From Mary, in response to my request for more information about the scientists who gave us the YORP effect:

"O'Keefe was my father. He was also responsible for discovering that the earth is (slightly) pear shaped, for which reason, we received many lugs of pears for Christmas for several years. He figured out how to map China when going from flat to round was unusual (during WWII) and he figured out that a satellite would help us to map the earth. He said tektites were from the Moon, and when nobody would listen, we put it on his funeral program so he'd have one more chance. He liked Wyeth and always talked about his appreciation of how light looks red when it comes through smoke or fog, but looks blue if it bounces off. I found his earliest comments about this in a letter to my mother before they married; he had read Goethe's Farbenlehre.

He believed very strongly that, as a civil servant, he was in the employ of the citizens of the US, who had a claim on his attention. Therefore those who wrote to him always received polite answers, even the little old ladies who wanted him to repent of his belief that the earth is round, or that it circuits the sun.

He always wanted to be an astronomer; now he has an asteroid and an astral effect named after him. Good."


Further information:

Physics Today obituary of John O'Keefe

Follow O'Keefe's asteroid with NASA's orbit animation tool.