Best Known For
Scientist George Carruthers created inventions, such as the ultraviolet camera, or spectograph, which was used by NASA in the 1972 Apollo 16 flight, revealing the mysteries of space and the Earth's atmosphere.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Born on October 1, 1939, in Cincinnati, Ohio, scientist George Carruthers built his first telescope at the age of 10. He earned his Ph.D. in aeronautical and astronautical engineering at the University of Illinois in 1964 and began working at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. His telescope and image converter was used to identify molecular hydrogen in space and his ultraviolet camera/spectograph was used by Apollo 16 during the flight to the moon. Today, Carruthers teaches at Howard University.
Scientist George Carruthers was born on October 1, 1939, in Cincinnati, Ohio, the eldest of George and Sophia Carruthers' four children. George Carruthers, Sr. was a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Air Corps, and encouraged his son's early interests in science. By the age of 10, the young Carruthers had constructed his own telescope with cardboard tubing and mail-order lenses he bought with money he earned as a delivery boy.
Carruthers' father died when the boy was only 12. After his death, the family moved to Chicago, where Sophia went to work for the U.S. Postal Service. Despite the emotional setback, Carruthers continued pursuing science. As one of only a handful of African-Americans competing in Chicago's high school science fairs, he won three awards, including first prize for a telescope that he designed and built.
In 1957, Carruthers graduated from Chicago's Englewood High School and entered the engineering program at the University of Illinois' Champaign-Urbana campus. While an undergraduate, Carruthers focused on aerospace engineering and astronomy. After earning his bachelor's degree in physics in 1961, Carruthers stayed on at the University of Illinois, earning his master's in nuclear engineering in 1962, and his Ph.D. in aeronautical and astronautical engineering in 1964.
In 1964, he went to work for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory as a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow. Two years later he became a full-time research physicist at the NRL's E. O. Hurlburt Center for Space Research.
On November 11, 1969, Carruthers was awarded a patent for his "Image Converter for Detecting Electromagnetic Radiation Especially in Short Wave Lengths." During a 1970 rocket flight, Carruthers's UV telescope, or spectograph, and image converter provided the first proof of the existence of molecular hydrogen in interstellar space. Carruther's invention was used on April 21, 1972, during the first lunar walk of the Apollo 16 mission. For the first time, scientists were able to examine the Earth's atmosphere for concentrations of pollutants, and see UV images of more than 550 stars, nebulae and galaxies. Carruthers was awarded NASA's Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for his work on the project.
In the 1980s, one of Carruthers' inventions captured an ultraviolet image of Halley's Comet. In 1991, he invented a camera that was used in the Space Shuttle Mission.
Carruthers also extends his efforts to education.
profile name: George Carruthers profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
They are among history's most revered black inventors, known for their relentless inquisition, passionate research, impeccable design and, most importantly, their desire to push the envelope. Some of the world's greatest technological and social advancements, including the modern-day gas mask, light bulb and traffic light, owe their origins to black inventors. Did you know that George Washington Carver developed more than 100 products using peanuts? Or that Madam C.J. Walker was the first American woman to become a self-made millionaire? Learn more about these inventors, as well as Lonnie G. Johnson, Garrett Morgan, Patricia Bath, Percy Julian and more, at Biography.com.
Famous Black Inventors 16 people in this group
When it comes to famous black scientists, George Washington Carver, Mae C. Jemison, and Neil Degrasse Tyson probably come to mind. But do you know about Otis Boykin and how he's helped old hearts beat a little better? And how about Garrett Morgan, whose inventions have kept hair straighter, clothes fitter, and traffic more efficient? Learn more about these famous black scientists and more.
Famous Black Scientists 16 people in this group
Famous Libras 538 people in this group