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John Walter Ryde

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John Walter Ryde (c1898-1961), chief scientist of the Hirst Research Centre of the GEC

1961 Obituary [1]

WE have learned with regret that John Walter Ryde, F.Inst.P., F.R.S., the chief scientist of the Hirst Research Centre of the G.E.C., died on May 15 at the age of 63.

John Ryde was educated at St. Paul's School and the City and Guilds Technical College, Finsbury, where he studied under Professor Sylvanus Thompson. Later in the first World War he served with the Royal Engineers.

On demobilisation in 1919 he joined the newly established Research Laboratories of The General Electric Company, Ltd. as a physicist, and was at once a leading member of the scientific staff. His many and varied early research studies included pure spectroscopy, the gaseous electrical discharge and thermionics. His work on the scattering of light, first applied in the 1920's to optical diffusing media in glasses, was developed by him during the second World War to classic studies of the attenuation and the radar echoes produced by meteorological phenomena at centimetre wavelengths. He made significant contributions to the development of electrical discharge lamps, luminescent materials and optical projection systems. His wartime researches included velocity modulation tubes and crystal valves for microwave mixer devices, and he also worked on the "FIDO" fog dispersal system. To design, in his leisure hours, a pocket illumination chart for use in the Services was typical of him.

Mr. Ryde was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1948, "distinguished in his contributions to pure and applied physics." He was appointed Chief Physicist at the G.E.C. Research Laboratories in 1950 and Chief Scientist in 1953. In recent years he had overall responsibility for the programmes of pure scientific research of the G.E.C.

Ryde's knowledge and interests were very broad. He was a Member of the Royal Institution of Great Britain since 1935 and Chairman of the Davy Faraday Laboratory Committee of the Institution since 1951. He had also served on the Board of Managers of the Institution. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a Member of the Geological Association, the Wiltshire Archaeological Society and the Athenaeum.

In all his work his great ability and perseverance were allied with brilliant insight and inspiration. His colleagues will always remember his patient readiness to discuss and assess the problems of the day and his helpful elucidation of critical experiments, often elegant in their simplicity, which he designed to solve them.

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