established at Camp Evans within Building 9401, known as “The Shield” due to its thick concrete walls to shield radiation. Its purpose was to meet the military’s need to develop nuclear detection devices during the Cold War. In 1953, a young nuclear scientist named Stanley Kronenberg arrived to work in “The Shield.”

The Army disbanded the technical services and established the Electronics Command (ECOM) at Fort Monmouth in 1962. This CECOM predecessor was charged with managing Signal research, development, and logistics support. As a subordinate element of the newly formed Army Material Command (AMC), ECOM encompassed the Signal Research and Development Laboratories, the Signal Materiel Support Agency, the Signal Supply Agency and its various procurement offices, and other Signal Corps logistics support activities. In 1993, the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission mandated the closing of the Evans Area, Vint Hill Farms Station, and the Command Office Building in Tinton Falls. Additionally, CECOM gained some missions and personnel from the Fort Belvoir Research and Development Center. The Nuclear Radiation Laboratory was relocated from the Evans Area to a new building (2450) in the Charles Wood Area in 2000. In 2005, BRAC ordered the closure of Fort Monmouth and the relocation of CECOM to Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Maryland. The CECOM flag was cased at Fort Monmouth on 10 September 2010, and the colors were uncased on 22 October 2010. Dr. Stanley Kronenberg (1927-2000) Born on May 3, 1927 in Krosno, Poland, Stanley Kronenberg received his PhD in physics from the University of Vienna in 1952. His thesis was on atomic weapon design; at that time, such information and work was classified in the U.S. by the government. In 1953, the U.S. State Department offered Kronenberg a position as a nuclear research scientist at the U.S. Army’s Nuclear Radiation Laboratory at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. He thus commenced a 47-year career at Fort Monmouth, during which he published nearly 100 papers on nuclear radiation detection and measurement. He also received 22 patents for work in that field. Kronenberg was one of the few people in the U.S. who could design, arm, and disarm a nuclear weapon. From the 1960s through 1970, he devised and carried out radiation experiments for every atomic bomb test in the Pacific (then at most of the aboveground nuclear tests in Nevada, and at some of the underground tests). In one aboveground bomb test in Nevada, he actually climbed the tower on which a nuclear weapon had misfired and disarmed it. His most significant contribution to U.S. atomic bomb research was the experiment he designed in 1968 to measure the radiation in the environment following a nuclear explosion. The design covered a timescale from a fraction of a nanosecond to hours after the event. The experimental setup involved 100 Tektronix oscilloscopes with 0.3-ns rise times that were arranged to trigger at various times after the event to cover the total timescale. He used a SEMIRAD detector, which he invented specifically for this experiment, to measure the nuclear environment. The data significantly contributed to the U.S. effort in nuclear weapons design. It was not widely known that Kronenberg was

responsible for designing this experiment and successfully acquiring such important data. From 1962 to 1983, Kronenberg served as the director of the Evans Laboratory nuclear radiation division at Fort Monmouth. He then abdicated the management position and turned his attention solely to radiation research. Kronenberg received numerous honors and awards, among them the Meritorious Civil Service Medal (1966); four Department of the Army Research and Development Achievement Awards (1968, 1971, 1972, and 1976); and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Outstanding Public Service Award (1986). Dr. Kronenberg died December 9, 2000. Dr. George Brucker (1922-2003) Dr George Brucker was a nuclear and radiation physicist and an authority on atomic bomb radiation effects on electronic systems and devices. He worked at Ft Monmouth from 1992 until his death in 2003 as a consultant and colleague of Dr. Kronenberg. During his career, he published 94 papers in the field of radiation effects and together with Dr. Kronenberg, was awarded three patents resulting from research at Ft Monmouth. They were close personal friends. Dr. Bruckner died August 1, 2003. Evans Area and The Shield The Mayan Mural in the Nuclear Radiation Lab at Ft Monmouth was not the first. From 1953 until 2000, Dr. Kronenberg was stationed at the Evans Area, a subinstallation of Fort Monmouth located 15 minutes south of the main post in West Belmar. In 1961, Dr. Kronenberg painted a mural on the inner walls of the nuclear radiation facility. Built in 1952, with its 1 1/2-foot-thick walls to shield surrounding areas from any radiation being used inside the building for experiments, it was used in developing devices to meet the military's needs during the Cold War. The testing facility was known as “The Shield,” a specially constructed building housing radioactive isotope cobalt 60. Dr Kronenburg felt the thick concrete inner walls of The Shield resembled an Egyptian tomb and should be decorated accordingly (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Dr. Kronenberg's Mural at the Evans Area, circa 1961. Dr. Kronenberg speculated that the mural would someday perplex archeologists who would discover it and reach erroneous conclusions as a result of the discovery. Several media outlets covered the Evans Area mural story, including Life Magazine, which sent a photographer to cover the story. The building and the mural were destroyed under the environmental cleanup as a result of the 1993 BRAC closure of the Evans Area. Bruckner and Kronenberg at the Charles Wood Area of Fort Monmouth In early 2000, Brucker and Kronenberg were relocated to a new radiological building (Building 2540) in the Charles Wood area of Fort Monmouth. Building 2540 was built specifically for the purpose in 1997. The high radiation room of the new facility was made of solid reinforced concrete on all sides to provide shielding for high intensity nuclear radiology. The back wall of the high radiation room is 40 inches thick. Most work inside the facility remains classified. It was on the back wall of the high radiation room where Brucker and Kronenberg immediately began to paint a mural depicting the creation of the world as envisioned by the Maya. For inspiration, they used the “Vase of the Seven Gods,” a Mayan vase from Guatemala dating from 800AD (Figure 2). The vase is located in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. The resulting mural is an almost exact copy with only minor rearrangement of the elements (Reference Figures 3 and 4).

