Hugh Bradner

Physicist, Academic

1915 – 2008

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Who was Hugh Bradner?

Hugh Bradner was an American physicist at the University of California who is credited with inventing the neoprene wetsuit, which helped to revolutionize scuba diving.

A graduate of Ohio's Miami University, he received his doctorate from California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, in 1941. He worked at the US Naval Ordnance Laboratory during World War II, where he researched naval mines. In 1943, he was recruited by Robert Oppenheimer to join the Manhattan Project at the Los Alamos Laboratory. There, he worked with scientists including Luis Alvarez, John von Neumann and George Kistiakowsky on the development of the high explosives and exploding-bridgewire detonators required by atomic bombs.

After the war, Bradner took a position studying high-energy physics at the University of California, Berkeley, under Luis Alvarez. Bradner's investigated the problems encountered by frogmen staying in cold water for long periods of time. He developed a neoprene suit which could trap the water between the body and the neoprene, and thereby keep them warm. He became known as the "father of the wetsuit."

Bradner worked on the 1951 Operation Greenhouse nuclear test series on Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands. He joined the Scripps Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics as a geophysicist in 1961. He remained there for the rest of his career, becoming a full professor in 1963, and retiring in 1980. In retirement, continued to work both on oceanographic research, as well as on the DUMAND deep ocean neutrino astronomy project.

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Nov 5, 1915
  • United States of America
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Miami University
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of California, Berkeley
May 5, 2008
San Diego

on July 23, 2013


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