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Physics in Oxford, 1839-1939

Laboratories, Learning and College Life

Physics in Oxford, 1839-1939 by Robert Fox
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US$ 149.99
This book shows that physics in pre-war Oxford has a colourful and dynamic history. Its examination of physics teaching and research in the University's constituent colleges reveals a unique world that helped to make Oxford physics in the twentieth century a force to rival that of the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge. - ;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 vigour 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. -

Oxford University Press, UK; June 2005
386 pages; ISBN 9780191524455
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Title: Physics in Oxford, 1839-1939
Author: Robert Fox; Graeme Gooday
 
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