University of Texas
Philip Frederick Little
January 7, 1927-September 27, 2000

 

 

Philip Frederick Little

Philip Frederick Little


Philip Frederick Little was born January 7, 1927, in Gloucester, Shropshire, England to to Frederick Thomas Eardley (1902-81) and Gertrude Iaaac Little. Fred's family came from Wales, his father was a housebuilder and mother sold confectionary from the home. His male siblings were coal miners.

Phil attended Oxford University. He enrolled in Exeter College in 1944 at the age of 17. He completed his DPhil in Physics at Oxford under the supervision of the celebrated physicist, A. H. von Engel.

He married Mary Sherlock in Oxford in 1952.

Philip was appointed Professor of Physics at the University of Texas in 1969. He was working at the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority’s Culham Laboratory in Oxford at the time of the appointment.

In 1982, Phil was appointed Head of Safety Services at Culham Laboratory. The announcement read:

“Dr. P. F. Little, at present Head of Culham Lightning Studies Unit, has been appointed Head of Section, Culham Laboratory and JET Joint Undertaking, Joint Environmental and Safety Services, in place of Mr J C Chicken
who is leaving the Authority on 6 August 1982.

He will be responsible for advising the Director of Culham Laboratory and the Director of JET on the safety of operations, and for providing safety services to the two organizations.

All staff remain fully responsible for ensuring that the operations for which they are responsible are carried out safely; they have the responsibility to consult Safety Services when they are in any doubt as to the safety of their activities.”

His papers include:

The Hollow Cathode Effect and the Theory of Glow Discharges
Philip Frederick Little, Alfred Harris and Hans von Engel. British Electrical and Allied Industries Research Association, 1954 - 22 pages

A Survey of High Frequency Effects Due to Lightning
(Electricity in Aeronautics)
Culham Laboratory Report ; CLM R 201
Report, Culham Laboratory
Author: P. F. Little
Contributor: United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
Publisher: UKAEA Culham Laboratory, 1979

Collisionless interactions in interstreaming plasma jets
Culham Laboratory Report ; CLM R 99
Culham Laboratory Report
Author: P. F. Little
Contributors: United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, H.M.S.O.
Publisher: H.M. Stationery Office, 1969

Culham Laboratory Study Group on Plasma Waves: Summaries
P. F. Little
H.M. Stationery Office - Plasma (Ionized gases) - 40 pages
Report, Culham Laboratory

Ion optics studies for a field emission thruster
Author: P. F. Little
Contributor: United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
Publisher: U.K.A.E.A., 1977

 

Brief Biography of Dr Philip Frederick Little by his son Andrew Little

Philip Frederick Little was born January 7, 1927 in Gloucester, Shropshire England . His arrival in the world caused considerable concern to his parents, Frederick and Gertrude Little. His father had been a coal miner in South Wales, but the pits were all closed as a result of the 1926 minors’ strike. The minors’ strike triggered the famous General Strike which caused limitless hardship for working class people across Britain. Frederick Little left his pregnant wife in South Wales while he went looking for work, without enough money to pay his bus fare home. However, he did find work, and Gloucester became the family home.

Philip is second from right on back row.

The young Philip was greatly encouraged by his mother, and was identified as a gifted child. He passed the exam to get into Crypt Grammar School in Gloucester, founded in sixteenth century, where he excelled academically and participated in sports, particularly Rugby. See more rugby photo in gallery below.

Phil obtained a Radio Bursary Scholarship to Oxford University to read Physics. He enrolled in Exeter College in 1944, at the age of 17 and graduated three years later, with an Upper Second Class honours degree. This would have been considered to have been a tremendous success to most people, but the young Philip was bitterly disappointed. He had been offered a place to study for a PhD (or D.Phil at Oxford), subject to him graduating with First Class honours. As a result, a letter arrived at his home address requiring him to carry out the compulsory military service (known as National Service), and he joined the Royal Air Force. Unknown to him at that time, he had impressed the staff at the University of Oxford, and they offered him the PhD placement even without a First, but the letter arrived at his Oxford address. Before anything could be done about it, Philip was in the RAF “boot camp”, signed up for two years.

