Science in Christian Perspective



Obituary Carl S. Wise

From: JASA 14 (December 1962): 123-124.

Carl S. Wise, 53, a member of the ASA for many years and a research chemist employed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture for the last 16 years, died in Peoria, Illinois, on June 6, 1962. He had been in ill health for some time and was admitted to the hospital four days previous to his death.

He was born November 18, 1908, in Salt Lake City, Utah, a son of George C. and Marcia Allbee Wise. He married Beulah Dawson on June 10, 1944, at Gilmore City, Iowa. He is survived by his wife, a son, William D., and a daughter, Sue Ellen, residing at their home, 1911 North Bigelow St., in Peoria. Also surviving is his father in Muscatine, Iowa. One brother preceded him in death.

Carl Wise attended Parsons College (Iowa) and received his bachelor's degree from Alma Collegg (Michigan) and his master's from the University of Michigan in 1932. He was a Purdue University Research Foundation fellow in 1936. From 1937 to 1939 he taught natural science at Tabor (Iowa) junior College and then became Head of the Chemistry Department at William Penn College, Oskaloosa, Iowa. During World War 11 he served in the Air Force from 1942 to 1943 and at the U. S. ordnance plant at Burlington, Iowa, until 1945. In addition to the ASA, he held memberships in the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 1946, he began his work at what is now known as the Northern Utilization Research and Development Division of the U.S.D.A.'s Agricultural Research Service, still called the "Northern Regional Lab" or just the "Peoria Lab" among agricultural chemists. As an analytical chemist working in the field of carbohydrates, he developed methods for the paper chromatography and analysis of sugars that have been followed ever since. His work was important in the development of dextran, a medically useful blood volume expander. In 1955 he was cited as a member of the research team that received the Department of Agriculture's Distinguished Service Award. His most recent research was devoted to liquid-liquid extraction of chemicals derived from dialdehyde starch, now produced industrially by a low-cost method developed in the Peoria laboratory and potentially a partial answer to the grain surplus problem. His scientific papers and a patent resulting from his assigned work are as follows:

Improved Techniques in Paper Chromatography of Carbohydrates. Allene Jeanes, C. S. Wise, and R. J. Dimler. Anal. Chem. 25, 415 (1951).

Quantitative Paper Chromatography of D-Glucose and Its Oligosaccharides. R. J. Dimler, W. C. Schaefer, C. S. Wise, and C. E. Rist. Anal. Chem. 24, 1411 (1952).

Determination of Easily Hydrolyzable Fructose Units in Dextran Preparations. C. S. Wise, R. J. Dimler, H. A. Davis, and C. E. Rist. Anal. Chem. 27, 33 (1955).

Removal of Silicates from Solutions of Sugars such as Isomaltose and Isomaltotriose. R. W. Jones, R. J. Dimler, and C. S. Wise. Anal. Chem. 28, 1352 (1956).

Colorimetric Method for Determining Dialdehyde Content of Periodate-Oxidized Starch. C. S. Wise and C. L. Mehltretter. Anal. Chem. 30, 174 (1958).

An Electrolytic Process for Making Sodium Metaperiodate. C. L. Mehltretter and C. S. Wise. Ind. Eng. Chem. 51, 511-514. (1951).

A Rapid Colorimetric Method for Determining Glyoxal. C. S. Wise, C. L. Mehltretter, and J. W. Van Cleve. Anal. Chem. 31, 1214-1242 (1959).

Process for Separation of Sodium Metaperiodate from Sodium Sulfate. C. L. Mehltretter and C. S. Wise, U. S. 2,989,371. June 20, 1961.

His interest in the profession of chemistry went far beyond his work in the laboratory. Completely outside of working hours, he prepared and wrote about a punched card coding system that received wide recognition. For his efforts in this field he was appointed a member of the American Chemical Society's PunchedCard Committee on Scientific Aids for Literature Searching in 1948 and served until 1955 when the committee was discharged. His publications in this field are:

Multiple Coding and the Rapid Selector. American Documentation 1, 76 (1950).

