Two whippets named Kuiper sit side by side. They have matching collars.

Historic Kuiper Summit

Kuiper the whippet meets @kuiperthewhippet at the 1st ever Historic Kuiper Summit. Swipe to watch them play together!!

On this day in 1905, the Kuipers’ namesake was born. Gerard Kuiper was a Dutch-American astronomer who made a number of important discoveries, including the presence of carbon dioxide in Mars’ atmosphere and the fact that Mars’ polar icecaps are made of water and not CO2. Carl Sagan was Kuiper’s PhD student.

There are lots of other cool things about Gerard. Today I want to share with you how he bravely risked his life to rescue Max Planck from the Soviets at the end of WWII.

Max Planck was an enormously influential German physicist who created quantum theory. In 1933, when the Nazis rose to power, he (at 74) was the head of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, the government-sponsored science institution.

Planck’s story is way too complex to fully explain here, but he believed he could better protect his fellow scientists by staying in his position rather than leaving the country (his colleague Einstein strongly disagreed.)

By the time the Germans surrendered in May 1945, Planck’s son had been executed for possible involvement in an attempt to assassinate Hitler, Planck’s house had been completely destroyed by a bombing, and he and his wife were sleeping in barns and hiding in the woods. At 87 years old. ? Meanwhile, the Soviet Red Army was still war-crimeing their way across the German countryside and committing atrocities against civilians. ??

Gerard Kuiper had joined the Alsos mission, an Ally project to study German progress on making their own version of the atomic bomb. Camped near the Elbe river with his team, Kuiper was told by a captured German that Planck was located nearby. He commandeered a Jeep and two soldiers, and they floored it in the direction of the rumor. Two hours later, they found Planck and his wife alive in a tiny, packed farmhouse. Kuiper was able to evacuate them mere hours before the Soviets arrived, saving their lives.

Which of these Kuipers do you think is most handsome? Don’t tell mine, but I think Mr. Cookies & Cream is even more gorgeous. What a beauty!! (Plus his people were THE. BEST.)

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