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Author Topic:   Alfred Loomis Biography
knothead posted 04-17-2014 04:14 PM ET (US)   Profile for knothead   Send Email to knothead  
I thought I would mention a book I just finished reading, one that all you electrically minded folks might enjoy: "Tuxedo Park" by Jennet Conant. It's the story of a Wall Street tycoon and inventor, Alfred Loomis, who, among other things, was granted the patent for LORAN and who helped spur the development of microwave radar prior to the US involvement in WW2. It's an interesting read.


jimh posted 04-18-2014 08:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I found a copy in our state library system and have requested it. I am a big fan of non-fiction writing, and particularly anything related to atomic science and WWII.
jimh posted 05-10-2014 12:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have finished reading "Tuxedo Park" by Jennet Conant. It was a very interesting biography of Alfred Loomis. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I recommend it to others.

The book goes into some detail on the operation of the Radiation Laboratory (RadLab) at MIT in the years 1940 to 1947, where modern microwave RADAR was developed. This material was especially interesting for me because of the mention of one of the researchers at the RadLab, Jim Lawson. I knew Jim Lawson as a fellow radio amateur. His call sign was W2PV. In the 1970's he had one of the largest, finest, and most sophisticated amateur radio stations in the world. I visited him in c.1974, and spent a weekend as a guest operator of his station during a world-wide radio contest. I had not known of Jim's participation in development of RADAR, which, in "Tuxedo Park," is described as having been extremely significant. Jim Lawson developed the Transmit-Receive mechanism that allowed microwave RADAR sets to use a common antenna for both transmitting and receiving. To learn about Jim's important contribution to the war effort some 40-years after first meeting him in person was extremely interesting.

The book also describes the invention of LORAN by Loomis. As you may know, LORAN is a subject of interest to me. I was not aware of its earliest forms and important use in World War II.

There is a much shorter summary of Loomis's contributions in a biographical memoir written by the noted physicist Luis Alvarez at loomis-alfred.pdf

As for a boating connection, Loomis was involved in the America's Cup defense, campaigning, at enormous expense, the J-boat Whirlwind unsuccessfully in the 1930's. Whirlwind was built at the Lawley boat yard in Boston, which also has some significance in Boston Whaler history. The boat was built in 1930 and scrapped in 1935. More at id=267%3Alhistoire-de-whirlwind&catid=100%3Awhirlwind&Itemid=155&lang=en

knothead posted 05-14-2014 11:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for knothead  Send Email to knothead     


I'm glad that you enjoyed the book. It sounds like the fellow you knew was somewhat like Loomis, a man modest about his past achievements. Contrast him with the man who said that he "invented" the internet.

Have a good summer


prj posted 05-14-2014 02:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Don't let facts get in the way of some good 'ol partisan hatred, knuthead.

jimh posted 05-19-2014 10:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Just to be clear, as far as I know, neither Alfred Loomis or my friend appeared on a nationally televised interview program while campaigning for the presidency of the USA and said:

"During my service at the MIT Radiation Labooratory, I took the initiative in creating a practical airplane microwave RADAR."

However, it is actually true that both of those people did take a great deal of initiative in creating a practical airplane microwve RADAR at the MIT Radiation Laboratory. Had they said that on a nationally televised interview while campaigning for president, it would have been a remarkably clear and truthful statement of their actual involvement and contribution to the creation of RADAR.

That Loomis and Lawson are not names well-known or associated with RADAR by the general public--or even by their acquaintances--is an example of their modesty.

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