Swings, Polydore Ferdinand Felix
BornRansart, Belgium, 24 September 1906
DiedEseneux, Belgium, 28 October 1983
Belgian spectroscopist Polydore Swings codiscovered the first interstellar molecule and identified a number of other molecules and radicals in the spectra of nebulae and comets. He was educated at the prestigious Athénée Charleroi, where an early interest in astronomy was stirred by the books of Camille Flammarion, and studied celestial mechanics under Marcel Dehalu at the University of Liège, earning a first degree in 1927. Swings spent the next 2 years in France, taking courses at the Sorbonne, the Collège de France, and the Institute d’Optique and working at the Observatoire de Paris in Meudon, where he learned the techniques of astronomical spectroscopy.
Swings returned to Liège in 1928 and, apart from brief visits abroad, spent the rest of his academic career there. Delahu and he set up a laboratory to carry out spectroscopy, since the wavelengths to be...