Walter M. Elsasser papers
The papers include a small amount of correspondence relating to geophysics, but the largest amount deals with theoretical biology. The remainder of the papers are copies of most of Elsasser's published articles, several of his monographs, and drafts of unpublished writings.
- Elsasser, Walter M., 1904- (Person)
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5 Cubic Feet (4 record center cartons)
His peripatetic teaching career continued with positions at the California Institute of Technology (1936-41), Harvard University's Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory (1941), the University of Pennsylvania (1947-50), the University of Utah (1950-56), Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the University of California, La Jolla (1956-62), Princeton University (1962- 67), the University of Maryland (1967-74), and the Johns Hopkins University (1974-). For a period in the 1940s Elsasser worked outside academia for the Signal Corps Laboratories (1942-44), the National Defense Research Council (1944-45), and RCA Laboratories (1945-47). For more details on these positions see Elsasser's curriculum vitae in Appendix I.
Elsasser's research interests have been as varied as his positions. After training in nuclear physics and doing research on the internal structure of the atomic nucleus, Elsasser turned to the field of geophysics. In this field he analyzed far infrared radiation in the atmosphere. One of his most notable contributions to geophysics was the explanation in the 1940s of the earth's magnetism as a self-generating dynamo in a liquid iron core. By the 1960s Elsasser began to study the earth's mantle and the emerging study of plate-tectonics.
Elsasser closed his professional career with an interest in theoretical biology. He has written articles and several volumes criticizing biologists' theory of reductionism.
Elsasser received many honors and awards including the Research Prize of the German Physical Society (1932), William Bowie Medal (1959) and the John A. Fleming Medal (1971) both of the American Geophysical Union, the C.F. Gauss Medal, the Arthur L. Day Medal of the Geological Society of America, and the National Medal of Science in 1987.
For more information see Elsasser's Memoirs of a Physicist in the Atomic Age (1978) and "My Years in Geophysics" written in 1988. A copy of the former is in the stacks QC16.E58 A35 1978 and the latter is in Series 3.
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