- Inside UNM
Former University of New Mexico Provost and Professor Emeriti of Physics
McAllister "Mac" H. Hull died Tuesday, Feb. 8 in Charleston, S.C. Hull, 87, was a theoretical physicist who taught physics for 49 years including 12 at UNM from 1977 to 1989.
Hull was involved in the creation of the atomic bomb Fat Man that was dropped over Nagasaki in Aug. 9 1945, that essentially ended World War II. He quit college in 1942 following his freshman year at Mississippi State and went to work as a draftsman in the chemistry department for an ordnance plant. While there, he was trained to test the purity of explosives used for shells.
The Army came calling in 1943 during a labor shortage because of the war. Hull was drafted into the Army Specialized Training Program, which identified enlisted personnel with technical skills, such as machining, or who had some science education beyond high school, to help with the labor shortage.
Those identified, including Hull, were organized into the Special Engineer Detachment or SED according to the Los Alamos National Laboratory website. In 1944, Staff Sergeant Hull was curiously sent by train to Los Alamos, N.M. from Oak Ridge, Tenn. Once there, the 21-year-old Hull found out he would was assigned to work at S Site where the high explosives used in building Fat Man were cast and machined.
He returned to college after the war and earned a B.S. in 1948 and Ph.D. in 1951, both from Yale University, where he taught physics for 20 years. He also taught at the State University of New York, Oregon State University and at Yale. He was the dean of graduate and professional education at SUNY-Buffalo, before being named UNM provost in 1977, a position he held until the mid-80s.
Hull was instrumental in supporting the start of UNM's successful optics program. He will also be remembered as the originator of "Physics and Society" (P105) course, which he subsequently taught for several years. The course is still taught every spring. Hull also strongly supported the Peace Studies program at UNM.
In 2005, UNM Press released "Rider of the Pale Horse: A Memoir of Los Alamos and Beyond," authored by Hull with Amy Bianco and illustrations by his son, John. It was Hull's recollection of his life and times as a member of the Manhattan Project and his involvement in a variety of nuclear-related activities during and after World War II.
Hull also enjoyed to ice skating and frequented the Outpost Ice Arena in Albuquerque where he spent 30 years before moving to Charleston in 2007. He was born Sept. 1, 1923 in Birmingham, Ala.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Mary Muska Hull; brother Warren Hull; children John Hull and Wendy McCabe; and grandchildren Isaac Hull, Damaris McDonald and Ursula McCabe.
Notes of condolence for "Mac's" wife, Mary, can be sent c/o Holly Hull at 839 Burnett Drive, Charleston, South Carolina, 29412.
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