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Bauer, Louis Agricola (26 January 1865–12 April 1932), geophysicist and scientific administrator, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Ludwig Bauer and Wilhelmina Buehler, occupations unknown. His father and mother were both brought to the United States from Germany by uncles about 1848. Bauer was the sixth of nine children. Born with no middle name, he jokingly conferred one on himself (Agricola is a Latin translation of Bauer, “farmer”). Although little more is known of the family, it is clear that they had adequate resources to send Bauer to college. He married Adelia Francis Doolittle in 1891. They had one child....

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Benioff, Victor Hugo (14 September 1899–29 February 1968), seismologist and geophysicist, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Simon Benioff, a tailor, and Alfrieda Widerquist. Benioff’s father and mother were immigrants, from Russia and Sweden respectively. Benioff attended the public schools of Los Angeles and Long Beach, where he expressed an early interest in science. As a youth, he was particularly interested in astronomy. From 1917 until 1921, while pursuing his undergraduate studies at Pomona College, he spent his summers working as an assistant at the Mount Wilson Observatory in the San Gabriel Mountains above Los Angeles. After receiving his A.B., he accepted a job at the Lick Observatory near San Jose, California, where he worked from 1921 to 1922....

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Byerly, Perry (28 May 1897–26 September 1978), geophysicist and seismologist, was born in Clarinda, Iowa, the son of Perry Byerly, a businessman, and Pauline Watson. Byerly was a sickly child, and on the advice of his doctor, the family moved to the dry climate of California in 1905. They settled in the Los Angeles area but moved often as his parents searched for the best area for their son. As a result, Byerly attended more than a dozen high schools before graduating from the High School in Redlands, California, in 1916....

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Chapman, Sydney (29 January 1888–16 June 1970), geophysicist and applied mathematician, was born in Eccles, Lancashire, near Manchester, England, the son of Joseph Chapman, chief cashier of a textile firm, and Sarah Louisa Gray. Chapman’s early education emphasized mathematics and science. He entered the Royal Technical Institute in Lancashire in 1902. He was awarded a competitive scholarship to study at Manchester University, where he earned a B.Sc. with first class honors in engineering in 1907 and another in mathematics in 1908. At Manchester he studied under the well-known scientists Osborne Reynolds, Horace Lamb, and J. E. Littlewood....

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Day, Arthur Louis (30 October 1869–02 March 1960), geophysicist, was born in Brookfield, Massachusetts, the son of Daniel Putnam Day and Fannie Maria Hobbs. Little is known of his family or youth.

Day attended the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, earning an A.B. in 1892 and a Ph.D. in physics two years later. Immediately thereafter, the Sheffield Scientific School engaged Day as an instructor in physics. Day’s youth and energy won the respect and affection of students, but he published nothing during the next three years. Eager both to improve his understanding of experimental technique and to earn credentials in research, Day traveled to Germany in 1897 and applied for an assistantship at the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt (PTR) in Charlottenburg. As Germany’s leading center for the measurement of physical constants, the PTR did not often take in inexperienced foreign scientists, but Day’s earnestness and willingness to work without salary impressed its director, Friedrich Kohlrausch. Day was granted an unpaid assistantship and put to work on a project to improve methods for measuring high temperatures. When his senior collaborator was disabled by illness, Day was appointed to the regular staff. Working with physicist Ludwig Holborn, Day subsequently used gas thermometers to establish a scale extending up to 1,150°C, thereby bettering the earlier limits of accurate measurement by more than 500°C. In 1900 he married Kohlrausch’s daughter, Helene; they had four children....

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Ewing, Maurice (12 May 1906–04 May 1974), geophysicist and administrator, was born William Maurice Ewing in Lockney, Texas, the son of Floyd Ford Ewing, a farmer and farm implements dealer, and Hope Hamilton. A brash, self-assured youth, Ewing demonstrated early on an intensity and determination that would characterize his adult years. While in high school Ewing developed an interest in science and in 1922 enrolled at the Rice Institute in Houston, where he had been awarded the Hohenthal scholarship. After initial studies in electrical engineering, Ewing changed his major to physics, earning a B.A. with honors in mathematics and physics in 1926. In that year he published his first scientific paper in the prestigious journal ...

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Ferrel, William (29 January 1817–18 September 1891), geophysicist, was born in Fulton County, Pennsylvania, the son of Benjamin Ferrel, a sawmill operator and farmer, and a Miss Miller, a farmer. Raised in Fulton County and then in Berkeley County, West Virginia, he attended local common schools for a few winters. He then worked on the family farm, avidly reading books on mathematics, surveying, and mathematical physics that chanced his way. From 1839 Ferrel attended college, first at Marshall College in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and then at the newly established Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia. He graduated from Bethany College in 1844 in its first graduating class....

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Fleming, John Adam (28 January 1877–29 July 1956), geophysicist and scientific administrator, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Americus Vespucius Fleming, an engineer, and Katherine Barbara Ritzmann. Several other ancestors had been engineers, a fact that Fleming said influenced his choice of study. Fleming studied at the University of Cincinnati from 1895 to 1899, earning a B.S. in engineering. After graduation he became assistant engineer in redesigning the Convention Building of the Sängerbund Society in Cincinnati. That year he passed his federal civil service examination and joined the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (USCGS) as an aide in the newly established Division of Terrestrial Magnetism. The chief of this division, ...

