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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:

Black notebook inscribed 'E. V. Appleton Atmospherics' on cover, 1923-1924

Identifier: Coll-37/B.11
Scope and Contents

Black notebook inscribed 'E. V. Appleton Atmospherics' on cover. The notebook contains miscellaneous notes, tables, calculations, plan for paper 'On the Nature of Atmospherics' (Part I was published with R.A. Watson­-Watt in Proceedings of the Royal Society, 103, 1923), drafts for paper or note on oscillations in discharges. At the rear of the notebook is a draft for Appleton's farewell speech on leaving Cavendish, 1924.

Dates: 1923-1924

Black ring-back notebook, c. 1932

Identifier: Coll-37/B.24A
Scope and Contents

Black ring-back notebook, no date, c. 1932. The notebook contains lectures on Fourier analysis and statistics.

Dates: c. 1932

Black ring-bound notebook, c. 1920-1921

Identifier: Coll-37/B.5A
Scope and Contents

Black ring-bound notebook, c.1920-1921. The item contains notes and narratives of experiments on atmospherics and on Aperiodic Impulses. The work begins July 12 [1920] and continues to April 17 [1921].

Dates: c. 1920-1921

Brief notes and drafts on ionospheric storms, no date

Identifier: Coll-37/C.418
Scope and Contents

The material consists of brief notes and drafts on ionospheric storms by Edward Appleton, no date.

Dates: no date

Brochure relating to Appleton's admission as Honorary Freeman of Bradford, June 1947

Identifier: Coll-37/A.19
Scope and Contents

Brochure of arrangements relating to Sir Edward Appleton's admission as Honorary Freeman of Bradford, dated June 1947.

Dates: June 1947

C, 1965

Identifier: Coll-37/A.41
Scope and Contents

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

Dates: 1965

Calculations of average noon values δf/fo from Slough data, 1959-1963

Identifier: Coll-37/F.61
Scope and Contents

The material consists of alculations of average noon values δf/fo from Slough data, dated 1959-1963.

Dates: 1959-1963

Calculations of equinox noon M values for sunspot maximum and minimum, 1964

Identifier: Coll-37/F.63
Scope and Contents

The material consists of calculations of equinox noon M values for sunspot maximum and minimum. It contains a typescript note by Appleton to 'I. Y. L.’, setting out the problem and method, dated July 1964.

Dates: 1964

Cambridge University Diary, 1938-1939

Identifier: Coll-37/A.64
Scope and Contents From the Sub-Series:

Note that there are no diaries for 1937, 1961-1962, 1962-1963 and 1963-1964 in the collection. Where university diaries are used, they cover the academic year, i.e. autumn of one year until the following summer.

Dates: 1938-1939

Additional filters:

Archival Object 827
Collection 1
Physics 663
Correspondence 190
Radio Broadcasting 45
Diaries 33
Magnetism 24
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Radar 17
Norway 14
Absorption 13
Astronomy 11
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Magnetic Storms 8
Oscillations 8
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University of Edinburgh -- Principals 8
Appleton, Edward Victor, Sir, 1892-1965 -- Correspondence 7
Science 7
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America 1
Architecture 1
Architecture, Designs and Plans 1
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Atomic bomb 1
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Baking 1
Bibliography 1
Biography 1
Body temperature--Regulation 1
Calculus Integral 1
Cambridge (England) 1
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