26.3.1894 Mains of Carradale/UK - 7.11.1985 Dunlop/UK
Alexander Thom graduated in engineering science from Glasgow University in 1915. After a varied experience in civil engineering both abroad and in the UK he was engaged in aircraft design during World War I. From 1921 he was a Lecturer in engineering at the University of Glasgow, and from that time until the beginning of World War II, Thom was in charge of aeronautics and in parallel gave courses in civil engineering. This somewhat unusual combination was of considerable value to the teaching in both subjects, and a large number of students have benefited in their scientific training from the lectures in aeronautics. Thom was in 1944 appointed to the chair of engineering sciences at the University of Oxford. He retired from there in 1961.
Thom made significant contributions to aerodynamics, comprising exhaustive studies of fluid flow past a cylinder for both steady and rotary conditions. He thereby employed both a small wind tunnel and, for an experimental investigation of the pattern around a cylinder at low Reynolds number, a small channel using water and oil. He developed an arithmetical method for the flow equations of both ideal and viscous fluids. The results, which have throughout been characteristic of the originality of his mind, have been embodied in numerous papers contributed to the Reports and Memoranda of the Aeronautical Research Committee ARC and the Royal Society. Shortly before World War II broke out, he was on a leave at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough. Thom was known for his skills and inventiveness in the numerical analysis and obtained results in theoretical fluid dynamics by his "squares" method, an alternative to the relaxation method of Richard Vynne Southwell (1888-1970).
Ackroyd, J.A.D. (2003). Thom. The origins of the jet age. Aeronautical Journal 107(1): 35. P
Anonymous (1944). Dr. Alexander Thom. Nature 154(3899): 111.
Anonymous (1992). Thom, Alexander. Concise dictionary of national biography 3: 431.
University Press: Oxford.
Ruggles, C.L.N. (1988). Records in stone: Papers in memory of Alexander Thom. University Press: Cambridge.
Thom, A. (1930). Some studies of the flow past cylinders. Vorträge aus dem Gebiete der Aerodynamik und verwandter Gebiete: 58-63, A. Gilles, ed. Springer: Berlin.
Thom, A. (1940). The forces on an aerofoil at very low speeds. J. Royal Aeron. Soc. 44: 761- 770. P

Hydraulicians in Europe 1800-2000 . 2013.

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