Lord Cherwell

Cherwell, Lord (1886-1957), a British physicist, was scientific adviser to Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II (1939-1945). Cherwell left behind few papers, but his accomplishments were numerous and varied. Scientists, such as Albert Einstein and Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, held him in high esteem.

Cherwell was born Frederick Alexander Lindemann in Baden-Baden, Germany. He attended the Hochschule in Darmstadt and enrolled in the University of Berlin. There he studied under Walther Hermann Nernst, with whom he developed the Nernst-Lindemann theory of specific heats. He earned his Ph.D. degree in astrophysics and quantum theory in 1910.

During World War I (1914-1918), Lindemann worked on the problem of aircraft tailspin for the Royal Flying Corps. When he had devised a solution, he tested it by causing an aircraft to go into a tailspin and seeing if he could recover. After the war, he was appointed Dr. Lee's professor of experimental philosophy at the University of Oxford. During his tenure at Oxford, he was director of the Clarendon Laboratory, where he initiated research on very low temperatures.

As scientific adviser to Prime Minister Churchill, Lindemann made recommendations that helped improve the effectiveness of British bombing. In 1941, he was given a peerage and chose Cherwell, the name of a river in Oxford, as his title. By the time he retired in 1956, he had built one of the foremost physics departments in Britain. In 1951, he took a leave of absence from teaching to serve in the Cabinet as paymaster general, a post he had held in 1942.

Cherwell also excelled at tennis and won the European championship in 1914 and competed at Wimbledon. He and his brother, Charles, invented and patented a glass that was transparent to X rays. Cherwell was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1920.