George West Wetherill, a pioneer of geochronolgy and planetary science, passed away from heart failure at his home in Washington, D.C., on 19 July 2006, one month short of his 81st birthday Wetherill, director emeritus of the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, made major contributions to a wide variety of fields, including geochronology and the formation of the planets.
Wetherill was born in Philadelphia, Pa., on 12 August 1925. After service in the U.S. Navy in World War II, where he taught radar at the Naval Research Laboratory, he entered the University of Chicago on the G.I. Bill. Wetherill obtained four degrees, culminating in his Ph.D. in physics in 1953. He began work at Carnegie's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in 1953 and became part of its geochronology group, working with Thomas Aldrich, George Tilton, and Gordon Davis.