May 19, 1896–March 25, 1978
BY LEON KNOPOFF AND CHARLES P. SLICHTER
LOUIS SLICHTER WAS one of the foremost geophysicists of the twentieth century, an outstanding leader, scholar, and teacher. He was a pioneer in studies of inverse problems of geophysics, heat flow and cooling of the earth, free oscillations of the earth, solid-earth tides, crustal seismology, and the application of physical methods to the exploration of mineral deposits. His was the first work in many of these fields.
Slichter was born in Madison, Wisconsin, the second of four sons of Charles Sumner Slichter, professor of mathematics and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Wisconsin, and Mary Louise (Byrne) Slichter, also a teacher. The family life centered on the university, and the family environment offered enormous stimuli and challenges to excellence, always within a framework of mutual respect and good humor. All four brothers succeeded to positions of eminence in the professional and academic worlds. Louis received his undergraduate B.A. from the University of Wisconsin in 1917. He later recalled with pleasure the weekly coaching he had from Professor Max Mason of the Physics Department at Wisconsin. Mason himself had been a student of Louis’ father.