AKA George Ingle Finch
Birthplace: Orange, New South Wales, Australia
Location of death: London, England
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Chemist, Explorer, Inventor
Executive summary: Oxygen for mountain climbing
Military service: Royal Field Artillery (1914-19, to Captain)
Chemist George Finch developed an improved catalyst for synthesis of ammonia, and conducted groundbreaking research into solid state physics and study of surfaces and thin films, electron diffraction, electron microscopy, and the electrical ignition of gases. His work earned the Hughes Medal of the Royal Society in 1944, and he was appointed a Member of the British Empire for his military service in World War I, but Finch is probably better known now for his development of the first practical, portable oxygen tank for high-altitude mountaineering.
An avid climber, Finch set what was in 1922 a world altitude record on Mt Everest, at 27,300 feet, while not reaching the peak. An early proponent of carrying oxygen at great heights, Finch designed an oxygen tank that weighed only sixteen kilograms, but he was ridiculed by "natural" mountain climbers such as George Mallory, who saw supplementary oxygen as "unfair, unsporting, and un-English". Mallory eventually relented, and was carrying oxygen when he disappeared on Everest in 1924. Finch never reached Everest's peak, but most of those who have scaled the mountain were carrying oxygen tanks. He was president of England's famed Alpine Club from 1959-62.
Finch was the putative father of actor Peter Finch, but the boy's biological father was believed to have been a Scottish military officer, Wentworth Edward Dallas "Jock" Campbell. After the elder Finch divorced his son's mother on the grounds of infidelity, he was granted custody of the child, who was primarily raised by George Finch's sister and mother.
Father: C. E. Finch (rancher)
Mother: Laura Finch
Sister: Dorothy Finch
Brother: Maxwell Finch
Wife: Alicia Gladys Fisher Finch (div. 1920)
Son: Peter Finch (doubtful paternity, actor, b. 1916, d. 1977)
University: BS, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (1911)
Scholar: University of Geneva
Teacher: Electrochemistry, Imperial College London (1919-36)
Professor: Applied Physical Chemistry, Imperial College London (1936-52)
Administrator: Director of National Chemical Laboratory of India (1952-57)
Hughes Medal 1944
Member of the British Empire 1919
Risk Factors: Malaria
Author of books:
The Making of a Mountaineer (1925)
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