HALL OF FAME
E-Mail: Museum Director
Mr. George W. Gardiner
Director, Physical Science Lab
New Mexico State University
George W. Gardiner was born July 28, 1897. He attended
school at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada until the start of World
War I. He enlisted in August 1914 and served the Canadian Army in England,
France and Germany. On returning he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in
1923 from Acadia University in Nova Scotia. In 1929 he earned a doctorate in
physics from Yale University.
In 1946 he founded the Physical Science Laboratory at
New Mexico State University and served as its director until his retirement in
1961. The lab was established to respond to requests for assistance by the
Army, Navy, and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (PSL).
Since 1946 the lab has been engaged in support of the White Sands mission.
One of Dr. Gardiner's first achievements was conceiving
and implementing a "skyscreen" after an errant Hermes II missile crashed
outside Juarez, Mexico. The skyscreen provided visible boundaries against the
sky through which observers checked each missile's trajectory. If there was a
malfunction, radio commands could be sent to the missile to cut off the engine
or destruct it. It was the beginning of missile flight safety and led to
real-time impact prediction.
Under Gardiner's leadership, a close relationship
developed between the range and PSL. The outgrowth was on-board missile
instrumentation, telemetry systems, antenna design and testing, support of
atmospheric sciences and upper atmospheric investigation and the bui1ding of
probe and target missiles. In addition, Gardiner helped open the door for a
cooperative training program for students in engineering, mathematics, physics
and accounting at the range. Under the program students alternated six-month
work phases at White Sands with six-month on-campus study.
Gardiner died in December 1964. Gardiner Hall is a
Physics Department building at NMSU named in his honor.