Fritz Zwicky life and biography

Fritz Zwicky picture, image, poster

Fritz Zwicky biography

Date of birth : 1898-02-14
Date of death : 1974-02-09
Birthplace : Varna, Bulgaria
Nationality : Swiss
Category : Arhitecture and Engineering
Last modified : 2011-12-22
Credited as : astronomer, supernovae, astronomy

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Astronomer and physicist Fritz Zwicky studied at Zurich under Peter Debye and Auguste Piccard, and he was lured to California Institute of Technology by Robert A. Millikan, where he became CalTech's first Professor of Astrophysics. He coined the term supernova, explaining this phenomena as ordinary stars transitioning to neutron stars, which he correctly hypothesized were the origin of cosmic rays. He conducted important research into the evolution of galaxies, predicted the existence of dark matter, and was the first scientist to propose that whole galaxies and galaxy clusters could act as gravitational lenses. He compiled a six-volume catalog of galaxy clusters, and a separate catalog of compact galaxies. He personally discovered 122 supernovae, more than half of such objects known at the time of his death.

He was an informal founder of and long-time researcher at Aerojet Engineering Corporation, now a subsidiary of GenCorp, where he did some of the earliest work on jet propulsion. He held some four dozen patents related to jets and thrust, and is sometimes described as the father of the jet engine. He also conducted respected research in crystals, gaseous ionization, the physics of solid state, slow electrons, and thermodynamics.

During World War II he used his morphological methodology to propose what he described as "a scientifically founded total war", but his plan baffled government and military officials in both the American and Canadian governments. Despite living and working in America for almost fifty years he never became a United States citizen, and his security clearance for defense work was rescinded in 1955 after the Defense Department asked Zwicky to seek citizenship and he refused.

Zwicky died in Pasadena on February 8, 1974 and was buried in Mollis, Switzerland.

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