Fritz Zwicky, although not the most well-known scientist of the 20th Century, has made tremendous achievements in the field of astrophysics and astronomy. Zwicky’s discoveries have shaped how we view the universe today. His most notable achievement was the discovery of neutron stars and the supernovae that give them birth. In 1934, working in conjunction with Walter Baade, they first presented their seminal work “Supernovae and Cosmic Rays" at Stanford University, which not only introduced neutron stars and supernovae but submitted that their luminosity from Earth could be used as a measuring tool to determine the distance of other interstellar objects. To complete this extraordinary theory, Zwicky also proposed that the supernovae are the source of the previously observed cosmic rays in the universe.
The Supernova/Neutron Star/Cosmic Ray discovery was right on the heels of another important discovery in astrophysics. It was in 1933 that Fritz Zwicky, using calculations of the virial theorem, was able to show that there is a large amount of unseen matter in the universe. He was not taken seriously at first, but several decades later, corroborating evidence supported his idea and this matter is now known as “dark matter."
In order to peer into the vastness of space, Zwicky used the effect of light bending around massive objects, as written about by Einstein to allow clusters of galaxies to act as gravitational lenses. Gravitational lenses can then be used to reconstruct the mass in the area and most notably can also show distribution of dark matter and their use was just one more of Zwicky’s outstanding achievements.
Zwicky later revealed that in order to make the most of his discoveries, he had devised his own methodology, not used by anyone else before him. This methodology came to be known as General Morphological Analysis which can be used for determining relationships of “multi-dimensional, non-quantifiable, problem complexes."