2003 Seattle Annual Meeting (November 2–5, 2003)
Paper No. 66-2
Presentation Time: 8:25 AM-8:45 AM


MEISSNER, Fred F., Geology and Geological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, 7080 S. Fillmore Ct, Centennial, CO 80122, TYKEMEIS@cs.com.

I was a student of Hubbert's on two different occasions while he was employed at Shell Development Co. in Bellaire, Texas.

In my 1957 encounter with Hubbert, I heard him give a series of lectures on widely different subjects: the earth's gravity field and the design of gravimeters, the mechanics of faulting based on sandbox experiments, when oil production will decline and end, and the dangers of human population explosion. Because of his reputation as one of the leading scientific thinkers of the time, we young junior geologists just starting a career in the oil business stood in awe of him. We never questioned what he said, except that on one occasion, a young mathematician in our group pointed out that he had dropped an important constant in a long equation. Hubbert was stunned. It was the only time that I ever saw him publicly deflated and he obviously didn't like it.

In 1961, I took a one-month course in subsurface hydrodynamics from Hubbert. He would generally give a four-hour lecture in the morning. In the afternoon, he either assigned class problems or conducted demonstrations with laboratory apparatus.

Hubbert was the greatest blackboard lecturer that I have ever observed. He could talk for hours without referring to a single note. He could draw complicated diagrams and write legible text statements and equations while he was speaking. He had his students take extensive notes and organize them into a notebook, which we handed in for criticism ("grade") at the end of the course.

During my contact with Hubbert as a student, I found him to be arrogant, egotistical, dogmatic and intolerant of work he perceived to be incorrect. But above all, I judged him to be a great scientist dedicated to solving problems based on simple physical and mathematical principles. He demanded sound thinking and excellence. When he was lecturing in a classroom setting, he would get a "student" up to the blackboard, ask him questions, have him write equations, draw diagrams, etc. until the student started to fail. He pushed him to the limit, and often berated him for failure. I asked him once over a beer why he was so hard on some of this students. He told me that he had a limited lifetime in which to train and pass on what he knew, and that he couldn't waste his time with people that couldn't comprehend. He was a complex and fascinating person.

2003 Seattle Annual Meeting (November 2–5, 2003)
Session No. 66
M. King Hubbert at 100: The Enduring Contributions of Twentieth-Century Geology’s Renaissance Man
Washington State Convention and Trade Center: 602/603/604
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Monday, November 3, 2003

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 35, No. 6, September 2003, p. 194

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