Watson-Watt, Sir Robert Alexander

born April 13, 1892, Brechin, Scot.
died Dec. 5, 1973, Inverness

Scottish physicist.

He began as a meteorologist working on devices for locating thunderstorms. As head of the radio department of Britain's National Physical Laboratory (1935), he worked on aircraft radio location and could locate planes at a distance of about 80 mi (110 km) by beaming radio waves at them, receiving reflections of the waves, and calculating distance by elapsed time. This led to the design of the world's first practical radar system, a vital element in the defense of Britain against German air raids during World War II. His other contributions include a cathode-ray direction finder used to study atmospheric phenomena, research in electromagnetic radiation, and inventions used for flight safety.

* * *

▪ British physicist
born April 13, 1892, Brechin, Forfarshire [now Angus], Scotland
died December 5, 1973, Inverness, Inverness-shire

      Scottish physicist credited with the development of radar in England.

      Watson-Watt attended the University of St. Andrews and later taught at University College, Dundee. From 1915 to 1952 he held a number of government positions, beginning as a meteorologist working on devices for locating thunderstorms. In early February 1935, while heading the radio department of the National Physical Laboratory, he wrote a memorandum to the British government in which he explained how radio waves could be used to detect aircraft. He quickly followed with an experimental demonstration. By July 1935 Watson-Watt was able to locate aircraft consistently at a distance of about 140 km (90 miles). His system grew into a series of radars called Chain Home, which operated at the relatively low frequency of 25 megahertz, much lower than radars developed in other countries prior to World War II. Watson-Watt justified his choice of a nonoptimal frequency for his radar with his often-quoted “cult of the imperfect,” which he stated as “Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, the best never comes.” In September 1938 the first of the Chain Home radars began 24-hour duty. By the time World War II began a year later, there were 18 radars defending the United Kingdom, and this number grew to 53 before the war ended in 1945. Chain Home radars are given much credit for the small Royal Air Force's turning back the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in 1940. Watson-Watt was knighted in 1942.

      Watson-Watt's other contributions include a cathode-ray-tube (cathode-ray tube) direction finder used to study atmospheric phenomena, research in electromagnetic radiation, and inventions used for flight safety.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Watson-Watt , Sir Robert Alexander — (1892–1973) British physicist Watson Watt was born Robert Watt at Brechin in Scotland. The Watson part of his name came from his mother s family and the hybrid Watson Watt was adopted in 1942 on receipt of his knighthood. He was the son of a… …   Scientists

  • Watson-Watt, Sir Robert Alexander — SUBJECT AREA: Aerospace, Electronics and information technology, Weapons and armour [br] b. 13 April 1892 Brechin, Angus, Scotland d. 6 December 1973 Inverness, Scotland [br] Scottish engineer and scientific adviser known for his work on radar.… …   Biographical history of technology

  • Watson-Watt, Sir Robert Alexander — (13 abr. 1892, Brechin, Escocia–5 dic. 1973, Inverness). Físico escocés. Se inició como meteorólogo trabajando en dispositivos para la ubicación de huracanes. Como jefe del departamento de radio del Laboratorio de física nacional de Gran Bretaña… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Robert watson-watt — Sir Robert Alexander Watson Watt, ingénieur écossais né le 13 avril 1892 et mort le 5 décembre 1973, est considéré incorrectement par plusieurs comme l inventeur du radar (le développement du radar a débuté bien avant). Cependant, son brevet sur… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Robert Watson-Watt — Sir Robert Alexander Watson Watt (Brechin, condado de Angus, Escocia, 13 de abril de 1892 Inverness, 15 de diciembre de 1973) fue un ingeniero y físico escocés, considerado erróneamente por algunos (el desarrollo era muy anterior) como el i …   Wikipedia Español

  • Robert Watson-Watt — Sir Robert Alexander Watson Watt, FRS FRAeS (* 13. April 1892 in Brechin, Aberdeenshire; † 5. Dezember 1973 in Inverness) war ein schottischer Physiker. Er gilt als einer der Erfinder des Radars. Watson Watt war zunächst Assistent am Institut für …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • WATSON-WATT (R. A.) — WATSON WATT sir ROBERT ALEXANDER (1892 1973) Physicien écossais, spécialiste de la radio électricité. Après des études à l’université de Dundee et à l’université St. Andrews, Watson Watt entreprend une carrière de météorologue, puis il occupe de… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Robert Watson-Watt — Sir Robert Alexander Watson Watt (Brechin, Reino Unido, 1892 Inverness, id., 1973), físico británico. Ayudante de física en la Universidad de Dundee, durante la I Guerra Mundial trabajó como ingeniero electrotécnico en el Servicio Meteorológico y …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Watson-Watt — [wät′sən wät′] Sir Robert Alexander 1892 1973; Scot. physicist …   English World dictionary

  • Robert Watson-Watt — Infobox Scientist name = Robert Watson Watt box width = image width =250px caption = birth date = 13 April 1892 birth place = Brechin in Angus, Scotland death date = 5 December 1973 death place = Inverness residence = citizenship = nationality =… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.