People and Places

October 5, 2018
 

Nobel Prize winner’s line began in Spain, Cuba

Hispanic Heritage Month

Courtesy of www.hispanicheritagemonth.org

Luis Walter Alvarez was an American physicist, inventor and professor who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1968. He was born in San Francisco on June 13, 1911, the second child and oldest son of Walter Alvarez, a physician, and his wife Harriet née Smyth.

His grandfather, Luis F. Álvarez, was a physician who lived in Spain, Cuba, and eventually the United States. In 1926 his father became a researcher at the Mayo Clinic, and the family moved to Rochester, Minnesota, where Alvarez attended Rochester High School. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1932, a master’s degree in 1934 and a PhD in 1936.

During World War II, Alvarez worked on numerous radar projects, including Identification Friend or Foe radar beacons and a system known for preventing enemy submarines from discovering they had been detected by airborne microwave radars. The radar system for which Alvarez is most well-known and played an important role in the post-war Berlin airlift, was Ground Controlled Approach.

In the fall of 1943, Alvarez received an offer from Robert Oppenheimer to work at Los Alamos on the Manhattan project. During his time working on the project, Alvarez developed a device that could be sent down from the aircraft to measure the strength of an atomic explosion. Using this device, Alvarez measured the blast effect of the Little Boy bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima.

In 1968 Alvarez won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his decisive contributions to elementary particle physics, in particular the discovery of a large number of resonant states, made possible through his development of the technique of using hydrogen bubble chambers and data analysis.

In 1980 Alvarez and his son, geologist Walter Alvarez, along with nuclear chemists Frank Asaro and Helen Michel, published a paper proposing an extraterrestrial cause for the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction following geologic research in Central Italy. Ten years later evidence of a large impact crater was found off the coast of Mexico, lending support to the theory.

Alvarez died on Sept. 1, 1988, due to complications from cancer.

Courtesy of www.hispanicheritagemonth.org




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

New Air Traffic Control Trainer Course better prepares Airmen to control the skies

Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Leala Marquez Airman 1st Class Morgan Ray, 56th Operations Support Squadron air traffic control apprentice, scans the flight line with binoculars at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Feb. 7, 2...
 
 

Base’s roster of F-35s increasing; spike in noise complaints

Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Alexander Cook Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35 Demonstration Team pilot and commander performs a high-speed vertical climb during an F-35 Demo practice at Luke Air Force, Base. Ariz., J...
 
 

Metals Technology: Innovating the future of airpower

Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Zoie Rider A 5-axis computer numerical control machine mills a piece of metal for an F-35A Lightning II, Feb. 6, 2019 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Metals technology uses this equipment ...