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

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Oxford, UK 2005 Hardcover New in new dust jacket. This book offers a new challenging interpretation of pre-war physics at Oxford. 362 pages. B&W photographs. *****PLEASE NOTE: ... This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

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Overview

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 Clarendon Laboratory 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 their laboratories, the book reconstructs the decentralized environment that allowed physics to enter on a period of conspicuous vigor in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially at the characteristically Oxonian intersections between physics, physical chemistry, mechanics, and mathematics. 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 newly appointed 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 the foundations 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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This text emerged from the much larger project that culminated with the 2000 publication of the last of the eight volumes of The History of the University of Oxford. Six academic historians-five British and one French-collaborated over a period of 12-plus years to produce this text tracing the development of physics in Oxford from the mid-19th century, when the University appointed Robert Walker to its readership in experimental philosophy, until the beginning of the Second World War a century later. Through its emphasis on the dispersed physical locations and diverse disciplinary settings for physics at Oxford during that time, the text demonstrates that physics at the University was far more dynamic than most historians and physicists have tended to believe." —SciTech Book News
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198567929
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/18/2005
  • Pages: 386
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

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

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Table of Contents

1. Physics in Oxford: Problems and Perspectives, Robert Fox, Graeme Gooday and Tony Simcock
2. The Context and Practices of Oxford Physics, 1839-77, Robert Fox
3. Robert Bellamy Clifton and the 'Depressing Inheritance' of the Clarendon Laboratory, 1877-1919, Graeme Gooday
4. Laboratories and Physics in Oxford Colleges, 1848-1947, Tony Simcock
5. Mechanical Physicists, the Millard Laboratory and the Transition from Physics to Engineering, Tony Simcock
6. Translating Ion Physics from Cambridge to Oxford: John Townsend and the Electrical Laboratory, 1900-24, Benoit Lelong
7. The Lindemann Era, Jack Morrell
8. Redefining the Context: Oxford and the Wider World of British Physics, 1900-40, Jeff Hughes
9. Epilogue, Robert Fox and Graeme Gooday

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