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Harry Boot

Henry Albert Howard "Harry" Boot (29 July, 1917 – 8 February, 1983) was a physicist who with Sir John Randall and James Sayers developed the cavity magnetron, which was one of the keys to the Allied victory in the Second World War.


He was born in Birmingham, United Kingdom and attended King Edward's School, Birmingham and the University of Birmingham.

While working on his Ph.D. the war broke out. His professor Mark Oliphant had seen the klystron at Stanford University but it produced insufficient power to be useful as a radar transmitter. He assigned John Randall and Boot to the problem. By late February 1940, they had invented the much more powerful cavity magnetron which was fitted in an experimental radar by May 1940. Since this is the critical component which to this day is used in all forms of microwave generation, from cookers to high-powered radios, it is no exaggeration to claim that Randall and Boot invented the single most influential component of modern day technology, surpassing even the transistor in its impact on everyday living.

James Sayers (physicist) later refined the magnetron still further. As with many British inventions of this period, it was provided to the US for free when they entered World War II. American firms grew rich on the unpatented use of the invention. Initially Boot and Randall were awarded £50 each for the magnetron for "improving the safety of life at sea" but later Boot, Randall and Sayers received a £36,000 prize in 1949 for their work.

After some work on nuclear physics, Boot returned to magnetrons and after the war built a cyclotron at Birmingham. In 1948 he joined the Scientific Civil Service in the Royal Naval Scientific Service, where he worked until his retirement. He enjoyed sailing, owning two boats at Salcombe in Devon. He died in 1983.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Harry_Boot". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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