George Frederick Charles Searle

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George Frederick Charles Searle
Born(1864-12-03)3 December 1864
Died16 December 1954(1954-12-16) (aged 90)
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge[citation needed]
Spouse(s)Alice Mary Edwards[citation needed]
Scientific career
InstitutionsCavendish Laboratory

George Frederick Charles Searle FRS[1] (3 December 1864 – 16 December 1954) was a British physicist and teacher.[2]


Searle was born in Oakington, Cambridgeshire, England.

As a child, he knew Clerk Maxwell, whom he considered to be a humorous individual. In 1888 he began work at the Cavendish Laboratory under J.J. Thomson, and ended up working with the lab for 55 years. After World War II, he ran the undergraduate labs. His equipment, used to calibrate the Ohm, with Thompson about 1900, was still being used in the undergraduate lab.

Contributions to science[edit]

Searle is known for his work on the velocity dependence of the electromagnetic mass. This was a direct predecessor of Einstein's theory of special relativity, when several people were investigating the change of mass with velocity. Following the work of Oliver Heaviside, he defined the expression Heaviside ellipsoid, which means that the electrostatic field is contracted in the line of motion. Those developments, when modified, were ultimately important for the development of special relativity.

Personal life[edit]

Searle was married to Alice Mary Edwards. He contracted a disease at the beginning of World War I, was cured, and became a Christian Scientist. He was a keen cyclist and travelled about proselytizing.


Searle was the author of papers and books, including:

  • Experimental elasticity (1908) Cambridge Univ. Press
  • Experimental harmonic motion A Manual for the Laboratory, 1st edition (1915) Cambridge Univ. Press
  • Experimental harmonic motion, 2nd edition (1922) Cambridge Univ. Press
  • Experimental optics, 1st edition (1925) Cambridge Univ. Press
  • Experimental optics, 2nd edition (1935) Cambridge Univ. Press
  • Experimental physics, (1934) Cambridge Univ. Press
  • Oliver Heaviside, the man (1987) C.A.M. Publishing, England (written in 1950, published posthumously)


  1. ^ a b Thomson, George (1955). "George Frederick Charles Searle 1864-1954". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 1: 246–252. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1955.0018. JSTOR 769255.
  2. ^ Searle, G. F. C. (1896). "On the Steady Motion of an Electrified Ellipsoid". Proceedings of the Physical Society of London. 15: 264–278. doi:10.1088/1478-7814/15/1/323.