Lloyd Berkner

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Lloyd Viel Berkner (February 1, 1905, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – June 4, 1967,[1] in Washington, D.C.) was an American physicist and engineer. He is notable as the first person to measure the height and density of the ionosphere. This permitted the first complete theory of short wave radio propagation.

Later he investigated the development of the Earth's atmosphere. Since he needed data from the whole world, he proposed the International Geophysical Year in 1950.[1] At that time, the IGY was the largest cooperative study of the Earth ever undertaken.

The IGY was carried out by the International Council of Scientific Unions while he was president in 1957-59. He was also a member of the President's Scientific Advisory Committee in 1958 while he was president of Associated Universities Inc.

In 1963, Berkner, with L.C. Marshall, advanced a theory to describe the way in which the atmospheres of the solar system's inner planets had evolved.

Beginning in 1926, as a naval officer, Berkner assisted in the development of radar and navigation systems, naval aircraft electronics engineering, and studies that led to the construction of the Distant Early Warning system, a chain of radar stations designed to give the United States advance warning in the event of a missile attack across the North Pole.[1]

Berkner worked with Dallas community leaders to establish the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest (later renamed the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies, which would eventually become The University of Texas at Dallas).[1]

He wrote more than 100 papers and several books, including Rockets and Satellites (1958), Science in Space (1961), and The Scientific Age (1964).


Lloyd V. Berkner High School in Richardson, Texas was named for him in 1969. The lunar crater Berkner was named in his honor.[2] An island in Antarctica was also named for Dr. Berkner (Berkner Island) for his work as a radio operator on the first Byrd expedition to Antarctica in 1927.[1] He was reported to be a member of the "Majestic 12", twelve scientists exploring the Roswell UFO Incident, and a member of the President's advisory committee. He was married to Lillian Fulks Berkner and had two children.


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