Hugh Bradner

Hugh Bradner

American physicist
Date of Birth: 05.11.1915
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Hugh Bradner
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Manhattan Project
  4. Personal Life and Career
  5. Invention of the Wetsuit
  6. Later Life and Contribution to Oceanography

Biography of Hugh Bradner

Early Life and Education

Hugh Bradner was an American physicist, a participant in the Manhattan Project, and the creator of the neoprene wetsuit. He was born in Tonopah, Nevada and grew up in Findlay, Ohio. His father, Donal Byal Bradner, held a position as the director of the military chemical service at the Maryland Arsenal for some time. Bradner graduated from Ohio's Miami University in 1936 and received his doctorate degree from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California in 1941.

Hugh Bradner

Manhattan Project

After completing his doctorate, Bradner joined the US Naval Ordnance Laboratory in 1941 where he specialized in studying underwater mines until 1943. In 1943, J. Robert Oppenheimer recruited Bradner to join the Manhattan Project. At the Los Alamos laboratory, Bradner, along with a team of remarkable scientists, worked on the development of the atomic bomb. He played a significant role in the development of several key technologies used in creating this terrifying weapon. On July 16, 1945, Bradner had the opportunity to witness the first practical test of nuclear weapons at Trinity.

Personal Life and Career

It was at Los Alamos where Bradner met his future wife, Marjorie Hall. Due to the strict secrecy surrounding the Manhattan Project, neither the bride nor the groom were allowed to invite their parents to the ceremony. However, their marriage remained strong until Marjorie's death on April 10, 2008. In 1946, Bradner joined the University of California, Berkeley, where he focused on high-energy physics until 1961. During his service, Bradner had to undertake a series of underwater dives. Experiencing the rapid heat loss underwater, Bradner decided to find a way to reduce heat loss and began experimenting with neoprene. He conducted his work on the new type of wetsuit in the basement of his home in Berkeley, California.

Invention of the Wetsuit

It is believed that the first functional prototype of the wetsuit was created in 1952. Bradner, along with a group of colleagues, formed a company to work on this invention. However, Bradner's attempts to patent his creation were unsuccessful as patent authorities deemed his wetsuit too similar to aviator suits. The military did not show interest in the new wetsuit, and Bradner was unable to capture a significant market share. Over time, the story of the wetsuit's creation was forgotten, and credit for its invention was mistakenly given to Bradner's main competitors, the Meistrell brothers. It was only in 2005 that the Los Angeles Times confirmed that Hugh Bradner was indeed the father of the wetsuit and the person who revolutionized the world of underwater diving.

Later Life and Contribution to Oceanography

In 1961, Bradner turned his attention to geophysics, and in 1963, he became a professor. He continued to pursue his interest in oceanography, underwater diving, and collecting seashells even after retiring in 1980. It is known that even in his old age, Bradner made several important oceanographic discoveries. Hugh Bradner passed away on May 5, 2008, in San Diego, California at the age of 92.