Scientist of the Future

Turning Poison Gas to Good Use



Carson Barbeau age 13


Mrs. Halterman

Science Period 4

Scientific process can be a winding path from research, information gathering, tedious work and sometimes recognizing the beauty of an accident. This paper followed that walk from me deciding to find a scientist I might want to study and ending up somewhere else, but somewhere familiar. Allow me to explain.

First, I wanted to find a scientist who is alive and I wanted someone who had invented smart bombs or worked on smart missiles. I wanted to know about them because it is a resent thing and its interesting. I began with the internet, and searching much of the information is classified or in foreign languages. What I learned; however, is vehicle guidance systems have seekers with a “pitch and yaw control” which is an apparatus that often is controlled by laser. I found a paper by Roger Dube, a physics Professor at RIT about lasers and use of measurements in relationship to directing these little bombs. This peaked my mind’s attention because my grandfather was a physicist and I have a related cousin at RIT. I went to the University website and actually emailed the professor about my interest. I also emailed Bill Broza who is a student in the nanotechnology department and he knew the Professor, but has not taken a class from him. This round about method led me to choose Dr. Dube, by chance but also his name was just so amazingly cool and many of his patents and research were interesting. So began my research paper on a Scientist. My first question was how efficient is Dr. Dube’ process of laser zapping methane into useful gas


“I’m sure as a young scientist you can appreciate that we cannot determine the overall efficiency of converting methane gas to longer chain hydrocarbons until we have a working process in the lab. At this time in the project, all of our focus is on making that work. The concept is that by exciting methane molecules in certain modes using finely tuned laser light, we might be able to increase the reaction of methane into longer chains (such as ethane, butane, etc) and do so with gain. The key questions are: how much gain can we get, and how much overall energy did we have to expend to get that gain.

You asked about the laser power consumption – an efficient 100 milliwatt laser will require 40 watts to operate, so the laser itself is only about 1/4 of one percent efficient. So we need lots of gain (at least a gain of 400!) to make this worthwhile! That’s what the team is focused on!”

Dr. Roger Dube

Professor, Center for Imaging Science

Rochester Institute of Technology

Roger Dube attended Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences as a physics and math major. He was developing new experiments for the freshman physics lab and got a National Scholarship grant to work on the Kapitza-Dirac project at Harvard for a summer. Roger is a Native American and at this early age he lobbied Cornell to have programs to attract Native Americans. Something not mentioned in his story is that there are few Native American scientists as few black scientists as well.

He went on to Princeton to the doctorate program. His thesis was about measuring mass to light ratios in galaxies far away where we have no way of viewing. Next he went to Kitt Peak in Tucson Arizona and worked on array detectors and Charge Injection Devices. Basically tiny machines to measure light and make things click. These are used in digital cameras today.

A year later Dr. Dube moved his family next to Pasadena. His wife Jeri and their children were off to California to work for CalTech/JPL. He worked on the same spacecraft my grandfather worked on. Dr. Dube did not like California at all. He likes hiking and camping and the smog in Pasadena in those years was terrible.

In a year he took a job soon after at University of Michigan and travelled back and forth working on a project in Tucson with optics, soft wear and deflection of starlight. Around this time IBM in Tucson recruited him to be a staff scientist. Dr. Dube loved working for IBM and developed holographic storage in crystals. Dr. Due said IBM allowed him to be creative and he worked long hours because he loved the science. IBM moved him to their Yorktown facility. He was promoted and became the Head of the atomic force microscope project. This project got a Nobel Prize. Dr. Dube was well received by the scientific community with this world renowned award.

He fell into a friendship with another scientist in Florida and they started researching authentication of persons over the internet. His book “Hardware Based Computer Security Techniques to Defeat Hackers,” is very important with today’s internet. Companies have hackers who for fun or to steal money crack into banks, businesses and even our government computers. He used physics to make cryptographs and math to create code like models that can’t be cracked because they change. Dr. Dube used his early education to apply math and physics to making random cloaking for computers. I thought it was a cool idea to clock a computer to protect it because it was hiding under something.

The most fascinating project he is and has worked on is using Laser light on methane gas to create clean fuel. Think of it! Methane gas comes from human made sources such as cars, livestock, manure, coal mining, waste water treatment plants, garbage dumps, and burning crops like in the Central Valley in the winter. All this junk we as humans put in the air (some smaller amount is naturally made by wetlands and permafrost letting out gas.) If we could find a good use for all the garbage gas (methane the human like trash) that is hurting our ozone and is poisonous to our world as a fuel it would be amazing. Dr. Dube has found a way to convert methane into liquid methanol. This could stop all greenhouse gas problems. The National Science Foundation gave him a grant and he has jobs available for college students and others to help him finish the project. Often college science students work with professors to work out the bugs in their theories or inventions. Right now it is pretty expensive to convert the methane, so the important thing is to find a way to make it cheaper.

Dr. Dube started Gate Technologies. His own company Gate is also owned by his friend R. L. Morgenstern. In 2007 he started teaching at RIT. He loves teaching in a university where the students are amazingly smart.

Dr. Dube has 30 US Patents and a few more in process. Many of the patents are for monitoring anomalies, file protection, storing information on holograms, and holographic things. He has a mind that keeps asking questions and looks at the world from a different angle to solve problems. Dr. Dube’s college students who work at the center for Imaging Science collects information for agencies like the World Bank and United Nations. For example when the Haiti earthquake occurred they first hand had cameras which had images of the streets of Haiti from above. Dr. Dube and his students were one of the first to collect money for Haiti relief effort because they saw the devastation often before the news. Dr. Dube has a great heart.

So you, just like I wanted to know. Did Dr. Dube work on smart bombs? He didn’t answer the question. I think he didn’t because he laughed off the question.

National Science Foundation website numerous pages viewed

Hardware Based Computer Security Techniques to Defeat Hackers: From Biometrics to

Quantum Crytography, by Roger R. Dube, J Wiley (publisher), September 3, 2008.

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