Father Philberth and his younger brother, Karl, were unique as scientists and theologians: between them they had more than 100 patents in nuclear and electro-physics; and both were ordained priests in their mid-40s after the Vatican granted them special dispensation from the normal studies for the priesthood, according to an obituary in The Age.
Bernhard Philberth first came to Australia after his ordination at the request of the federal government, which sought his advice about research in Antarctica. For many years he alternated between Australia and Germany before settling permanently in Melbourne in 1993. Following a heart attack in 1999, he was no longer able to travel.
Amogn his work as a scientist in the 1960s involved driving a project to investigate the disposal of radioactive waste in the world's deep, stable ice caps, while brother Karl headed an international thermal drilling program in Greenland that was part of the overall radioactive waste program.
Born in Traunstein, a town in south-eastern Bavaria, Philberth's teenage years were overshadowed by World War II. He read voraciously and made his first invention aged 13. Towards the end of the war he and his classmates were enlisted in an anti-aircraft defence unit, and after the war he decided to study physics.
His work on radioactive waste under the ice caps as well as that on many inventions on his own and with his brother, writing of several books and scientific papers, and consulting work for the Vatican prevented him from studying for the priesthood, which had been his dream from childhood.
inventor and environmentalist, has died of pneumonia in Melbourne, aged 83.