On April 2, 1935, Scottish physicist Robert Watson-Watt patented the RADAR, RA(dio) D(etection) A(nd) R(anging) system, now known simply as radar. Although many scientists contributed to radar's development, Watson-Watt is considered its inventor. From his mid-teens, when he worked analyzing weather patterns for the London Meteorological Office, Watson-Watt was interested in reducing the difficulties and dangers inherent in flight. His early patents include systems of echolocation and a way to use oscilloscopes to track lightning strikes. In 1934, when the British government asked him to develop a weapon based on radio waves, he instead went on to develop a system to use radio waves to detect incoming aircraft.
What happened this week in 1935? RADAR was patented.
Early radar systems could locate aircraft from a distance of 8 miles; by the start of World War II that range had increased twelve-fold. Radar proved to be a important tool for the British Royal Air Force to defend against attacks from the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. After the attack of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Watson-Watt helped the United States develop its own radar defenses. A direct descendent of James Watt, creator of the steam engine, Watson-Watt literally was a born inventor.
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