R. Stephen Berry co-founded TSRC with Peter Salamon in 1984 with one meeting and 18 scientists. He served as TSRC's president and chair of the board of directors from January 1991 until December 1993. Since the early days, Steve has been active in organizing workshops and promoting science outreach in the Telluride community. Ever the visionary, it was Steve who instigated the public science lecture series in 1991 that is now the popular Town Talk series. On Steve's insistence, TSRC launched the Punk Science program for young children in 2007 under the auspices of Pinhead Institute, which now attracts an averge of 100 children per event in the summer months. And in 2006, Steve was the first TSRC scientist to accept a high school intern from the Telluride region through the Pinhead Institute Internship program. "Telluride and TSRC are very important to each other," says Steve. "We scientists have always felt connected to Telluride and the wilderness surrounding it."
“The first workshop that became the origin of the Telluride Science Research Center (then the Telluride Summer Research Center) had as its topic Finite-Time Thermodynamics," wrote Steve. "This is an extension of traditional thermodynamics whose stimulus were the questions, 'Is it possible to define and construct analogues of traditional chemical potentials - natural limits to the performance of systems - for processes constrained to operate at finite times?' After all, the traditional potentials are based on the ideal, 'reversible' processes that operate infinitely slowly, hardly a useful limit for any real system. If it is possible in principal to have such finite-time limits, what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for constructing them? How can they be evaluated? How can we find processes that approach those limits? The motivation for this approach was very specifically finding ways to achieve better efficiency in the use of energy, ways that would allow us to make and use things with significantly less energy than we have been using for those purposes. Still further behind that was a motivation to reduce the impact of our energy-using activities on our environment, on the extent we pollute the air and water, or damage ecosystems, even on how we affect climate. The first Telluride workshop was by no means the first to address this topic; for example, there had been prior workshops at the Aspen Center for Physics on the subject.
"The origin of the idea of TSRC was in 1983, when we'd had a very successful workshop at the Aspen Center for Physics on Finite Time Thermodynamics. It was so successful that some people wanted to have another in 1984. We'd had one in 1981 in Aspen, I believe, and we could have had one in 1985, but, if my memory holds, we couldn't get a slot at the Aspen Center for Physics for 1984. At least we couldn't get one at a time when people could come. Then Peter Salamon said this, or something close to it, to me, 'We both know Telluride and like it. Why don't we try to have a workshop there?' I thought that was a brilliant idea. I said I would be very happy to help, but that Peter would have to take prime responsibility for the organizing. We held that first Telluride workshop for three weeks, and it was indeed a great success. We decided to have at least two in 1985, one on finite-time thermodynamics and one on clusters, and maybe a third. Bill Reinhardt had just moved to Penn, and we thought perhaps he was a bit homesick for Colorado, where he'd been before the move. Indeed, he liked the idea and organized a workshop on chaos for 1985, so there were indeed three that year. Wendy Brooks did all the local arrangements. I think that was the first year that her son Darius was the general helper. It was that year, I believe, when we formalized the structure into the Telluride Summer Research Center. I will have to check my files to see when Moshe Shapiro, from the Weizmann Institute in Israel, asked 'Why is it the Telluride SUMMER Research Center? Why not the Telluride SCIENCE Research Center, with meetings in the Winter, too?' The answer then was that the only available venue was the old school in the summer months. Happily, that's all changed now.”
TSRC now hosts meetings year round in multiple Telluride and Mountain Village venues as needed, although most meetings are still in the summer in the Telluride R1 School District facilities.
October 16, 2007, R. Stephen Berry, University of Chicago James Franck Distinguied Service Professor Emeritus