Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
Sir Edward Victor Appleton
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1947
Born: 6 September 1892, Bradford, United Kingdom
Died: 21 April 1965, Edinburgh, Scotland
Affiliation at the time of the award: Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, London, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: "for his investigations of the physics of the upper atmosphere especially for the discovery of the so-called Appleton layer."
Prize share: 1/1
When radio signals were sent across the Atlantic at the beginning of the 20th century, it became apparent that the radio waves followed the earth's curvature. Physicists assumed that the radio waves were being reflected from a layer in the atmosphere where the sun's ultraviolet light had liberated electrons from their atoms. By studying the superposition, or interference, of radio waves that had taken different paths, Edward Appleton established the existence of this layer - the ionosphere - in 1924. In 1927 he demonstrated that an additional layer existed outside the one discovered previously. Edward Appleton's methods also came to have implications for the development of radar.