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OSA | Living History

Kasson S. Gibson

OSA Awards & Distinctions

Born in 1890, Kasson S. Gibson received his A.B. and Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1912 and 1916, respectively. When he joined the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) in 1916 he began a career that would place him at the forefront of spectrophotometry and colorimetry.

During his career, Gibson made important contributions to radiant energy studies.  One of his most important contributions was research performed with Edward Tyndall on human vision. Their subsequent 1923 paper titled “Visibility of Radiant Energy” described the “visibility curve” a quantified model of how well a typical person can see different wavelengths of light. The model has endured and underlies all physical measurements of photometric quantities and their interpretation in photometric units of measure.

Another key contribution was research done with Raymond Davis to design optical filters so that they transformed radiation from incandescent lamps to simulate natural daylight.

Gibson headed photometry and colorimetry research at NBS from 1933 until his retirement in 1955, publishing over 100 papers in spite of his administrative responsibilities.

He was a fellow of OSA, APS, the Illuminating Engineering Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also served as a member of the AIP Governing Board and Advisory Committee for Physics Today.

Kasson S. Gibson died 8 January 1979.

Document Created: 12 Jun 2013
Last Updated: 19 Mar 2021