Salutes & Awards

October 4, 2013

Luis Walter Alvarez: Physicist, inventor altered history’s course

Luis Walter Alvarea

Luis Walter Alvarez, a Hispanic-American experimental physicist and inventor, changed the course of human history with his contributions to the fields of aviation and radiation.

Alvarez was born on June 13, 1911, and died Sept. 1, 1988. Throughout his 77 years he received many distinguished awards including the Collier Trophy from the National Aeronautic Association in 1945, Medal of Merit in 1947, Albert Einstein Award in 1961, National Medal of Science in 1963, Michelson Award in 1965 and Nobel Prize in Physics in 1968.

Alvarez was a pivotal member of the Manhattan Project, during which he helped design the Fat Man atomic bomb that was used to end World War II. In 1945 he also created the ground-controlled approach system that allowed aircraft to land with zero visibility. It is still in use today at military installations.

Individuals like Alvarez are icons in history whose significant contributions made in the past made the future possible.




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