Located in a glaciated valley surrounded by the rugged San Juan Mountain range, the Telluride Science Research Center has inspired breakthroughs in molecular science since 1984. Use the navigational squares on the right to explore TSRC's exciting history.
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
At the age of ten, Peter emigrated with his family from Hungary to the United States. He grew up in Chicago, and eventually attended the University of Chicago, where he got his PhD in chemistry in the research group of R. Stephen Berry. As a result, he got his introduction to Colorado workshops as a graduate student in Aspen. The impetus for starting workshops in Telluride originated when the Aspen Center for Physics schedule did not have room for a thermodynamics workshop in their 1984 program. With encouragement from Steve Berry, he organized the first Telluride workshop in 1984 and incorporated TSRC as a non-proft shortly thereafter in January 1985.
Peter managed most of the early logistics and administration of TSRC, from negotiating the first meeting space at the Telluride high school in 1984 to applying for grants to recruiting new organizers. "I went to Telluride January of 1984 to make arrangements for the first workshop," writes Peter. "Karma Denton at Telluride Central Reservations gave a lot of help for arranging housing. The school principal (Cleve Pemberthy?) let us use the school facilities for free. The first workshop lasted three weeks and had 18 participants. Around the second week of the workshop, I went to James Craft, an attorney in town to start the process of officially incorporating TSRC as a non-profit, so I guess that is when I became president. That fall, on Steve's suggestions, I visited Bill and Tina Reinhardt in Philadelphia and showed them enough pictures of kids playing in beautiful scenery to convince them to come as a family. In 1985, there were three workshops. I believe this is also when Wendy Brooks and the Telluride Academy took over from Central Reservations to coordinate our housing. The workshops were on finite-time thermodynamics, clusters and nonlinear dynamics. I had some student support from the American Chemical Society, which kept Darius Brooks and some other local high school students doing some science and lots of xeroxing."
Ever adventurous, Peter and his then 4-year-old daughter Anna left from Alta Lakes, five-miles south of Telluride, one summer morning in 1985 to hike up Palmyra Peak at 13,251 ft, and then walk back to Telluride descending more than 4,000 ft.. They made it back at 2:00 a.m. the next day, after half the workshop participants combed the mountains for them. This spirit of “exploring interesting directions” has been a hallmark of all the TSRC workshops he has organized and led to a format he pioneered of picking apart one hour talks in four hour sessions.
"I filed the first year's taxes with the IRS, but did a miserable job and Bill volunteered the summer of 1985 to take over as treasurer. In 1986, there were again the same three workshops as well as a simulated annealing workshop. I served as president until January of 1987, when Bill took over."
Nearly every one of TSRC’s 370 workshops held since 1984
has been housed in a Telluride School District classroom.
Starting with one room in the old cinder block high school,
moving to the historic elementary school, and then to the
current location of the newer Intermediate School (where
thankfully the circuits don’t blow), TSRC has always been a
little “hard” on the school. “The year was 1986,” writes Peter
Salamon. “We were able to use the high school’s computers for
the third year in a row, thanks to sympathetic school
administration and a sympathetic computer science teacher,
Irwin Wetzel. We even got to use the principal’s personal
computer, which we moved from the school to the house Jerzy
Bernholc was renting. The computer suffered a disk crash and
although we spent many hours with Norton utilities trying to
recover what we could for him, he lost about half of his files.
Our access to the school’s computers became more limited after
this event. It took 21 years for the school to grant TSRC
access to their computers again.
In 1988, I ran a neural networks workshop. In the early nineties, I co-organized three computational molecular biology (genome stuff) workshops which were funded by DOE. I was also doing thermo workshops, which by then were organized by Bjarne Andresen and Karl Heinz Hoffmann. I vividly recall Bill and Tina's wine and cheese parties, which replaced the BBQ's during Bill's reign. They had a Camelot feel to them. The rest gets hazy."
The immense influence TSRC has had on his scientific development since he was a young scientist has made him a staunch believer in keeping the Telluride workshops financially accessible to graduate students and postdocs. To honor Peter's lasting contribution to TSRC, in 2008 the Board of Directors established a scholarship for young scientists in his name.
October 2008, Peter Salamon, TSRC Co- Founder, Professor of Mathematics, San Diego State University
The stories were collected to celebrate TSRC’s 25th Anniversary in 2009.They reveal TSRC’s history and philosphy, while describing the impact TSRC has on the people who make up our community.