Menu ☰

Back to Top

Physics History Network

Over 1000 biographies of physicists and histories of institutions with information pertaining to their lives, careers, and research.

Tip: Search within this page by using Ctrl + F or ⌘ + F


Search Our Catalogs

Archives Books

Collections

Emilio Segré Visual Archives Digital Collections Oral Histories Archival Finding Aids Physics History Network Member Society Portals

Preservation and Support

Donating Materials Suggest a Book Purchase Saving Archival Collections Grants to Archives Documentation Projects History Newsletters

Center for History of Physics

Scholarship & Outreach

Main Navigation

HomeAboutTopic GuidesFeedback

Table of Contents

Biography

AbstractImportant DatesOccupationPlacesSubjects

Relationships

PeopleInstitutions

Resources

Archival as AuthorArchival as SubjectPublished as Subject

Charles Thomson Rees Wilson

Photo

Dates

February 14, 1869 – November 15, 1959

Authorized Form of Name

Wilson, Charles Thomson Rees, 1869-1959

Additional Forms of Names

Wilson, C. T. R. (Charles Thomson Rees), 1869-1959

Biography

Abstract

C. T. R. Wilson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1927 "for his method of making the paths of electrically charged particles visible by condensation of vapour." The majority of his career was spent at the University of Cambridge, where he worked at Cavendish Laboratory, the Solar Physics Observatory, and taught as a lecturer, demonstrator, and the Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy.

Important Dates

February 14, 1869Birth, Glencorse (Scotland).

1887Obtained BSc, Owens College, University of Manchester, Manchester (England).

1892Obtained PhD in Physics, Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge (England).

1894Assistant Master, Bradford Grammar School, Bradford (England).

1895Began researching cloud creation after finding inspiration on Ben Nevis, the highest Scottish mountain.

1896 – 1899Awarded the Clerk Maxwell Scholarship, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge (England).

1900Fellow, Royal Society.

1900 – 1936Fellow; University Lecturer and Demonstator; and Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy (1925-1936), University of Cambridge, Cambridge (England).

1911Awarded the Hughes Medal, Royal Society.

1913Observer in Meteorological Physics and Reader in Electrical Meteorology, Solar Physics Observatory, University of Cambridge (now called the Institute of Astronomy), Cambridge (England).

1920Awarded the Hopkins Prize, Cambridge Philosophical Society.

1921Awarded the Gunning Prize, Royal Society of Edinburgh.

1922Awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Society.

1925Awarded the Howard Potts Medal, Franklin Institute.

1927Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for his method of making the paths of electrically charged particles visible by condensation of vapour".

1935Awarded the Copley Medal, Royal Society.

November 15, 1959Death, Pentland Hills (Scotland).

Occupation

Meteorological physicist.

Places

Birth

Glencorse (Scotland)

Undergraduate Education

Manchester (England)

Graduate Education

Cambridge (England)

Employment

Bradford (England)

Cambridge (England)

Death

Pentland Hills (Scotland)

Subjects

Cloud chamber.

Meteorology.

Relationships

People

Advisors & Collaborators

Bose, Devendramohan

Advised by Wilson at Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge.

Dee, Philip Ivor, 1904-1983

Advised by Wilson at Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge.

Powell, Cecil Frank

Advised by Wilson at Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge.

Richardson, O. W. (Owen Willans), 1879-1959

Collaborated at Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University.

Thomson, J. J. (Joseph John), 1856-1940

Advisor at University of Cambridge.

Additional

Blackett, P. M. S. (Patrick Maynard Stuart), Baron Blackett, 1897-1974

Bothe, W. (Walther), 1891-

Bragg, William Henry, 1862-1942

Bragg, William Lawrence, Sir, 1890-1971

Chadwick, James, 1891-1974

Cockcroft, John, Sir, 1897-1967

Compton, Arthur Holly, 1892-1962

Share the 1927 Nobel Prize in Physics for separate prizes.

Kapitsa, P. L. (Petr Leonidovich), 1894-1984

Meitner, Lise, 1878-1968

Occhialini, Giuseppe, 1907-1993

Paton, James, 1928-1973

Reinold, Arnold William,

Shenstone, A. G. (Allen Goodrich)

Skobel'tsyn, D. V. (Dmitrii Vladimirovich), 1892-

Stewart, Balfour

Stoner, Edmund Clifton

Taylor, F. Sherwood (Frank Sherwood), 1897-1956

Walton, Ernest, 1903-1995

Ward, F. A. B. (Francis Alan Burnett)

Whiddington, Richard

Wilson, James G. (James Graves), 1915-

Institutions

Major Positions

Bradford Grammar School

Assistant Master.

University of Cambridge

Fellow; University Lecturer and Demonstrator; Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy; and Observer in Meteorological Physics and Reader in Electrical Meteorology at the Solar Physics Observatory.

Professional Activities & Affiliations

Cambridge Philosophical Society

Awarded the Hopkins Prize (1920).

Cavendish Laboratory (Cambridge, England)

Clerk Maxwell Scholar and Researcher.

Franklin Institute (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Awarded the Howard Potts Medal (1925).

Royal Society (Great Britain)

Fellow and awarded the Hughes Medal (1911), the Royal Medal (1922), and the Copley Medal (1935).

Royal Society of Edinburgh

Awarded the Gunning Prize (1921).

Sidney Sussex College (University of Cambridge)

Received PhD in Physics (1900).

University of Manchester

Received BSc (1887), Owen's College.

Resources

Archival Resources

Author

C. T. R. Wilson laboratory records and notebooks, circa 1895-1940.

Royal Society

6 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG, England UK

Charles Thomson Rees Wilson papers, 1890-1959.

Dept. of Special Libraries and Archives.

King's College.

Aberdeen AB 9 ZUB

Charles Wilson papers, 1918-1940.

Archives Centre

Churchill College

Cambridge CB3 0DS

James Paton papers, 1920s-1970s.

Dept. of Special Libraries and Archives.

King's College

Aberdeen AB 9 ZUB

Laboratory records and notebooks [microform], 1895-1940.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Letter to F. A. B. Ward, March 26, 1935.

Library

Science Museum (Great Britain)

Imperial College Road, London SW7 5NH, England, UK

O. W. Richardson papers, 1897-1959 (bulk 1920-1940).

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

University of Texas at Austin

P.O. Drawer 7219, Austin, TX 78713-7219, USA

Three letters to F. S. Taylor/C. T. R. Wilson, 1954 April 12-27.

Library

Science Museum (Great Britain)

Imperial College Road, London SW7 5NH, England, UK

Subject

Allen Shenstone autobiography, 1962.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Edmund C. Stoner papers and correspondence, 1909-1969.

Brotherton Library, Department of Special Collections

University of Leeds

Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS2 9JT

Items in various series of The Royal Society, 1891-1906.

Royal Society

6 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG, England UK

Oral history interview with Giuseppe Occhialini, 1971 April 5, 6, May 16, 17, and November 18.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with James Chadwick, 1969 April 15, 16, 17 and 20.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral History interview with Philip I. Dee, 1971 November 5.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral History interview with Sir William Lawrence Bragg, 1969 June 20.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Richard Whiddington papers and correspondence, 1907-1973.

Brotherton Library, Department of Special Collections

University of Leeds

Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS2 9JT

Published Resources

Subject

C. T. R. Wilson Nobel Prize biography.

Royal Society Biographical Memoirs of Charles Thomson Rees Wilson, 1869-1959 by P.M.S. Blackett.