Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Frederick Lindemann, 1st Viscount Cherwell
Professor Frederick Alexander Lindemann, 1st Viscount Cherwell (April 5, 1886 - July 3, 1957) was a physicist who became an influential scientific adviser to the British government and a close associate of Winston Churchill. He advocated the wartime carpet bombing of German cities.
He was born in Baden-Baden in Germany. He attended the University of Berlin. As a physicist at the Sorbonne he carried out research into the problems of atomic heat that confirmed theories first put forward by Albert Einstein, on specific heats at very low temperatures.
In 1914 Lindemann joined the Royal Flying Corps. He developed the mathematical theory of aircraft spin, developing and testing on himself the spin-recovery method that is still used today while director of the Experimental Physics Station at Farnborough - prior to his development of this method spinning an aircraft was almost invariably fatal. Lindemann was a precise, austere, teetotal vegetarian.
Between the wars Lindermann was a professor of experimental philosophy at Oxford University and director of the Clarendon Laboratory. He was one of a number of experts who gave advice to Winston Churchill in the 1930s when the latter was out of office and leading a campaign for rearmament. When Churchill became Prime Minister, he appointed him the British government's leading scientific adviser, and later to the ministerial post Paymaster-General. He would hold this office again in Churchill's peacetime administration. At this point Lindemann was known to many simply as the Prof. Churchill described him as 'the scientific lobe of my brain', and trusted him absolutely.
Lindemann established a special statistical branch within the government, constituted from subject specialists, and reporting directly to Churchill. This branch distilled thousands of sources of data into succinct charts and figures, so that the status of the nation's food supplies (for example) could be instantly evaluated. Lindemann's statistical branch often caused tensions between government departments, but because it allowed Churchill to make quick decisions based on accurate data which directly affected the war effort, its importance should not be underestimated.
In 1942 he presented the War Cabinet with a paper advocating the area bombing of Geman cities in a strategic bombing campaign. The paper became known as the 'dehousing paper' and was based on studies of German bombing on Birmingham, Kingston upon Hull and elsewhere. It estimated the expected damage the RAF could do if it concentrated all its efforts into area bombing. This paper became the genesis of the assault on german civilian morale by area bombardment. The strategy, which had other supporters, became an important part of the total war waged against Germany. It was implemented with great vigour by Air Chief Marshal Arthur "Bomber" Harris as officer commanding RAF Bomber Command. Throughout the war Lindemann played a key part in the battle of the beams, providing insight on how the Germans were using radio navigation to increase the precision of their bombing campaigns.
In 1945 he returned to his post at Oxford University and the Clarendon laboratory. He continued to advise the government on nuclear research and created the Atomic Energy Authority. In 1956 he was created Viscount Cherwell, which became extinct upon his death without a male heir.
|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
The Lord Macdonald | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |Paymaster-General
1951–1953 | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
The Earl of Selkirk
The Official Life of Professor F. A. Lindemann by Frederick Furneaux-Smith (1961)
"PROF: The Life of Frederick Lindemann" by Adrian Fort (2004)
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