James Atkinson (physicist)

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James Robert Atkinson
Born James Robert Atkinson
17 February 1916
Wallington, England
Died 9 May 2008 (2008-05-10) (aged 92)
Cupar, Fife, Scotland
Occupation Experimental physicist

James Robert Atkinson, MA, FInstP, FRSE, FRMetS, radar pioneer 1938-45, reader in Natural Philosophy at Glasgow University 1945-58, deputy-director of research at the nuclear establishment at Dounreay 1958-66, deputy-director of the British Shipping Research Association 1966-76, and deputy-director of the Institute of Offshore Engineering at Heriot-Watt University 1976-9.[1]


On graduating from St John's College, Cambridge in 1938 he took a research post at the Air Ministry Research Establishment in Bawdsey Manor[2] where he carried out research into ‘afterglow’ Cathode Ray Tubes, later taking on a special assignment to upgrade the Chain Home radar stations.[3]

In 1940 he joined the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) where he worked on research into 10 cm, 3 cm and 1 cm wave radar[2] later going on to work on research into super-refraction phenomena and infra red detectors for scope guided missile weapons.[4]

After the war he joined Glasgow University’s Natural Philosophy department under Professor Philip Dee and between 1945 and 1958 he worked on expansion, diffusion and bubble chambers investigating nuclear photodisintegration by gamma rays.[5]

In 1958 he took up a post at UKAEA Dounreay where he took charge of the testing reactor.[6] Moving on in 1966 he became Assistant Director at the British Ship Research Association working on research into ship architecture, vibration and noise.

In 1976 he joined the Institute of Offshore Engineering at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh where he pursued research into wave energy before retiring in 1979.[1]


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