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John D. Strong

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John D. Strong
Born(1905-01-15)January 15, 1905
Riverdale, Kansas
DiedMarch 28, 1992(1992-03-28) (aged 87)
Amherst, Massachusetts
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Known forOptics
AwardsSPIE Gold Medal (1977)
Scientific career
FieldsPhysics, Astronomy
InstitutionsCaltech, Harvard, Johns Hopkins University
Doctoral studentsMartin Summerfield

John Donovan Strong (1905-1992) was an American physicist and astronomer.[1] One of the world's foremost optical scientists of his day, Strong was known for being the first to detect water vapor in the atmosphere of Venus and for developing a number of innovations in optical devices, ranging from improved telescope mirrors to anti-reflective coatings for optical elements and diffraction gratings.


Born in Lawrence, Kansas in 1905,[2] Strong received degrees from the University of Kansas (BA 1926) and the University of Michigan (M.S., 1928, Ph.D., 1930). After twelve years at Caltech and wartime research at Harvard on infrared systems, Strong became professor and director of the Astrophysics and Physical Meteorology Laboratories at Johns Hopkins University in 1946, where, among many other projects, he conducted research on balloon astronomy for the Office of Naval Research (ONR). He retired in 1981.[3] Strong died of pancreatic cancer in 1992.[4][5]


Strong published hundreds of papers throughout his career and was author of Procedures in Experimental Physics, a standard physics textbook for many years. Strong served as president of the American Optical Association in 1959[2] and patented numerous inventions for optics in spectroscopy as well as golf (see US patent 3720467A ).


Strong won Longstreth and Levy Medals from the Franklin Institute and OSA's Frederic Ives Medal.[3]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Strong, John (1 January 1986). Procedures in Experimental Physics (1986th ed.). Lindsay Pubns. ISBN 978-0-917914-56-0.
  • Strong, John (15 January 2004). Concepts of Classical Optics (2004th ed.). Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-43262-5.
  • Strong, John (28 October 1989). Procedures in Applied Optics (1st ed.). Marcel Dekker, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8247-7987-0.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sanderson, John A. (March 1993). "John Donovan Strong". Physics Today. 46 (3): 102–103. doi:10.1063/1.2808855.
  2. ^ a b Howard, John N. (January 2011). "[Optical Society of America] Presidents of the Late 1950s" (PDF). optica.org. Optica. Retrieved 10 May 2023. John Donovan Strong was born in Riverdale, Kansas, on 15 January 1905.
  3. ^ a b "John D. Strong | Optica". www.optica.org. Retrieved 8 November 2023.
  4. ^ "John Donovan Strong". The Baltimore Sun. 24 March 1992. Archived from the original on 20 June 2021. Retrieved 10 May 2023. John Donovan Strong, an astronomer who was a professor at Johns Hopkins University before moving to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, died of cancer Saturday [21 March] at a nursing home in Amherst. He was 87.
  5. ^ Lambert, Bruce (28 March 1992). "John Strong, 87, Expert in Optics And Astronomy". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 24 April 2023. Retrieved 10 May 2023. John D. Strong, a scientist and inventor who discovered water vapor on Venus and advanced the development of telescope mirrors and other optical devices, died on Saturday at the Amherst Nursing Home in Amherst, Mass. He was 87 years old. He died of pancreatic cancer, his family said.

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