Watson-Watt, Sir Robert Alexander

Watson-Watt, Sir Robert Alexander
b. 13 April 1892 Brechin, Angus, Scotland
d. 6 December 1973 Inverness, Scotland
Scottish engineer and scientific adviser known for his work on radar.
Following education at Brechin High School, Watson-Watt entered University College, Dundee (then a part of the University of St Andrews), obtaining a BSc in engineering in 1912. From 1912 until 1921 he was Assistant to the Professor of Natural Philosophy at St Andrews, but during the First World War he also held various posts in the Meteorological Office. During. this time, in 1916 he proposed the use of cathode ray oscillographs for radio-direction-finding displays. He joined the newly formed Radio Research Station at Slough when it was opened in 1924, and 3 years later, when it amalgamated with the Radio Section of the National Physical Laboratory, he became Superintendent at Slough. At this time he proposed the name "ionosphere" for the ionized layer in the upper atmosphere. With E.V. Appleton and J.F.Herd he developed the "squegger" hard-valve transformer-coupled timebase and with the latter devised a direction-finding radio-goniometer.
In 1933 he was asked to investigate possible aircraft counter-measures. He soon showed that it was impossible to make the wished-for radio "death-ray", but had the idea of using the detection of reflected radio-waves as a means of monitoring the approach of enemy aircraft. With six assistants he developed this idea and constructed an experimental system of radar (RAdio Detection And Ranging) in which arrays of aerials were used to detect the reflected signals and deduce the bearing and height. To realize a practical system, in September 1936 he was appointed Director of the Bawdsey Research Station near Felixstowe and carried out operational studies of radar. The result was that within two years the East Coast of the British Isles was equipped with a network of radar transmitters and receivers working in the 7–14 metre band—the so-called "chain-home" system—which did so much to assist the efficient deployment of RAF Fighter Command against German bombing raids on Britain in the early years of the Second World War.
In 1938 he moved to the Air Ministry as Director of Communications Development, becoming Scientific Adviser to the Air Ministry and Ministry of Aircraft Production in 1940, then Deputy Chairman of the War Cabinet Radio Board in 1943. After the war he set up Sir Robert Watson-Watt \& Partners, an industrial consultant firm. He then spent some years in relative retirement in Canada, but returned to Scotland before his death.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Knighted 1942. CBE 1941. FRS 1941. US Medal of Merit 1946. Royal Society Hughes Medal 1948. Franklin Institute Elliot Cresson Medal 1957. LLD St Andrews 1943. At various times: President, Royal Meteorological Society, Institute of Navigation and Institute of Professional Civil Servants; Vice-President, American Institute of Radio Engineers.
1923, with E.V.Appleton \& J.F.Herd, British patent no. 235,254 (for the "squegger"). 1926, with J.F.Herd, "An instantaneous direction reading radio goniometer", Journal of
the Institution of Electrical Engineers 64:611.
1933, The Cathode Ray Oscillograph in Radio Research.
1935, Through the Weather Hours (autobiography).
1936, "Polarisation errors in direction finders", Wireless Engineer 13:3. 1958, Three Steps to Victory.
1959, The Pulse of Radar.
1961, Man's Means to his End.
Further Reading
S.S.Swords, 1986, Technical History of the Beginnings of Radar, Stevenage: Peter Peregrinus.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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  • Watson-Watt , Sir Robert Alexander — (1892–1973) British physicist Watson Watt was born Robert Watt at Brechin in Scotland. The Watson part of his name came from his mother s family and the hybrid Watson Watt was adopted in 1942 on receipt of his knighthood. He was the son of a… …   Scientists

  • Watson-Watt, Sir Robert Alexander — born April 13, 1892, Brechin, Scot. died Dec. 5, 1973, Inverness Scottish physicist. He began as a meteorologist working on devices for locating thunderstorms. As head of the radio department of Britain s National Physical Laboratory (1935), he… …   Universalium

  • Watson-Watt, Sir Robert Alexander — (13 abr. 1892, Brechin, Escocia–5 dic. 1973, Inverness). Físico escocés. Se inició como meteorólogo trabajando en dispositivos para la ubicación de huracanes. Como jefe del departamento de radio del Laboratorio de física nacional de Gran Bretaña… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Robert watson-watt — Sir Robert Alexander Watson Watt, ingénieur écossais né le 13 avril 1892 et mort le 5 décembre 1973, est considéré incorrectement par plusieurs comme l inventeur du radar (le développement du radar a débuté bien avant). Cependant, son brevet sur… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Robert Watson-Watt — Sir Robert Alexander Watson Watt (Brechin, condado de Angus, Escocia, 13 de abril de 1892 Inverness, 15 de diciembre de 1973) fue un ingeniero y físico escocés, considerado erróneamente por algunos (el desarrollo era muy anterior) como el i …   Wikipedia Español

  • Robert Watson-Watt — Sir Robert Alexander Watson Watt, FRS FRAeS (* 13. April 1892 in Brechin, Aberdeenshire; † 5. Dezember 1973 in Inverness) war ein schottischer Physiker. Er gilt als einer der Erfinder des Radars. Watson Watt war zunächst Assistent am Institut für …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Robert Watson-Watt — Sir Robert Alexander Watson Watt (Brechin, Reino Unido, 1892 Inverness, id., 1973), físico británico. Ayudante de física en la Universidad de Dundee, durante la I Guerra Mundial trabajó como ingeniero electrotécnico en el Servicio Meteorológico y …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • Robert Watson-Watt — Infobox Scientist name = Robert Watson Watt box width = image width =250px caption = birth date = 13 April 1892 birth place = Brechin in Angus, Scotland death date = 5 December 1973 death place = Inverness residence = citizenship = nationality =… …   Wikipedia

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