Profile of the Day: Auguste Piccard

Posted January 28, 2020 by Amanda | No Comment

On this day in 1884, Swiss physicist, inventor, and explorer Auguste Piccard was born. Piccard is best remembered for his studies of the Earth’s upper atmosphere and his exploration of the ocean’s depths.

Profile of the Day: Auguste Piccard

Image: Auguste Piccard / ETH Library, Wikimedia Commons

Piccard and his twin brother, Jean Felix Piccard, were born on January 28, 1884 in Basel, Switzerland. Both brothers showed an interest in science from an early age and would go on to become notable figures in their fields. Interested in studying the Earth’s upper atmosphere and gather measurements of cosmic radiation, Piccard experimented with balloons and developed a spherical, pressurized gondola that could carry him safely to high altitudes. 1931, Piccard took flight in his gondola and became the first person to enter the stratosphere.

Years later, Piccard turned his attention to the depths of the ocean. After realizing his work to build a high-altitude balloon could be used to explore the ocean’s depths, Piccard invented the bathyscaphe, a small steel gondola that could endure the pressures of a deep dive in the ocean. Due to interruptions in funding and the outbreak of World War II, Piccard’s bathyscaphe was not completed until 1948. In 1953, he built a second bathyscaphe with the assistance of his son, Jacques, and together they dove to a record-breaking depth of 10,335 feet.

Piccard died on March 24, 1962 at the age of 78. Thirty-seven years after his death, his grandson, Bertrand Piccard, would make the first nonstop balloon flight around the world.

Explore Auguste Piccard’s family tree on Geni and share how you’re connected.

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Amanda is the Marketing Communications Manager at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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