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John Townsend

AKA John Sealy Edward Townsend

Born: 7-Jun-1868
Birthplace: Galway, Ireland
Died: 16-Feb-1957
Location of death: Oxford, England
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Mt. Jerome Cemetery, St. Philip and James, Oxford, England

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Mathematician, Physicist

Nationality: Ireland
Executive summary: Electron's charge

Irish physicist John Townsend studied under J. J. Thomson, and was the first scientist to measure the electric charge of an electron. He postulated a theory of cascading ionization by collision, now known as an avalanche, to explain how electric current passes through gasses. He also studied the role of positive ions produced simultaneously with electrons in causing electrical sparks to form in a gas. His wife Mary was an Oxford city councilor from 1925-67, and Mayor of Oxford in 1935-36 and 1958-59.

Father: Edward Townsend (professor, b. circa 1831, d. 5-May-1919)
Mother: Judith May Townsend (b. circa 1840, m. 1864)
Brother: Edwin Hotham Townsend (b. circa 1867)
Brother: William Richard Townsend (b. circa 1869, d. 28-Nov-1917 drowned)
Sister: Helena Eleanor Townsend Forbes (d. 1944)
Sister: Mary Young Townsend Townsend (d. 11-Jun-1941 hunting accident)
Sister: Martha Katherine Townsend (b. Jan-1864, d. 18-Jun-1884)
Wife: Mary Georgiana Lambert Townsend (Mayor of Oxford, b. 15-Nov-1889, m. 5-Jul-1911, d. 1986)
Son: Edward Walter Townsend (military officer, b. 7-Aug-1912)
Son: John Henry Townsend (b. 7-Jun-1914)

    High School: Corrig School, Kingstown, Ireland
    University: BS, Trinity College Dublin (1899)
    Scholar: Cambridge University (1899-1900)
    Teacher: Physics, Cambridge University (1900)
    Professor: Physics, Oxford University (1900-41)

    Hughes Medal 1914
    Knight of the British Empire 1941
    French Legion of Honor
    Royal Society
    Irish Ancestry

Author of books:
The Theory of Ionisation of Gases by Collision (1910)
Electricity in Gases (1915)
Motion of Electrons in Gases (1925)
Electricity and Radio Transmission (1943)
Electromagnetic Waves (1951)


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