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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:

Soft-cover notebook, no date

Identifier: Coll-47/B.49
Scope and Contents

Soft-cover notebook, no date. It mainly contains notes on linear equations. Only a few pages have been used, at the front of the notebook.

Dates: no date

'Solar activity' and 'The Progress of Geomagnetism', 1939

Identifier: Coll-37/D.16
Scope and Contents

The material consists of 'Solar Activity', 4 pages of manuscript notes and 1 page introduction for of a lecture by Edward Appleton, Manchester, 1939; a 3 page talk on a similar subject; and 'The Progress of Geomagnetism', a review article of 'Geomagnetism' by S. Chapman and J.G. Bartels, no date, c.1940.

Dates: 1939

‘Solar radiation changes during the sunspot cycle', July 1938

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

‘Solar radiation changes during the sunspot cycle'. The material consists of a paper by Edward Appleton and R. Naismith, 4 pages, typescript, July 1938.

Dates: July 1938

‘Solar radio noise’, 1946

Identifier: Coll-37/C.325
Scope and Contents

‘Solar radio noise’. A 10 page typescript draft of a paper by Edward Appleton and J.S. Hey published in Philosophical Magazine, 37, 1946.

Dates: 1946

'Some Further Notes on F2 Layer Morphology', 1944-1947

Identifier: Coll-37/C.74
Scope and Contents

'Some Further Notes on F2 Layer Morphology'. The material consists of unfinished 2 page manuscript notes to 'continue the discussion of F2 layer morphology dealing with in the following communications ...’, listing Appleron’s writings on the subject 1944-1947, including Coll-37/C.73.

Dates: 1944-1947

'Some Notes on F2 layer Anomalies', c. 1936-1960

Identifier: Coll-37/C.72
Scope and Contents

'Some Notes on F2 layer Anomalies'. The material consists of a 6 page manuscript sequence listing 11 points for discussion, no date.

Dates: c. 1936-1960

'Some notes on the Theory of F2 layer Formation (Part l)', c. 1938

Identifier: Coll-37/C.410
Scope and Contents

'Some notes on the Theory of F2 layer Formation (Part l)'. The material consists of 12 pages of typescript notes, no date, c.1938.

Dates: c. 1938

Spiral-bound New York University notebook, inscribed on cover, 'E.V. Appleton, Univ. of Edinburgh', no date

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

Spiral-bound New York University notebook, inscribed on cover, 'E.V. Appleton, Univ. of Edinburgh'. It contains notes and calculations, draft headed 'Paper on Anomalous Equatorial Belt', with 2 loose pages inserted. Only a few pages have been used, at front of the notebook.

Dates: no date

Spiral-bound notebook, August 1957-September 1957

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

Spiral-bound notebook. It contains notes and diagrams of papers, contributions, etc. at the URSI [Union Radio-Scientifique Internationale] meeting, Boulder, Colorado, August-September 1957.

Dates: August 1957-September 1957

Spiral-bound notebook, no date

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

Spiral-bound notebook. It contains notes and drafts on several topics, including 'Some Notes on Methods of Investigating E and F1 Layers, Formation of negative ions', notes for experiments, etc.

Dates: no date

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