Sunday , August 1 2021

The scientist Walter Munk, called "Einstein of the Ocean", dies at the age of 101

SAN DIEGO – Walter Munk, a renowned scientist-researcher whose knowledge of the nature of winds, currents and currents brought him the nickname "Einstein of the Ocean", died on Friday. He was 101.

Munk died of pneumonia in Seiche, his seaside home near the University of California, San Diego, where he helped to become famous during decades of work at the Oceanographic Institute Scripps.

His death was announced by his wife, Mary Munk. "We thought he would live forever," she said. His legacy will be his passion for the ocean, which was infinite. "

Munk was always in the water or around the water to find out how the waves broke, where the currents were moving and why the changes in the oceanic composition affected the earth's climate.

It significantly improved surfing forecasts, helped the US military forces to land more securely during the D-Day attack in World War II. In the early fifties, he was accompanied by an explosion of a hydrogen bomb from a small raft that coated with radioactive precipitation.

And he was among the first waves of scientists who pulled diving equipment and explored the marvelous and evil oceans.

Munk was also infinitely curious about marine life, especially fish, – and in the end he had a strange name after him. It was a kind of devilish ray, which has an exceptional ability to jump out of the water – it gives the impression that it can fly.

Years ago, during the journey, which was filmed for the documentary, he went to the search for the devil. The film shows Munk in a familiar environment that stands on the boat's rail, and the wind scatters his pale gray locks when he looks at the sea with joy and surprise.

"Walter was the most brilliant scientist I've ever known," said Pradeep Khosla, Chancellor of UC San Diego. "I am worried about the effect he had on UC San Diego, from his countless discoveries, who set the university on the map as a great research institution, to their global leadership on the great scientific issues of our time."

Margaret Leinen, Director of Oceanography, Scripps, said: "Walter Munk is a global treasure hunt for ocean science and geophysics. He was a leading force, an incentive force, a provocative force in science for 80 years. While he was one of the most respectable and honorable scientists in the world, Walter never rested on his achievements. He has always been interested in initiating a debate on what is going on. "

Munk was born on October 19, 1917 and grew up in Austria, where he studied in high school in order to afford his great passion – skiing.

His parents later sent him to Columbia University, hoping to leave. He is, but in his own way. He sank into studies when he did not lead a university ski club.

Munchkin's attention turned to the West Coast. He fell in love with Pasadena and came to a turning point.

"My mom gave me a lot of money and said," Do what you want, "Munk said in an interview for 2016.

"I bought a DeSoto convertible, drove to Pasadena and appeared on Caltech. Dean said: "Let me drag you." I said there was no file. I thought so naïve that I could go to college anywhere you wanted.

"I was told that I could pass the entrance examination in one month. I took a room at the corner of Lake and California and for the first time in my life I started studying. With some miracle, I passed the exam and became a student at Caltech. «

Later, she became a girlfriend and followed her to La Jolla, where he developed the deepest passion of his life, the sea.

Shortly before World War II, he became a postgraduate student at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute, where he began studying surfing. Soon he worked for the Navy at a research laboratory at Point Loma, where he studied anti-aircraft warfare and wave forecasting.

He improved these forecasts, the work that Allied forces used frequently in World War II to set up troops on land. Munchkin's research later helped other scientists to find better ways to operate ships on the high seas and to tell where the waves would break.

His interests multiplied in the fifties and sixties. It helped to form scientific expeditions into deep, open oceans, research that helped explain the role of ocean currents and enable a better understanding of why the Earth is fluctuating.

State attention turned to the space program in the 1960s, when the United States worked as the first country to put men in the moon.

Munk preferred to watch down to the sea. He decided to gather scientists around the idea of ​​drilling into the earth's surface so that they could better understand its composition, evolution, and role.

In general, these efforts, focused on the MOHOLE project, have failed. But in the early 1960s, drilling was carried out, and scientists learned that they could use acoustic signals from the seabed to build surface platforms, which is a major advance in the ocean drilling.

This and other work brought him the National Medal of Science.

Munk remained active recently. He and his wife spent most of their last summer tour in Europe, a trip that included a visit to Paris, where he received the French legion of honor by listing a knight (knight) for his contributions to oceanography.

Munk said he intends to travel to France this summer for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day consent, although his health has called into question this. He became weaker and had difficulty breathing.

UC San Diego said in a statement that Munku had died before his death, his first wife, Judith, who died in 2006, and her daughter Lucian, who was born with a heart failure and died at 7 years in 1961.

His wife, Mary Coakley Munk, survived; daughter Edie Munk from La Jolla and Kendall Munk from State College, PA; and three grandchildren, Walter, Lucien and Maxwell.

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