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April 12, 2000

John Paul Stapp, MD, PhD

JAMA. 2000;283(14):1894. doi:10.1001/jama.283.14.1894

John Paul Stapp, MD, PhD, a US Air Force researcher who subjected himself to huge gravitational forces in the study of human endurance when exposed to supersonic maneuvering and mishaps, died November 13, 1999, at his home in Alamagordo, NM, at age 89.

Beginning in the immediate post–World War II years, he volunteered to be strapped into rocket-powered steel research sleds on concrete-embedded tracks to determine human tolerance to acceleration and deceleration forces. His findings are credited with playing a key role in proving that humans can operate vehicles traveling through space at ever-increasing speeds and can escape from them in an emergency. On the ground, for the general public, his data were critical for today's standard supplying of seat belts and air bags in most US motor vehicles.

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