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:

Shorter ideas, drafts and notes on F Layer, c. 1939-1955

Identifier: Coll-37/C.81
Scope and Contents

Shorter ideas, drafts and notes on F Layer. None of the material is dated but extending 1939-1955.

Dates: c. 1939-1955

Shorter manuscript notes, graphs and calculations, many on verso of Cambridge undergraduates' exercises, no date

Identifier: Coll-37/C.11
Scope and Contents

Shorter manuscript notes, graphs and calculations, many on verso of Cambridge undergraduates' exercises, no date. It includes a list of signatures (including A. J. Eley, N. F. Mott and J. D. Ewen) of those attending a class.

Dates: no date

Shorter manuscripts notes, graphs and calculations mainly on conductors, no date

Identifier: Coll-37/C.12
Scope and Contents

Shorter manuscripts notes, graphs and calculations mainly on conductors. The material is possibly of a later date than Coll-37/C.11 which is similar.

Dates: no date

Shorter notes and calculations and bibliographical notes on recombination, c. 1934

Identifier: Coll-37/C.289
Scope and Contents

The material consists of shorter notes and calculations by Edward Appleton, some graphs dated 1934; and bibliographical notes on recombination (not all in Appleton's hand). These items are in Appleton's original folder labelled 'Radio Expt. [Experimental] Recombination'.

Dates: c. 1934

Shorter undated notes and drafts, c. 1930-1939

Identifier: Coll-37/C.121
Scope and Contents

Shorter undated notes and drafts, some of which may date from the 1930s. The material includes: 'The Structure of the Atmosphere', 'Thunderstorm Theory’, 'Dispersion', a 3 page note on radio experiments, and a list of eight points on E and F Layer problems.

Dates: c. 1930-1939

Shorter undated notes and drafts (continued), c. 1930-1945

Identifier: Coll-37/C.122
Scope and Contents

Shorter undated notes and drafts (continued). The material includes: 'Further Notes on Chapman's Theory', ‘Note on Rechlin Ionospheric Forecasts', dated 1 April 1942, note on magnetic storms and ‘Note on correlation between stations' (Slough and Johannesburg).

Dates: c. 1930-1945

Shorter undated notes and drafts (continued), c. 1930-1965

Identifier: Coll-37/C.123
Scope and Contents

Shorter undated notes and drafts (continued). The material includes: graphs and notes on F2 Layer, note on seasonal variations and note on methods of recording.

Dates: c. 1930-1965

'Simple triode oscillator', no date

Identifier: Coll-37/C.241
Scope and Contents

'Simple triode oscillator' The material consists of a 12 page draft paper by Edward Appleton and accompanying calculations, probably by J.A. Ratcliffe (see Clark, Ronald William, Sir Edward Appleton, pp.33-34).

Dates: no date

Small black loose-leaf ring-back notebook, no date

Identifier: Coll-37/B.50
Scope and Contents

Small black loose-leaf ring-back notebook. Includes sequence of 17 numbered pages relating to Appleton's work on (fE)2 values at Edinburgh.

Dates: no date

Small black notebook, inscribed inside 'E.V. Appleton', 1952

Identifier: Coll-37/B.40
Scope and Contents

Small black notebook, inscribed inside 'E.V. Appleton'. The notebook contains notes made on Appleton’s journey to Australia for URSI [Union Radio-Scientifique Internationale] meeting and other engagements, 1952. It includes personal notes, list of articles and speeches required during trip, notes of papers read or contributions heard at conference, diagrams and research ideas. Both ends of the notebook have been used.

Dates: 1952

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