Kentish Scientists

One can certainly say that Kent's impact towards the general progress of the British society through scientific discoveries and inventions has been and continues to be impressive. A significant number of those whose gifted intellects contributed to this advancement throughout the centuries, including a few Nobel Prize winners, originate from this area.


John Wallis (1616-1703). Born in Ashford and educated first at Felsted School and then at Emmanuel College in Cambridge, John Wallis wrote a number of dissertations in various fields of mathematics, such as geometry, the infinite series, trigonometry and calculus. Among other significant contributions, he created the sign for infinity.

John Littlewood (1885-1977). Originally from Rochester and educated in London and Cambridge, John Littlewood had a prolific career at the University of Manchester and then the University of Cambridge, where he worked for the longest part of his life. He worked intensely in the field of mathematical analysis, emitted a theory which bears his name and also carried out expansive collaborative work in other areas of mathematics, by correspondence with other mathematicians. During his career, he was awarded numerous medals in recognition of his merits.

Isaac Todhunter (1820-1884). Isaac Todhunter was born in Rye. He started his education at Hastings, attended the University College in London and finally graduated from London University with impressive results. His career unfolded at St John's College in Cambridge, where he carried out his elaborate research in various areas of mathematics. He was a member of various exclusive mathematical societies and wrote numerous treatises on subjects such as the integral calculus, plane coordinate geometry, algebra and analytical statics. He also left behind ample works covering the history of certain fields, such as the calculus of variations.

Alfred Whitehead (1861-1947). An analytic mind of multiple aptitudes, Alfred Whitehead was both a mathematician and a philosopher. He was born in Ramsgate and attended Sherborne School in Dorset, and afterwards, Trinity College in Cambridge. He wrote treatises on many subjects centred on mathematics (such as universal algebra), physics and philosophy. His main interest regarding this science was not mathematics as an abstraction but mostly its application in everyday life. He also wrote expansively about ethic, reason, education and what he deemed a correct perception of the natural world.

William Penney (1909-1991). Although he was born abroad, in Gibraltar, William Penney was raised and educated in Kent, where he would discover his impressive aptitude for mathematics. In time he became an expert in nuclear weapons and worked intensely towards developing a nuclear program for the UK.


Sir Henry Tizard (1885-1959) A pilot with a fascination for aeronautics, Sir Henry Tizard, born in Gillingham, had a particular interest in managing to develop radar, and attempted it along with other members of the Aeronautical Research Committee, which he was chairman of.

Sir Eric Rideal (1890-1974). Sir Eric Knightley Rideal, who had a PhD in chemistry, dedicated his career to studying and documenting fields such as surface chemistry, colloid, catalysis, chemical kinetics and electrochemistry. He synthetised some of his knowledge in two books, Ozone (1920) and Introduction to Surface Chemistry (1926), and co-authored another, regarding the filtration and sterilisation of water supplies.

Christopher Longuet-Higgins (1923-2004). A very methodical mind, he is remembered for his work as a theoretical chemist, a physics professor and a dedicated studier of cognitive science (principally the understanding of language and music). For many years he applied mathematical analysis to chemical problems and through this method successfully predicted the future attainment of various chemical compounds.

Derek Barton (1918-1998). Originating from Gravesend, Derek Barton had a prolific career as a chemistry lecturer (and later professor), receiving numerous honours and awards from leading institutions in the field and attending many memorable related events. Among these awards was the Nobel Prize, which he received in 1950, after a demonstration related to the conformation of organic molecules, which he reached in collaboration with Odd Hassel.


Stephen Hales (1677-1761). One of the scientists credited for the development of a few different fields, such as physiology, botany and chemistry, Reverend Stephen Hales was born in Bekesbourne. He was also preoccupied with air quality and invented a ventilator which would help improve poorly aired places such as ships or prisons. He transposed his meticulous observation of plants into a volume entitled Vegetable Staticks, written in 1727.

Anne Pratt (1806-1893). Ann Pratt, born in Strood and educated in Rochester, was a botanical illustrator who produced an impressive number of volumes (more than 20) from mere personal observation, at a time when botany hardly presented an interest to the general population. Among her works were The Pictorial Catechism of Botany (1842) and Wild Flowers (1852), the latter also serving an educational role as it was used in classrooms.

Physics and astrophysics

Cecil Powell (1903-1969). Originally from Tonbridge, Cecil Powell, who assiduously worked his way to be a professor of physics, dedicated his time to studying a variety of phenomena such as condensation and positive ion mobility. In 1950 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the development of the photographic method (the study of nuclear particles with the aid of photographic emulsions). He collaborated with other authors on two comprehensive books on this subject.

Donald Lynden-Bell (Born 1935). A renowned astrophysicist and originating from Dover, Donald Lynden-Bell received his higher education at the University of Cambridge. For the theories he elaborated in the field of astrophysics he was awarded a number of important memberships and medals, particularly for his theories related to the existence of black holes at the centre of the galaxies.


Francis Smith (1808-1874), inventor of the screw propeller. Born in Aldington and educated in Ashford, Francis Pettit Smith was the inventor of the screw propeller. He had a particular interest in propulsion and although he was not forming part of the times' academia (he was a grazing farmer), his thoroughness in building model ships resulted in a major step forward in marine engineering (patented in 1836), which others had attempted before him.

Stanley Hooker (1907-1984), aero-engine designer. Born at Sheerness, Stanley hooker attended Broden Grammar School, and then Imperial College London, where he developed a very strong interest in aerodynamics. He worked for the renowned car manufacturing company Rolls Royce, where he designed and improved variations of the jet engine.

Kent Science Park

Kent Science Park was first established in 1996, on the premises of a former agro-chemical research facility owned by the Shell Corporation, which had been functioning there since 1945. Today, it consists of expansive grounds hosting constructions purposely built for scientific research (such as laboratories, glass houses or technological development units) which meet the conditions required by companies needing to perform various types of studies. Leasing arrangements are fairly malleable in order to stimulate the influx of researchers and public events can be organised onsite as well, such as symposiums. Custom made facilities can be constructed as well, if required, and the working conditions are said to be excellent. Research is currently carried out in a multitude of fields, such as hi-tech engineering, biotechnology, but also those centred on cognitive sciences, such as marketing, education and training.