Black Inventors and Innovators - George Carruthers
George Robert Carruthers was born October 1, 1939 in Cincinnati, Ohio but grew up in Chicago, Illinois. Carruthers father was a civil engineer and his mother was a homemaker. As a young child Carruthers was very interested in science fiction and astronomy. Carruthers would build model rockets and telescopes and would spend his time at libraries, museums and the planetarium. Growing up during the early stages of the space race Carruthers was also interested in space travel.
Carruthers went to the University of Illinois where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering, a Master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering and a Ph.D in Aeronautical and Astronomical Engineering. Carruthers could not decide whether to study aerospace engineering or astronomy so he did both. After graduating Carruthers became a Research Physicist with the Naval Research Laboratory.
Carruthers main focus was on far ultraviolet astronomy, which meant that he would observe the Earth's upper atmosphere and other astronomical phenomena. Carruthers received a patent for his invention the "Image Converter for Detecting Electromagnetic Radiation Especially in Short Wave Lengths" which detected electromagnetic radiation in short wave lengths. Carruthers was also the principle inventor of the Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph which would ultimately be used on the Apollo 16 mission to the moon. This camera viewed stars and celestial bodies and looked into the solar system thousands of miles away. A second version of the camera was sent on the 1974 SkyLab space flight to study comets; especially to observe Halley’s Comet. The camera was also used to view the effects of pollution on the atmosphere and to detect hydrogen in space for the first time; this gave an indication that plants were not the only source of oxygen for the Earth and led to a renewed debate about the origin of stars.
George Carruthers is an innovator in the areas of astronomy and physics and continues to work with youth around the country through outreach programs that connects the young with science. Carruthers has received numerous awards and accolades for his work in science. Carruthers is also a touted and distinguished lecturer, teaching at HowardUniversity and other locations.
Carruthers is truly an innovator in the field of science but more than that Carruthers understands the importance of bringing science to the youth.