Joseph Kaplan (September 8, 1902 — October 3, 1991) was a Hungarian-born American physicist.
Kaplan was notable for his studies of atmospheric phenomena, for his international activities in geophysics.Kaplan also participated in efforts to launch the first Earth satellite. Kaplan was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, chairman of the U.S. National Committee for the International Geophysical Year, the founder and first director of the Institute of Geophysics at the University of California (later known as the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics), an aerospace adviser to Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon, a recipient of the Smithsonian Institution’s Hodgkins Medal in 1967, the head of the Air Force’s Air Weather Service during World War II, a professor and professor emeritus of physics at the University of California, Los Angeles, a fellow of American Geophysical Union, an honorary member of American Meteorological Society, a fellow of American Physical Society, an honorary member of National Association of Science Writers, and a founding member of the International Academy of Astronautics.
The Los Angeles Times said that Kaplan was “a pioneer in the chemistry and physics of the stratosphere”. The Baltimore Sun called him “an expert on auroras and similar lights in the sky”.
Notable awards and distinctions
- the John Adams Fleming Award of the American Geophysical Union (1970)
- the Commemorative Medal for the 50th Anniversary of the American Meteorological Society (1969)
- the Hodgkins Medal and Prize from the Smithsonian Institution
- the Astronautical Award from the American Rocket Society
- the War Department’s Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service (1947)
- the Air Force’s Exceptional Civilian Service Award (1960 and 1969)
- the degree of doctor of science from Carleton College and the University of Notre Dame