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Fellows Directory

Michael Longuet-Higgins

Michael Longuet-Higgins

Professor Michael Longuet-Higgins FRS


Elected: 1963


Michael Longuet-Higgins was distinguished for his contributions to geophysics and fluid dynamics. While at the Admiralty Research Laboratory (1945–8), he developed the theory of electromagnetic induction by ocean currents, with application to the measurement of water movements and the conductivity of the Earth. He solved in principle the problem of how ocean waves can generate microseisms over areas of deep water, and (on return to Cambridge in 1948) illustrated the theory with elegant experiments. He developed the theory of the mass transport currents set up by water waves, accounting for some unexpected observations of Ralph Bagnold.

Michael introduced into oceanography the two-dimensional spectrum for ocean waves and initiated the theory of the statistical distribution of wave heights. Subsequently, he studied theoretically the geometrical and optical properties of random surfaces, with application to water waves and to reflections from the ionosphere. In collaboration with Harold Coxeter and Jeffrey Miller he published in 1954 an enumeration of the uniform polyhedra and tessellations.

Professor Michael Longuet-Higgins FRS died on 26 February 2016.

Biographical Memoir

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Mathematics
    • Pure mathematics, Applied mathematics and theoretical physics
  • Astronomy and physics
    • Astronomy
  • Earth and environmental sciences
    • Physical oceanography
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