Dr. Arnold Lynch
The Times February 01, 2005
In 1943 he was studying photocells. Unknown to him, his boss at Dollis Hill, Tommy Flowers, was working to develop a machine that would break Fish � manual decoding was so slow that any coherent material it yielded was already hopelessly out of date. Thanks in large part to Lynch�s work on optical tape readers, the Colossus could read punched tape at 5,000 characters per second, five times faster than previous designs.
After the war he continued to research dielectric loss. He felt it was a great professional achievement when this work led to the choice of British polyethylene in preference to American in the first transatlantic telephone cable laid in the mid-1950s.
When he retired in 1974, he returned to the lab work. At City University he developed the measurement technique now used to meter electricity flowing in the high-voltage link between the British and French national grids. He worked in the electrical engineering department of University College London, using open resonators for millimetre-wave measurements. He also worked on a new free-space method of measuring ferrites. A paper on the subject, with several co-authors, won the Maxwell Premium of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.
Lynch�s major work in retirement was at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, again on precise electrical measurement. He developed a non-contact method of measuring the electrical resistivity of metals, which greatly facilitates the testing of aircraft components for correct heat-treatment and is also used to identify coins in coin-operated machines.
One of his great interests was the history of technology, and he was a member of the archives committee of the Institution of Electrical Engineers for some 25 years. He took a great interest in the project, begun in 1994, to rebuild Colossus at the Bletchley Park Museum.
He married Edith Taylor in 1953. She died last year, and he is survived by a son and a daughter. Another daughter died in infancy.
Arnold Lynch, electrical engineer, was born on June 3, 1914. He died on November 13, 2004, aged 90.
A Difficulty in Electromagnetic Theory . The Lynch-Catt article.
[The obituary below was given in the USA in the IEEE]
Arnold Charles Lynch BSc MS PhD CEng FIEE (1914-2004)
J Patrick Wilson.
Lynch was a founder member of the Science, Education and Technology Division of
the IEE, an active member of the Archives Committee and instrumental in setting
up the annual weekend meetings on the History of Electrical Engineering, most
of which he attended. In addition he was a lively contributor to discussions, a
most helpful and informative correspondent with many colleagues, and a popular
after-dinner speaker. He was an avid reader of the ‘Dipole’ column in IEE News
and solver of its puzzles. He received at least six IEE premiums for lectures or
papers. Arnold was born in Tottenham, North London,
on 3 June 1914, where his father was a headmaster. His parents, who were active
in the Labour party, named him after Matthew Arnold.
He won a scholarship to Dame Alice Owen’s School in
Islington and from there went to Emmanuel College Cambridge where he studied
under Rutherford and G F Searle, and attended a rather dated lecture course
given by the ageing J J Thomson. In 1936, after a
short spell making amplifiers, he entered the Post Office by competitive
examination and worked at their Research Station at Dollis Hill until his
retirement in 1974. During this time he gained a BSc
in psychology through evening classes at Birkbeck
College and, shortly before his retirement, Cambridge University awarded him a
PhD for his contributions to electrical engineers. At Dollis Hill he was
involved in a wide variety of research projects including measurements of
permeability and permittivity of magnetic and dielectric materials and the
measurement and application of piezo-electric
devices. He developed many new measuring techniques, such as that for the
capacitance between conductors in a multiway cable so
that crosstalk and interference could be minimised
over long distances. During the war a variety of secret projects arose whose
purpose was not disclosed although Arnold admitted he made his own guesses. One
problem for him was whether it was possible for the enemy to detect magnetic
compasses secreted in RAF uniform buttons. When the war was over he was sent to
Germany to interview scientists, including Heisenberg, about their work. In
1974 he took up retirement work, first at City University, where he developed
high voltagetechniques to measure the flow of
electricity in the power link between France and England. Atthe
Polytechnic of the South Bank he investigated the breakdown of insulators at
high voltages, and at University College London he worked on open resonators at
millimetric wavelengths for free-space measurement of
ferrites. His major retirement work was at NPL where he developed non-contact
methods for measuring resistivity which found application in checking the
heat-treatment of aircraft components and in identifying coins in
slot-machines. He also taught mathematics at Open University summer schools for
about ten years, and was involved in the rebuilding of Colossus, providing many
technical details from memory. His hobby interests included classical music,
skiing, sailing, cycling and motor cycling, an old Rolls-Royce, bridge and
local history. 6
Arnold married Edith Taylor in 1953 and they settled in Potter’s Bar. She was a teacher of the deaf and enjoyed accompanying him on many of the weekend meetings. She died in February and he in November 2004, at the age of 90. They are survived by a son and a daughter, their younger daughter died in infancy. He made many contributions to the history of electrical engineering, including lectures at Savoy Place on J J Thomson’s discovery of the electron, ‘Half the electron’ and ‘Blumlein’s transformerbridge network’. These were later published in ESEJ as well as a paper on ‘Four pioneer deep-sea cables’. His sixteen contributions to the IEE History weekends covered several recurring themes as well asmiscellaneous subjects such as the ether (1981) and electromagnetic theory (1998), biographies of Fleeming Jenkin (1986) and Heaviside (1988) and the Variac (1997). Four concerned computers as Arnold had been involved in what is now regarded as the world’s first digital computer. This was Colossus and its prototype Heath Robinson, used for deciphering the German teleprinter-based Lorentz machines and the Geheimschreiber. Arnold’s contribution to the project (vide 1978 paper) was an optical reader for the punched tape output, which used crescent-shaped windows so that the circular punched hole would produce a rectangular pulse from the photocell. Interestingly, his optical reader was a derivative of the Post Office speaking clock (1990). The camera for this was later used in a number of WW2 projects to record the sounds of planes, helicopters and tanks for training purposes, as well as the Auto-Teller for RAF Fighter CommandHQ. This was a crude form of speech synthesiser in which sequences from a limited vocabulary of words recorded on a glass disc could be selected by a code sent on a narrow-band telegraph line. In his third computer paper (1984), Arnold discussed mechanical and electromechanical systemsof data storage: punched tape; thermionic valves; capacitors; cathode ray tubes; mercury and quartz delay lines; magnetic techniques; semiconductors; and the threaded magnetic core storesthat he was involved with. His fourth paper (1999) was a tribute to the late T H Flowers who wasthe leader of the Colossus project and whose involvement stemmed from the use of indirectly-heated thermionic valves in telephone exchanges. Arnold contributed several papers on the history of measuring techniques (1993, 2001), units, material standards (1980, 1982, 1983) and in his last paper (2003) he described himself as ‘almost retired’! He also had a great interest in submarine cables: both the pioneering telegraph ones andthe first telephone cable (TAT1) in which he was personally involved (1995). This was a joint UK/UK/Canadian venture requiring a series of amplifiers and a much better coaxial cable, usingpolythene insulation, a British invention. Unfortunately US polythene appeared to behave differently under pressure from that measured by Arnold. Fortunately he was able to convincethem that this was due to the measuring techniques, thus avoiding foreign payments for‘American’ polythene. Over the years Arnold Lynch worked on a wide variety of interesting topics and we are fortunate in having this legacy of recorded information as well as happy memories of a friend and colleague. Thanks are due to Arnold’s family and former colleagues, and to the IET Archives for much of the above information. 7