Culture and Trends ›

The Mad Scientist

A physicist at work at Lewis Laboratory (NASA)

The Mad Scientist

Scientist Newell D. Sanders joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1938, 20 years before it evolved into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Sanders, who died Oct. 10 at age 96, helped develop better fuels used for warplanes during World War II, early communications and weather satellites, and eventually missions to the moon and beyond, according to the obituary written by Grant Segall for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

He “led a ‘quiet engine’ program, which developed standard technology for commercial jets, and a program for space power from batteries, solar cells and more,” Segall wrote.

Sanders’s interest in above-the-ground projects was evident in his youth.

“Over the years, he sometimes worked at NASA with his twin brother, John, now deceased,” wrote Segall. “The twins grew up in remote Virginia and became known as ‘the mad scientists of Saltville.’ They tried to climb a pole with magnets on their feet. They also tossed sizzling chemistry experiments through the attic window onto the tin roof.”

***

This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer. She was the director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers before she passed away in 2015.