Obituary Nevill Mott


Nevill Francis Mott, physicist, was born 30 September 1905 and died 8 August 1996. His work in theoretical solid state physics has been of great benefit to crystallographers. He was appointed Melville Wills Professor of Theoretical Physics at Bristol in 1933 at the age of 28, where he worked on the theory of the solid state; in 1935 he published 'Theory of Properties of the Metals and Alloys' with H.Jones, which applied the newly developed quantum theory to complex phenomena in solids.

He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1936. In 1940 he collaborated with R.W.Gurney on the book 'Electronic Processes in Ionic Crystals'. Despite his administration work as Director of the Wills Physical Laboratories and later Cavendish Professor of Physics at Cambridge and Master of Gonville and Caius College, he continued to take an interest in serious science, publishing in 1971 the book 'Metal Insulator Transitions'. A topic discussed at the recent IUCr Congress in Seattle.

These notes are taken from the obituary published in the 'The Independent' on 12 August 1996 where Tam Dalyell, MP, begins his obituary with these words: ' Nevill Mott was one of the great European scientists of this - or any - century.'

He goes on to say that Mott was much more than a famous scientist; in 1965 he invited a group of new Labour MPs to Cambridge for the weekend to discuss the science and education policy of the incoming Labour Government and had proposals as to how to fund emerging multidsciplinary sciences and new topics such as molecular biology without causing undue damage to research work in older disciplines.

Page last updated 27 Oct 1996
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