Chris Kornelis (LA Weekly) writes: James Russell's mother told him that his first invention was the "automated battleship" he built when he was 6. By the time he was 13, he was fixing toasters, irons and fans at a local appliance store in his hometown outside Seattle. The summer before he left for college, he was hired to set up a radio station — transmitter and all — something he'd never done before. He'd never even seen an antenna that big.
"That's why I am an inventor," says Russell, now 83. "I can envision how it should be."
At Portland's Reed College, Russell studied physics and built his first turntable. Unsatisfied with the standard needles of the day, he used cactus needles, which he sharpened with sandpaper, to play the first LP he purchased: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. Even so, with his sharp ears, he could hear the quality of his LPs disintegrate after the 10th or 12th spin.
After he graduated in 1953, Russell took a job in the research laboratories at Washington state's Hanford Works, the nuclear reservation that produced the plutonium used in the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Longtime classical music fans, Russell and his wife, Barbara, were subscribers to the Seattle Opera, even though it meant a 400-mile drive round-trip for each performance.
He worked on projects tangentially related to nuclear reactors for several years, then convinced his superiors to let him research ways in which ..........
Please click HERE to continue