This month, our Same Day Delivery Dallas blogs have been celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by highlighting some important Latinos in American history. These history hot shots have left a lasting legacy on our country through space exploration, research, legislative work, charitable actions and, as in today’s history hot shot, scientific discoveries. This week’s Hot Shot Delivery Dallas history hot shot is physicist Louis Alvarez.
Dr. Louis Alvarez might not be a household name, but anyone who has ever flown in an airplane can thank Dr. Alvarez for his work on radar systems. Of course, like any history hot shot, to really understand Dr. Alvarez’s impact on America, the Dallas On Demand Deliveries team has to take you all the way back to the beginning.
Louis Alvarez was born in San Francisco in 1911 with some big shoes to fill for a little boy. Both his father and grandfather (who happens to be his namesake) were physicians, and quite successful doctors, at that. As a child, Alvarez carried high expectations. He started school at age 7 at the prestigious Madison School, and then attended a polytechnic high school in California until his father took a job as a cancer researcher in Rochester, Minnesota.
When it came time for Alvarez to attend college, he thought his Californian roots would call to him, but instead he attended the University of Chicago, which is where he spent the next eight years earning his bachelors, masters, and PhD. Even as a graduate student, Alvarez showed remarkable talent in the world of physics. Under the direction of his graduate school mentor, Alvarez studied radiation using a cosmic ray telescope he invented. His research led to what is called the East-West Effect, which, for most of our Dallas Hot Shot Couriers folks is far too complicated, so we will just leave it simple and say the Alvarez was already making huge strides in the physics world.
As soon as he graduated, the legendary physicist Ernest Lawrence offered Dr. Alvarez a job doing experiments, which was Dr. Alvarez’s passion. It was about this time that our country became involved in WWII. The United States National Defense Research Committee, a brand-new operation just signed into action by President Roosevelt, recruited Drs. Lawrence and Alvarez to experiment and develop military radar at the national laboratory created at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was here that Dr. Alvarez completed some of his most important work to include radar transponders, radar systems to improve surface to ground missiles, and his most famous work Ground Controlled Approach, which allows ground based radar operators to guide aircraft to a safe landing.
Dr. Alvarez was also recruited to work on the highly classified project that involved the creation of the Atom Bomb. He was even privy to the bombing of Hiroshima, which he said later he felt deep sorrow over. Dr. Alvarez then returned to the University of California and went back to work in experimental physics. This research paid off because in 1968, Dr. Alvarez was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his discovery of many subatomic particles through his invention and use of bubble chambers.
It is clear that Dr. Alvarez’s success was far reaching in the world of physics, but the Dallas Same Day Deliveries team is sure to mention that his work spread into other areas of science, as well. As it turns out, Dr. Alvarez’s son, geologist Walter Alvarez, had a theory that he needed his father’s help in proving. The younger Alvarez, with the help of his father, published a theory regarding the extinction of dinosaurs that was met with much controversy, but also a great deal of support. The men suggested that the death of the dinosaurs was caused by something extraterrestrial- no, not aliens, but perhaps a cosmic blast or asteroid impact.
Having lived a full and successful life, Dr. Louis Alvarez passed away from cancer in 1988 at the age of 77. His discoveries in the scientific world of physics, aviation, and geology are what make Dr. Louis Alvarez our Hot Shot Deliveries in Dallas history hot shot of the week.