In memoriam: Marvin Tetenbaum
Marvin Tetenbaum, a longtime resident of Hinsdale, Illinois, died peacefully at home on January 28, 2018, at the age of 96. He was raised in Brooklyn, New York, and received his B.S. in chemical engineering from NYU in 1942, and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.
During World War II, he worked on the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago and Columbia University. He was employed by the Ballistic Research Laboratory, Naval Research Laboratory and General Electric, before joining Argonne’s Chemical Engineering Division in 1959. His research interests included the high temperature vaporization, nonstoichiometry and thermodynamic behavior of actinide oxides, carbides, fusion materials and ceramic superconductors.
In 1978, Tetenbaum (along with R.J. Ackermann) received the American Nuclear Society Significant Contribution Award in Materials Science for their paper “High temperature Vaporization Behavior of the ThO2-x Phase.” He authored or coauthored more than 50 refereed papers and several book chapters, and holds a patent on the preparation of uranium oxycarbides. After he retired in 1986, he continued to go to the lab every day to mentor younger scientists and contribute to scientific research and publications.
A division head at Argonne described Tetenbaum’s contributions: “Marvin was a true expert in the field of chemical thermodynamics. His contributions to the understanding of nuclear fuel behavior are still seminal today. In his later years working at the lab on a part-time basis he also developed a very clever way of studying an important property of high temperature, oxide-based superconductors that was copied by others worldwide. He was at all times a valued, kindhearted and sympathetic colleague. The field of science in general needs more Marvins.”
He was also an ardent supporter of human rights and, along with members of the greater Hinsdale area, founded a chapter of the Council on Human Relations to bring awareness of discriminatory practices in housing and employment in the community. He marched in Selma, Alabama for voting rights and in the 1970’s, he tutored underprivileged youth in reading, math and science.
He was preceded in death by his wife Zelda and son David, and is survived by his daughters and grandsons. A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, July 1, 2018, at 3 p.m. at Katherine Legge Memorial Lodge in Hinsdale. Donations in his memory can be made to the West Suburban Symphony Society, P.O. Box 565, Hinsdale, Illinois 60522.