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Table of Contents

Biography

AbstractImportant DatesOccupationPlacesSubjects

Relationships

PeopleInstitutions

Resources

Archival as AuthorArchival as SubjectPublished as AuthorPublished as Subject

Lyman Spitzer

Photo

Dates

June 26, 1914 – March 31, 1997

Authorized Form of Name

Spitzer, Lyman, 1914-1997

Additional Forms of Names

Shupittsā, 1914-1997

Biography

Abstract

Lyman Spitzer was Charles A. Young Professof of Astornomy at Princeton University (1952-1982). Other institutional affiliations include Yale University and Columbia University. In his work as a theoretical astrophysicist, he wrote classical theoretical papers that helped shape at least three different fields of science: interstellar matter, the dynamics of star clusters, and the physics of plasmas. In addition, he proposed one of the leading methods for magnetically confining thermonuclear fusion and led a pioneering effort to do so at Princeton.

Important Dates

June 26, 1914Birth, Toledo (Ohio).

1935Obtained BA, Yale University, New Haven (Conn.).

1935 – 1936Attended Cambridge University, Cambridge (England).

1937Obtained MA, Princeton University, Princeton (N.J.).

1938Obtained PhD in Astrophysics, Princeton University, Princeton (N.J.).

1938 – 1939National Research Council (NRC) Fellow, Harvard University.

1939 – 1942Instructor in Physics (1939-1941) and Instructor in Astronomy and Physics (1941-1942), Yale University, New Haven (Conn.).

1942 – 1944Scientist, Special Studies Group, Division of War Research, Columbia University.

1944 – 1946Director, Sonar Analysis Group, Office of Field Services, Office of Scientific Research and Development.

1946 – 1947Associate Professor of Astrophysics, Yale University, New Haven (Conn.).

1947 – 1997Professor of Astronomy (1947-1952); Chair, Department of Astronomy (1947-1979); Director, Princeton Observatory (1947-1979); Charles A. Young Professor of Astronomy (1952-1982); Director, Project Matterhorn (1953-1961); Chair, Executive Committee, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (1961-1966); Chair, University Research Board (1967-1972); and Charles A. Young Emeritus Professor of Astronomy (1982-1997), Princeton University, Princeton (N.J.).

1952Member, National Academy of Sciences.

1958 – 1960President, American Astronomical Society.

1975Awarded James Clerk Maxwell Prize for Plasma Physics, American Physical Society.

1979Awarded National Medal of Science.

1981 – 1990Chair, Space Telescope Institute Council, Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc., Space Telescope Science Institute.

March 31, 1997Death, Princeton (N.J.).

Occupation

Theoretical astrophysicist.

Places

Birth

Toledo (Ohio)

Undergraduate Education

New Haven (Conn.)

Graduate Education

Cambridge (England)

Princeton (N.J.)

Employment

Princeton (N.J.)

Death

Princeton (N.J.)

Subjects

Astronomy.

Astrophysics.

Interstellar matter.

Plasma physics.

Sonar.

Theoretical physics.

Relationships

People

Family

Spitzer, Dionis C.

Daughter.

Spitzer, Doreen Canaday, 1914-

Wife.

Spitzer, Lydia S.

Daughter.

Spitzer, Nicholas C.

Son.

Spitzer, Sarah L.

Daughter.

Advisors & Collaborators

Chen, Francis F., 1929-

Advised by Spitzer at Princeton University.

Field, George B., 1929-

Advised by Spitzer at Princeton University, "Radiation by Plasma Oscillations."

Oke, J. Beverley, 1928-2004

Advised by Spitzer at Princeton University, "A study of the atmosphere of early O and Of stars."

Russell, Henry Norris, 1877-1957

PhD advisor at Princeton University, "The Spectra of Late Supergiant Stars," and both employed at Princeton University.

Colleagues

Booth, Eugene

Both employed at Columbia University.

