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British Industrial History

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Edward Victor Appleton

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Sir Edward Victor Appleton (1892–1965).

Sir Edward Victor Appleton (1892–1965), physicist

1892 September 6th. Appleton was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire

Educated at Hanson Grammar School.

1910 Won a scholarship to St John's College, Cambridge and graduated with a first class degree in Natural Sciences.

During the First World War he joined the West Riding Regiment, and later transferred to the Royal Engineers as Captain W/T, R.E.[1]

After returning from active service in World War I, Appleton became assistant demonstrator in experimental physics at the Cavendish Laboratory in 1920.

Fellow of St. Johns College, Cambridge.[1]

Radio Research Board (Thermionic Valve and Atmospherics Sub-Committee).[1]

1924-36 Wheatstone Professor of physics at King's College London.

1936-39 Professor of natural philosophy at Cambridge University.

1939-49 he was secretary of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

1941 Knighted

1947 Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to the knowledge of the ionosphere, which led to the development of radar.

1949-65 Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh.

In 1956, the BBC invited him to deliver the annual Reith Lectures. Across a series of six radio broadcasts, titled Science and the Nation, Appleton explored the many facets of scientific activity in Britain at the time.

1965 April 21st. Died

In 1974 the Radio and Space Research Station at Ditton Park, Bucks, was renamed the Appleton Laboratory

1965 Obituary [2]

Sir Edward Appleton, GBE, KCB, FRS (Hon. Member), the pioneer of ionosphere research, died on 21st April at the age of 72.

Sir Edward, who came an Honorary Member of this Institution in 1956, combined genius for physical research with great administrative ability and shrewdness. As Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh for the last 16 years, he pushed through a tremendous programme of expansion. His direction of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research during the 1939-45 war, won him high praise from scientists, industrialists and government.

His discovery of the Appleton layer led to the development of radar and solved many problems of radio communications and broadcasting. It also began the continuous study of the electrical state of the upper atmosphere which is now carried out all over the world. Wireless waves sent out by the sun was another subject of his research work. For these and other discoveries, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1947, the Royal Society presented him with two medals (in 1933 and 1950), and this Institution nominated him for the Kelvin Gold Medal in 1962. He received many other awards and honorary degrees.

His intellectual abilities and brilliance as a lecturer, combined with a certain Yorkshire homeliness, endeared him to many, who will now mourn his loss.

1965 Obituary [3]

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