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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:

Spiral-bound notebook, c. 1950

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

Spiral-bound notebook. It contains scientific and university notes, the latest is dated 1950.

Dates: c. 1950

'Storm phenomena and the solar cycle variations of the noon F2 layer ionisation', c. 1954

Identifier: Coll-37/C.79
Scope and Contents

'Storm phenomena and the solar cycle variations of the noon F2 layer ionisation'. The material consists of a 10 page typescript draft, an early version of the paper by Appleton and Piggott published in Physics of the Ionosphere, 1954, with a manuscript note by Piggott, 'original draft replaced by now'.

Dates: c. 1954

‘Storms D(fF2)/Q(fF2) and O/W type curves’, c. 1935-1952

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

The material consists of file created by Edward Appleton entitled ‘Storms D(fF2)/Q(fF2) and O/W type curves’. It contains extensive data and graphs by William Piggott, Mrs. Pritchard and others, dated mainly 1945-1952 and it Includes a graph of sunspot cycle variation, by Piggott, dated 1935-1948.

Dates: c. 1935-1952

Studies of 1/N dN/dt for Talara, c. 1964

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

The material consists of a file relating to studies of 1/N dN/dt for Talara. It includes some material in Edward Appleton’s hand.

Dates: c. 1964

'Studies of the F2 Layer of the Ionosphere II. The Sunspot-Cycle Variation of Ionisation in the F2 Layer', c. 1950

Identifier: Coll-37/C.78
Scope and Contents 'Studies of the F2 Layer of the Ionosphere II. The Sunspot-Cycle Variation of Ionisation in the F2 Layer'. The material consists of a 16 page typescript draft with manuscript notes by Edward Appleton and Mrs Pritchard, and 1 page of comments in another hand expressing caution. Appleton published Part I of ‘Studies of the F2 Layer' in Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics, Part I in 1950, but no Part II is listed...
Dates: c. 1950

'Study of Recurrence Tendencies in Ionospheric Storms', May 1958

Identifier: Coll-37/C.115
Scope and Contents

'Study of Recurrence Tendencies in Ionospheric Storms'. 5 page typescript, dated 1958.

Dates: May 1958

'Summary of Edinburgh findings on the equatorial anomaly', November 1962

Identifier: Coll-37/C.116
Scope and Contents

'Summary of Edinburgh findings on the equatorial anomaly'. 2 page typescript, dated November 1962.

Dates: November 1962

'Sunrise in the Ionospheric F Layer. Brief summary of results Summer 1963', 1963

Identifier: Coll-37/C.119
Scope and Contents

'Sunrise in the Ionospheric F Layer. Brief summary of results Summer 1963'. 8 page typescript, with a little accompanying data from Mrs. Turnbull.

Dates: 1963

'Sunspot-Cycle Study of Abinger γ Variations', January 1963

Identifier: Coll-37/C.118
Scope and Contents

'Sunspot-Cycle Study of Abinger γ Variations'. 1 page typescript, dated January 1963.

Dates: January 1963

Sunspot numbers and data, c. 1949

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

The material consists of sunspot numbers and data, some dated 1949.

Dates: c. 1949

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Archival Object 827
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