Bridgman, P. W. (Percy Williams), 1882-1961

Both employed at Harvard University.

Conant, James Bryant, 1893-1978

Both employed at Harvard University.

Davidson, Ronald C.

Both employed at Princeton University.

Fisch, N. J.

Both employed at Princeton University.

Furth, H. P.

Both employed at Princeton University.

Giacconi, Riccardo

Both employed at Princeton University.

Menzel, Donald H. (Donald Howard), 1901-1976

Both employed at Harvard University.

Montroll, E. W.

Both employed at Yale University.

Paczyński, Bohdan

Both employed at Princeton University.

Pekeris, C. L. (Chaim Leib), 1908-1993

Both employed at Columbia University.

Primakoff, H. (Henry), 1914-1983

Both employed at Columbia University.

Szilard, Leo

Both employed at Columbia University.

Waterman, Alan Tower, 1892-1967

Both employed at Yale University.

Wu, C. S. (Chien-shiung), 1912-1997

Both employed at Columbia University.

Zeleny, John, 1872-

Both employed at Yale University.

Additional

Bromberg, Joan Lisa

Chandrasekhar, S. (Subrahmanyan), 1910-1995

Dunham, Theodore, 1897-1984

Dupree, Andrea K.

Edmondson, Frank K. (Frank Kelley), 1912-

Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955

Goldberg, Leo

Greenstein, Jesse L. (Jesse Leonard), 1909-2002

Lawrence, Ernest Orlando, 1901-1958

Naugle, John E.

O'Dell, C. Robert (Charles Robert), 1937-

Ostriker, J. P.

Penzias, Arno A.

Peters, B. (Bernard), 1910-

Rau, A. R. P. (A. Ravi P.)

Roman, Nancy Grace, 1925-

Routly, Paul McRae

Schatzman, Evry L.

Schwarzschild, Martin

Teller, Edward, 1908-2003

Van Allen, James A. (James Alfred), 1914-2006

Van de Kamp, Peter, 1901-1995

Wallace, Alfred Russel, 1823-1913

Waltz, Ronald E.

Witten, Louis

Institutions

Major Positions

Columbia University. Division of War Research

Scientist, Special Studies Group.

Princeton University. Department of Astrophysical Sciences

Obtained MA (1937) and PhD (1938). Professor of Astronomy; Charles A. Young Professor of Astronomy; Charles A. Young Emeritus Professor of Astronomy; Department Chair; Director, Princeton Observatory; Director, Project Matterhorn.

United States. Office of Scientific Research and Development

Director, Sonar Analysis Group, Office of Field Services.

Yale University. Department of Astronomy

Instructor in Astronomy and Associate Professor of Astrophysics.

Yale University. Physics Department

Obtained BA (1935). Instructor in Physics and Associate Professor of Astrophysics.

Professional Activities & Affiliations

American Astronomical Society

President.

American Physical Society

Received 1975 James Clerk Maxell Prize for Plasma Physics.

General Electric Company. Research Laboratory

Harvard University. Department of Astronomy

National Research Council (NRC) Fellow.

Lawrence Radiation Laboratory

National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)

Member.

Princeton University. Plasma Physics Laboratory

Chair, Executive Committee.

Princeton University. University Research Board

Chair.

Space Telescope Science Institute (U.S.)

Chair, Space Telescope Institute Council, Associate of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc.

United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

University of Cambridge. Department of Physics

Attended 1935-1936.

Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company

Resources

Archival Resources

Author

Arno A. Penzias papers, 1931-2006 (bulk 1963-1998).

Manuscript Division

Library of Congress

James Madison Memorial Building, First Street and Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20540, USA

Frank Edmondson History of AURA interviews and documentation, 1978-1991.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

History of Modern Astrophysics collection, 1849-1979.

Library.

American Philosophical Society

105 South Fifth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA

Lyman Spitzer addition to papers, 1928-2000.