After initial training, it was noticed by the RAF that he was a Physics graduate from Oxford, and he was transferred to the RAF college, where he became a lecturer. He was teaching the aspects of Physics relevant to Air Crew and other officers, many of which were very much his senior in age and especially rank. He commented afterwards that he had to firmly, but politely comment on “inaccuracies”, but it didn’t matter too much what he said or how he said it, as long as he said, Sir!”, afterwards…..

Many years later, when his children went off to university, he encouraged them not to hesitate when it came to buying books. A good book is like another tutor, he once said. On one occasion, he added that he wished he’d been able to get another book, which might have enabled him to get that First, but that he could not afford it. He added that he just had his bursary and that his parents had no spare money, so that was that.

After National Service, he returned to Oxford and completed his D. Phil in Physics at Oxford under the supervision of the celebrated physicist, A. H. von Engel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During this time, he met and married Mary Sherlock in Oxford in 1952 (photo at left). The couple shared many interests including their Christian faith, Mary’s large family (she was one of eleven children), music and the production of a thesis. Mary typed it all! She knew a great deal of the symbols used to describe the mathematics of plasma physics and how to type them onto a page, but her husband was left to do the rest!

The new Dr. Little then carried out postdoctoral research at the Clarendon Laboratory in Oxford. He subsequently obtained a job at Harwell Atomic Research facility, part of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). A sabbatical from there enabled him to spend a year at University of Oklahoma (1958-1959).

After a few more years at Harwell, he transferred within the UKAEA to the brand new Culham Laboratory in Oxfordshire. This was a smaller facility, which later became the home of the Joint European Torus (JET) project.

Another sabbatical enabled Philip to become appointed Professor of Physics at the University of Texas, in 1969. This was meant to be for one year, but by mutual agreement, it was stretch to two and then three years.

It is very probable that these sabbatical postings were greatly helped by the experience and confidence gained during his time teaching in the RAF. Getting an Upper Second was probably a blessing in disguise.

The Texas years were legendary for the Littles. The Physics faculty were like a large family. A lady named Rose Gardiner allowed them to stay in her house when the first arrived in Austin, Dr. Mel Oakes lent us his green VW beetle for a few weeks. This was unexpected and greatly appreciated southern hospitality!

During his time at UT, Phil’s interest in rugby was replaced by American football. The Texas Longhorns did particularly well and there were a number of family trips to watch the games and then see the orange “No 1” illuminating the University Tower. Tales of trips to the Lakes including swimming on New Year's Day, amazed the folks back in England. Gernot Decker from the Physics faculty also took the Littles out on Lake Travis and taught them to water ski. He was a very patient man!

After granting the third year of a sabbatical, Culham Laboratory (not unreasonably) required Phil to return or resign. It was a difficult decision, but in the end, he returned to England in August 1972. Phil was involved with a number of Culham’s projects. He was made Head of Culham Lightning Studies unit in 1974. Major projects included the protection of the “Fly by Wire Jaguar”. This had digital systems controlling the aircraft and so the electronics had to be protected from a lightning strike. Such digital systems are now standard fit in civil as well as military aircraft and so too is the lightning protection.

In 1982, Phil was appointed Head of Safety Services at Culham Laboratory. The announcement read: “Dr P F Little, at present Head of Culham Lightning Studies Unit, has been appointed Head of Section, Culham Laboratory and JET Joint Undertaking, Joint Environmental and Safety Services, in place of Mr J. C. Chicken. He will be responsible for advising the Director of Culham Laboratory and the Director of JET on the safety of operations, and for providing safety services to the two organizations.”

Phil continued in his role as Head of Safety until he retired in 1992. Phil performed some consultancy roles and external examining of the University of Oxford. He remained an active member of his Church and was Chair of the Oxford area Gideons.

He enjoyed good health and was able to be involved in the lives of his four children and seven grandchildren and of course, his only sister. He died suddenly on 27 September 2000 and is greatly missed. However, all who knew him are thankful that they were able to share the world with him, even if it was for a short time.

