American Philosophical Society
Member History

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101. Astronomy[X]
1Name:  Dr. Patrick Thaddeus
 Institution:  Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Harvard University
 Year Elected:  2011
 Class:  1. Mathematical and Physical Sciences
 Subdivision:  101. Astronomy
 Residency:  Resident
 Living? :   Deceased
 Birth Date:  1932
 Death Date:  April 28, 2017
Pat Thaddeus’ astronomy research career centered on molecules. His pioneering and sophisticated laboratory methods of generating exotic molecules that might be observable in space, and measuring their spectra so as to be able to find these molecules in space through these microwave spectral signatures, enabled him to be without peer in this field. He and his group have thus discovered approximately 20 percent of the approximate 160 molecules now known to exist in interstellar space. His most important discoveries ranged from (unexpected) long carbon-chain molecules to (even more unexpected) negative ions, all of which have had a major impact on our understanding of the chemistry of interstellar space. He and his group have also conducted truly unique large-scale surveys of interstellar carbon monoxide which is a proxy for the difficult to observe hydrogen molecule; the high point of these surveys was the production of an exquisite, detailed map of our galaxy in three dimensions (radial velocity as well as sky coordinates), which now adorns walls in observatories world wide and has led to many further advances in our understanding of the structure of the Milky Way Galaxy. He earned his Ph.D. in 1960 from Columbia University. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1987 and of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 1989, and received the Herschel Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2001 and the Sir Harold Thompson Memorial Award in 2002. He was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2011. Patrick Thaddeus died April 28, 2017, at the age of 84.
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