09 December 2009


The invention: An electronic system for detecting objects at great
distances, radar was a major factor in the Allied victory ofWorld
War II and now pervades modern life, including scientific research.
The people behind the invention:
Sir Robert Watson-Watt (1892-1973), the father of radar who
proposed the chain air-warning system
Arnold F. Wilkins, the person who first calculated the intensity
of a radio wave
William C. Curtis (1914-1976), an American engineer
Looking for Thunder
Sir RobertWatson-Watt, a scientist with twenty years of experience
in government, led the development of the first radar, an acronym
for radio detection and ranging. “Radar” refers to any instrument
that uses the reflection of radio waves to determine the
distance, direction, and speed of an object.
In 1915, during World War I (1914-1918), Watson-Watt joined
Great Britain’s Meteorological Office. He began work on the detection
and location of thunderstorms at the Royal Aircraft Establishment
in Farnborough and remained there throughout the
war. Thunderstorms were known to be a prolific source of “atmospherics”
(audible disturbances produced in radio receiving apparatus
by atmospheric electrical phenomena), andWatson-Watt
began the design of an elementary radio direction finder that
gave the general position of such storms.