Simon, Sir Francis Eugene

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SIMON, SIR FRANCIS EUGENE (1893–1956), physicist. Simon, who was born in Berlin, served through World War i and was awarded the Iron Cross for distinguished service. After the war he continued at Berlin University and became research assistant to the German chemist Walter Herman Nernst (1864–1941), as well as a lecturer on low-temperature physics. In 1931 he became professor and director of the laboratory for physical chemistry at the Technische Hochschule in Breslau. In 1933 Simon was invited to the Clarendon Laboratory in Oxford, where he built up one of the foremost low-temperature laboratories in the world. In 1935 Simon was appointed university reader (later to occupy a chair specially created in 1946) in thermodynamics. During World War ii, he was responsible for some key research on an aspect of the manufacture of the atom bomb, although he was classified as an "enemy alien." In 1941 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Simon was a vigorous campaigner for the proper use of science, the avoidance of waste, and the utilization of scientists in public affairs. From 1948 to 1951 he was scientific correspondent of the Financial Times. He was knighted in 1955.


N. Arms, A Prophet in Two Countries (1966); N. Kurti, in: Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 4 (1958), 225–56.

[J. Edwin Holmstrom]