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:

The material consists of data on sunspot cycles, graphs of quiet and disturbed days, etc., 1931-1953

Identifier: Coll-37/F.55
Scope and Contents

The material consists of data on sunspot cycles dated 1931-1953, graphs of quiet and disturbed days, etc.

Dates: 1931-1953

'The morphology of ionospheric storms', c. 1952

Identifier: Coll-37/C.414
Scope and Contents

'The morphology of ionospheric storms'. The material consists of a 38 page typescript draft by Edward Appleton which is different to the version published in 1952.

Dates: c. 1952

'The Morphology of Storms in the F2 Layer of the Ionosphere: II. The Study of Individual Ionospheric Storms' , 1951

Identifier: Coll-37/C.415
Scope and Contents

'The Morphology of Storms in the F2 Layer of the Ionosphere: II. The Study of Individual Ionospheric Storms'. The material consists of a 49 page typescript draft of a collaborative paper between Edward Appleton and W.R. Piggott. It includes corrections by Piggott to a section of the draft, dated 1951.

Dates: 1951

‘The propagation of wireless waves through an ionized gas in a magnetic field’, c. 1925-1943

Identifier: Coll-37/C.200
Scope and Contents

‘The propagation of wireless waves through an ionized gas in a magnetic fieId’. The material consists of section 2 of a paper by Edward Appleton, paginated 4-9, no date, c. 1925-1943.

Dates: c. 1925-1943

'The Radar detection of meteor trails', c. 1946

Identifier: Coll-37/C.222
Scope and Contents

'The Radar detection of meteor trails'. The material consists of a 3 page typescript draft and a copy of the published paper, dated 1946.

Dates: c. 1946

'The rate of electron disappearance in the E-Layer of the Ionosphere', c. 1954-1965

Identifier: Coll-37/C.47
Scope and Contents

'The rate of electron disappearance in the E Layer of the Ionosphere', The material consists of 11 pages of typescript, no date, with 1 page manuscript note attached, 'Possible causes of Phenomenon'.

Dates: c. 1954-1965

'The triode oscillator', c. 1922

Identifier: Coll-37/C.237
Scope and Contents

'The triode oscillator'no date, c. 1922. The material consists of 14 pages of typescript and manuscript notes by Edward Appleton.

Dates: c. 1922

Theses on non-linear oscillators, by Appleton's students at King's College, London, 1928-1937

Identifier: Coll-37/C.242-C.244
Scope and Contents

This sub-sub-subseries consists of 3 files containing the theses on non-linear oscillators, by Edward Appleton's students at King's College, London, dated 1928, 1932 and 1937 and all in their orignal binders.

Dates: 1928-1937

Thick black notebook, c. 1937

Identifier: Coll-37/B.30
Scope and Contents

Thick black notebook. The notebook contains notes, calculations and references, on recombination, 'Correct magneto-ionic formulae', critical frequencies. Only a few pages of the notebook have been used, at the front of book and the latest reference is from 1937.

Dates: c. 1937

Thick notebook, inscribed 'E. V. Appleton' on page edges, front few pages only used, c. 1927

Identifier: Coll-37/B.18
Scope and Contents

Thick notebook, inscribed 'E. V. Appleton' on page edges, front few pages only used. The notebook mainly contains notes on the literature and the latest date is 1927.

Dates: c. 1927

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