Self-taught physicist behind the theory of telecommunications awarded blue plaque

English Heritage has unveiled a blue plaque in honor of the self-taught physicist behind the theory of telecommunications.

Celebrated for his theories on advancing electronic communications, Leber Heaviside was memorialized outside his terraced house in Camden, north London, where he continued his education after leaving school aged 16.

Among his most notable works is his seminal interpretation of James Clerk Maxwell’s Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, bridging the gap between telecommunications theory and practice.

Howard Spencer, Senior Historian at English Heritage, said: “Oliver Heaviside was a physicist whose theories framed one of mankind’s greatest recent technological leaps – the development and advancement of electrical communications.

“Both the cell phone in your pocket and the old-fashioned landline at home owe a lot to the work of Heaviside.”

English Heritage has described his achievements as remarkable given that they were achieved without the benefit of higher education or social privilege and the fact that he was almost completely deaf from childhood with scarlet fever.

“He is a magnificent example of the incredible achievements of London’s common workers and English Heritage is delighted to honor him with a blue plaque,” added Spencer.


Plaque for Patrick Steptoe, one of the pioneers of the first test tube baby (Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic/PA)

The physicist, mathematician and electrical engineer was later named Cats in the musical.

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In the show, “Up up to the Heaviside layer” refers to Heaviside’s discovery, not of a cat’s heaven, but of a reflective layer in the upper atmosphere that allowed radio waves to “bend” around the Earth.

With Blue Badges, Heaviside joins the likes of naturalist Charles Darwin, fertility treatment pioneer Patrick Steptoe, and code-breaker-turned-computer pioneer Alan Turing.

According to English Heritage, 15% of the over 950 official blue plaques across London are dedicated to scientists.

The charity has encouraged people to nominate London-based scientists from the past, like Heaviside, for a plaque. Self-taught physicist behind the theory of telecommunications awarded blue plaque

Fry Electronics Team

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