Arthur R. von Hippel, an educator and scientist who contributed to the development of radar, died on Dec. 31 from complications of the flu. He was 105.
Born in Germany, von Hippel studied physics at the University of Göttingen. After doing a fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley, and teaching for four years at the Physikalische Institute in Göttingen, he worked with Nobel Prize laureate James Franck. He married Franck’s daughter, Dagmar, in 1930.
When Adolf Hitler came into power three years later, von Hippel and his wife fled from Germany. He joined 30 other European academics in establishing a Laboratory of Electrophysics in an Istanbul palace then moved to Copenhagen to work at the Niels Bohr Institute. There he was recruited by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and offered a faculty position in its department of electrical engineering. Von Hippel accepted the job, moved to America and founded the school’s Laboratory for Insulation Research.
For the next three decades, von Hippel directed the laboratory’s development, measurement, commercial manufacture and technical applications of radar, and its study of molecular structure of materials. He also published numerous books, including “Dielectrics and Waves,” “Molecular Science and Molecular Engineering” and “The Molecular Designing of Materials and Devices.”
His efforts were rewarded by President Harry Truman, who gave him a certificate of merit. In 1976, the Materials Research Society established an award in his name as its highest honor, and made von Hippel its first recipient.