Skip to main content

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:

5 draft notes of papers by Edward Appleton, c. 1925-1943

Identifier: Coll-37/C.208
Scope and Contents

The material consists of 5 draft notes of papers by Edward Appleton: Note on Magneto-ionic Theory', 2 pages; 'Note on Splitting of Echos', 1 page; ‘Special case’, 1 page; ‘Field equations’, 3 pages; and ‘Calculation of Magneto-ionic Parameters', 1 page, no date, c. 1925-1943.

Dates: c. 1925-1943

5 notes for speeches by Edward Appleton, no date

Identifier: Coll-37/D.33
Scope and Contents

The material consists of: 'Science, Industry and Government', typescript notes for a speech, no date; Appleton’s speech at the Centenary Celebration of the Chemical Society, 11 pages typescript; speech at the opening of the Building Science Exhibition, 10 pages manuscript and typescript; speech at opening of the Coal Research Laboratories; 5 pages manuscript and typescript; and speech at Tallow Chandlers Dinner, 3 pages manuscript and typescript.

Dates: no date

5 page sequence headed 'Results', no date, c. 1936-1937

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

5 page sequence headed 'Results', listing 9 points for comment and further investigation, no date, c. 1936-1937. The material has some annotations, probably written by R. Naismith.

Dates: no date, c. 1936-1937

5 page typescript paper on electron density, no date, c. 1937

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

5 page typescript paper on electron density, no author or date. The material contains a 2 page manuscript note attachded, by Edward Appleton, on electron production, c. 1937.

Dates: no date, c. 1937

6 photographs at the Institute of Radio Engineers, New York, 1962

Identifier: Coll-37/H.25
Scope and Contents

The material consists of envelope containing 6 photograph of Edward Appleton on a vist to the Institute of Radio Engineers, New York, dated 1962.

Dates: 1962

8 page typescript version of 'Some Notes on F2 layer Anomalies', no date but circulated 17 November 1947

Identifier: Coll-37/C.73
Scope and Contents

8 page typescript version of 'Some Notes on F2 layer Anomalies', with an additional 12th point, missing from the manuscript. The material is undated but it was circulated on 17 November 1947.

Dates: no date but circulated 17 November 1947

11 pages of notes on integrals, November 1935

Identifier: Coll-37/B.28
Scope and Contents

11 pages of notes on integrals. These were sent with a covering note November 1935 by G. Cook, and originally tucked into notebook Coll-37/B.27.

Dates: November 1935

14 page manuscript draft for paper on various aspects of F2 Layer , c. 1939

Identifier: Coll-37/C.77
Scope and Contents

14 page manuscript draft for paper on various aspects of F2 Layer. The latest reference in the material is 1939.

Dates: c. 1939

'1958-62 Values of fF2 midnight equinox', and charts dated 'Easter 1964 for r(fF2)', 1958-1964

Identifier: Coll-37/F.34
Scope and Contents

Original folder containing '1958-62 Values of fF2 midnight equinox', and later charts dated 'Easter 1964 for r(fF2)'. A full list of the contents is written on the folder cover.

Dates: 1958-1964

A, 1965

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

Letters of condolence received on Sir Edward Appleton's death, "A", 1965.

Dates: 1965

Additional filters:

Archival Object 827
Collection 1
Physics 663
Correspondence 190
Radio Broadcasting 45
Diaries 33
Magnetism 24
∨ more
Radar 17
Norway 14
Absorption 13
Astronomy 11
Meteors 11
Magnetic Storms 8
Oscillations 8
University of Edinburgh 8
University of Edinburgh -- Principals 8
Appleton, Edward Victor, Sir, 1892-1965 -- Correspondence 7
Science 7
Mathematics 6
Electricity 5
Television broadcasting 5
World War, 1914-1918 5
Belgium -- Brussels 4
History of Science 4
Tides 4
Atmosphere 3
Nuclear Energy 3
Aurora 2
Edinburgh -- Scotland 2
Electronics 2
Guest books 2
Industry 2
Johannesburg (South Africa) 2
Nuclear Physics 2
Obituaries 2
Peru 2
Prizes 2
Seasonal variations 2
United States -- D.C. -- Washington 2
United States -- Ohio -- Cincinnati 2
Waddington, Conrad Hal, 1905-1975 -- Correspondence 2
Weather 2
Academic Writing 1
Air Force 1
America 1
Architecture 1
Architecture, Designs and Plans 1
Army Personnel 1
Atmospheric Pressure, Measurement 1
Atomic bomb 1
Auroras 1
Australia 1
Australia -- New South Wales -- Sydney 1
Baking 1
Bibliography 1
Biography 1
Body temperature--Regulation 1
Calculus Integral 1
Cambridge (England) 1
Campus Planning 1
Canada 1
Chemistry 1
City Planning 1
Civil Servants 1
Clydebank (Scotland) 1
Coal 1
College Buildings 1
Collisions (Nuclear Physics) 1
Communication 1
Communication and Technology 1
Copenhagen (Denmark) 1
Copenhagen, Denmark 1
Eclipses 1
Electric Circuits 1
Electrical engineering 1
Electromagnetic Waves 1
Encyclopedias and Dictionaries 1
England -- Merseyside -- Liverpool 1
England -- West Yorkshire -- Bradford 1
Eschatology 1
Falkland Islands 1
Fuel Technology 1
Funeral Rites and Ceremonies 1
Germany -- Lower Saxony -- Hanover 1
Glass 1
Honorary Degrees 1
Iceland 1
Insurance 1
Ionosphere 1
Italy 1
Madagascar 1
Manchester (England) 1
Massachusetts -- Harvard 1
Medicine | History | 1
Memorials 1
Microscopes 1
Netherlands -- The Hague 1
New Zealand 1
Nuclear Weapons 1
Photographs 1
Physical Sciences 1
Postal Service 1
+ ∧ less