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Born on this day
Jean Amédée Hoerni
Jean Amédée Hoerni was a silicon transistor pioneer and a member of the 'traitorous eight'.
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26 September 2021

Important personalitiesBack

Archibald Vivian26.9.1886

Wikipedia (24 Sep 2013, 10:32)

A. V. Hill, christened Archibald Vivian (26 September 1886 – 3 June 1977), was an English physiologist, one of the founders of the diverse disciplines of biophysics and operations research. He shared the 1922 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his elucidation of the production of heat and mechanical work in muscles.


Born in Bristol, he was educated at Blundell's School and graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge as third wrangler in the mathematics tripos before turning to physiology. His early work involved the characterisation of what came to be known as Michaelis-Menten kinetics and the use of the Hill coefficient. Hill's first paper, published in 1909 while working under the supervision of John Newport Langley, is a landmark in the history of receptor theory.

Hill made many exacting measurements of the physics of nerves and muscles. His earliest experiments on the heat production of contracting muscles used equipment obtained from the Swedish physiologist Magnus Blix. Both before and after World War I he worked on a range of topics in physiology in co-operation with colleagues in Cambridge, Germany and elsewhere.

Hill is regarded, along with Hermann Helmholtz, as one of the founders of biophysics.

In 1913 he married Margaret Keynes, daughter of the economist John Neville Keynes, and sister of the economist John Maynard Keynes and the surgeon Geoffrey Keynes. They had two sons and two daughters.

In 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, Hill joined the British army and assembled a team working on ballistics and operations research. The team included many notable physicists including Ralph H. Fowler, Douglas Hartree and Arthur Milne.

Hill returned to Cambridge in 1919 before taking the chair in physiology at the Victoria University of Manchester in 1920. Parallelling the work of German Otto Fritz Meyerhof he elucidated the processes whereby mechanical work is produced in muscles. The two shared the 1922 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for this work.

In 1923 he succeeded Ernest Starling as professor of physiology at University College, London, a post he held until his retirement in 1951. He was President of the Marine Biological Association from 1955 to 1960. He continued work as an active researcher until 1966.

World War II saw the beginning of Hill's extensive public service. Already in 1935 he was working with Patrick Blackett and Sir Henry Tizard on the committee that gave birth to Radar. In 1933, he became with Lord Beveridge and Lord Rutherford a founder member and vice-president of the Academic Assistance Council (which became the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning in 1936). By the start of the Second World War, the organisation had saved 900 academics (18 of whom went on to win Nobel Prizes) from the Nazi persecution. He served as an independent Member of Parliament (MP) for Cambridge University from 1940 to 1945. He took part in many scientific missions to the US

Honours and awards

- Officer of the Order of the British Empire (1918)
- Fellow of the Royal Society (1918)
- Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1922)
- In 1926 he was invited to deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on Nerves and Muscles: How We Feel and Move.
- Companion of Honour (1946)
- Copley Medal of the Royal Society (1948)

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