John F. Allen

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John F. Allen
John Frank Allen

May 5, 1908
DiedApril 22, 2001 (2001-04-23) (aged 92)
NationalityCanada, England
Known forSuperfluid phase of matter
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of St Andrews

John Frank 'Jack' Allen, FRS FRSE (May 5, 1908 – April 22, 2001) was a Canadian-born physicist. Along with Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa and Don Misener, Allen discovered the superfluid phase of matter in 1937 using liquid helium in the Royal Society Mond Laboratory in Cambridge, England.[1] He was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society in 1949.[2]


Born in Winnipeg, he was also known as Jack Allen. He was professor of physics at the University of St Andrews, Scotland from 1947 to 1978, and then emeritus professor until his death.

Allen also used a movie camera to film his experiments, such as the superfluid helium fountain which he discovered in 1938 with the help of a pocket flashlight. Over a ten-year period Allen made a movie of the various two-fluid phenomena exhibited by liquid helium-4. The photography of these effects was a real challenge, because liquid helium-4 is essentially transparent. This unique colour movie (the fifth edition was completed in 1982) is one of Allen's great legacies to physics. His was an early use of moving images to document experiments and inform students and the general public.

Allen received an honorary doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 1984.[3]

He died in St Andrews in Fife.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Donnelly, Russell J. (July 2002). "Obituary: John Frank Allen". Physics Today. 55 (7): 76–77. Bibcode:2002PhT....55g..76D. doi:10.1063/1.1506759.
  2. ^ Griffin, Allan (2001). "Obituary: John Frank (Jack) Allen (1908–2001)". Nature. 411 (6836): 436. doi:10.1038/35078192.
  3. ^ "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  4. ^