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Martin Harwit

AKA Martin Otto Harwit

Born: 9-Mar-1931
Birthplace: Prague, Czech Republic

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Astronomer, Physicist, Curator
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Helium-cooled rockets and infrared spectroscopy

Military service: US Army Chemical Corps (Korean War)

Rocket scientist Martin Harwit was born in Prague, raised in Istanbul, and finished high school in America. He studied under Fred Hoyle, designed the first liquid-helium-cooled rockets for boosting telescopes into the atmosphere, and investigated airborne infrared astronomy and infrared spectroscopy for NASA. He has authored several books, including a widely-used textbook on astrophysics and an overview of the history of astrophysics. Harwit served eight years as Director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, but his tenure ended in controversy over his planned exhibit to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, which critics said would show "too much evidence of the bomb's destruction" and be "too sympathetic to Japanese views". Since leaving the Museum, Harwit has conducted research into angular momentum being a possible source of electromagnetic radiation, and been involved in the design of the European Space Agency’s Far-infrared Submillimeter Telescope (FIRST).

Wife: Marianne Harwit

    High School: Bronx High School of Science, Bronx, NY (1947)
    University: BA Physics, Oberlin College (1951)
    Scholar: Lab assistant, Amherst College (1951-52)
    University: MS, University of Michigan
    University: PhD Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1960)
    Scholar: Astrophysics, Cambridge University
    Professor: Astronomy, Cornell University (1962-)

    Bruce Medal 2007
    National Air and Space Museum Director (1987-95)
    NASA (1964-87)
    American Physical Society
    John Kerry for President
    Asteroid Namesake 12143 Harwit
    Naturalized US Citizen
    Czechoslovak Ancestry

Author of books:
Hadamard Transform Optics (1979, with J. Neil Sloane)
Cosmic Discovery: The Search, Scope, and Heritage of Astronomy (1981)
Astrophysical Concepts (1988)
Treasures of the National Air and Space Museum (1995)
An Exhibit Denied: Lobbying the History of Enola Gay (1996)


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