Henry Tizard

From Academic Kids

Sir Henry Thomas Tizard (1885 - 1959) was a British scientist and inventor.

Tizard's ambition to join the navy was thwarted by poor eyesight and he instead studied at Westminster School and Magdalen College, Oxford where he concentrated on mathematics and chemistry, doing work on indicators and the motions of ions in gases in 1911.

"The secret of science" he once said "is to ask the right question, and it is the choice of problem more than anything else that marks the man of genius in the scientific world." Tizard's chosen problem became aeronautics. At the outbreak of the first world war he joined first the Royal Garrison Artillery (where his training methods were famously bizarre) and then experimental equipment officer to the Royal Flying Corps and learned to fly planes - seemingly his eyesight had improved - acting as his own test pilot for making aerodynamical observations. When his superior Bertram Hopkinson was moved to the Ministry of Munitions, Tizard went with him. When Hopkinson died in 1918 Tizard took over his post.

After the war he was made Reader in Chemical Thermodynamics at Oxford where he experimented in the composition of fuel trying to find compounds which were resistant to freezing and less volatile, devising the concept of toluene numbers - now referred to as octane numbers. After this work (largely for Shell) he took up again a government post as assistant secretary to the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. His successes in this post (and after promotions to permanent secretary) included the establishment of the post of the Chemical Research Laboratory in Teddington, the appointment of a Director of Scientific Research to the Air Force (H. E. Wimperis) and finally the decision to leave to become rector of Imperial College, London, in 1929, a position he held until 1942.

In 1933 Tizard was appointed as chairman of the Aeronautical Research Committee and served in this post for most of the Second World War.

In 1940 Tizard led what became known as the Tizard Mission to the United States, which introduced to the US, amongst others, the resonant-cavity magnetron and other British radar developments, the Whittle gas turbine, and the British Tube Alloys project.

After the war Tizard served as chairman of the Defence Research Policy Committee and president of the British Association. He died in 1959.

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