John Isaacs

Dr. John Dove Isaacs III (1913-1980), oceanographer, scientist

John D. Isaacs

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Directed the Marine Life Research proram at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and had been with Scripps since 1948. Proposed that large moored bouys (orange and black “bumblebee bouys”) be used in the open ocean to understand the ocean’s influence on weather. Precursors of today’s remote-sensing devices. Work on a space elevator in 1966. Contradicted global warming — showed the coming period of global cooling

Described by his peers as a “giant of science” [ref]

Subject of a book, John Isaacs and His Oceans

One-page memorial [pdf]

Memorial tribute by The National Academy of Engineering, Volume 2 (1984) [online jpg slideshow]

Articles and information

An Ocenaographer looks at the non-science of ‘global warming’” by Dr. Robert E. Stevenson (trains NASA astronauts in marine meteorology and oceanography). Tells of how Prof Isaacs, when giving a lecture to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla California back in 1972, “startled the entire staff” when he suggested that the next global Ice Age was to come within 100 years.

Profiled in “The New Oceanography,” an illustrated article in the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Explorations, vol 8 no. 2 [PDF]

For the space elevator Isaacs was mentioned in “Space Elevators and other Advanced Concepts,” a short illustrated article by Jerome Pearson and the long article “Cable Cars in The Sky” by Hans Moravec of the Artificial Intelligence Lab, Computer Science Department of Stanford University (1978) [ASCII transcript] Original article by Isaacs and others in Science magazine, Feb 11 1966 and May 6 1966, “Satellite Elongation into a True ‘Sky-Hook’”

Monster camera” photos of the 60s

During a 1950s drought, Isaacs proposed towing gigantic icebergs from Antartica to the coast of California where they would melt and the water siphoned out to lakes. The idea was being investigated by Saudi Arabia, who were considering a French engineering firm for the job. Mentioned in Time magazine, Mar 7 1977. [link]

A young Mark Olsson, president of DeepSea Power and Light, heard Isaacs speak and then went to Scripps where Isaacs became his mentor. Willard Bascom, in the introduction of his book The Crest of the Wave, Adventures in Oceanography, describes how his introduction to oceanography came in 1948 when Isaacs “recruited him for a wave study contract for the U.S. Navy” (from a review of the book).

First published on February 20th, 2009 at 3:10 pm (EST) and last modified on February 20th, 2009 at 3:22 pm (EST).