Sir Arthur William Rücker was born in 1848 at Clapham and was educated at Clapham Grammar School and Brasenose College, Oxford. After taking his degree, he became a demonstrator in physics to Professor Clifton at the Clarendon Laboratory.
In 1874, he was appointed Professor of Mathematics and Physics at the Yorkshire College, Leeds, where he devoted considerable attention to research. He was elected a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1882 and served on the Council in 1887.
In 1886, he became Professor of Physics at the Royal College of Science, London, a position which he held until 1901 when he was appointed Principal of the University of London and was also president of the British Association. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and was awarded a Royal Medal in 1891.
In 1898, he was a member of the committee for the first issue of Science Abstracts.
He was knighted in 1902 and died on 1 November 1915.