Daniel Silverman

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Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman headshot.png
Membership Honorary Member


Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

Contributed by Carl H. Savit


To achieve election to Honorary Membership in the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, a candidate must have made a distinguished contribution to geophysics which warrants exceptional recognition. That Dan Silverman meets these requirements is as certain as anything can be. Dan's contributions to geophysics have been unequaled in variety and scope by any other individual. His contributions range from a vast variety of inventions, through an impressive list of publications, to distinguished service as a true professional.

Dan Silverman prepared for his distinguished career by taking an electrical engineering degree at the University of California, Berkeley in 1927 and, after a year spent as a teaching assistant there, he transferred to MIT where, in 1929, he received an M.Sc.. degree in electrical engineering and, in 1930, a D.Sc. degree in electrical engineering and physics.

Working at Westinghouse in Pittsburgh from 1930 to 1934, Dan demonstrated his prolific energy by publishing three papers and receiving eight patents in the field of large scale electrical devices based upon the electrical properties of gases. From 1934 to 1936 he worked for ARMA Corp. in New York on navigation and fire-control instruments. Returning to California, he became Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering at Berkeley for one year. He then joined what is now Amoco Production Co. in Tulsa, and entered into the field in which he did the work which we are in some small measure recognizing today.

Dan retired from Amoco in 1970 after 33 years. During that time, Amoco filed the extraordinary number of 101 patent applications in his behalf. Not only did Dan's originality and inventiveness express itself in the form of patentable inventions, but he was responsible for, or involved in, some 18 published papers during that period.

Most ordinary geniuses would have been more than satisfied to have accomplished all that Dan accomplished in the course of his geophysical career but not Dan. Dan studied patent law and became a registered patent agent with the right to practice before the U.S. Patent Office. One might say that this accomplishment was merely an extension of his regular business career, but Dan's inventiveness ranged far beyond geophysical devices, techniques, and equipment. An inkling of his scope may be glimpsed by contrasting his invention of a system of seismic exploration involving the input of a sequence of relatively small impulses to devising a method of manufacturing disposable socks all this while enjoying a reputation as an unbridled punster!

In retirement he has been more active than ever principally as a consultant and expert witness in geophysical and patent matters.

Outside of his strictly professional work, Dan's ability as an artist has repeatedly been demonstrated over the years with superb sculptures, sensitive etchings and, most recently, acrylic paintings. Had Dan not chosen science as a career, he could undoubtedly have been a recognized and successful artist or an actor because Dan has turned in distinguished performances in plays put on by community groups. Or, for that matter, I am quite sure Dan could have succeeded in any career that he might have chosen.

We in exploration geophysics have been privileged to have Dan work with us. We can express a measure of that privilege by awarding him Honorary Membership, the highest award of our organization, to add to his many earlier awards. Those awards have included University Medalist and Heller Traveling Fellow at U. C. Berkeley, membership in four Honorary Societies, and being named a Classic Author of Geophysics in the 25th Anniversary issue of Geophysics. This last award, incidentally, was also illustrative of his versatility since it involved the authorship of a classic paper on seismic modeling and a distinguished paper on the earliest workable self-contained inertial survey system.

It would do Dan an injustice if I failed to mention his involvement in Society and group activities in our profession over the years. Dan was one of the organizers of the geophysical analysis group at MIT and Chairman of the Industrial Advisory Committee of GAG during its entire life. Dan served on many SEG Committees and, as Associate Editor of Patents, a difficult and massive task, for the past several years.

It gives me great pleasure to present to my great, good, and old friend, Dr. Daniel Silverman, this Honorary Membership plaque in recognition of an incredible host of achievements.