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:

'A note on ionospheric storm phenomena' and ‘Appendix of supplementary notes', October 1952

Identifier: Coll-37/C.413
Scope and Contents

'A note on ionospheric storm phenomena' and ‘Appendix of supplementary notes’, dated October 1952. The material was possibly prepared by Edward Appleton for a U.R.S.I. [Union Radio-Scientifique Internationale] meeting.

Dates: October 1952

Absorption, c. 1935-1948

Identifier: Coll-37/C.1-C.7
Scope and Contents

These files consist of the contents of a folder so described by Sir Edward Appleton.

Dates: c. 1935-1948

'Absorption R.R.B. [Radio Research Board] Report', c. 1936-1948

Identifier: Coll-37/C.392-C.402
Scope and Contents

'Absorption R.R.B. [Radio Research board] Report'. The material consists of 13 files which were combined into a binder with this title by Edward Appleton. Although the title relates to research into absorption, the contents of the files are diverse and there is considerable overlap with the material elsewhere in the collection.

Dates: c. 1936-1948

Addresses and speeches delivered as Principal of Edinburgh University, 1949-1965

Identifier: Coll-37/A.4
Scope and Contents

Addresses and speeches delivered by Sir Edward Victor Appleton as Principal of Edinburgh University, dated 1949-1965.

Dates: 1949-1965

Addresses and speeches, mainly on scientific topics, 1931-1965

Identifier: Coll-37/A.3
Scope and Contents

Addresses and speeches, mainly on scientific topics, dated 1931-1965.

Dates: 1931-1965

Album of photographs of the Tenth General Assembly of U.R.S.I. [Union Radio-Scientifique Internationale], Sydney, 1952

Identifier: Coll-37/H.20
Scope and Contents From the Sub-Series:

This sub series consists of 30 files containing photographs of Edward Appleton, colleagues and friends, from his school days in 1900s to the 1960s.

Dates: 1952

Album of photographs relating to a conference, equipment, etc. in Italy, 1938

Identifier: Coll-37/H.15
Scope and Contents

The material consists of an album of photographs relating to a conference, equipment, etc. in Italy. It also includes some loose photographs.

Dates: 1938

Album of signatures from the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research given to Appleton, 1949

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

Album of signatures of Members of Advisory Council and Chairmen of the Research Boards of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The signatures are of staff associated with Appleton in his work 1939-1939 and the album was given to him on his resignation from the Department in 1949.

Dates: 1949

‘Anomalous Diurnal Behaviour in F2 Layer Ionisation', c. 1960

Identifier: Coll-37/C.80
Scope and Contents

‘Anomalous Diurnal Behaviour in F2 Layer Ionisation'. The material consists of 4 pages of notes, drafts, ideas and calculations, no date, perhaps c.1960.

Dates: c. 1960

Appleton's instructions to collaborators and assistants at Edinburgh, 1953-1964

Identifier: Coll-37/C.124-C126
Scope and Contents

The material consists of 3 files of instructions by Edward Appleton for his collaborators assistants, dated 1953-1964.

Dates: 1953-1964

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