By Sarah B Lange under Philanthropy Stories on April 15, 2021

Did you know that the course of WWII was changed because of PHILANTHROPY?

It’s true!

Meet Alfred Loomis. Born in 1887, he attended law school. Although he was a successful lawyer, Loomis volunteered to serve in WWI. While working at the Aberdeen Proving Ground (in MD), he invented the Aberdeen Chronograph, the 1st instrument to accurately measure muzzle velocity of artillery shells, and portable enough to be used on the battlefield. Loomis’ improvements made it easier to measure the speed of larger shells and aircraft catapults.

After the war, Loomis decided to go into investment banking rather than return to the law. He and his brother-in-law purchased a company that focused on public utilities at a time when the infrastructure for electricity was being put into place in rural America.

Loomis anticipated the 1929 Wall Street crash and converted their assets to gold, allowing them to survive the crash. With Wall Street in ruins, Loomis – who had always had an interest in science; especially physics – turned his attention away from banking.

He built a personal laboratory near his home in Tuxedo Park, NY, and began conducting pioneering studies in spectrometry, high-frequency sound and capillary waves, electro-encephalography, and the precise measurement of time, chronometry – don’t worry, I don’t know what most of these are, either! 😉

Loomis invited accomplished scientists from all over – including Einstein – to come work at his lab. He paid the fare for those scientists who couldn’t afford to travel to NY. “The Palace of Science” became a meeting place for the most visionary minds of the 20th Century, where scientists from around the world could collaborate and cross-pollinate ideas.

In 1938, Loomis’ investment allowed for the construction of a 184” cyclotron, the 1st of its kind. During that same time, Loomis and his team pioneered a small microwave radar. His advances were noted by the government both here and in England. Soon, Loomis was heading up a team at MIT. He pressed for the development of the radar – despite skepticism on the part of the military – and funded the lab until federal funding could be organized. The resulting 10-cm radar was a key piece of technology which allowed Allied forces to sink German U-boats, spot incoming bombers, and provided cover for the D-Day Landing. Because of radar, millions of lives were saved.

Loomis also invented long-range radio navigation, which was used up until 2010, when GPS took over. He also made significant contributions to the development of ground-controlled approach technology for aircraft, which allowed ground control to aid pilots in poor weather conditions.

Alfred Loomis played a key role in facilitating the Allied victory in WWII. Advances he and other scientists made in technology – which were often funded by his own investments – laid the groundwork for the technology we know and use today (cooked anything in the microwave lately?). What Loomis knew was this:

Inventors + investors = innovation!

What could philanthropy make possible for YOUR organization? What would be different if you had a smart, generous person who stepped up and funded important innovations in the work you’re doing?

SO – What does YOUR microwave look like? Is there a radar in your future? What might you be able to accomplish if you had the funding you need to accomplish your mission?

And how can I help you get there?

Stay tuned for more stories of innovations that have been Powered by Philanthropy!

Meanwhile, if you’re facing a challenge or have a burning question that needs to be answered, you can book a free 15-minute Pick My Brain Session by clicking here.


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