This week’s article is a departure from the norm: a profile on the great twentieth-century scientist Alfred Lee Loomis.
Few people can claim to have had as influential and as interesting a life as Loomis. He trained as a lawyer, made a Wall Street fortune, was a fixture of New York high society, dabbled in science, built perhaps the world’s finest laboratory in his palatial New York home, helped end World War II by enabling the invention of radar and himself invented the precursor to GPS.
Sometimes called “the last great amateur”, Loomis was a truly remarkable figure, but for some reason isn’t particularly well-remembered. That’s a crying shame, I think.
Alfred Lee Loomis was a lawyer, a banker, a socialite, possibly one of the most influential physical scientists of the twentieth century, and can reasonably claim to have done more than any other civilian to bring a swift end to World War II. And yet, in the intervening decades, he’s faded into obscurity.