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William Edward Ayrton (1847–1908) by W. & D. Downey, pubd 1893 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Ayrton, William Edward (1847–1908), electrical engineer and physicist, was born in London on 14 September 1847 to the accomplished barrister and linguist Edward Nugent Ayrton (1815–1873), and his wife, thereby joining a family long connected with law and music, and traditionally supportive of women's rights. ...

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(John) Desmond Bernal (1901–1971) by Wolfgang Suschitzky, 1949 © Wolfgang Suschitzky / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bernal, (John) Desmond (1901–1971), physicist, was born on 10 May 1901 at Brookswatson, Nenagh, co. Tipperary, eldest of the three sons and two daughters of Samuel George Bernal, a farmer of Limerick, and his wife, Elizabeth Miller, elder daughter of the Presbyterian minister in ...

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Bhabha, Homi Jehangir (1909–1966), theoretical physicist, was born on 30 October 1909 at Bombay in an established Parsi family, the eldest son of Jehangir Hormusji Bhabha (1876–1942) and his wife, Meheran Pandey (d. 1973). Bhabha's father was educated at Oxford and had studied law at ...

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Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett, Baron Blackett (1897–1974) by Lucia Moholy, 1936 © Lucia Moholy

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Blackett, Patrick Maynard Stuart, Baron Blackett (1897–1974), physicist and government and military adviser, was born on 18 November 1897 at Kensington, London, the only son and the second of three children of Arthur Stuart Blackett (1865–1922), stockbroker, and his wife, Caroline Frances (1868–1954)...

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Burch, Cecil Reginald [Bill] (1901–1983), physicist and engineer, was born at 2 Museum Road, Oxford, on 12 May 1901, the fifth child of George James Burch (1852–1914) and his wife, Constance Emily Jeffries, otherwise Baker. Soon after birth Burch was nicknamed Bill by his family and friends. His father was professor of physics at ...

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Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac (1902–1984) by Ramsey & Muspratt, 1934 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Dirac, Paul Adrien Maurice (1902–1984), theoretical physicist, was born at 15 Monk Road, Bishopston, Bristol, on 8 August 1902, the son of Charles Adrien Ladislas Dirac (1866–1936), a native of Monthey in the canton of Valais, Switzerland, and a teacher of French in the ...

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Essen, Louis (1908–1997), physicist, was born on 6 September 1908 in Nottingham, the younger son and second of the three children of Fred Essen, bespoke bootmaker, and his wife, Ada, daughter of Fred Edson, builder and joiner. Both parents were Strict Baptists (his grandfather ...

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Hopkins, Harold Horace (1918–1994), physicist and endoscopist, was born on 6 December 1918 at 76 Argyle Street, Leicester, the youngest of six children of William Ernest Hopkins, a baker's journeyman, and his wife, Teresa Ellen, née Hewitt. The family were hard up, his father often being unemployed in the 1920s and 1930s, but encouraged by his mother ...

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Jackson, Daphne Frances (1936–1991), physicist and champion of women in science and engineering, was born on 23 September 1936 at 34 Willesden Avenue, Peterborough, the only daughter and second child of Albert Henry Jackson (1893–1951), an engineering fitter and turner, and Frances Ethel, formerly Elliott (1897–1985)...

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Sir Nevill Francis Mott (1905–1996) by John Benton-Harris, 1977 © John Benton-Harris

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Mott, Sir Nevill Francis (1905–1996), theoretical physicist, was born on 30 September 1905 in a nursing home at 20 Clarendon Road, Leeds, the elder child of (Charles) Francis Mott, senior science master at Giggleswick School, and his wife, Lilian Mary, née Reynolds. A daughter, ...

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Oliphant, Sir Marcus Laurence Elwin [Mark] (1901–2000), physicist, was born on 8 October 1901 in Kent Town, near Adelaide, South Australia, the eldest of the five sons of Harold George Oliphant, a clerk on the water board, and his wife, Beatrice Fanny, née...

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Talal Debs and Thomas Preston

Preston, George Dawson (1896–1972), physicist, was born on 8 August 1896 at Bardowie, Orwell Park, Rathgar, Dublin, the eldest of the three children of Professor Thomas Preston (1860–1900), physicist, and his wife, Katherine Mary Preston, née McEwen (1868–1951), eldest daughter of Thomas McEwen...

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Sir Gareth Gwyn Roberts (1940–2007) by unknown photographer, 1997 CVCP (now Universities UK)

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Roberts, Sir Gareth Gwyn (1940–2007), physicist and university administrator, was born on 16 May 1940 at Craig Beuno Nursing Home, Bangor, Caernarvonshire, the son of Edwin Roberts (d. 1974), a wages clerk in the local granite quarry, and his wife, Meri, née...

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Sir Joseph Rotblat (1908–2005) by Dominick Tyler, 1995 © Dominick Tyler