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

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9780198567929: Physics in Oxford, 1839-1939: Laboratories, Learning and College Life
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Physics in Oxford, 1839-1939 offers a challenging new interpretation on 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 his idiosyncratic concern with precision instrumentation. Conversely, by looking to college fellows and their laboratories, the book reconstructs the decentralized environment in which physics entered on a period of conspicuous vigour in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially at the uniquely Oxonian intersections of physics with physical chemistry, chemical physics, mechanics, and mathematics. This helps to explain how Oxford physics under J. S. E. Townsend and F. A. Lindemann came to flourish in university facilities more effectively between 1900 and the 1930s. One consequence is that comparisons with the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge need to be cast in a new light, taking account, for example, of the vitality with which Oxford physicists responded to the demands of wartime research on radar and techniques relevant to atomic weapons. In the post-war years, both teaching and research have undergone dramatic expansion and endowed Oxford with one of the largest and most dynamic schools of physics in the world.

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Review:

"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
"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
"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
"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


About the Author:

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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