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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:

4 notes and drafts by Edward Appleton, 1941 and no date

Identifier: Coll-37/D.19
Scope and Contents

The material consists of: 'Scientific research and industrial progress', a typescript draft for article in Country Life Export Number, Autumn 1941; 'Science and illumination', a note for broadcasting, no date; 'Seeing the invisible', a 2 page note on the electron microscope; and 3 pages of manuscript notes for a school prize giving.

Dates: 1941 and no date

4 notes by Edward Appleton, 1946 and no date

Identifier: Coll-37/D.29
Scope and Contents

4 notes by Edward Appleton. The material consists of ‘Organisation of government science in the United Kingdom', this was Edward Appleton's contribution to the Empire Scientific Conference, June 1946, 14 pages typescript and manuscript; a 4 page typescript note on technical information services, 'Practical Importance of Fundamental Research', a 5 page typescript lecture; and a 4 page speech to the baking industry.

Dates: 1946 and no date

4 notes by Edward Appleton for speeches, talks or broadcasts , 1943 and no date

Identifier: Coll-37/D.20
Scope and Contents

The material consists of the following notes by Edward Appleton: a speech given at the opening of laboratories of the British Cast Iron Research Association, 3 pages, dated 1943; a speech given at a meeting of the Architectural Institute, 4 pages, no date; a draft for a broadcast talk on science and industry, 6 pages, no date; and 1 page of notes for a talk on ‘Science and Government'.

Dates: 1943 and no date

4 notes for lectures and publications by Edward Appleton, c. 1960

Identifier: Coll-37/D.60
Scope and Contents

4 notes for lectures and publications by Edward Appleton. The material consists of Address to Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, January 1961, 7 pages, typescript; ‘Science and Space’, Lecture to Edinburgh Schools Scientific Society. 23 pages, typescript; notes on Artificial Aurorae, space exploration, etc., no date, 3 pages, manuscript; and a foreword to a handbook for the Edinburgh University Industrial Liaison Committee, no date, 3 pages typescript and manuscript;

Dates: c. 1960

4 notes for lectures, remarks and speeches by Edward Appleton, January 1950-March 1950

Identifier: Coll-37/D.42
Scope and Contents

4 notes for lectures, remarks and speeches by Edward Appleton. The material consists of a speech at Valedictory Dinner to Members of Parliament, Scottish Universities Constituency, January 1950, 6 pages, typescript; toast to 'The City of Edinburgh', Walter Scott Club, January 1950, 4 page typescript; chairman's remarks at University Industrial Liaison Committee Symposium, March 1950, 5 pages, typescript; and speech at Institute of Brewing Dinner, March 1950, 9 pages, typescript.

Dates: January 1950-March 1950

4 notes for speeches and lecture by Edward Appleton, c. 1963-1965

Identifier: Coll-37/D.61
Scope and Contents

4 notes for speeches and lecture by Edward Appleton. The material consists of Prize-giving speech given at the Usher Hall, July 1963, 7 pages, typescript; Speech at the opening of Napier Technical College, February 1965, 10 pages typescript; Speech at the opening of Wind Tunnel, Edinburgh, March 1965, 7 pages, typescript; and notes for Graham Clark Lecture, no date, c.1964, 1 page, manuscript.

Dates: c. 1963-1965

4 notes for speeches by Edward Appleton, January 1954-October 1954

Identifier: Coll-37/D.48
Scope and Contents

4 notes for speeches by Edward Appleton, the material consists of Speech at Graduation of Earl and Countess Mountbatten, January 1954, 3 pages, typescript; speech for Honorary Graduands, July 1954, 13 pages of typescript; Speech at opening of Symposium on 'The Upper Atmosphere', July 1954; and speech to graduates, October 1954, 7 pages, typescript.

Dates: January 1954-October 1954

4 notes for speeches by Edward Appleton, September 1958-July 1959

Identifier: Coll-37/D.56
Scope and Contents

The material consists of Speech at British Council Summer School for Russians, July 1959; 'Science and the Humanities', Appleton’s Address at Special Convocation, Dalhousie University, September 1958; Speech at Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders, Glasgow, October 1958, 4 pages, typescript; and Speech at Graduation Ceremony, October 1958, 5 pages, typescript.

Dates: September 1958-July 1959

4 notes for talks and broadcasts by Edward Appleton, c. 1945 and no date

Identifier: Coll-37/D.24
Scope and Contents

The material consists of the following notes for talks and broadcasts by Edward Appleton: 'How radiolocation works', a draft and script of a radio broadcast, dated August 1945; 'Recent radio progress', a 2 page talk on radiolocation, no date; a 2 page untitled talk on wartime advances in science, 1945; and 'British Science in war and peace', a draft, perhaps for broadcast, c. 1945.

Dates: c. 1945 and no date

4 page sequence headed 'Criticism of Martyn and Pulley’, c. 1936

Identifier: Coll-37/C.57
Scope and Contents

4 page sequence headed 'Criticism of Martyn and Pulley’ (a 1936 paper), listing 12 points of comment. The material has some annotations, probably by L. J. Ingram.

Dates: c. 1936

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Archival Object 827
Collection 1
Physics 663
Correspondence 190
Radio Broadcasting 45
Diaries 33
Magnetism 24
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Norway 14
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Appleton, Edward Victor, Sir, 1892-1965 -- Correspondence 7
Science 7
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