Herbert E. Grier

National Medal of Science

Engineering

For his pioneering scientific contributions and his leadership role in ultra-high-speed electronic stroboscopy, electro-optic innovations, national defense, and aerospace sciences.

For his pioneering scientific contributions and his leadership role in ultra-high-speed electronic stroboscopy, electro-optic innovations, national defense, and aerospace sciences.

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Birth
April 3, 1911
Age Awarded
78
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Ultra-High-Speed Electronic Stroboscopy
Awarded by
George H. W. Bush
Education
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Areas of Impact
Transportation
Affiliations
CER
A

A student of the famed Harold “Doc” Edgerton, Herbert E. Grier helped pioneer the field of high-speed photography through the development of stroboscopy, a form of photography that has proven its worth far beyond the flashing lights of the catwalk. Stroboscopy, or strobe light photography, effectively froze objects in motion, capturing images that had previously been too quick for the camera.

Grier, Edgerton and another one of his students, Kenneth Germeshausen, initially used stroboscopy to identify problems in high-speed machinery, working as consultants in the 1930s to fix everything from printing presses to machines that made boxes, paper and watches. Stroboscopy was even used to prove that Procter & Gamble’s methods of making soap powder differed from that of Lever Brothers, dismissing a lawsuit between the two giants. From there, the three formed their own company, EG&G, in 1947, and turned their strobe lights on everything from hummingbirds in flight to the nuclear bomb, embedding them in C-47s during WWII and sending them underwater with Jacques Cousteau. 

By Lauren Clason

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