Reginald Oswald Gibson
Reginald Oswald Gibson (1902–1983), chemist
1902 Born in Dulwich, the only child of Samuel Gibson, civil servant, and his wife, Ethel Crowther.
1921 Entered the honours school of chemistry at University College, London. He obtained a first-class BSc degree
1925 Took up a junior research post at Leiden University.
1926 joined Brunner, Mond and Co. as a research chemist at Winnington in Cheshire
1928 seconded to work with Anton Michels at the University of Amsterdam on the properties of gases at high pressures.
1931 returned to ICI Winnington working on the chemical effects of high pressures; he was joined in this work by Eric William Fawcett (1908–1987).
1933 they set up an experiment in which ethylene and benzaldehyde were pressurized to 1900 atmospheres at 170°C in the hope that they would combine together. They did not, but when the apparatus was dismantled later Fawcett noticed that the tip of a steel tube was coated with a waxy substance. This small deposit, less than half a gram, was the first solid polymer of ethylene ever made, i.e. polyethylene (which went into production in 1939 after the work had been taken on by a different team).
1937 Gibson married Lesley Shena Randles. They had a daughter and two sons.
WWI Gibson was in charge of process work at an ICI factory making anti-knock additives for aviation fuel.
1948 Became chief chemist of Associated Ethyl Co. Gibson want onto become research and development manager with a team of some 150 staff.
He returned to work as scientific adviser after a long illness
1963 Retired from Octel.
1983 Died in Plymouth
Sources of Information
- Biography, ODNB