Tom had a rich apprenticeship that lasted for four years to learn to be a good speaker. Twice a day, for six days a week, he taught physics classes to West Point cadets. These were classes that were not particularly popular with young minds who were often interested in a myriad of other subjects. Tom took over an elective course on Quantum Mechanics, and over the course of three years, he tripled the number of cadets seeking enrollment. The Head of the Department of Physics awarded Tom the Army Commendation Medal for his teaching skills. Tom left the Academy after coming in second in a faculty-wide competition for the coveted Clements Award, given to the Academy’s best instructor.
As related in his biography, Tom appeared before numerous civic groups over the course of two years to address the “California Nuclear Freeze Initiative,” an initiative slated to appear on a state wide ballot. During these appearances he often had to debate issues concerning nuclear weapons in locations like Berkeley, Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Sacramento, with representatives from aggressive organizations such as “Physicians for Social Responsibility.” Despite the heated rhetoric constantly directed towards him, Tom found he often gained the respect of participants and audience alike. He was cited as the inspiration for the author Hugh Gusterson to write his best selling book Nuclear Rites: A Nuclear Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War.
Tom’s name appears in the American Physical Society’s list of Distinguished Speakers. Through that channel, he has given presentations to students at universities throughout the State of California. He has given lectures at conferences held by large professional and civic organizations, where the audiences can be as large as one thousand. On one occasion in 1984, he stood before an audience of nearly two thousand people as he filled in for the eminent physicist Edward Teller, who at the last moment had to cancel his appearance.
Each month, Tom gives one or two presentations about his historical research to a group of one hundred federal employees from the Departments of State, Energy, Defense, and Homeland Security -each time it is a new group. He has acquired a notable facility to give convincing presentations, including to tough audiences. Over the course of ten years he gave hundreds of presentations to officials in Washington, which led to his winning a quarter billion dollars in funding for the program he was promoting.
More recently, Tom has given presentations, especially at conferences, about his research for his manuscript of The Upstarts. These include civic groups like “Atomic Workers of America” and “The Valley Study Group”, a group of citizens interested in technical subjects. He gave a presentation about his manuscript to the prestigious group JASONs at their La Jolla headquarters, an audience that included Nobel laureate Freeman Dyson. He has been approached to give a lecture on The Upstarts, once it is about to be published, by a committee that conducts the Rae Darough Series of public speakers. These presentations, often given by Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winning authors, occur bi-monthly at a regional theater and they draw a significant group of influential listeners. A recent speaker was Andy Weir, author of The Martian.
Tom will be researching opportunities for speaking appearances at:
- School groups dealing with civic affairs
- Civic groups attracted to current events and national security issues
- Retiree Groups of federal workers
- Professional groups associated with government affairs
- Book clubs, history and nonfiction
- Municipal speakers’ series