Person: Spitzer, Lyman
Lyman Spitzer was an American theoretical physicist and astronomer best known for pioneering the idea of a space telescope. He also worked on nuclear fusion.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Spitzer Sr. worked in Real Estate in Toledo and later was Manager of a paper and box company.
- Lyman Jr attended Scott High School in Toledo and then studied at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, graduating in 1931.
- Having won a fellowship to St John's College, Cambridge to enable him to study there during the academic year 1935-36, he was taught by Arthur Eddington and was strongly influenced by Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar who was about four years older than Spitzer.
- After his year abroad, Spitzer returned to the United States and entered Princeton University where he earned his Master's degree in 1937.
- Henry Norris Russell, who had supervised Spitzer's doctoral studies at Princeton, was retiring and Princeton was seeking to fill the Chair of Astronomy.
- In the second half of the 1940s Spitzer became interested in space astronomy.
- His involvement in space astronomy has made Spitzer well known by the general public, but he made many other highly significant advances.
- Two years later Spitzer published the paper The stellarator concept describing further results from his Laboratory.
- The third area which Spitzer helped to shape is that of stellar dynamics.
- In 1952, Spitzer was named the Charles A Young Professor of Astronomy at Princeton.
- Spitzer had the vision to propose a space telescope in 1946 and was, of course, much involved with the Hubble Space Telescope.
- Dr Spitzer's revolutionary paper, written in the 1940s, was the first to propose the idea of putting telescopes into space, and thus above the blurring effects of the Earth's atmosphere, which not only revolutionised the science of astronomy, but it also pulled back the atmospherically induced blinders we had lived with for so long and revealed the true wonder and beauty of the universe.
Born 26 June 1914, Toledo, Ohio, USA. Died 31 March 1997, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin Usa
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive