Professor Sir James Alfred Ewing (1855-1935)

Professor of Mechanism and Applied Mechanics, 1890-1903

Ewing was born in Dundee, the youngest of three sons of the minister of St Andrew's Free Church. He took a degree in engineering at Edinburgh University and shortly after graduating he became Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the new University of Tokyo.

It was whilst there that he carried out research into earthquakes, which were frequent in Japan, and devised a new type of seismometer. He also studied magnetism and gave the name to the phenomenon of hysteresis.

Sir Alfred James Ewing

"In a family whose chief interests were clerical and literary, I took my pleasure in machines and experiments. My scanty pocket money was spent on tools and chemicals. The domestic attic was put at my disposal. It became the scene of hair-raising explosions. There too the domestic cat found herself an unwilling instrument of electrification and a partner in various shocking experiences."