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Fred Lawrence Whipple

Fred Lawrence Whipple

Male 1906 - 2004  (97 years)  Submit Photo / DocumentSubmit Photo / Document    Has 40 ancestors and 5 descendants in this family tree.

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  • Name Fred Lawrence Whipple 
    Born 5 Nov 1906  Red Oak, Montgomery, Iowa, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 30 Aug 2004  Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Initiatory (LDS) 9 Mar 2012  JRIVE Find all individuals with events at this location 
    FamilySearch ID LZDC-3CW 
    Headstones Submit Headstone Photo Submit Headstone Photo 
    Person ID I77892  mytree
    Last Modified 4 Feb 2018 

    Father Harry Lawrence Whipple,   b. 26 Sep 1882, Union Township, Harrison, Missouri, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Nov 1963, Long Beach, Los Angeles, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 81 years) 
    Mother Celestia "Lesta" McFarland,   b. 11 Sep 1884, Garfield Township, Montgomery, Iowa, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Jan 1972, Long Beach, Los Angeles, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 87 years) 
    Family ID F26368  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Dorothy Cornell Woods,   b. Abt 1907, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt 1938  (Age 31 years) 
    Married 1928 
    Divorced Yes, date unknown 
    Children 
     1. Earle Raymond Whipple
    Last Modified 2 Mar 2021 
    Family ID F26366  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Babette Frances "Babbie" Samelson,   b. 22 Jul 1918, Memphis, Shelby, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Dec 2009, Belmont, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 91 years) 
    Married 20 Aug 1946  Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
    +1. Dorothy Sandra "Sandy" Whipple
     2. Laura Whipple
    Last Modified 2 Mar 2021 
    Family ID F26367  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 5 Nov 1906 - Red Oak, Montgomery, Iowa, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 20 Aug 1946 - Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 30 Aug 2004 - Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsInitiatory (LDS) - 9 Mar 2012 - JRIVE Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos
    Whipple, Fred L b1906 - Portrait
    Whipple, Fred L b1906 - Portrait
    Whipple, Fred L b1906 - Portrait
    Whipple, Fred L b1906 - Portrait

  • Notes 
    • Fred Whipple was born on November 5, 1906, in Red Oak, Iowa, as the son of a farmer. An early bout with polio ended his ambition of being a professional tennis player. Whipple studied at Occidental College in Southern California, then majored in mathematics at the University of California at Los Angeles, graduating in 1927. Recollecting his path from mathematics to astronomy, Whipple stated in a 1978 autobiography that his "mathematics major veered [him] through physics and finally focused on astronomy where time, space, mathematics, and physics had a common meeting ground."[1]

      After taking a class in astronomy, he enlisted at the University of California, Berkeley where he obtained his PhD in Astronomy in 1931. While in graduate school, he helped map the orbit of the then newly discovered dwarf planet Pluto. He joined Harvard College Observatory in 1931 and studied the trajectories of meteors, confirming that they originated within the solar system rather than from interstellar space. In 1933, he discovered the periodic comet 36P/Whipple and the asteroid 1252 Celestia. He also discovered or co-discovered five other non-periodic comets, the first of which was C/1932 P1 Peltier-Whipple, independently discovered by the famed amateur astronomer Leslie Peltier.

      During World War II, he invented a device for cutting tinfoil into chaff to confuse enemy radar tracking Allied aircraft. He was awarded a Certificate of Merit for this in 1948. He also invented a "meteoroid bumper" or "Whipple shield", which protects spacecraft from impact by small particles by vaporizing them.

      From 1950 until 1977 he was a professor of Astronomy at Harvard University, including being the Phillips Professor of Astronomy between 1968 and 1977. During these years (in the early 1950s), he wrote a series of influential papers entitled A Comet Model, published in Astrophysical Journal.[2][3][4] In these papers, he proposed the "icy conglomerate" hypothesis of comet composition (later called the "dirty snowball" hypothesis). The basic features of this hypothesis were later confirmed, however the exact amount (and thus the importance) of ices in a comet is an active field of research, with most of the recently obtained data[5] pointing to a low contribution of ices to a comet's mass (dubbed the "icy dirtball" hypothesis). He also anticipated the era of artificial satellites and organized the members of Operation Moonwatch to track them. These groups were the only ones prepared and ready to make observations when the Soviet Union unexpectedly launched Sputnik I in 1957. He became director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory when Loyal Blaine Aldrich retired in 1955,[6] and remained in this post until 1973.