Larry M. Silverberg [born November 5, 1957] is a dynamicist. Over his career, he studied and contributed to its advancement; published seminal works in dynamics, and his work in four-dimensional physics led to the first unified treatment of gravitation and electromagnetism. Relating to how modern science differs from classical science, he stated “When looking up at stars we witness fragments of everything, the same stuff we behold when looking down at atoms, and when looking across at everything that surrounds us.” Concerning our understanding of the universe, he stated “Space, time, and matter attain a level of complexity that sustains life, and yet we have no idea why or how this came to be.” Today, Silverberg continues his research work in dynamics, writes magazine articles on new advancements in dynamics, including efforts that aim to bring 4D continuum dynamics (modern macroscale science) to the wider public.
Silverberg attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) from 1976 to 1983 where he received his undergraduate and graduate degrees. As a sophomore, he began to work for Professor Leonard Meirovitch, a prominent dynamicist. Silverberg received his doctorate under his supervision in 1983. After graduating from VPI&SU, Silverberg wrote, what would be his first widely received journal article. He wrote it at the checkout counter of a bird store (he co-owned the store with his twin brother). He joined the engineering faculty of North Carolina State University in 1984. Over the span of his career, his work in dynamics opened and expanded new frontiers in different engineering areas. In the 1990s, he developed a method of calibrating ground-based radar to enable them to see incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles. That work led him to develop the “orbiter ejector,” flown on a multitude of shuttle flights. The orbiter ejector calibrated the US space missile command’s missile interception capabilities (for President Ronald Reagan’s star wars program).
During his graduate studies, Silverberg worked with Meirovitch on the theory of “independent modal-space control,” a then new theory that promoted the idea of controlling the motion of dynamical systems by controlling their modes (modal control). Meirovitch and Silverberg extended the theory [e.g., “Control of non-self-adjoint distributed-parameter systems,” 1985]. From 1985 to 1990, Silverberg showed mathematically that the solutions to many of the problems being addressed by modal control, robust control, and optimal control, exhibit both unifying and highly intuitive heuristics [e.g., Uniform Damping Control of Spacecraft,” 1986]. From 1990 to 1995, he extended minimum time and minimum fuel solutions to large-order systems, developing exact solutions and heuristics for the control of flexible spacecraft, satellites, and other systems [e.g., “Fuel-Optimal Reorientation of Axi-symmetric Spin-Stabilized Satellites,” 1993]. Throughout that period and up through 2000 Silverberg would extend motion control theories to complex motion problems [e.g. “Simulation of the mechanics of water-skier motion, 1992] and to electrostatic and electromagnetic structures [e.g., “Dynamics and Control of Electrostatic Structures, 1996]. This led to several patents in control of electrostatic structures [e.g., “Electrostatically shaped membranes,” Patent 5,307,082, 1994]. In 2000, he began to work with his colleague Dr. Chau M. Tran on basketball dynamics (both being basketball enthusiasts, admittedly spending too much time on this subject). They developed the first methods of accurately simulating the trajectories of millions of basketball shots and their probabilities of success [e.g., “Optimal Release Conditions for the free throw in men’s basketball,” 2008]. This also led to the “backboard V,” a practice tool for the bank shot [e.g., “Optimal targets for the bank shot in men’s basketball,” 2011]. Some of Silverberg’s work contributed to four-dimensional (4D) dynamics. In 1992, he went on sabbatical to reformulate the laws governing macroscale science from the 4D continuum dynamics viewpoint. In 2008, he published the book “Unified field theory for the engineer and the applied scientist,” and is presently focusing his efforts on bringing 4D continuum dynamics (modern macroscale science) to the public. Silverberg also writes about new developments in science for The Conversation.