POLLOCK, James Arthur (1865-1922)


POLLOCK, James Arthur (1865-1922)
physicist
was born at or near Cork, Ireland, in 1865. He studied at the Manchester Grammar School and the royal university of Ireland, where he graduated as bachelor of engineering. He came to Sydney in 1884 and obtained a scientific appointment on the staff of the observatory, but gave this up to attend the university of Sydney. He graduated B.Sc. in 1889 with the university medal for physics, and in the following year became a demonstrator in physics under Professor Threlfall (q.v.). He held this position for nine years, occasionally acting as Threlfall's locum tenens, and in April 1899 was appointed professor of physics. He was president of section A of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science in 1909, became a member of the council of the Royal Society of New South Wales in the same year, and two years later was elected one of the honorary secretaries to this society. When the Australian mining battalion was formed in 1915 Pollock, though well past military age, enlisted in it and was given a captain's commission. On the western front in France he was in charge of an officers' school, for training in the use of geophones and other listening devices. He was afterwards transferred to an experimental air station at Farnborough, England, where he helped in the work of finding methods of indicating deviations from a set course. He returned to Australia in 1919 and died at Sydney on 24 May 1922 after a short illness.
Pollock was one of the most modest and retiring of men, he was several times asked to accept the presidency of the Royal Society of New South Wales but always refused. He was content in feeling that as one of the secretaries of the society and as editor of the Proceedings, he was able to do some work for science in addition to his duties as a professor at the university. He was probably quite unaware of the affection, high regard for his character, and respect for his great abilities felt by his colleagues. He was one of the founders of the Australian national research council in 1919, and an original member of its council and executive committee. His published work includes some 20 papers including research on the relations between the geometrical constants of a conductor and the wave-length of the electro-magnetic radiation obtained from it, the specific inductive capacity of a sheet of glass at high frequency, the application of the ionic theory of conduction to the carbon arc, and investigations of the ions of the atmosphere. Some of his measuremerits of specific inductive capacity can claim to be the most exact and trustworthy extant. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, London, in 1916.
Journal and Proceedings, Royal Society of New South Wales, 1923; The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 May 1922; Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, vol. 94, series B; Calendar of the University of Sydney, 1923, p. 777.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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