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Forbush, Scott Ellsworth (10 April 1904–04 April 1984), geophysicist and mathematician, was born near Hudson, Ohio, the son of E. A. Forbush, a farmer, and Grace (maiden name unknown), a former schoolteacher.

Forbush graduated second in his class in 1920 from Cleveland’s Western Reserve Academy. He worked as a waiter before entering Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland in 1921. He graduated with a B.S. in physics and mathematics in 1925. He then began graduate studies in physics (optics, electronics, and thermodynamics) at Ohio State University in Columbus, also acting as a teaching assistant in general physics. Disappointed with the curriculum, however, he accepted a position as junior physicist with the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., in 1926. This, too, failed to satisfy him, and he applied in 1927 for a position with the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. He stayed with the DTM for forty-two years, until his retirement in 1969, except for a few leaves of absence in government and university service....

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Griggs, David Tressel (06 October 1911–31 December 1974), geophysicist, was born in Columbus, Ohio, the son of Robert Fiske Griggs, a professor of botany, and Laura Amelia Tressel. He moved with his family to Washington, D.C., while he was still in high school when his father accepted a teaching position at George Washington University. In 1928 he matriculated at George Washington but left after one year to study physics at Ohio State University. As an undergraduate he accompanied the 1930 National Geographic Society Expedition to Alaska’s Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, which his father had discovered fourteen years earlier. Largely as a result of his experiences on this expedition, he developed an intense desire to apply the principles of physics to the study of geology....

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Hubbert, M. King (05 October 1903–11 October 1989), geophysicist, was born Marion King Hubbert in San Saba, Texas, the son of William Bee Hubbert, a farmer and mechanic, and Cora Virginia Lee, a teacher. Hubbert’s mother imparted to him a strong devotion to learning and a great deal of self-confidence, and when Hubbert was four she organized a school for neighborhood children. In 1908 his family moved to the Fort Stockton area, where his father temporarily found work as a ranch foreman and farmer; subsequently the family returned to San Saba. Hubbert attended county schools in Fort Stockton and San Saba before enrolling in a private high school. Inquisitive and gifted, Hubbert read popular science magazines and became deeply interested in steam engines and telephones, still a novelty in rural Texas....

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Macelwane, James Bernard (28 September 1883–15 February 1956), geophysicist and Jesuit priest, was born near Port Clinton, Ohio, the son of Alexander Macelwane, a fisherman and farmer, and Catherine Agnes Carr. He obtained his early education on the benches of a rural schoolhouse, often interrupted by seasonal chores to assist the frugal fortunes of his family. In response to his desire to become a priest and missionary, his parents managed to enroll him at age eighteen in St. John’s College in Toledo. Two years later, in 1903, he entered the Society of Jesus, where he followed the usual course of studies in the humanities, science, and theology....

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Reid, Harry Fielding (18 May 1859–18 June 1944), geophysicist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Andrew Reid, of unknown occupation, and Fanny Brooks Gwathmey. When Reid was nine years old, his family moved for some years to Lausanne, Switzerland, where he attended school and developed an interest in glaciers and in mountain climbing. On his return to the United States, he attended the Pennsylvania Military Academy, at which he studied civil engineering. He then entered Johns Hopkins University in 1877, the second year after its opening; he received an A.B. in 1880 and a Ph.D. in physics in 1885. He married Edith Gittings in 1883; they had two children. Reid studied in England and Germany from 1884 to 1886 when he became professor of mathematics at Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1889 his position at Case changed to professor of physics. He taught courses and published a number of papers on glaciers....

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Schott, Charles Anthony (07 August 1826–31 July 1901), geophysicist, was born in Mannheim, Germany, the son of Anton Carl Schott, a merchant, and Anna Maria Hoffman. Schott graduated as a civil engineer after six years at the Technische Hochschule, Karlsruhe. The revolution of 1848, in which he briefly participated, and poor career prospects caused him to emigrate that year to the United States. In December 1848 he joined the U.S. Coast Survey, continuing in its service until his death. In 1854 Schott married Theresa Gildermeister; after her death he married her sister Bertha Gildermeister. Schott had one child by the first marriage and four by the second....

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Vestine, Ernest Harry (09 May 1906–18 July 1968), geophysicist and planetary scientist, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of Olaf Algot Vestine and Frida Christine Lund, farmers. Both parents had emigrated from Sweden. When Vestine was two years old, his parents moved to a farm in Alberta, Canada, where he was raised....

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Woodward, Robert Simpson (21 July 1849–29 June 1924), geophysicist and foundation official, was born in Rochester, Michigan, the son of Robert Lysander Woodward and Peninah A. Simpson, farmers. Woodward was educated as a civil engineer at the University of Michigan, from which he was graduated in 1872. In 1876 he married Martha Gretton Bond; they had three children....