Auguste Piccard (Jan. 28, 1884, Basel
March 24, 1962, Lausanne
), twin brother of Jean Piccard
and father of Jacques Piccard
Piccard, a Swiss physicist is famous for his balloon
explorations of the upper stratosphere, as well as his
deep sea explorations.
Piccard's father Jules was a professor at the
University of Basel. Both Auguste, and his twin brother
Jean studied at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
in Zürich; Auguste in physics, and Jean in organic
chemistry and aeronautical engineering. Both would
receive doctorates in natural science from this institute.
Piccard remained at the Institute and became interested
in the design of balloons and making balloon ascents. When
the University of Belgium created a chair for applied
physics, Piccard accepted this post. Piccard was interested
in studying cosmic rays at high altitudes (above 16 000
m). In 1930 he built a balloon with an airtight cabin
that would allow flights to high altitudes. On May 27,
1931, Piccard and Paul Kipfer used this balloon to reach
an altitude of 15,781 m (51,762 feet). Later, on 18
August 1932, he made a second record-breaking ascent to
16,940 m (55,563 feet).
Piccard was also fascinated by deep sea exploration.
After his successes with high altitude balloon flights, he
focussed on the design of small submersible cabins
(Bathyscaphes) that would withstand
the high pressures encountered at great depth. Similar to
his balloon designs, he devised a floating cabin, that
would dive using ballast, that could be released for the
Auguste's son Jacques helped him
design the bathyscaphe Trieste, that would eventually
dive the record depth in the Marianas Trench.