Sir Charles Galton Darwin

1887 - 1962

Physicist. Born at Newnham Grange in Cambridge, he was a son of mathematician Sir George Howard Darwin and a grandson of naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-82). He was educated at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Cambridge. Darwin then undertook research in Manchester on atomic theory, working under the direction of Ernest Rutherford and Niels Bohr. His interests evolved to examine X-ray diffraction. During the First World War he served first with the Royal Engineers, attempting to locate enemy artillery by sound-ranging, and then in the Royal Flying Corps, where he studied aircraft noise. He was appointed a lecturer at Christ's College, Cambridge (1919-22). He spent a year in the USA before being appointed the first Tait Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh (1924-36). There he worked on quantum optics, magneto-optic effects and the structure of the hydrogen atom. He went on to become Master of Christ's College, Cambridge, then Director of the National Physical Laboratory (1938-49). During the Second World War he spent much of his time co-ordinating the American, British and Canadian efforts on the Manhattan Project, which was to produce the first nuclear bombs.

Darwin was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1924, his proposers including Sir James Alfred Ewing (1855 - 1935) and Charles Glover Barkla (1887 - 1962). He served as their Vice President 1933-36. Darwin was knighted in 1942, and was awarded honorary doctorates from the University of St. Andrews and the University of Edinburgh.

He died in the house in which he was born; Newnham Grange in Cambridge, now part of Darwin College.

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