Dr. George Carruthers
"...it's very difficult to draw a sharp line between what an engineer does and what a scientist does. Actually when I was in college I was undecided whether to pursue aerospace engineering or astronomy as my major, so I decided to take courses in both of them."
"You have to start preparing early. Take all the science and math courses. Emphasize the basics."
—Dr. George Carruthers
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1939, Dr. George Carruthers grew up in Chicago and attended the University of Illinois, where he received a B.Sc. (1961) in aeronautical engineering, an M.Sc. (1962) in nuclear engineering and a Ph.D. (1964) in aeronautical and astronomical engineering.
After graduation, Dr. Carruthers joined the rocket astronomy group at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington where his work focused on ultraviolet observations of the Earth's upper atmosphere and of astronomical phenomena.
In 1969 Dr. Carruthers received a patent for his invention, the "Image Converter for Detecting Electromagnetic Radiation Especially in Short Wave Lengths."
Dr. Carruthers is an astrophysicist of international renown. He was the principal inventor of the first moon-based observatory, the Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph—a combination spectograph and camera, with an electron intensifier—used for the Apollo 16 mission to the moon in 1972.
As Dr. Carruthers explains, "the far ultraviolet... is of great importance to the astronomer because it allows the detection and measurements of common elements (hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and many others) in their cool, unexcited state... This allows more accurate measurements of the compositions of interstellar gas, planetary atmospheres, etc. The ultraviolet also conveys important information on solid particles in interstellar space... and provides for much more accurate measurements of the energy output of very hot stars..."
A physicist and an inventor, Dr. Carruthers has been principal investigator for a number of NASA projects. In addition to developing space telescopes, Dr. Carruthers' impressive accomplishments include a rocket experiment which resulted in the first detection of molecular hydrogen in space; developing a rocket instrument to capture an ultraviolet image of Halley's Comet; and capturing an image of a Leonid shower meteor entering the Earth's atmosphere.
After nearly 40 years, Dr. Carruthers, a pioneer in the use of ultraviolet spectroscopy to study the universe, continues to be at the forefront of astrophysics research.
African-American Inventors II: Bill Becoat, George Carruthers, Meredith Gourdine, Jesse Hoagland, Wanda Sigur, Susan K. Henderson, Stanley P. Jones, Fred Amram. Capstone Press, 1998.
In Black and White: A Guide to Magazine Articles, Newspaper Articles, and Books Concerning More Than 6,700 Black Individuals and Groups. Mary Mace Spradling (Editor). Gale Group, 1985.
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Ultraviolet Atmospheric and Space Remote Sensing: Methods and Instrumentation II (Proceedings of Spie, 3818), George R. Carruthers (Editor), Kenneth F. Dymond. Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers, 1999.
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George R. Carruthers: Astrophysicist
Far-ultraviolet camera / spectrograph
Lemelson Center Invention Features: George Carruthers
George Carruthers - Inventor of The Far-Ultraviolet Camera and Spectrograph
George R. Carruthers - Physicist of the African Diaspora
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