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Archibald Vivian Hill

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Archibald Vivian Hill

A. V. Hill
Born (1886-09-26)26 September 1886
Bristol, England
Died 3 June 1977(1977-06-03) (aged 90)
Cambridge, England
Nationality United Kingdom
Fields Physiology and biophysics
Institutions Cambridge University
University of Manchester
University College, London
Alma mater Cambridge University
Academic advisors Walter Morley Fletcher
Notable students Bernard C. Abbott
Te-Pei Feng
Ralph H. Fowler
Bernard Katz
Known for Mechanical work in muscles
Muscle contraction model
Founding biophysics
Hill equation (biochemistry)
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1922)
Notes
He is notably the father of Polly Hill, David Keynes Hill, Maurice Hill, and the grandfather of Nicholas Humphrey.

A. V. Hill, christened Archibald Vivian, CH OBE FRS[1] (26 September 1886 – 3 June 1977), was an English physiologist, one of the founders of the diverse disciplines of biophysics and operations research. He shared the 1922 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his elucidation of the production of heat and mechanical work in muscles.[2][3]

Biography

Born in Bristol, he was educated at Blundell's School and graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge as third wrangler in the mathematics tripos before turning to physiology. His early work involved the characterisation of what came to be known as Michaelis-Menten kinetics and the use of the Hill coefficient. Hill's first paper, published in 1909[4] while working under the supervision of John Newport Langley, is a landmark in the history of receptor theory.

Hill made many exacting measurements of the physics of nerves and muscles. His earliest experiments on the heat production of contracting muscles used equipment obtained from the Swedish physiologist Magnus Blix. Both before and after World War I he worked on a range of topics in physiology in co-operation with colleagues in Cambridge, Germany and elsewhere.

Hill is regarded, along with Hermann Helmholtz, as one of the founders of biophysics.

In 1913 he married Margaret Keynes (1885-1974), daughter of the economist John Neville Keynes, and sister of the economist John Maynard Keynes and the surgeon Geoffrey Keynes. They had two sons and two daughters:

In 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, Hill joined the British army and assembled a team working on ballistics and operations research. The team included many notable physicists including Ralph H. Fowler, Douglas Hartree and Arthur Milne.

Hill returned to Cambridge in 1919 before taking the chair in physiology at the Victoria University of Manchester in 1920. Parallelling the work of German Otto Fritz Meyerhof he elucidated the processes whereby mechanical work is produced in muscles. The two shared the 1922 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for this work.

In 1923 he succeeded Ernest Starling as professor of physiology at University College, London, a post he held until his retirement in 1951. He was President of the Marine Biological Association from 1955 to 1960. He continued work as an active researcher until 1966.

World War II saw the beginning of Hill's extensive public service. Already in 1935 he was working with Patrick Blackett and Sir Henry Tizard on the committee that gave birth to Radar. In 1933, he became with Lord Beveridge and Lord Rutherford a founder member and vice-president of the Academic Assistance Council (which became the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning in 1936). By the start of the Second World War, the organisation had saved 900 academics (18 of whom went on to win Nobel Prizes) from the Nazi persecution. He served as an independent Member of Parliament (MP) for Cambridge University from 1940 to 1945. He took part in many scientific missions to the US

Honours and awards

References

Publications

By Hill:

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  • Hill, A.V. (1924–25). Textbook of Anti-Aircraft Gunnery, 2 vols
  • - (1927a). Muscular Movement in Man
  • - (1927b). Living Machinery
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  • - (1932) Chemical Wave Transmission in Nerve

Further reading

  • Nobel biography
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Kenneth Pickthorn, Bt.
Sir John James Withers
Member of Parliament for Cambridge University
1940 – 1945
With: Sir Kenneth Pickthorn, Bt.
Succeeded by
Sir Kenneth Pickthorn, Bt.
Wilson Harris

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