Thoughts On Humans #13 : The Obscure Genius Who Became a Giant

Neil Divine (1939-1994)

What is interesting about Theodore Neil Divine is how little information is out there.  I have seen his name on lists for years, giving him prominence as one of the most influential LGBT scientists, at least in recent history.  He authored the NASA paper The Planet Mercury, 1971.  The problem is that all the information about him seems to come from two sources, one of which I cannot find directly.  We need more information about him.  Clearly his contributions to the field of astrophysics are important, but I want to know more about the man himself.  The most I learned from my research is that in 1957 he placed 9th in a national academic contest of some sort, winning an RCA Hi-Fi set.  I’d like to have a photo to put with his name.  I think what draws me most to this guy is the idea of obscurity.  People who make contributions should not fade away so quickly.  There is a reason to include him on lists of important scientists, but memory is fading.  I’ll keep digging and if I find anything in the future, I will update.

Biographical Sources (Complete Texts):

American Astrophysicist, major contributor to modern theory of star formation and prediction of meteoroid and space debris environments. During his 25 years at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Devine made many fundamental scientific contributions, including defining the radiation belts around Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus, and the dust environment around Halley and other cometary targets. During his tenure at JPL, he often served as a mentor and inspiration to many younger space physicists who benefited from both his scientific incisiveness and quick wit. (credited as Neil Divine’s 1994 Memorial Biography)

T. Neil Divine, a member of AGU since 1974 in the Planetology section, died of AIDS‐related complications on January 27, 1994. He is best remembered for contributions to the Voyager, Galileo, CRAF, and Cassini missions, which included denning the radiation belts around Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus and the dust environment around Halley and other cometary targets. Donations will be accepted in his memory to the AIDS Project Los Angeles.(from the AGU website)