In defense of her father, Zwicky’s youngest daughter, Barbarina told Decoded Science:
“My father encountered terrible hostility to his work during his lifetime . . . Freeman Dyson did not know or ever meet my father, and is only repeating the incessant inflammatory anecdotes for his own purposes. The continued opinions of imbeciles are repeated from the oral histories as if they hold some kind of truth, and find their genesis in the inferior minds and failure of my father’s colleagues.”
Astronomy Theories Vindicated
Over the years, nearly all of Zwicky’s theories have been verified. In the early 1970′s, American astronomer Vera Rubin (along with W.K. Ford and others) confirmed Zwicky’s dark matter findings. A number of independent observations now tell us this mysterious dark matter is the most widespread form of matter in the universe — some five times more prevalent than ordinary matter.
Zwicky himself found 129 supernovae — a personal record which still stands. The first of some 1000 known neutron stars in our galaxy were discovered by radio astronomers in the mid-1960′s. And astrophysicists now believe that most galactic cosmic rays come from supernova explosions, just as Zwicky predicted.
Zwicky’s Career and Honors
Over his long career, Zwicky wrote some 300 articles, was awarded over 50 patents, and published 10 books. He has been called the “father” of the jet engine, for his work in the 1940′s as Director of Research at Aerojet Engineering Corporation. Zwicky was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Truman in the 1940′s for his rocket propulsion work during WWII, and he also received the Gold Medal of Britain’s Royal Astronomical Society.
After WWII, Zwicky collected and donated 15 tons of scientific books and journals to war-ravaged scientific libraries in Europe and Asia. He also directed the Pestalozzi Foundation of America, supporting orphanages around the world.
Fritz Zwicky died in Pasadena Feb. 8, 1974, just shy of his 76th birthday. The first gravitational lens was discovered five years later, confirming yet another of his theories.
Asteroid 1803 Zwicky and lunar crater Zwicky are named in his honor.
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Soter, Steven and deGrasse Tyson, Neil, eds. Fritz Zwicky’s Extraordinary Vision. (2000). American Museum of Natural History. Accessed July 2, 2012.
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