 

 

Publications of P. F. Little
The hollow-cathode effect and the theory of glow discharges
PF Little, A Von Engel - Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A. …, 1954

Handbuch der Physik
WB Nottingham, R Kollath, WP Allis, PF Little, RH Good - 1956

Externally excited waves in low-pressure plasma columns
PJ Barrett, PF Little - Physical Review Letters, 1965

Waves and noise in a plasma column
PF Little, HG Jones - Proceedings of the Physical Society, 1965

Ion waves in a bounded plasma
PF Little - Nature, 1962

Secondary effects
PF Little - Electron-Emission Gas Discharges I/Elektronen- …, 1956

Scattering of Electromagnetic Waves by Electro-Acoustic Plasma Waves
PF Little, SM Hamberger - 1966

Handbuch der Physik
PF Little - 1956

Noise in collision-free alkali metal plasmas
PF Little, CR Middleton - Nuclear Fusion, 1969

Electron Emission Gas Discharges
PF Little - Encyclopedia of physics, XXI, edited by S. Flugge, 1956

Drift Waves and Plasma Diffusion in a Shear-Stabilized Q Machine
PE Stott, PF Little, J Burt - Physical Review Letters, 1970

A thermionic lithium plasma source for drift wave experiments
J Burt, PF Little, PE Scott - Plasma Physics, 1969

Acoustic waves in a plasma
PF Little - Ionization Phenomena
in Gases, 1962

Observations on an expanding plasma
PF Little - Journal of Nuclear Energy. Part C, Plasma Physics, …, 1962

Performance of a coaxial plasma gun
PF Little, BE Avis - Journal of Nuclear Energy. Part C, Plasma Physics, …, 1966

The Dispersion of Electron Beams in Gases
PF Little, A von Engel - Proceedings of the Physical Society. Section B, 1952

The interpretation of an experiment on interstreaming plasmas
PF Little, BE Avis, RB Turner - Plasma Physics, 1970

The interpretation of an experiment on interstreaming plasmas(Potential fluctuations in intersecting plasma jet streams attributed to ion-electron instability, using external...
BE AVIS, PF LITTLE, RB TURNER - PLASMA PHYSICS, 1970

CULHAM LABORATORY STUDY GROUP ON PLASMA WAVES, SEPTEMBER 21-25, 1964
PF Little, AN Dellis, A Paton, MJ Parkinson - 1964

Electroacoustic waves in plasma columns
LC Woods, PF Little, HG Jones - Phenomena in Ionized Gases, Volume II, VII …, 1966

Electroacoustic wave transmission in a bounded plasma, using photomultiplier and phase sensitive detector to study these compression waves
PF LITTLE - IONIZATION PHENOMENA IN GASES, 1962

Scattering of electromagnetic waves by electro- acoustic plasma waves(Scattering of incident beam of microwaves by self- excited plasma waves in mercury arc column, deriving...
SM HAMBERGER, PF LITTLE - NATURE, 1966

Drift instabilities in a collisionless plasma with magnetic shear(Density gradient drift waves stabilization in collisionless plasma by stellarator type windings, observing...
J BURT, PF LITTLE, PE STOTT - 1969

Waves and noise in a plasma column(Positive column of low pressure mercury arc, giving electroacoustic wave transmission measurements in small and zero magnetic field)
HG JONES, PF LITTLE - PHYSICAL SOCIETY, PROCEEDINGS, 1965

Drift waves in a caesium plasma(Cesium plasma measurements to determine steady state parameters and LF oscillation characteristics)
PJ BARRETT, PF LITTLE - … ON PHYSICS OF QUIESCENT PLASMAS, FRASCATI, …, 1967

DRIFT WAVES IN A CESIUM PLASMA.
PF Little, PJ Barrett - 1967

Collisionless interactions in interstreaming plasmas
PF Little, BE Avis - Phenomena in Ionized Gases, Volume II, VII …, 1966

Thermionic lithium plasma source for drift wave experiments(Thermionic lithium plasma source for drift wave measurements)
J BURT, PF LITTLE, PE STOTT - 1969

