Gerrit Verschuur

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Gerrit L. Verschuur
Verschuur Gerrit.jpg
Gerrit L. Verschuur
Cape Town
ResidenceLakeland, Tennessee
NationalityUnited States Flag of the United States.svg
Naturalized 1975
Alma materRhodes University
University of Manchester
Scientific career
FieldsRadio astronomy
InstitutionsUniversity of Memphis

Gerrit L. Verschuur (born in 1937 in Cape Town, South Africa) is a naturalized American scientist who is best known for his work in radio astronomy. Though a pioneer in that field—he has 50 years of experience—Verschuur is also an author (he has written about astronomy, natural disasters, and earth sciences), inventor, a self-employed IP Consultant, adjunct professor of physics for the University of Memphis, and a lifetime fan of Manchester United FC[citation needed] Since 1996 he has been the Chief Scientist for Translucent Technologies, LLC; a company which is based in Memphis, Tennessee.[1]

In 1992 Verschuur became a resident of the City of Lakeland, which is located in Shelby County, Tennessee, and is northeast of Memphis. In 2001 Verschuur was elected, and served a four-year term as commissioner. In 2007 Verschuur was elected again and is currently serving another term as Commissioner; this one, for two years. At present, Verschuur is also the President of the Garner Lake Association[permanent dead link]. Since 1986 he has been married to Dr. Joan Schmelz, a fellow scientist whose specialty is solar astronomy, specifically Coronal loops.[2] Verschuur has one son who lives in England.[1]

A frequent lecturer, Verschuur has taught at the University of Manchester, Rhodes University, the universities of Colorado and Maryland, UCLA, and the University of California, Berkeley, among others.[3] He has been an annual speaker at Mid-South Stargaze, which is “the annual amateur astronomers conference and star party held at Rainwater Observatory in French Camp, Mississippi.”[4] In 1971 Verschuur was hired as the first Director of Fiske Planetarium for the University of Colorado at Boulder,[5] and in 1980 he worked with Dr. John Lilly.[3]

In his primary field of study, however, Verschuur "pioneered the measurement of the interstellar magnetic field using the 21-cm Zeeman effect technique."[6] A thing which, according to Virginia Trimble, for the first time allowed astronomers to "measure magnetic strengths and their place-to-place variations with some confidence."[7]


Gerrit L. Verschuur was born in 1937 in Cape Town, South Africa, at the foot of Table Mountain. In 1936, his parents had emigrated from the Netherlands and settled in Cape Town. Two years after he was born—in 1939—his parents moved again, choosing a suburb of Cape Town named Lakeside. While he was living there, Verschuur attended Muizenberg Junior School. Then, when his parents moved to Port Elizabeth in 1950, he attended Grey Junior and subsequently Grey High School.[citation needed]

After graduation he began a six-year stint at Rhodes University in Grahamstown where he earned a BSc in 1957—Majors: Math, Physics, & Applied math; a BSc(Hons) of Physics in 1958; and a MSc degree of physics, in 1960.

In December 1960 he sailed for Southampton, England on Capetown Castle, a ship owned by the Union Castle Line.[8] It was one of the last passenger mail boats to ply the SA-England route, but was sold for scrap in 1967.[9]

Current research[edit]

Verschuur is at the center of a recent debate over the age of the universe.[10][11] He claims that images from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (Wmap) are not pictures of the universe in its early form, but rather hydrogen gas clouds in our own galaxy. If he is shown to be correct, much work relating to the Big Bang Theory would be undermined.

On December 10, 2007 his work with respect to COBE, WMAP, and HI, was published in The Astrophysical Journal.[12] However, in a more systematic examination of the maps published that same year in The Physical Review, Land and Slosar [13] find the data do not support the correlation claimed by Verschuur.

Selected publications[edit]


  • The Invisible Universe: The Story of Radio Astronomy. Springer-Verlag, New York, 1974[14]"Nominated for National book award – then disqualified because I was not a US citizen at the time."[15]
  • Galactic and Extragalactic Radio Astronomy. Springer-Verlag, New York, 1974. Co-edited with K.I. Kellerman[16]
    ISBN 0-387-06504-0
  • Cosmic Evolution: An Introduction to Astronomy. Houghton Mifflin, 1978. Co-Author with George B. Field and Cyril Ponnamperuma[17]
    ISBN 0-395-25321-7
  • Starscapes.Little Brown & Co., Boston, 1977[18]ISBN 0-316-90030-3
  • Cosmic Catastrophes. Addison Wesley Longman Publishing Co., 1978ISBN 0-201-08099-0
  • Interstellar Matters: Essays on Curiosity and Astronomical Discovery. Springer-Verlag, 1989 ISBN 0-387-96814-8
  • Hidden Attraction: The History and Mystery of Magnetism. Oxford University Press, 1996, (First Published 1993) ISBN 0-19-510655-5
  • Impact!: The Threat of Comets and Asteroids. Oxford University Press, 1996 ISBN 0-19-510105-7
  • The Invisible Universe: The Story of Radio Astronomy. Springer, 2nd. ed., 2007 ISBN 978-0-387-30816-6

Encyclopaedia Articles[edit]

  • "Interstellar Medium" Encyclopædia Britannica (15th edition) Volume I-J. pp 790–800, 1973
  • "Interstellar Matter" Encyclopædia Britannica (Asian edition) 1986
  • "Magnetic Fields and Galactic Structure." Reference Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Ed. S. Maran, Van Nostrand Rheinhold, New York, 1992

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Uncommonly Lakeland Archived July 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Women in science – Earth and Space – Dr. Joan T. Schmelz Archived December 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 2, 2007. Retrieved December 10, 2007. (See: Verschuur)
  4. ^ Mid-South Star Gaze Archived October 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ History // Fiske Planetarium Archived June 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Our Place In Space: The Implications Of Impact Catastrophes On Human Thought And Behaviour". Archived from the original on August 6, 2007. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
  7. ^ (Beamline, Spring/Summer 1996, Vol. 26, No. 1, pages 40–41.)
  8. ^ "Union-Castle Line". Maritime Matters. February 28, 2010. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
  9. ^ "Union-Castle Line". Retrieved 2012-06-27.
  10. ^ Analysis confronts model of universe’s formation –
  11. ^ Big Bang or Big Goof? Astronomer Verschuur Challenges 'Seeds' Proof
  12. ^ "High Galactic Latitude Interstellar Neutral Hydrogen Structure and Associated (WMAP) High‐Frequency Continuum Emission"(Abstract)
  13. ^ Correlation between galactic HI and the cosmic microwave background (Physical Review D, vol. 76, Issue 8, id. 087301)
  14. ^ (See: #65.)
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 2, 2007. Retrieved December 10, 2007. (See: Verschuur)
  16. ^ Energy Citations Database (ECD) – - Document #4182195
  17. ^
  18. ^ (See: #74.)