Sir Alan Herries Wilson (2 July 1906 – 30 September 1995), was a British "mathematician and industrialist. He was educated at "Cambridge University, obtaining a B. S. degree in mathematics in 1926. His graduate work was under the supervision of "R.H. Fowler working on problems in "quantum mechanics.
He studied with "Werner Heisenberg on the application of quantum mechanics to electrical conduction in metals and "semiconductors. During the period 1931–1932 Wilson formulated a theory explaining how "energy bands of electrons can make a material a conductor, a semiconductor or an insulator. In 1932 he was awarded the "Adams Prize; the essay he wrote for this prize became the basis for his book The Theory of Metals published in 1936. His book Semi-conductors and Metals was published in 1939. Wilson supervised four graduate students in the study of solid-state physics during the 1930s, but Wilson perceived that interest in the field was small at Cambridge and so switched to the study of nuclear physics and cosmic rays.
Wilson was elected a Fellow of the "Royal Society in 1942 for his work in advancing the theory of conduction in metals and semiconductors. During the Second World War he worked on radio communications problems for the "SOE, and was later attached to the British "Tube Alloys project to develop the "atomic bomb.
After the Second World War he left academic research and became an industrialist, joining British textile company "Courtaulds to supervise their research and development of artificial fibres. He continued his interest in mathematical physics and prepared a second edition of The Theory of Metals in 1953. He published Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics in 1957. Wilson served as the second President of the combined "Institute of Physics and the Physical Society from 1962 to 1964. In 1962 he left Courtaulds due in part to a takeover bid by "ICI and joined "Glaxo,a pharmacy company, becoming chairman in 1963 until his retirement in 1973. During Wilson's time at Glaxo the company was successful in greatly expanding its business. Wilson was "knighted in 1961. He was married in 1934 to Margaret Monks (??– 8 June 1961), with two sons (Peter, born 1939, and John, born 1944).
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