Wood, Albert Beaumont 1890 - 1964

(1890-1964), admiralty scientist

Dr. Albert Beaumont Wood was born at Uppermill in the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1890 and was educated at Huddersfield Technical College and Manchester University, where he graduated with first class honours in Physics in 1912. Staying on at University he joined Sir Ernest (later Lord) Rutherford’s team of scientists carrying out research in atomic physics. Amongst his colleagues were HGJ Moseley, CG Darwin, Hans Geiger, Niels Bohr, Ernest Marsden, J Chadwick, EN da Andrade, Fritz Paneth, G von Hevesy and others. In 1914 he was appointed Olive Lodge Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool, later becoming university lecturer in Physics, but throughout kept in close contact with Rutherford at Manchester.

In the summer of 1915 Wood asked Rutherford to sign papers recommending him for a commission in the Air Force. About this time, however, the Admiralty was forming the Board of Invention and Research (BIR). Rutherford, whose laboratory was already carrying out experiments on underwater sound, suggested to Wood that his talents might be more usefully employed in this field than in the air and shortly afterwards Wood became one of the first two physicists to receive an official appointment to the Admiralty under the BIR.

Some of Dr. Wood’s achievements include very accurate measurements of sound velocity in sea water; the development of the first cathode ray oscillograph for recording underwater explosion pressure-time curves; a directional hydrophone and the magnetostriction echo depth recorder.

Dr. Wood served in the Admiralty in many places and capacities: Aberdour; Parkeston Quay; Shandon; The Admiralty Research Laboratory, Teddington (on its formation in 1921 and later as Deputy Superintendent), Her Majesty’s Signal School, Portsmouth; Her Majesty’s Mining School (as Chief Scientist) and at Royal Naval Scientific Services headquarters as Deputy Director of Physical Research. He formally retired fro the Deputy Directorship in 1950 and immediately returned to Teddington to take up again his research in underwater sound. He also spent a year at the United States Naval Electronics Laboratory, San Diego in 1963.

He had many publications to his credit and Text Book of Sound, first published in 1930, was a standard work on the subject.

He was awarded the D.Sc degree of his university in 1919, became a Fellow of the Physical Society in 1920 and was a founder Fellow of the Institute of Physics. In 1952 he was awarded the Duddell Medal of the Physical Society and in 1961 received the Pioneer of Underwater Acoustics award of the Acoustical Society of America. For his services to his country and in particular recognition of his part in dismantling the first German magnetic mine recovered in 1919, has was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Dr. Wood’s career in naval science covered a period of nearly fifty years, embracing two major wars. He was involved in naval science not only over a long period of time, but also over a variety of disciplines, frequently as an originator of concepts.

He died on 19 July 1964.