Physics In Oxford, 1839-1939: Laboratories, Learning and College Life

Hardcover | June 16, 2005

EditorRobert Fox, Graeme Gooday

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Physics in Oxford, 1839-1939 offers a challenging new interpretation of pre-war physics at the University of Oxford, which was far more dynamic than most historians and physicists have been prepared to believe. It explains, on the one hand, how attempts to develop the University's ClarendonLaboratory by Robert Clifton, Professor of Experimental Philosophy from 1865 to 1915, were thwarted by academic politics and funding problems, and latterly by Clifton's idiosyncratic concern with precision instrumentation. Conversely, by examining in detail the work of college fellows and theirlaboratories, the book reconstructs the decentralized environment that allowed physics to enter on a period of conspicuous vigour in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially at the characteristically Oxonian intersections between physics, physical chemistry, mechanics, andmathematics. Whereas histories of Cambridge physics have tended to focus on the self-sustaining culture of the Cavendish Laboratory, it was Oxford's college-trained physicists who enabled the discipline to flourish in due course in university as well as college facilities, notably under the newlyappointed professors, J. S. E. Townsend from 1900 and F. A. Lindemann from 1919. This broader perspective allows us to understand better the vitality with which physicists in Oxford responded to the demands of wartime research on radar and techniques relevant to atomic weapons and laid thefoundations for the dramatic post-war expansion in teaching and research that has endowed Oxford with one of the largest and most dynamic schools of physics in the world.

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Physics in Oxford, 1839-1939 offers a challenging new interpretation of pre-war physics at the University of Oxford, which was far more dynamic than most historians and physicists have been prepared to believe. It explains, on the one hand, how attempts to develop the University's ClarendonLaboratory by Robert Clifton, Professor of E...

Robert Fox is Professor of the History of Science at the University of Oxford, UK. Graeme Gooday is Senior Lecturer in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds, UK.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:386 pages, 9.69 × 6.73 × 0.99 inPublished:June 16, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198567928

ISBN - 13:9780198567929

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Table of Contents

1. Robert Fox, Graeme Gooday and Tony Simcock: Physics in Oxford: problems and perspectives2. Robert Fox: The context and practices of Oxford physics, 1839-773. Graeme Gooday: Robert Bellamy Clifton and the 'depressing inheritance' of the Clarendon Laboratory, 1877-19194. Tony Simcock: Laboratories and physics in Oxford colleges, 1848-19475. Tony Simcock: Mechanical physicists, the Millard Laboratory and the transition from physics to engineering6. Benoit Lelong: Translating ion physics from Cambridge to Oxford: John Townsend and the Electrical Laboratory, 1900-247. Jack Morrell: The Lindemann era8. Jeff Hughes: Redefining the context: Oxford and the wider world of British physics, 1900-409. Robert Fox and Graeme Gooday: Epilogue