Dr. Russell Wylie gained his bachelors degree in physics from the University of Sydney, his masters degree from the University (while with CSIRO) and his PhD from the University of Bristol through a CSIRO postgraduate studentship. His theoretical and experimental research in phase nucleation, the interaction of water vapour with gases, the PVT properties of fluids at very high pressures, convective heat and mass transfer and psychrometry have been punctuated by his development of basic measurement methods for temperature, humidity and viscosity, and of specialised instruments for measurements in these areas in CSIRO and industry.
Among the latter have been an airborne hygrometer for the investigation of the so-called anomalous propagation of radar when it was discovered in the early 1940s, which was later used in cloud physics studies by the Division of Radiophysics, field instruments for the routine measurement of the moisture content of the earth rolled to form the wall of the Adaminaby dam (now the Eucumbene dam), apparatus for the introduction of hypothermia in Australia for adult patients (with Mr A F A Harper), and a differential psychrometer later adopted by other divisions for transpiration studies in plant and animal physiology.
His research contributed to the physics of rainmaking, to a knowledge of the properties of water vapour in compressed gases and of gasses compressed to liquid-like densities and to an understanding of convective heat and mass transfer from surfaces immersed in fluid streams.
For many years Russ was the leader of the Division’s fluid physics group. His fundamental studies in psychrometry resulted in the first accurate agreement of theory and experiment in that field and culminated in his development of a type of psychrometer which was adopted by the World Meterological Organisation in 1977 as the international standard for meteorological humidity measurement.
Russ was a world leader in the fields of psychrometry and hygrometry generally, and throughout the major centres of research for hygrometry or the properties of water vapour, he is well known either personally or by way of his many publications.
Adapted from a submission to CoResearch, CSIRO’s staff newsletter (no. 308, December 1987/January 1988)