Dr. Athelstan Spilhaus, Dean, Institute of Technology, University of Minnesota, is well known to scientists the world over. He is listed in "American Men of Science" as a meteorologist, an oceanographer, and as the inventor of the bathythermograph, an invention which contributed substantially to our submarine warfare success in WW 11. Our submarines, equipped with this, were able to find thermoclines and hide there with less chance of detection. It is now used by most navies for rapid measurement and recording of ocean temperatures at various depths.

An estimated 12,000,000 weekly readers know Dr. Spilhaus as the author of the popular educational science strip, "Our New Age", syndicated in 93 Sunday newspapers. Dr. Spilhaus has authored: Workbook of Meteorology, Meteorological Instruments, Weathercraft, Satellite of the Sun, and Turn to the Sea, and is a constant contributor of scientific articles to technical and related journals.

In two atomic tests in Nevada, Dr. Spilhaus served as Scientific Director of "Weapons Effects''. Other associations were: Meteorological Adviser to the Union of South Africa Government; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; U. S. National Committee for the International Geophysical Year; Advisory Committee on Weather Services, Dept. of Commerce; and more recently, U. S. Commissioner, Seattle World's Fair.

During World War 11, Dr. Spilhaus went to Yenan where he taught Chinese guerillas to radio weather data to U. S. forces. His scientific interests have taken him to such diverse areas as Kidal in the Sahara Desert, the Antarctic, and the Gobi Desert.

Dr. Athelstan F. Spilhaus

Dr. Athelstan F. Spilhaus


Presently, he is Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the U. S. Dept. of Interior for Planning a new National Aquarium to be located in Washington, D. C. He is also a member of more than 20 scientific and other organizations. To maintain his active interests, Dr. Spilhaus flies in excess of 4,000 miles a month.

Through his meteorological work, Dr. Spilhaus has long had a keen interest in astronomical clocks, their history and function. Years ago he conceived the idea of a compact space clock utilizing modern materials not available to the early clockmake. Over a period of six years he developed the simple, unique gearing for the various discs of the space dial. He built several models; and finally produced a design for a clock that is considered by many to be a breakthrough in the art and science of clockmaking.

When Dr. Spilhaus gave Edmund Scientific Co. the opportunity to manufacture and market the clock, they eagerly accepted the privilege. Edmund Scientific Co. has for over 21 years been a well known source of supply for scientists, teachers, hobbyists and amateur astronomers. In the manufacturing of this unique instrument, everything consistent with good engineering practice has been done.

All who become the proud possessors of a Spilhaus Space Clock, either by purchase or gift, will find they have a renewed interest in time and tide, sun and moon and the starry heavens.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Geophysicist Athelstan F. Spilhaus, first U.S. ambassador to the United Nations scientific organization and inventor of a device for measuring deep ocean temperatures, has died at age 86

Spilhaus died Sunday night or early Monday at his home in Middleburg, Va., according to his son, A.F. Spilhaus Jr., executive director of the American Geophysical Union.

The elder Spilhaus was a native of Cape Town, South Africa, and a graduate of the University of Cape Town and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Spilhaus developed the idea of using covered skyways and tunnels to connect buildings, protecting people in severe weather. That concept was put into use in Minneapolis in the 1950s, when he was dean of the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology.

In 1954, President Eisenhower named him the first U.S. ambassador to UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. He also served in scientific posts in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

Spilhaus created the U.S. science exhibit at the 1962 Seattle World Fair, which remains as the Pacific Science Center. He developed the bathythermograph to measure temperatures in the deep ocean and proposed the Sea Grant program, created in 1963.

Spilhaus had served as chairman of the scientific advisory committee of the American Newspaper Publishers Association.

APTV 03-30-98 1406EST

thanks to Jan Wolitzky

More pictures of Spilhaus Space Clock and how to repair it.