Charles F. Richter
Charles F. Richter, in full Charles Francis Richter (born April 26, 1900, near Hamilton, Ohio, U.S.—died September 30, 1985, Pasadena, California), American physicist and seismologist who developed the Richter scale for measuring earthquake magnitude.
Born on an Ohio farm, Richter moved with his mother to Los Angeles in 1916. He attended the University of Southern California (1916–17) and then studied physics at Stanford University (A.B., 1920) and the California Institute of Technology (Ph.D., 1928). Richter was on the staff of the Seismological Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Pasadena, California (1927–36), and then taught both physics and seismology at Caltech (1937–70) and worked at its Seismological Laboratory (founded in 1936).
With Beno Gutenberg (1889–1960), a German-born Caltech professor, he developed in 1935 the magnitude scale that came to be associated with his name. Based on instrumental recording of ground motion, it provided a quantitative measure of earthquake size and complemented the older Mercalli scale, which was based on an earthquake’s reported intensity. Richter also mapped out quake-prone areas in the United States, though he disparaged attempts at earthquake prediction. He wrote (with Beno Gutenberg) Seismicity of the Earth and Associated Phenomena (1949) and Elementary Seismology (1958). He also wrote the article “
Earthquakes” for the 15th edition of Encyclopædia Britannica (first published 1974).
Articles from Britannica encyclopedias for elementary and high school students.
- Charles Francis Richter - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up)
(1900-85). U.S. physicist Charles Francis Richter developed the Richter scale to measure the intensity of earthquakes. He was born on April 26, 1900, near Hamilton, Ohio. After attending the University of Southern California, he graduated from Stanford University in 1920 and received a doctorate in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1928. Richter worked at the Seismological Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1927-36 and taught at the California Institute of Technology in 1937-70. He worked with Beno Gutenberg to develop an earthquake scale in 1935. The two published Seismicity of the Earth and Associated Phenomena in 1949. Richter died on Sept. 30, 1985, in Pasadena, California.
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