Schuster, Sir Arthur

Updated About content Print Article Share Article
views updated


SCHUSTER, SIR ARTHUR (1851–1934), British scientist. Schuster was born in Frankfurt. When in 1866, following the war with Austria, the free city passed to Prussia, his father decided to emigrate and to join the Manchester branch of the family's merchant-banking firm. In 1870, Arthur Schuster entered the business, but soon decided on an academic career. He studied physics and mathematics and did research on the spectrum of nitrogen (he coined the word spectroscopy). He worked in Heidelberg under Gustav Robert Kirchoff and Robert William Bunsen. In 1874 he returned to England, and at the age of 23 took charge of Sir Norman Lockyer's expedition to Siam to study the solar eclipse. There and elsewhere he obtained valuable visual observations and instructive photographs of solar corona. For several years Schuster worked and lectured at Owen's College, Manchester, and also at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, under James Clerk Maxwell and John William Strutt Rayleigh. From 1881 to 1907 he held a professorship at Manchester. There he became the friend and guide of Chaim *Weizmann.

Schuster is known for his work on the discharge of electricity through gases and in seismology. In addition to working intensively as a research scientist he was an active administrator, taking a leading part in the organization of three universities – Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. In 1904 he drew up the program of the International Union for Solar Research in collaboration with Hale and Arrhenius. In 1915 he was president of the British Association, and in 1918 he participated in the formation of the International Research Council. He was foreign secretary of the Royal Society from 1920 to 1924.


F.W. Dyson, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 95 (1935), 326–30.

[Arthur Beer]

More From

You Might Also Like