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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:

Thick notebook, inscribed inside 'Simultaneous Measurements in Downcoming Rays', December 1927-August 1928

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

Thick notebook, inscribed inside 'Simultaneous Measurements in Downcoming Rays'. Inside the front cover is a list of experiments numbered 47-62,dated December 1927 to August 1928 (not all of these were completed), of reception data received at Cambridge, Peterborough and King's College.

Dates: December 1927-August 1928

Thick notebook, inscribed on cover 'Atmospheric Data' (not in Appleton's hand), December 1924-25 August 1927

Identifier: Coll-37/B.13
Scope and Contents

Thick notebook, inscribed on cover 'Atmospheric Data' (not in Appleton's hand). Inside the notebook is inscribed 'Wheatstone laboratory' in Appleton's hand and 'May 1925' in another hand. Inside the notebook the early entries begin December 1924 in Appleton's hand, headed 'Tests of Constancy of 2LO intensity from fading experiments'. Entries continue with dated experiments to 25/8/27, not in Appleton's hand but with occasional notes by him.

Dates: December 1924-25 August 1927

'Third Note on the Morphology of the F2 layer of the Ionosphere' , c. 1943-1944

Identifier: Coll-37/C.76
Scope and Contents

'Third Note on the Morphology of the F2 layer of the Ionosphere'. The material consists of a 4 page manuscript draft. Appleton's first and second notes on the morphology of the F2 Layer were confidential D.S.I.R. [Department of Scientific and Industrial Research] documents 1943 and 1944 respectively. No third note is listed in the bibliography of his writings.

Dates: c. 1943-1944

Typescript bound volume on electricity and radio circuits, 1934

Identifier: Coll-37/C.281
Scope and Contents

Typescript bound volume on electricity and radio circuits. The material consists of a 36 page duplicated typescript account of electricity and radio circuits, bound into a hardback volume with the initials ‘E.V.A.’ [Edward Victor Appleton]. Some pages bear manuscript annotations and underscoring by Appleton. The volume appears to have been 'Exhibit P. 1' in a High Court case in 1934, between B.T.H., Marconi's and E.M.I. and Guildford Radio Stores and another.

Dates: 1934

Typescript notes, narratives and ideas for research, c. 1949

Identifier: Coll-37/C.412
Scope and Contents

The material consists of typescript notes, narratives and ideas for research: 'A note on ionospheric storms'; 'Further notes'; 'The world morphology of ionospheric storms'; and 'The general picture of ionospheric storms'. It is not dated but it contains typescript comments by A.F. Piggott, dated 1949.

Dates: c. 1949

Typescript of article by Edward Appleton, Edward Andrade and Watson-Watt, 1946

Identifier: Coll-37/D.27
Scope and Contents

The material consists of an 11 page typescript of a contribution to 'Science Survey' by Edward Appleton with Edward Andrade and Robert Alexander Watson-Watt, to commemorate the first postwar television programme in 1946.

Dates: 1946

U-W and unidentified, 1965

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

Letters of condolence received on Sir Edward Appleton's death, "U-W and unidentified", 1965.

Dates: 1965

Undated drafts and ideas for papers, c. 1959-1960

Identifier: Coll-37/C.120
Scope and Contents

Undated drafts and ideas for papers. The material includes list of 7 titles for papers on the E Layer and notes for paper on equatorial anomaly, c.1959-1960.

Dates: c. 1959-1960

Unidentified manuscript notes, sent from ‘282 Fulham Road', no date

Identifier: Coll-37/C.28
Scope and Contents

Unidentified manuscript notes, sent from ‘282 Fulham Road', no date.

Dates: no date

University of Edinburgh Comprehensive Development Area (1962): drafts and final publication, 1962-1963

Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/B/1.4
Scope and Contents University of Edinburgh Comprehensive Development Area (1962): drafts and final publication consists of: published copy of University of Edinburgh Comprehensive Development Area ( 1962) published copy of University of Edinburgh Comprehensive Development...
Dates: 1962-1963

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Archival Object 827
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Correspondence 190
Radio Broadcasting 45
Diaries 33
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