Arnold Wolfendale

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Sir Arnold Wolfendale
Born Arnold Whittaker Wolfendale
(1927-06-25) 25 June 1927 (age 87)[1]
Rugby, Warwickshire[2]
Residence Durham
Nationality British
Fields Physics
Institutions University of Manchester
Durham University
University of Ceylon
University of Hong Kong
Alma mater University of Manchester
Thesis The nuclear interactions of mu-mesons (1953)
Doctoral students George Efstathiou
Tom Shanks[3]
Known for Astronomer Royal
Cosmic rays[4]
Notable awards Fellow of the Royal Society (1977)[5]
Knight Bachelor (1995)
Spouse Audrey Darby

Sir Arnold Whittaker Wolfendale FRS[5] (born 25 June 1927) [1][2] is a British astronomer who served as Astronomer Royal from 1991 to 1995. He is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Physics at Durham University[6] and served as president of the European Physical Society (1999 - 2001).[4][7][8][9][10][11][12][3][13][14][15][16]

Education and background[edit]

His family moved to Flixton, Lancashire when he was 18 months. He attended Stretford Grammar School in Manchester. Wolfendale was graduated with a Bachelor of Science in physics from the University of Manchester in 1948, followed by a PhD in 1953[17] and a Doctor of Science in 1970.


During his career he held academic posts at the universities of University of Manchester (1951–6), Durham University (1956–92), the University of Ceylon and the University of Hong Kong, and was head of department at Durham where he remains an emeritus professor. He was Professor of Physics at Durham from 1965–92.

Awards and honours[edit]

Wolfendale was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1973, and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1977.[5] He served as Astronomer Royal from 1991 to 1995. In 1992, Wolfendale retired from teaching, and he was knighted in 1995. In 1996 he became Professor of Experimental Physics with the Royal Institution of Great Britain. A lecture theatre in Durham University's new Calman Learning Centre has been named in his honour. He is an honorary DSc of Bucharest University and foreign member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. His nomination for the Royal Society reads

Distinguished for his many contributions to the study of the cosmic radiation through a wide-ranging series of experimental investigations and critical analyses of cosmic ray data. Well known for his development of two novel techniques: the neon flash tube, a visual detector of great stability used widely in spectrographs and cosmic ray neutrino and quark studies, and the 'solid iron' spectrograph. Internationally recognised as the leading authority on muon spectra and charge ratios at ground level and at various depths underground in the energy range 5 x 10 [to the power of] 8-10 [to the power of 13] eV, measurements which are among the most basic data of cosmic rays. Measured the spectra of cosmic ray protons, neutrons and pions and from these data and the muon spectrum determined the primary spectrum and K/pi ratio. Results on the interactions of muons were of importance in a number of other investigations, e.g. in the Davis experiment on solar neutrinos. Introduction of the neon flash tube technique to the Indian and South African experiments on cosmic ray neutrinos was decisive and led to the clear identification of neutrino interactions and the determination of the cross section as a function of energy. Has established recently fine astrophysical groups in Durham which have already made useful contributions to the theory of the propagation of cosmic rays in the galaxy, to the explanation of the ultra-high energy end of the primary spectrum and to the origin of the gamma-ray background radiation. His optical group under Scarrott has recently obtained a beautiful map of the galaxy M82 in Rayleigh scattered light, and from it an accurate position for the luminous nucleus.[5]

Personal life[edit]

He married Audrey Darby in 1951. They had twin sons. His wife died in 2007. He is also patron of the Durham Dramatic Society, an amateur theatre troupe which is a member of the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain. They have also met Ian McKellan.


  1. ^ a b c "WOLFENDALE, Sir Arnold (Whittaker)". Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press. (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b GRO Register of Births: SEP 1927 6d 1198a RUGBY – Arnold W. Wolfendale, mmn = Hoyle
  3. ^ a b "Profile: Prof. Sir Arnold Wolfendale FRS". Astronomy & Geophysics 49 (4): 4.11. 2008. doi:10.1111/j.1468-4004.2008.49411.x.  edit
  4. ^ a b 100 Years of Comic Rays: A Royal Society Lecture by Sir Arnold Wolfendale on YouTube
  5. ^ a b c d "Library and Archive Catalogue Wolfendale". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2013-12-19. 
  6. ^ "Prof Sir AW Wolfendale - Durham University". Durham University. Archived from the original on 2013-12-19. 
  7. ^ Sloan, T.; Wolfendale, A. W. (2008). "Testing the proposed causal link between cosmic rays and cloud cover" (Full free text). Environmental Research Letters 3 (2): 024001. arXiv:0803.2298. Bibcode:2008ERL.....3d4001S. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/3/2/024001.  edit
  8. ^ Wibig, T.; Wolfendale, A. W. (2005). "At what particle energy do extragalactic cosmic rays start to predominate?". Journal of Physics G: Nuclear and Particle Physics 31 (3): 255. doi:10.1088/0954-3899/31/3/005.  edit
  9. ^ Bhat, C. L.; Issa, M. R.; Houston, B. P.; Mayer, C. J.; Wolfendale, A. W. (1985). "Cosmic γ rays and the mass of gas in the Galaxy". Nature 314 (6011): 511. doi:10.1038/314511a0.  edit
  10. ^ Arnold Wolfendale publications in Google Scholar
  11. ^ Arnold Wolfendale publications in
  12. ^ Arnold Wolfendale from the Scopus bibliographic database.
  13. ^ Myers, A. D.; Shanks, T.; Outram, P. J.; Frith, W. J.; Wolfendale, A. W. (2004). "Evidence for an extended Sunyaev--Zel'dovich effect in WMAP data". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 347 (4): L67. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2004.07449.x.  edit
  14. ^ Erlykin, A. D.; Wolfendale, A. W. (2006). "The anisotropy of galactic cosmic rays as a product of stochastic supernova explosions". Astroparticle Physics 25 (3): 183. doi:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2006.01.003.  edit
  15. ^ Bhat, C. L.; Mayer, C. J.; Wolfendale, A. W. (1986). "A New Estimate of the Mass of Molecular Gas in the Galaxy and its Implications". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 319 (1547): 249. Bibcode:1986RSPTA.319..249B. doi:10.1098/rsta.1986.0099.  edit
  16. ^ Prof Sir Arnold Wolfendale, Debretts Biography
  17. ^ Wolfendale, Arnold (1953). The nuclear interactions of mu-mesons (PhD thesis). University of Manchester. (subscription required)

External links[edit]