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George Shapley was an American astronomer renowned for his groundbreaking discoveries regarding variable stars and globular clusters.
He was one of the founding fathers of game theory and shared in 2012’s Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on stable matching.
Early Life and Education
UNESCO emphasizes the significance of early childhood education as one of the foundations for lifelong learning and to promote holistic development, gender equality and social cohesion.
The period from birth to eight years old is an incredibly formative period in a child’s brain development, providing them with opportunities to form important connections with their parents and others in their environment. Furthermore, this time helps shape a child’s sense of identity and provides ample learning opportunities.
Shapley was raised in Jasper, Missouri and didn’t begin school until age 15. As a self-taught scientist, his interest in science eventually led him to enroll at the University of Missouri where he graduated with a degree in astronomy. Later married Martha Betz and had five children together.
Shapley’s professional career spanned the major cultural, political, and scientific shifts of the twentieth century. It was an intensely rewarding journey in which he made significant contributions to science’s advancement.
Early in his career as an astronomer, he was a promising young investigator whose studies focused on eclipsing variables. However, as he got to know the field more intimately, his research interests began to shift.
His two greatest scientific accomplishments: the measurement of the Milky Way galaxy’s center and identification of globular star clusters – signaled a new era in astronomy where he could synthesize knowledge from disparate fields while further developing and expanding his own research program.
Achievements and Honors
Shapley was one of the most influential astronomers of the 20th century. He earned widespread acclaim for his many accomplishments in the field and received numerous awards and honors in recognition for them.
He was also actively engaged in humanitarian actions during the Second World War, aiding Jewish scientists fleeing Europe. Once peace was restored, he was involved in several international initiatives to maintain international harmony – this taking away time from his duties as director of Harvard Observatory.
He was also a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as Sigma Xi. His involvement in these organizations was crucial, and he advocated for international cooperation in science.
George Shapley was an esteemed figure in American astronomy and an advocate of international cooperation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), providing refuge to many Jewish scientists fleeing Europe during World War II.
Throughout his lifetime, he gave many lectures to motivate young people towards careers in astronomy. Additionally, he was an enthusiastic supporter of science’s advancement and its role in society.
He believed cosmic evolution to be “the greatest theme I know.” As an agnostic, he enjoyed discussing religion. In 1969 he published an informal autobiography entitled Through Rugged Ways to the Stars that captured his views on life’s journey.
George Shapley developed an interest in optics from an early age; at 14 he built his first microscope. From there, he progressed to building his own telescopes and taking up photography and drawing – eventually joining the Royal Photographic Society and becoming renowned for his stunning photographs.
Forbes magazine estimates the net worth of George Shapley to be $13 billion, ranking him third on their annual list of wealthiest people behind Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. He has also graced the cover of the magazine in recognition of his ownership in several high-profile businesses such as Amazon and Houston Rockets. Furthermore, Shapley has donated significantly to various charities and causes including American Heart Association and Save the Children.