Cambridge, MA Electron Accelerator Blast, July 1965


Cambridge, Mass. (AP) -- "It's only by the grace of God I'm here. I was lucky," said a shaken Harvard physicist, JOSEPH SZYMANSKI, of the blast that wrecked part of the $12 million Cambridge electron accelerator.
Seven colleagues were injured -- three critically -- in the blast early Monday as liquid hydrogen was being pumped into a chamber of the center's big experimental hall.
DR. SZYMANSKI, who was in charge of the bubble chamber where the explosion took place, said he was at a control panel when he spotted hydrogen feed pressure higher than it should be.
He shut it off, but it still climbed. Then came the blast.
"When the debris stopped falling I got up and saw this fellow running by me on fire," DR. SZYMANSKI said. "I don't know who he was."
"I picked up some heavy paper, wrapped him in and smothered the flames."
Three co-workers were burned critically and were on the danger list at Massachusetts General Hospital.
They were:
JOHN SCHIVELL, 22, Harvard graduate student from Twinsburg, Ohio.
ARTHUR C. REID, 19, a technical assistant at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
FRANK FEINBERG, 20, of Providence, R. I., an MIT sophomore.
In less serious condition at the same hospital:
DR. LOUIS HAND, 31, of Cambridge, assistant professor of physics at Harvard.
DENNIS N. EHN, 25, of Greeley, Colo., Harvard graduate student.
Held at Cambridge City Hospital:
BENT HULD, Monrovia, Calif., Harvard graduate student.
DONALD GOLASKIE, 27, of Somerville, technical assistant at MIT.
DR. SZYMANSKI was released after treatment for chin and leg injuries.
The center has been jointly operated by Harvard and MIT under grants from the Atomic Energy Commission since it was completed in 1962.
The center director, Dr. M. Stanley Livingston, professor of physics at MIT, said there was no possibility of radioactivity.
He estimated the damage at $1 million.
Dr. Livingston said, "We do not know at this time the cause of the explosion."
The blast tore off about one third of the concrete slabs on the roof and smashed windows and equipment.

Biddeford Journal Maine 1965-07-06