Saturday, April 26, 2003

Ohio Moments

His name is on the scale: Charles Richter

On April 26, 1900, Charles Francis Richter, a renowned seismologist and developer of the Richter Scale, was born on a farm near Hamilton. Richter moved to California with his mother when he was 16 and entered the University of Southern California the following year. He went on to study at Stanford University and received a doctorate in theoretical physics from the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech). While working on his Ph.D, he heard that the seismological laboratory at Cal Tech was looking for a physicist. Seismology wasn't his field, but he accepted the position.

Richter worked on developing a way to determine the strength of an earthquake using objective measures. Until then, the strength of earthquakes was measured by the damage they caused. Richter and his partner, Beno Gutenberg, devised the scale and published a series of papers explaining how it works in 1935. The Richter Scale measured the magnitude of an earthquake based on the height of seismic waves released as it occurs. Richter died in 1985.

Rebecca Goodman

E-mail or call 768-8361.

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