Robert (‘Bob’) Dingle was born on March 26, 1926 in Manchester. He studied at Cambridge University (Tripos Part I 1945, Part II 1946) and began research in theoretical physics under the supervision of D R Hartree, earning a Ph.D from Cambridge in 1952 after spending the year 1947-1948 visiting Bristol under the supervision of Professors Mott and Fröhlich. Following research positions in Delft in the Netherlands and Ottawa in Canada, he was appointed to a Readership at the University of Western Australia. In June 1960 he arrived in St Andrews as the first occupant of the Chair of Theoretical Physics. He was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1961. After a sabbatical period in Canada, California and Western Australia, he remained in St Andrews until his early retirement through ill-health in 1987.
His original field of research was theoretical condensed-matter physics, in which he made major original contributions in several areas, described in nearly forty scientific papers. The topics included quantum and statistical physics, magnetic properties and surface reflectivity of metals, anomalous skin effect, scattering theory in semiconductors, the conductivity of thin wires, and liquid helium II. Some of this work is remembered eponymously: the Dingle temperature, Dingle-Holstein resonance, and the Dingle factor.
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