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Appleton, Sir Edward Victor, 1892-1965 (physicist and principal of the University of Edinburgh)



  • Existence: 1892 - 1965


Appleton was born in Bradford and educated at local schools and St John's College, Cambridge where he was awarded first class honours and several prizes in both parts of the Natural Sciences Tripos (1913, 1914). He began research at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge with W.L. Bragg, but during his service in the Army Signals in the First World War he developed the interest in valves and 'wireless' signals which informed his subsequent research career. He returned to the Cavendish Laboratory in 1919, continuing to work on valves and, with B. van der Pol, on non-linearity, and on atmospherics. In 1924, in collaboration with M.F. Barnett, he performed a crucial experiment which enabled a reflecting layer in the atmosphere to be identified and measured; subsequent research indicated the existence of more than one reflecting layer. From 1924 to 1936 Appleton was Wheatstone Professor of Physics at King's College, London, directing research teams and, in 1932, heading an expedition to Tromsö in northern Norway as part of the programme of observations scheduled for the Second International Polar Year

He was President of the International Union of Scientific Radio (URSI), 1934-1952. In 1936 he succeeded C.T.R. Wilson in the Jacksonian Chair of Natural Philosophy at Cambridge, where he continued collaborative research on many ionospheric problems, including solar and lunar tides in the E-layer. From September 1936 he served on the re-constituted Committee for the Scientific Survey of Air Defence (the 'Tizard Committee'), and in October 1938 was appointed successor to Sir Frank Smith as Secretary to the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR). He remained at the DSIR throughout the Second World War and until 1948 when he was appointed Principal of Edinburgh University. He took up the appointment in May 1949 and remained in office until his death in 1965. Appleton was elected FRS in 1927 (Bakerian Lecture 1937, Hughes Medal 1933, Royal Medal 1950) and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1947 for his investigations into the ionosphere. He was knighted in 1941.

Found in 828 Collections and/or Records:

2 separate sheets of 'Further Notes', c. 1936

Identifier: Coll-37/C.58
Scope and Contents

The material consists of 2 separate sheets of 'Further Notes'. It is similar to the 'Criticism of Martyn and Pulley' notes which were dated c. 1936.

Dates: c. 1936

3 letters from Wilhelm Altar to Edward Appleton, March 1926-May 1926

Identifier: Coll-37/C.214
Scope and Contents

3 letters from Wilhelm Altar to Edward Appleton, dated March 1926-May 1926. The material relates to research in progress and was written after a visit by Appleton to Vienna.

Dates: March 1926-May 1926

3 notes by Edward Appleton regarding solar noise, 1945-1946

Identifier: Coll-37/C.323
Scope and Contents

3 notes by Edward Appleton regarding solar noise. The file contains 'Comments by R.E. Burgess on note entitled “Calculation of Solar Noise Developed in Radio System", by Sir Edward Appleton’, 2 page typescript, dated 19 September 1945; Note by Appleton, ‘”Non-black body” radiation from the sun', 4 page typescript, dated 24 September 1945; and ‘Notes on Meeting Saturday 12 January 1946', 2 page typescript account of research and papers in hand (not all concerned with 'Solar Noise').

Dates: 1945-1946

3 notes for lectures and a speech by Edward Appleton, 1949

Identifier: Coll-37/D.39
Scope and Contents

3 notes for lectures and a speech by Edward Appleton. The material consists of 'The organization and work of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research', the 39th May lecture to the Institute of Metals by Edward Appleton, 1949, offprint only; notes and information for a lecture on cable and wireless, August 1949; and Appleton’s speech to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, October 1949, 7 pages, typescript.

Dates: 1949

3 notes for lectures and an address by Edward Appleton, October 1950-November 1950

Identifier: Coll-37/D.44
Scope and Contents

3 notes for lectures and an address by Edward Appleton. The material consists of a speech to the S.S.C. (Solicitors before the Supreme Courts) Society, October 1950, 4 pages, typescript; address to General Council, University of Edinburgh, October 1950, 24 pages, typescript; and speech at reception for Overseas Students, November 1950, 5 pages, typescript.

Dates: October 1950-November 1950

3 notes for speech and 2 broadcast talks by Edward Appleton, April 1957-June 1957

Identifier: Coll-37/D.53
Scope and Contents

The material consists of 'Science and Industry', a broadcast talk for schools on the Scottish Home Service, April 1957, 9 pages, typescript and manuscript; Speech at unveiling of Syme-Lister plaque, June 1957, 3 pages, typescript; and 'The International Geophysical Year', a talk broadcast on the B.B.C. Home Service, June 1957, 3 pages, typescript.

Dates: April 1957-June 1957

3 notes for speech and articles by Edward Appleton, August 1957-November 1957

Identifier: Coll-37/D.54
Scope and Contents

The material consists of Edward Appleton's notes for Speech at U.R.S.I. [Union Radio-Scientifique Internationale] meeting in America, August 1957, 7 pages, typescript; 'Science and the Satellite', October 1957, 6 pages, typescript and manuscript; and 'The Significance of the Satellite', an article for the Edinburgh Evening News, November 1957, 5 pages typescript.

Dates: August 1957-November 1957

3 notes for speeches and an address by Edward Appleton, May 1955-July 1955

Identifier: Coll-37/D.49
Scope and Contents

3 notes for speeches and an address by Edward Appleton. The material consists of Dinner Speech, May 1945, 7 pages, typescript; Speech at Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, June 1955; and 'The University and the Community', Opening Address, Section D, Conference of University Rectors and Vice-Chancellors, July 1955, 13 pages, typescript.

Dates: May 1955-July 1955

3 notes for speeches and lecture by Edward Appleton, February 1956-September 1956

Identifier: Coll-37/D.51
Scope and Contents

3 notes for speeches and lecture by Edward Appleton. The material consists of inner speech for Commerce Graduates, February 1956, 5 pages, typescript; Dinner speech at Pipe Band Contest, May 1956, 6 pages, typescript; and ‘Some Developments in Radio Science’, a slide lecture to Royal Society of Engineers in Antwerp, September 1956, 14 pages, typescript.

Dates: February 1956-September 1956

3 notes for speeches by Edward Appleton, April 1950-August 1950

Identifier: Coll-37/D.43
Scope and Contents

3 notes for speeches by Edward Appleton. The material consists of speech to Conference of Registrars, April 1950, 11 pages, typescript (some pages missing); speech at lunch for André Siegfried, May 1950; 4 pages, typescript; and speech to P. E. N. Club, August 1950, 8 pages, typescript and manuscript.

Dates: April 1950-August 1950

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Archival Object 827
Collection 1
Physics 663
Correspondence 190
Radio Broadcasting 45
Diaries 33
Magnetism 24
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Radar 17
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