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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

George Francis McEwen

Physical Oceanographer, PhysicistMarshall Islands

Hydrogen BombManhattan Project Veteran

​George Francis McEwen was born on June 16, 1882 in Manchester, Iowa. He attended Iowa State College. In 1905, he moved to San Diego, California, and a few years later graduated from Stanford University. He began to work as a teaching assistant there, and in 1911, earned his Ph.D. in Physics and Mathematics. He then began his long career with the Scripps Institution for Biological Research. He primarily conducted research and worked as a Professor of Physical Oceanography.

During the 1930s, McEwen supervised a largescale project conducted by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Labor and the U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office. This involved monitoring a compilation of ships’ meteorological observations that were taken between 1904 and 1934. He also researched temperature- based methods on calculating ocean currents.

 

World War II and Later

Manhattan Project scientists were interested in McEwen’s previous work on the dispersion of silt in the ocean. In 1944, he left the Scripps Institution to briefly work with them. During Operation Crossroads, he calculated the dispersion of radioactive material.

McEwen continued his work with mathematical models of dispersion until his retirement in 1952.

To read more about McEwen’s research please click here.

George Francis McEwen's Timeline
1882 Jun 16th Born in Manchester, Iowa.
18851900 Attended Iowa State College.
1905 Moved to California.
19061908 Attended Stanford University.
1908 Became the first professional Physical Oceanographer in North America.
19081912 Worked as a Physicist for the Marine Biological Association of San Diego.
1911 Earned his Ph.D. from Stanford.
1911 Appointed as an Instructor of Mathematics at the University of Illinois.
1912 Began working for the Scripps Institution for Biological Research (later became the Scripps Institution of Oceanography).
1912 Jun 18th Married Mae Winner in Hamilton, Missouri.
1920 Served as a delegate to the Pan-Pacific Science Congress in Honolulu.
1926 Became an Associate Professor of Physical Oceanography, and worked as a curator for the Oceanographic Museum.
1928 Promoted to Professor of Oceanography and Curator of Physical Oceanography.
19361939 Supervised ships’ meteorological observations taken between 1904 and 1934, for the U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office.
19381939 Served as the Vice President of the American Meteorological Society.
1944 Began to work with Manhattan Project scientists.
1946 Calculated dispersion of radioactive material for Operation Crossroads.
1952 Retired.
1972 Mar 1st Passed away in San Diego, California.

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