George Finch (chemist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
George Finch
George Ingle Finch.jpg
Native name George Ingle Finch
Born (1888-08-04)4 August 1888
Died 22 November 1970(1970-11-22) (aged 82)
Fields Chemical Physics
Institutions Imperial College London
Alma mater University of Geneva
Known for British Mount Everest Expedition 1922
Notable awards Fellow of the Royal Society[1]
Hughes Medal (1944)

George Ingle Finch, FRS[1] (4 August 1888 – 22 November 1970) was an Australian chemist and mountaineer.[2][3][4]


He was born in Australia but educated in German-speaking Switzerland and studied physical sciences at University of Zurich.[5]


A member of the second British expedition under General Charles Granville Bruce to Mount Everest, on 23 May 1922 Finch and Captain Geoffrey Bruce reached an altitude of 27,300 feet (8,321 m) on the north ridge before retreating.[6] Finch fell out with the Everest Committee after 1922, but his pioneering work on oxygen, which he pursued with messianic zeal, remained crucial to future expeditions. In the Alps, Finch was on the first ascent of the North Face Diagonal or 'Finch Route' on the Dent d'Hérens, which he climbed with T. G. B. Forster and R. Peto on 2 August 1923. Finch was also a keen skier and was a founding members of the Alpine Ski Club in 1908. He was a lifelong advocate and supporter of the Alpine Club and would later become its president.

Between 1936 and 1952 he held the position of Professor of Applied Physical Chemistry at Imperial College London.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society[1] in 1938. His candidacy citation read

"Distinguished for his knowledge of Chemical Physics and Electrochemistry, and particularly for his researches upon the electrical conditions and structure of catalytic surfaces, the mechanism of ignition and combustion in electrical discharges, and upon electron diffraction and its applications to the study of surface structure. His outstanding skill in the design of instruments and experimental methods has enabled him greatly to increase the accuracy of measurements in connection with electron diffraction and cathode-ray oscillography. The result of his researches have been published in some 50 papers, including many in the Society's Proceedings."[7]

Finch was awarded their Hughes Medal in 1944. He was president of the Physical Society from 1947 to 1949.

Personal life[edit]

Finch had his relatives raise the Oscar-winning film actor Peter Finch as his own son, even though he was not the biological father. The child was the result of Finch's wife's affair with an injured military officer while Finch was abroad fighting in World War I (the couple married in 1922 and had a daughter). He separated the infant from his mother, whom the boy did not see again until he returned to Britain and found fame in his thirties. He remained close to his mother and met both Finch and his biological father briefly.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Blackman, M. (1972). "George Ingle Finch 1888-1970". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 18: 222. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1972.0007. 
  2. ^ Blakeney, T. S. (March 1971). "Obituary: George Ingle Finch". The Geographical Journal 137 (1): 136. JSTOR 1795428. 
  3. ^ Peter Osborne (2004). "Finch, George Ingle". The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/33130. 
  4. ^ McIntosh, S. E. (2009). "George Ingle Finch'sThe Struggle for Everest". Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 20 (3): 303–303. doi:10.1580/09-WEME-BK-343.1. 
  5. ^ Wainwright, Robert (2016). The Maverick Mountaineer. Allen&Unwin. ISBN 978 1 76011 192 2. 
  6. ^ Capt. C. Geoffrey Bruce
  7. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". London: The Royal Society. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  8. ^ "Finch, Frederick George Peter Ingle (1916–1977)". Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Edition. Retrieved 27 July 2008.