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Archie G. Worthing

Photo of Archie G. Worthing

1941 OSA President Archie Garfield Worthing was born on 6 February 1881 in LeRoy, WI, USA. His research did much to advance the design of light bulbs and make them practical for everyday use. After high school he taught in a grammar school for two years to earn money for college. He obtained a B. A. from the University of Wisconsin in 1904 and then taught physics for five years to earn money for graduate school. He completed a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan in 1911.

Worthing then took a job at the newly created laboratory of the National Lamp Works (later called the GE Nela Park laboratories) in Cleveland in 1911. During World War I he was asked to help design a lamp for the military. Early in 1918 the laboratory was asked to develop an artificial-light unit for signaling in the daytime in places where the operator would be seen against a bright sky background.

An additional request came for a 6-volt, 2-ampere lamp for use in a trench-signaling unit to supplant the unsatisfactory unit then in service. Worthing and his colleagues were given about a year to come up with the new lamps. They created a 2-ampere, 6-volt, G-12 D. C. bayonet S-4 filament Mazda C lamp was developed for the trench signal unit. Three hundred lamps were supplied by the Lynn Works of the General Electric Co.

A large part of the work published by Worthing at Nela Park produced important technical data so that the tungsten filament lamp could attain the prominent place in lighting that has endured since about 1909. He continued to add to that wealth of information after he left Nela Park in 1925 and settled down as head of the Physics Dept. at the University of Pittsburgh.

He was active in the American Association of Physics Teachers (serving as president in 1941), was a fellow of the American Physical Society, and was also active in The Optical Society. His papers in JOSA mostly pertained to measurements of blackbody radiation and to the radiation emitted by incandescent tungsten.  Worthing wrote a number of books including An Outline of Atomic Physics, Heat, and Treatment of Experimental Data. Several radio talks which touched on highlights of modern physics, the origin of artificial light sources, and other inventions were transformed into books and published in 1925 and 1927.

Archie G. Worthing died on 30 July 1949.

Document Created: 26 Jul 2023
Last Updated: 28 Aug 2023

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