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Wilson, Robert Sharp (1916–1954)

by J.W.B.

Robert Sharp Wilson, a Fellow in the Department of Particle Physics in the Research School of Physical Sciences, died in Canberra on 4th October, 1954, at the age of 38. He was a leading member of the team working under Professor Oliphant on the design of a 10GeV proton synchroton.

Born in Lancashire, Wilson graduated from Cambridge in 1938 and continued research in nuclear physics at Liverpool under Sir James Chadwick. Throughout the war years he was a Scientific Officer at the Telecommunications Research Establishment, Malvern, and was concerned with the development and use of radar in night fighters for Air Interception.

In 1945 he joined Professor Oliphant in Birmingham where he was responsible for the radio frequency system of the 60 inch cyclotron. While there he completed his thesis for the Ph.D. (Liverpool) making an analysis of the theory of cyclotrons. Wilson was the first Fellow appointed in the Research School of Physical Sciences, taking up duty on 1st January, 1950. He investigated the possibilities of various radio frequency systems for the several high energy particle accelerators under construction in the University, and at the time of his death was working on the system chosen for the 10GeV aircored synchrotron. He visited laboratories in U.S.A. and England in 1953 to study the latest developments in synchroton design and to report on the possible value to the Canberra machine of the revolutionary strong focussing system.

Wilson was much valued for his clear thinking on policy and his fundamental approach to the physics of problems with which both he and his colleagues were associated. He lived up to and helped to spread the best traditions of British physics.

Dr. Wilson is survived by his wife and three sons.

Original publication

Citation details

J.W.B., 'Wilson, Robert Sharp (1916–1954)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 11 August 2020.

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