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Auguste Piccard

Auguste PiccardAKA Auguste Antoine Piccard

Born: 28-Jan-1884
Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland
Died: 24-Mar-1962
Location of death: Lausanne, Switzerland
Cause of death: Heart Failure

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist, Aviator

Nationality: Switzerland
Executive summary: First man in the stratosphere

To study the physics of the stratosphere, Auguste Piccard designed a hydrogen balloon carrying an pressurized cockpit, in which he soared to a then-record height of 51,775 feet in a 17-hour flight on 27 May 1931. The following year Piccard broke his own record, reaching 53,153 feet above sea level and gathering more detailed information about the earth's upper atmosphere. He also collaborated with Albert Einstein to design instruments that measured atmospheric radioactivity.

Later that decade Piccard turned his attention in the other direction, designing a bathyscaphe (from the Greek, meaning deep ship) for undersea abyss exploration. Due to World War II and other funding interruptions, however, Piccard's first working bathyscaphe was not ready until 1948, when he was 64 years of age, so it was piloted by his son, oceanic explorer Jacques Piccard, accompanied by the elder Piccard. Father and son eventually reached depths in excess of 10,000 feet and, after Piccard's retirement, his son took a bathyscaphe down 35,797 feet, where water pressure is about eight tons per square inch.

Piccard's twin brother, Jean Piccard, was a noted balloonist who investigated cosmic rays at high altitudes. Auguste Piccard's grandson, Bertrand Piccard (b. 1958), was the first balloonist to circle the globe non-stop, accomplishing the feat in 19 days in 1999. Auguste Piccard's nephew and Jean Piccard's son, Don Piccard (b. 1926), is a well-known balloonist and a leading American manufacturer of high-altitude balloons.

Father: Jules Piccard (chemistry professor, b. 1840, d. 1933)
Mother: Jeanne Christian Hélène Haltenhoff Piccard (b. 1850, m. 1873)
Sister: Marie Louise Piccard Rambert (b. 1876, d. 1963)
Brother: Paul Georges Piccard (b. 1874, d. 1966)
Brother: Jean Piccard (balloonist, twin b. 28-Jan-1884, d. 28-Jan-1963)
Wife: Marianne Denis Piccard (m. 1920)
Daughter: Denise Piccard (b. 1921)
Son: Jacques Piccard (oceanic explorer, b. 1922, d. 2008)
Daughter: Marianne Piccard (b. 1924)
Daughter: Helen Piccard (b. 1925)
Daughter: Jane Piccard (b. 1931)

    University: BS Mechanical Engineering, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (1910)
    University: PhD Physics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (1914)
    Teacher: Physics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (1907-17)
    Professor: Physics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (1917-22)
    Professor: Physics, University of Brussels (1922-54)

    Ballooning Hall of Fame
    Swiss Ancestry

Author of books:
To 16,000 Meters: My Journeys in the Stratosphere (1933, memoir)
On the Threshold of the Cosmos (1946, memoir)
Between Earth and Sky (1948, memoir)
In balloon and bathyscaphe (1956, memoir)


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