Piccard, Auguste

b. 28 January 1884 Basel, Switzerland
d. 24 March 1962 Lausanne, Switzerland
Swiss physicist who developed balloons to explore the upper atmosphere.
Auguste Piccard and his twin brother, Jean-Félix, studied together in Zurich and qualified as a physicist and a chemist, respectively. In 1913 they made a sixteen-hour balloon flight together, and in 1915 they joined the balloon section of the Swiss Army. Auguste moved to Brussels as Professor of Applied Physics in 1922 and he carried out research into cosmic radiation. He realized that he needed to ascend into the rarefied air of the stratosphere in order to study these cosmic rays. His target was 16,000 m (52,500 ft), but no one had ever ventured to this height before.
Not surprisingly, Auguste Piccard turned to a balloon for his experiments, and during 1930 he designed a hydrogen balloon with a spherical gondola to house the crew. This gondola was sealed and pressurized with air, just as a modern airliner has a pressurized cabin. With Belgian finance, Piccard was able to build his balloon, and on 27 May 1931 he and his colleague Paul Kipfer reached a height of 15,781 m (51,775 ft). Although this was a world record and created great public interest, Piccard was a scientist rather than a record breaker, and as he needed further information he prepared for another ascent. His new gondola was equipped with radio and improved scientific equipment. On 18 August 1932 it ascended from Zurich and reached a height of 16,201 m (53,152 ft).
Jean-Félix was also interested in high-altitude balloon flights and in 1934, together with his wife, he ascended through a clouded sky and reached 17,550m (57,579ft). Jean- Félix also tested a gondola lifted by ninety-eight small balloons, and he developed frost-resistant windows. Other balloonists followed with record-breaking high-altitude flights, but Auguste Piccard, aided by his son Jacques, turned his attention to exploration of the depths of the ocean.
1950, Between Earth and Sky, London. 1956, In Balloon and Bathyscaph, London.
Further Reading
D.H.de Vorkin, 1990, Race to the Stratosphere, Berlin (the first chapters describe the work of the Piccard twins).
Pierre de Latil and Jean Rivoire, 1962, Le Professeur Auguste Piccard, France.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Piccard, Auguste — born Jan. 28, 1884, Basel, Switz. died March 24, 1962, Lausanne Swiss born Belgian physicist and balloon and undersea explorer. He studied and taught physics in Zürich and later at the University of Brussels (1922–54). In 1930 he designed a… …   Universalium

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  • Piccard,Auguste — Pic·card (pē kärdʹ, kärʹ), Auguste. 1884 1962. Swiss physicist and aeronaut known for his experiments at extreme altitudes and depths. He designed a balloon that in 1932 carried him to 16,946.7 meters (55,563 feet) and invented a bathyscaphe that …   Universalium

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  • Auguste Piccard — (1927). Auguste Piccard (* 28. Januar 1884 in Basel; † 24. März 1962 in Lausanne) war ein Schweizer Wissenschaftler, Physiker und Erfinder. Er ist der Zwillingsbruder des Chemikers …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • PICCARD (A.) — PICCARD AUGUSTE (1884 1962) Physicien suisse, qui enseigna d’abord à l’École polytechnique fédérale, puis à l’université de Bruxelles. Piccard est cependant beaucoup plus connu pour ses explorations, qui ont frappé le public sans représenter pour …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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