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Robert Watson-Watt
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Inventor
    (April 13, 1892-December 5, 1973)
    Born in Brechin, Scotland, United Kingdom
    Physicist and meteorologist
    Head of the team that developed radar (1935)
    Knighted (1942)
    President of the Royal Meteorological Society (1949-51)
    Descendant of steam engine pioneer James Watt
    He was inconsistent about hyphenating his last name.
    He described himself as 'a sixth-rate mathematician and second-rate physicist.'
    He was originally asked by the British Air Ministry to build a much cooler-sounding radio-based 'death ray' (1934).
    After he was busted for speeding by a cop with a radar gun, he allegedly told the officer, 'If I had known what you were going to do with it, I never would have invented it.' (1956)
    He confirmed that a radio-based death ray was impossible and that rumors the Nazis had one were therefore false.
    Just two weeks after writing a memo suggesting radio waves could be used to detect aircraft, he gave a demonstration, tracking a bomber from eight miles away (February 26, 1935).
    By the end of the year, the system had improved enough to detect aircraft from 100 kilometers away.
    He oversaw construction of the Chain Home ring of coastal radar stations that helped the RAF win the Battle of Britain.
    After the war, he was award £50,000 by the British government for his role in creating radar.

Credit: C. Fishel


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