Multiple Word Coding vs. Random Coding for the Rapid Selector. American Documentation 3, 223 (1952).

A Punched-Card File Based on Word Coding. Chapter 6 in Punched Cards, ed. by R. S. Casey, J. W. Perry, A. Kent, and M. Berry. Reinhold Publishing Corporation. New York. ist ed., 1951; 2nd ed., 1958.

Mathematical Analysis of Coding Systems. Chapter 20 in ibid.

As a Christian, Carl Wise was described by those who knew him best as devout, intense, and strongminded. He was an outstanding Bible student who carried a Greek New Testament with him and studied it with a scholarly interest in the message conveyed by the original language. Christian laboratory colleagues considered him to be an inspiration to other Christians when they were studying the Bible. Extremely conservative in his theological views, he was disturbed by a number of trends in denominational affairs and frequently found himself in disagreement with others in his own denomination. He was a member of Arcadia Presbyterian Church, Peoria, from 1946 to 1960, and of Grace Presbyterian Church, Peoria, from 1950 to 1954, when he left to form a Bible Presbyterian Church in a suburb of Peoria.

At the Eighth Annual Convention of the ASA at Winona Lake, Ind., September 1-3, 1953, he read a paper entitled "The Bible and Physical Research," later published in the JASA, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 21-23 (March, 1954). This paper shows something of his approach to problems of science and Scripture at that time, especially his feeling that positive correlations are to be found between secondary meanings of Scripture passages and the results of modern scientific research. He felt, for example, that in addition to being a message of comfort to the remnant of Israel, Jeremiah 31:37 was also in agreement with the famous Michelson-Morley ether-drift experiment. A number of other ASA members in attendance at that convention disagreed with this approach and argued that Wise was discovering pseudo-correlations and overlooking major problems; a lively discussion followed his paper in the best ASA tradition. In his paper, reference is made to a series of letters to the editor published in Science in 1951 and 1952, and to another series published in Scientific Monthly in 1953, in each of which Wise replied to an earlier correspondent's assertion of scientific inaccuracies in Scripture verses. The first series dealt with references in the Bible to the shape of the earth; part of Wise's reply was published under the title, "Bible Doesn't Support Flat Earth Theory," in Science Digest, 29, 91 (May, 1951). The latter series dealt with the value of pi in Il Chronicles 4:2 and I Kings 7:23, Wise pointing out in his rejoinder that the ratio of the stated 30-cubit circumference of Solomon's .,molten sea" to its 10-cubit diameter gave a value of pi accurate enough to one or two significant figures.

Preparing or even reading an obituary account can make one look at his life from a different perspective. Is there any way to tell, while we are yet living, where the emphasis in our lives should be placed? What will others consider to be our major contributions? Some practical discovery that proves useful in a rapidly changing world? Some new insight or technique that paves the way for further scientific work? The investment of our personal lives as parents, neighbors, teachers, friends to others? Communication of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are lost without Him? If all these things are valuable, and possible for us to do, shall we try to do them all, or should we concentrate our effort in the hope of doing any one of them more effectively? Whether or not Christians have access to more certain answers to these questions, we at least should have an advantage over some of our colleagues in being able to look ahead to our own physical death calmly and perhaps more gracefully-

Life is short and the responsibility for using it well lies heavy upon us; to settle for good the question of our ultimate commitment is a I experience, bringing "New Life" to a Christain in more ways than one. And if devoting our life to seems to mean taking on the gravest possible responsibility, at least we can be less frantic about each day's decisions. If we served "humanity," we would find the conflicting demands made upon us as variable as all mankind; if we chose to serve ourselves, we would also find our taskmaster changing constantly as we "strut and fret our hour upon the stage" between birth and death. We serve not ourselves, nor merely others, but the Unchanging One, Creator and Redeemer, the Alpha and Omega.

"None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.' So each of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:7-12, RSV)

Dept. of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Iowa State University, Ames; Iowa and
Department of Chemistry
Bradley University, Peoria, Ill.