/ Climbing/mountaineering physicists
Appealing to the UKC hive mind - I know there are a lot of physicists on here! - who can name some climbing/mountaineering physicists (international as well as Brits) aside from those in this list:
Mike Kosterlitz, Keith Brueckner, Raymond Stora, Jeremy Bernstein, WIlliam Shockley, Anthony Leggett, Paul Dirac, Henry Way Kendall...
It's for an article. Cheers!
Tom Bourdillon I think - First summit attempt on Everest in the successful 53 expedition. If I recall correctly they also carried film to the south col to measure cosmic rays.
Also Charles Wilson who invented the cloud chamber ( inspired by a stint at the Summit Observatory on Ben Nevis) which became a standard tool in particle physics.
In Jim Al Khalili''s BBC program "atom" he alludes to an alpine holiday taken by Erwin Schroedinger and a cursory bit of "research" on google suggests that Schroedinger listed mountaineering as an interest in his Nobel citation biography.
Enrico Fermi did a bit, with Dirac as well IIRC. Discussions between the two in the Dolomites probably shaped the direction of quantum mechanics.
And don’t leave out John Tyndall! Keen mountaineer and the founder of the science behind global warming.
Raphael Slawinski leading Canadian Alpinist/mixed protaganist.
Wil Hurford aka "the puerile ticker"
Isn't Stu Littlefair a 9a astrophysicist?
I thought he was a 9a astrologist?
Ben says it’s only 8c+
Lyman Spitzer’s a good one if you’re going to include space jockeys. Namesake of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, and the person to come up with the idea of space based telescopes. Pioneered new routes on Baffin Island.
I dont know how they find the time.
Sounds fantastic - looking forward to it already
I believe Barrows is a physicist and he's climbed a few bits and pieces.
> Lyman Spitzer’s a good one if you’re going to include space jockeys. Namesake of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, and the person to come up with the idea of space based telescopes.
I presume he suggested naming a space telescope after the world's first 9a?
Lester Germer, of the Davisson-Germer experiment. Davisson got the prize but Germer somehow missed out. Another 'Gunks climber and contemporary of Shockley.
The Australian George Ingle Finch. (Possibly gets categorized as a 'Chemical Physicist', but who cares.)
Frank Sacherer was one of the foremost free climbers in Yosemite in the 60s, whilst a physics PhD student at Berkely. He went on to work at CERN and whilst there made many notable ascents in the Alps - he was killed in 1978 on The Shroud.
I don't know much about his work as a physicist, but I understand he was highly regarded in the field and his research was instrumental to the winner of the 1984 Nobel Prize - perhaps someone with a better physics knowledge can confirm or correct this...
An interesting, but less prominent name is Jeff Dozier, for whom Dozier Dome in Tuolumne Meadows is named. Jeff is faculty at UC Santa Barbara and an expert on satellite measurement of snowpack (a pretty big deal in the dry American west). I *think* he recently retired but not sure.
Stephen Venables mentions climbing with Julia Yeomans several times in his autobiography, and I am reasonably sure that it's the same Julia Yeomans as the Oxford professor of theoretical physics.
OUMC has certainly always been chock full of mathematicians and physicists. Eddie Barbour is probably one of the better known ones from recent years.
The late José Luis Pereira was for many years Venezuela's leading climber, and one of the founders of tepui free climbing. He was apparently quite an eminent physicist in the US where he lived for many years. I read his book draft on quantum physics and it was one of the clearest explanations of the subject I've come across.
I was going to suggest Frank Sacherer but see someone already has. If you want more information on him there was a long thread about him on Supertopo. Very influential in Yosemite, died descending from the Shroud on the Grande Jorrases while working at Cern
> Frank Sacherer was one of the foremost free climbers in Yosemite in the 60s, whilst a physics PhD student at Berkely. He went on to work at CERN and whilst there made many notable ascents in the Alps - he was killed in 1978 on The Shroud.
> I don't know much about his work as a physicist, but I understand he was highly regarded in the field and his research was instrumental to the winner of the 1984 Nobel Prize - perhaps someone with a better physics knowledge can confirm or correct this...
Some years ago, there was an amazing thread on Supertopo about Frank Sacherer - maybe useful research for this article (although, from memory, it's a huge thread). Well worth reading (or attempting to read - I got too emotional in the end) in its own right. It considered him as a climber, as a physicist and as a human being. A fascinating individual.
As a slight detour, John Gill was a mathematician, and could be included, since physics is a sub-set of maths.
Johnny Dawes must get a mention for pioneering an entirely novel approach to physics
Another one from the States. John Reppy who was very active in New England from the '40s-'60s, and also added new routes out west, is an emeritus professor of physics at Cornell University. John spent time (post doc?) in the UK in the early '60s and was one of the first to import the use of nuts for protection to the US when he began using them at Ragged Mountain in Connecticut.
The Gunks climbing community (and the US climbing community in general) was 'top heavy' with scientists during those years, many of them physicists, so there are undoubtedly others who have yet to be listed. One of the main contributors to this trend in the Gunks, was that Bell Laboratories, a 'hot spot' of research, was located relatively near by.
Another US climber who should be mentioned is the long time ultimate eccentric Yosemite dirt bag, Chongo Chuck, who also wrote extensively (and very knowledgeably, I'm told) on physics.