Kronenberg and Brucker obtained a black and white drawing of the Vase of the Seven Gods from a 1998 book entitled “ The Hidden Maya: A New Understanding of Maya Glyps by Martin Brennan. In the book, Brennan examines the Mayan uses of hand signs or manographs in glyphs in search of meaning. Kronenberg made a connection between Mayan use of hand signs and related it to the roots of the Army Signal Corps at Fort Monmouth. Maj. General Albert Myer, an Army physician, originated the concept of an independent branch of the Army to apply visual communications for signaling and led to the creation of the Signal Corps in 1860. Kronenberg made other changes to the original artwork, adding color to the work and rearranging the seven gods and the hieroglyphics to fit the back wall of the laboratory. The picture language along the top of the artwork was changed to appear in columns on either side of the gods. The two warriors on the left and right side of the mural were also taken from Brennan’s book. The first two glyphs of the picture text indicate the creation of the world, which according to the Maya was August 13, 3114 B.C. On the right hand side of the mural, one of the principal gods ”Lord One Death” is sitting on a Jaguar throne. His hand forms the signal “bright star,” resulting in the creation of light and parallels the “Big Bang” in todays understanding of the physical world. Six gods in two rows of three are shown sitting on the left hand side of the mural. On the top row, reading right to left is the god responsible for the first act of creation. Called the Jaguar Paddler of the Night, he is shown extending his hand to open the sacred bag to create the universe. Kronenberg saw parallels to today’s physics where the bag would contain quarks, mesons, neutrinos, neutrons, electrons, protons and other ingredients needed to construct the universe known today. The painting took Kronenberg and Brucker seventy hours to complete. It is dated Feburary 29, 2000 and is signed by Kronenberg and Brucker.

. F igur e 2. T he V ase of the Seven G ods. A r t I nstitute of C hicago.

F igur e 3. K r onenber g and B r uckner 's M ayan M ur al.

F igur e 4. T he V ase of the Seven G ods.

PART II. SOURCES OF INFORMATION Bibliography: CECOM Historical Office. A History of Army Communications and Electronics at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey 1917-2007. Fort Monmouth, New Jersey: U.S. Army Life Cycle Management Command, 2008. “Picture Perfect, Scientist paint Mayan theory of creation on laboratory Wall”. The Monmouth Message. August 25, 2000. “Maya Civilization Mural in the Nuclear Radiation Laboratory In Fort Monmouth, N.J.” Unpublished handout obtained from the Nuclear Radiation Laboratory, Fort Monmouth.

PART III. PROJECT INFORMATION Photography and written documentation by Joseph Scott Murphey, Historical Architect, US Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District. Photography performed in Feburary 2011.

INDEX TO PHOTOGRAPHS

MAYAN MURAL IN THE NUCLEAR RADIATION LABORITORY, FORT MONMOUTH, NEW JERSEY JOSEPH MURPHEY, PHOTOGRAPHER
Except Photograph #1. Fort Monmouth File Photo.

February 2011

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

Dr. Stanley Kronenberg (Left) and George Bruckner (Right). Nuclear Radiation Laboratory, Charles Wood Area, Fort Monmouth, N.J Mayan Mural, High Radiation Room, Building 2450, Fort Monmouth, NJ Mayan Mural, High Radiation Room, Building 2450, Fort Monmouth, NJ Mayan Mural Detail. Mayan Mural Detail. Mayan Mural Detail. Mayan Mural Detail. Mayan Mural Detail. Mayan Mural Detail. Mayan Mural Detail. Mayan Mural Detail. Mayan Mural Detail. Mayan Mural Detail. Mayan Mural Detail.

Photograph 1. Dr. Stanley Kronenberg (Left) and Dr. George Bruckner (Right).

Photograph 2. Nuclear Radiation Laboratory, Charles Wood Area, Fort Monmouth, N.J.

Photograph 3. Mayan Mural, High Radiation Room, Building 2450, Fort Monmouth, NJ.

Photograph 4. Mayan Mural, High Radiation Room, Building 2450, Fort Monmouth, NJ.

Photograph 5. Mayan Mural Detail.

Photograph 6. Mayan Mural Detail.

Photograph 7. Mayan Mural Detail.

Photograph 8. Mayan Mural Detail.

Photograph 9. Mayan Mural Detail.

Photograph 10. Mayan Mural Detail.

Photograph 11. Mayan Mural Detail.

Photograph 12. Mayan Mural Detail.

Photograph 13. Mayan Mural Detail.

Photograph 14. Mayan Mural Detail.

Photograph 15. Mayan Mural Detail.