Charles Thomson Rees

Charles Thomson Rees

Wilson, Charles Thomson Rees, 1869-1959, Scottish physicist, educated at Manchester and Cambridge universities. He was Jacksonian professor of natural philosophy at Cambridge from 1925 to 1934. Noted for his studies of atmospheric electricity, he devised a method for the protection of barrage balloons from lightning during World War II. He invented the Wilson cloud chamber for studying the activity of ionized particles. For this invention he shared with A. C. Compton, a U.S. physicist, the 1927 Nobel Prize in Physics.

(born Feb. 14, 1869, Glencorse, Midlothian, Scot.—died Nov. 15, 1959, Carlops, Peeblesshire) Scottish physicist. His invention of the Wilson cloud chamber, a device that became widely used in the study of radioactivity, X rays, cosmic rays, and other particle phenomena, also led to the later development of the bubble chamber. He shared the 1927 Nobel Prize for Physics with Arthur Compton.

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Charles Thomson Rees Wilson CH (February 14, 1869November 15, 1959) was a Scottish physicist and meteorologist who received the Nobel Prize in physics for his invention of the cloud chamber.

Biography

He was born in the parish of Glencorse, Midlothian to a farmer, John Wilson, and his mother Annie Clerk Harper. After his father died in 1873, his family moved to Manchester. He was educated at Owen's College, studying biology with the intent to become a physician. He then went to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge where he became interested in physics and chemistry.

He thereafter became particularly interested in meteorology, and in 1893 he began to study clouds and their properties. He worked for some time at the observatory on Ben Nevis, where he made observations of cloud formation. He then tried to reproduce this effect on a smaller scale in the laboratory in Cambridge, expanding humid air within a sealed container. He later experimented with the creation of cloud trails in his chamber caused by ions and radiation. For the invention of the cloud chamber he received the Nobel Prize in 1927.

He married Jessie Fraser in 1908, the daughter of a minister from Glasgow, and the couple had four children. He died near Edinburgh, surrounded by his family.

The Wilson crater on the Moon is co-named for him, Alexander Wilson and Ralph Elmer Wilson.

The Wilson Society, the natural sciences society of Sidney Sussex College, is also named for him.

Archives

The archives of Charles Thomson Rees Wilson are maintained by the Archives of the University of Glasgow (GUAS).

References

  • Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, Isaac Asimov, 2nd ed., Doubleday & C., Inc., ISBN 0-385-17771-2.

External links

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