If it were not for time enjoyably wasted on mountaineering and climbing I recon we'd have colonies on Mars by now.
Richard Hechtel , first ascent of peuterey integral amongst a prolific climbing career, rocket scientist.
Al Rouse. Look at a few of his route names. Ok possibly not a true Physicist but....
Bruce Normand is the UK's most successful mountaineer, and a physicist.
K2 without O2, a Piolet d'Or, and more first ascents and new routes on significant 6000m peaks than probably anyone, ever.
But he's not sponsored by a big raincoat company, isn't on Facebook, doesn't have a blog, doesn't live in Chamonix, isn't a guide, hasn't written a book, hasn't climbed Everest, hasn't died young, doesn't raise money 'for charity' etc etc.
> Lyman Spitzer’s a good one if you’re going to include space jockeys. Namesake of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, and the person to come up with the idea of space based telescopes. Pioneered new routes on Baffin Island.
I did some climbing with Lyman and wrote a bit about him on Supertopo; http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1596980&msg=1596980#msg1596980 . There's quite a bit of information about him there.
In the US, I don't think one can mention "climbing" and "physicist" without mentioning John Stannard, who helped raise the difficulty level in the Gunks from 5.10 to 5.12 and was one of the leading national figures in the "clean cllimbing" revolution, which saw US climbers abandon the only forms of protection they knew and understood, pitons, for chocks. The inspiration came from the UK of course, but it was an epic task convincing the natives to change their ways, and Stannard was at the very forefront of that effort.
Mark Gaddes. Physicist, philosopher & recently retired teacher.
Founded our school climbing club and inspired many people to have the confidence to apply & get into Cambridge. He’s still out climbing with school groups every week, 20+ years later. He must have taught about 500 people to belay by now.
Thoroughly decent chap.
Surely our very own Chris Hamper, no?
Alexander Huber, although not quite on the same level as Schrödinger, has an advanced degree in physics (Diplom Physiker, equivalent to a M.Sc.).
Another one for your list is John Cardy. British (but now living in California), eminent theoretical physicist (he's an FRS), and a very respectable climber. He climbed in Yosemite with Frank Sacherer whom he knew from CERN, put up a classic in northern Norway Engelskdiederet (n5+), and went on at least one Himalayan trip.
> An interesting, but less prominent name is Jeff Dozier
Jeff is actually a geographer by training. Good guy and excellent three-pin skier as well as all-round mountaineer.
I guess fluid mechanics is physics so Pierre Béghin would qualify - as well as being a very well known climber he was also a specialist in the flow of snow during avalanches in the "l’équipe nivologique" at CEMAGREF, Grenoble.
Another one is Ed Harouni.. co author of the soon to be published Yosemite definite guide.
Also Phil Bartlett is a Physicist and wasnt he one of the first to climb E6?
According to the "Nowt but a fleein' thing" book, Les Brown was a physics graduate working at the Sellafield Nuclear plant.
as well as possibly the most influential physicist/mountaineer so far (unless Dirac climbed in the greater ranges;) George Bell has possibly the best quote:
[FA of Masherbrum] George and Willi were on the summit, and Willi [Unsoeld] had put a small cross given to him by a friend into the snow. He was saying a prayer over it when George said, “Well, Willi, shall we go down - or up?"
Ed's last name is Hartouni. He works at Livermore laboratory in California.
I like Ed's contributions over at supertopo- the goto guy for physics.
can our Coel H climb?;)
And what about you Rich?........
Rich is a mathematician---which opens up an entire other long list of climbers who practice in that field.
I have a very vague memory that Prof Mike Key, once head of the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and subsequently a key player in laser activities (leading to laser-driven fusion) at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in the US was a climber. Not a high-end climber, but still.
Or my memory may be utterly confused, which is frequently the case. A brief google didn't help.
Anatoli Boukreev was also a physicist- no more details to hand sorry
Do you need famous climbers (and/or famous physicists), or will just regular climbers who go out and do a bit of cragging fit the bill? I climb fairly regularly with a Sheffield Uni physics prof.
Sorry, poor eyesight.... missed the typo. I've met Ed a few times at Facelift... great guy.
> Rich is a mathematician---which opens up an entire other long list of climbers who practice in that field.
OMG, the mathematician list is pretty substantial; I won't start down that road unless Natalie wants to add to the categories. Still, it is worth mentioning John Gill, the prodigious American boulderer.
Wow, there really are a lot! Thanks everyone. I don't need mathematicians and it's not specifically about physicists as such, this is more for background information. All will be revealed once it's done!
Robin “Doc” Thompson Nuclear Physicist based in Leeds did new routes in Tasmania.
Bruno Pontecorvo - just reading Frank Closes book about him., reviewed here https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/mar/12/half-life-divided-life-bruno-pontecorvo-physicist-spy-close
Horace-Bénédict de Saussure! Instigated the first ascent of Mont Blanc, and made the third ascent himself. Not only a physicist (he invented, among many other things, the anemometer and magnetometer) - also a botanist, meteorologist, philosopher and sometime Professor of Logic. The list of things he got up to is quite impressive.
Very casual mention of Everest, like it was easy/guaranteed. And for that I admire her!
I dropped out of a PhD in Radiation Physics and I sometimes manage to get up 10m of VS Grit. I am amazing
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