Department of Rare Books and Special Collections

Princeton University

1 Washington Road, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA

Lyman Spitzer papers, 1936-1997.

Department of Rare Books and Special Collections

Princeton University

1 Washington Road, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA

National Air and Space Museum space astronomy oral history project records, 1981-1986.

Archives Division

Smithsonian Institution. National Air and Space Museum

MRC 322, Washington, DC, 20560, USA

National Air and Space Museum Space Telescope History Project records, 1983-1990.

Archives Division

Smithsonian Institution. National Air and Space Museum

MRC 322, Washington, DC, 20560, USA

Oral History interview with Lyman Spitzer, 1991 November 27.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Lyman Spitzer, Jr., 1977 April 8 and 1978 May 10.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Lyman Spitzer, Jr., 1978 March 15.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Project Matterhorn publications and reports, 1951-1958.

Furth Plasma Physics Laboratory.

Princeton University

Forrestal Campus, C-Site. Princeton, NJ 08543-0451, USA

Theodore Dunham papers, 1926-1977 (bulk 1926-1955).

Henry E. Huntington Library

1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108, USA

Subject

Albert Einstein collection, 1913-1975 (bulk 1930-1955).

Department of Rare Books and Special Collections

Princeton University

1 Washington Road, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA

Bernard Peters papers, 1947-1992.

Niels Bohr Archive

Blegdamsvej 17, Copenhagen, Denmark

Fusion: past, present, and future [videorecording].

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

International Astronomical Union General Assembly, Zurich, 1948 [motion picture] / photographed by Leo Goldberg 1948.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Notes for NASA Astrophysics Workshop (Aspen, Colorado), 12-30 June, 1978.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Andrea Dupree, 2007 October 29.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Charles Robert O'Dell, 1985 May 21 to 23.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with E. A. Frieman, 1986 June 26.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Edward A. Frieman, 2006 December 4 and 5.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Edward Gerjuoy, 2012 April 1, October 7, and 2013 April 14.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Evry L. Schatzman, 1979 August 21.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with George Brooks Field, 1980 July 14 and 15.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Jeremiah P. Ostriker, 2002 May 14 and 21.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Jesse Leonard Greenstein, 1974 July 31.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with John E. Naugle, 1980 August 20.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Leo Goldberg, 1983 February 22.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Louis Witten, 2011 March 17.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Martin Schwarzschild, 1977 March 10, June 3, December 16 and 1979 July 19.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Nancy Grace Roman, 1980 August 19.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral History interview with Paul Routly, 1990 September 25.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Ronald E. Waltz, 2006 May 22.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with S. Chandrasekhar, 1977 May 17, 18 and October 31.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Princeton University Department of Astrophysical Sciences records, 1835-1988 (bulk 1867-1966).

Department of Rare Books and Special Collections

Princeton University

1 Washington Road, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA

Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory records, 1958-2007.

Department of Rare Books and Special Collections

Princeton University

1 Washington Road, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA

Project Matterhorn Stellarator Division log book, 1952 July 8-1953 June 11.

Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology

Smithsonian Institution Libraries

National Museum of American History, Washington, DC 20560, USA

Symposium on the galaxy [motion picture] / taken by Peter Van de Kamp, 1950.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Published Resources

Author

Diffuse matter in space.

Dreams, stars, and electrons : selected writings of Lyman Spitzer, Jr. / edited by Lyman Spitzer, Jr. and Jeremiah P. Ostriker.

Dynamical evolution of globular clusters / Lyman Spitzer, Jr.

Physical processes in the interstellar medium / Lyman Spitzer, Jr.

Physics of fully ionized gases.

Searching between the stars / Lyman Spitzer, Jr.

Subject

"Lyman Spitzer Jr.: 1914-1997", Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences

Fusion: Science, Politics, and the Invention of a New Energy Source (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1982)

Lyman Spitzer Jr. Physics Today obituary.