COLLISIONLESS INTERACTIONS IN INTERSTREAMING PLASMA JETS.
PF Little, BE Avis, RB Turner - 1969

LOW FREQUENCY DRIFT WAVES IN A Q-MACHINE WITH MAGNETIC SHEAR
PF LITTLE, PE STOTT - BULLETIN OF THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY, 1969

DRIFT INSTABILITIES IN A COLLISIONLESS PLASMA WITH MAGNETIC SHEAR.
PE Stott, PF Little, J Burt - 1969

Performance of a coaxial plasma gun(Delays effect on performance of coaxial plasma guns with about 20 kv applied, shown to produce fast burst of clean plasma containing...
BE AVIS, PF LITTLE - JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR ENERGY, 1966

IV-Special Subsidiary Subjects-IV
MWD by Effusiometry, PF Little, A Von Engel…

Collisionless interactions in interstreaming plasma jets(Collisionless interactions in interstreaming plasma jets)
BE AVIS, PF LITTLE, RB TURNER - 1969

Electron-Emission Gas Discharges I/Elektronen-Emission Gasentladungen I
WB Nottingham, RH Good, EW Müller, R Kollath… - Handbuch der Physik, 1956

Scattering of electromagnetic waves by electroacoustic plasma waves(Electromagnetic microwave scattering by self- excited electroacoustic plasma waves)
SM HAMBERGER, PF LITTLE - 1965

FLUCTUATIONS AND DIFFUSION IN A LITHIUM PLASMA
PF LITTLE, PE STOTT, J BURT - PLASMA PHYSICS, 1968

Culham laboratory study group on plasma waves, september 21-25 1964(Conference on plasma waves- low and high frequency waves, collisionless phenomena, and nonlinear events)
AN DELLIS, PF LITTLE, MJ PARKINSON, A PATON - 1965

Phil would be very proud of son, Andrew Little's book, Mechanics of Solids, 2nd ed. by Carl Ross, John Bird, and Andrew Little
© 2016 – Routledge

About Andrew Little: Andrew Little worked for several years as a Stress Engineer for Rolls-Royce and then companies such as Ferranti Computer Systems where his specialism was the design of equipment for high stress and vibration environments. He came to the University of Portsmouth where he became involved with pressure vessel research and completed his PhD whilst lecturing full-time. He is a chartered engineer, a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering Designers and has published 75 academic papers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philip Frederick Little Photo and Document Album

Philip Little's grandfather's census record from Abertillery, Wales, 1911. His father Fred is in the bottom row.

Philip Little's grandfather's census record from Abertillery, Wales, 1911.

Abertillery, Wales,

Vintage map of Abertillery, Wales

Abertillery, Wales, today.

1st XV 1941- 42, Crypt Grammar School in Gloucester

Back Row: P. J. Fry F. J. Whitehouse P. F. Little D. C. J. Gladwin P. E. Jones M. J. Bartlett J. F. Hatcher
Front Row: M. S. T. Price A. F. Jones D. F. Brewer R. H. Thomas (Captain) J. G. Kerr E. A. Rudge N. H. Talbot
Absent: A. P. G Pugh M. H. Derrett

1st XV 1940- 41 (?), Crypt Grammar School in Gloucester
Back Row: Unknown
Second Row: Unknown, Unknown, P. F. Little, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown
Front Row : Unknown, Unknown
P F Little, his father Fred, his sister Olive, his daughter, Ingrid, and son, Andrew.
P F Little as RAF Flight Lieutenant
P F Little's 1st Commission as RAF Pilot Officer
L to R: Frederick and Gertrude Little, ?, Philip, Mary, her mother and her father, Sherlock was family name.
Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford England, Philip in the middle of the fifth row, in front of very tall man with folded arms.
For larger version click here ClarendonLaboratory .
Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford England, Philip in the middle of the fifth row, infront of very tall man with folded armes.
P. F. Little with son, Andrew, in Bournemouth
P. F. Little's wife Mary, son Andrew and son Martin before a family wedding
Phil Little and wife Mary in Choir attire.
Phil Little with son, Andrew, in Bournemouth
P F Little's son Andrew's graduation
P F Little's grandchildren (some) enjoying his new car
Philip Little smile
Philip Little, no smile
Mary, Andrew and Phil Little