Edgerton, Harold

Edgerton, Harold,

1903–90, American inventor and educator, b. Fremont, Nebr. He was educated at the Univ. of Nebraska and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (D.Sc., 1931), and taught at the latter as professor of electrical engineering (1928–66), institute professor (1966–68), and institute professor emeritus (1968–90). He is best known for his development and perfection of the stroboscopestroboscope
, optical instrument for making a moving object appear to be slowed down or stationary. This effect is created by interrupting the observer's view so that the object is seen only at regularly spaced intervals rather than continuously.
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, which not only has practical engineering applications but also produces breathtaking imagery. Edgerton joined with Jacques CousteauCousteau, Jacques Yves
, 1910–97, French oceanographer and naval officer. In 1943, with Émil Gagnan, he invented the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba).
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 in underwater exploration, producing the first underwater time-lapse photography (1968) and inventing sonar devices that analyzed the rock of the seabed (1960) and gave a seismic profile of the sea floor (1961). With J. R. Killian, Jr., he wrote Flash! Seeing the Unseen by Ultra High Speed Photography (1939) and Moments of Vision: The Stroboscopic Revolution in Photography (1979).
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Edgerton, Harold (Eugene)

(1904–90) electrical engineer; born in Fremont, Nebr. He became professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1934. A pioneer in stroboscopes and high-speed photography, he developed a krypton-xenon gas arc, used to photograph capillaries in the eye.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.