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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:

Average curves of (M3000)F2 for various stations, 1948-1953

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

The material consists of average curves of (M3000)F2 for various stations, dated March and September 1948-1953.

Dates: 1948-1953

B, 1965

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

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

Dates: 1965

B.B.C. Data sent by T.W. Bennington to Edward Appleton, 1957-1961

Identifier: Coll-37/E.8
Scope and Contents

B.B.C. Data sent by T.W. Bennington to Edward Appleton. This material is referred to in the corresponndence sent by Bennington in Coll-37/E.7.

Dates: 1957-1961

'Beam Wireless', no date

Identifier: Coll-37/D.5
Scope and Contents

'Beam Wireless', a 9 page heavily corrected draft for broadcast to inaugurate 'the last of a series of wireless links between Great Britain and the Dominions', no date.

Dates: no date

'Bethesda Junior Gymnasium Class' (Bradford) containing Edward Appleton, standing on the left, c. 1900-1910

Identifier: Coll-37/H.7
Scope and Contents

The material consists of a photograph 'Bethesda Junior Gymnasium Class' (Bradford) containing Edward Appleton, standing on the left, c.1900-1910.

Dates: c. 1900-1910

Bibliography of publications, 1918-1965

Identifier: Coll-37/A.2
Scope and Contents

Bibliography of publications, dated 1918-1933, 1934-1948, 1949-1965.

Dates: 1918-1965

Black hardback notebook, c. 1940-1953

Identifier: Coll-37/B.51
Scope and Contents

Black hardback notebook. It contains notes, diagrams, calculations and narratives, from various periods, and including work on solar noise, 'relaxation time of the F2 layer', 'Points on E and F', 'Distortion in the E layer', 'The Continuity Equation', etc. Work probably began c. 1940 and continued to c.1953.

Dates: c. 1940-1953

Black loose-leaf ring-back notebook, c. 1951-1952

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

Black loose-leaf ring-back notebook. The item contains typed-up series of notes on the literature, data and graphs, research ideas, etc., with some manuscript notes. It includes Appleton's note of ‘Points requiring attention', 28 December 1951, and a note to Mrs. Pritchard, 25 February 1952.

Dates: c. 1951-1952

Black notebook, c.1959-1960

Identifier: Coll-37/B.46
Scope and Contents

Black notebook. It contains notes for speeches and lectures, on general and scientific topics. The notebook includes headings for 'Granada Lecture' (given in 1959) and the latest reference is dated 1960.

Dates: c.1959-1960

Black notebook, first page headed 'F2 Layer anomalies', 1944

Identifier: Coll-37/B.36
Scope and Contents

Black notebook, on which the first page is headed 'F2 Layer anomalies'. The item contains notes, tables and references. The latest dated reference is 1944 though the work may have continued later. Only a few pages have been used, at front of the notebook.

Dates: 1944

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