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The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum Parkville, VIC

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum at the University of Melbourne comprises a collection of items of historical and scientific interest, concentrating on scientific apparatus constructed by former professors and staff for research purposes. It includes equipment and photographs spanning the history of the School of Physics, which was established as the School of Natural Philosophy in the 1880's.

There are significant holdings of ruling engines and diffraction gratings developed by Grayson and Lyle as well as apparatus emerging from optical munitions research directed by Laby during the Second World War.

The Museum owes its creation to the dedication and forethought of Associate Professor Ed Muirhead, Chairman of the School of Physics from 1980 to 1986, who initiated the museum in the 1980s. The collection was catalogued with the aid of then curator, Ms Anna Fairclough, and the museum displays set up with a grant from the Ian Potter Foundation.

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum has had continuing outstanding support from the Cultural Collections Group and the Russell and Mab Grimwade Miegunyah Fund. In 2008 The Friends of the Physics Museum was initiated by colleagues and past students of Ed Muirhead.

Links

Contact Information

location
Level 2, The School of Physics, David Caro Building (192) Corner of Elgin and Swanston Streets The University of Melbourne Parkville Victoria 3010 (map)
phone
+61 03 8344 5076

Contact

Opening Hours

Opening hours: 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday Closed between Christmas and New Year and on public holidays. We are located in the Laby/Hercus lecture foyer The School of Physics is on the corner of Swanston and Elgin Streets

Entry Fee

FREE

Location

Level 2, The School of Physics, David Caro Building (192) Corner of Elgin and Swanston Streets The University of Melbourne Parkville VIC

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The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum at the University of Melbourne comprises a collection of items of historical and scientific interest, concentrating on scientific apparatus constructed by former professors and staff for research purposes. It includes equipment and photographs spanning the history of the School of Physics, which was established as the School of Natural Philosophy in the 1880's.

There are significant holdings of ruling engines and diffraction gratings developed by Grayson and Lyle as well as apparatus emerging from optical munitions research directed by Laby during the Second World War.

The Museum owes its creation to the dedication and forethought of Associate Professor Ed Muirhead, Chairman of the School of Physics from 1980 to 1986, who initiated the museum in the 1980s. The collection was catalogued with the aid of then curator, Ms Anna Fairclough, and the museum displays set up with a grant from the Ian Potter Foundation.

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Photograph, Cyclotron, Duplicate Set

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph of bench with cyclotron equipment in white envelope entitled “”Cyclotron Photographs (Duplicate set)

Photograph, Cyclotron accelerator

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photo of cyclotron (nuclear physics accelerator): H.V. Power supplies & acceessories.

Historical information

Builit in 1950s and used till the mid 1970s within the Physics Department used in Melbourne. John Rouse and David Caro was involved in the construction.

Inscriptions & Markings

Sticky typed labels on back from top and left to right: “4KV DRIVER POWER SUPPLY, 14KV RECTIFIER SET, 14KV CHOKE, OIL PUMP & HEAT EXCHANGER” Handwritten in pencil on top left hand corner: “6”

Photograph, “J” apparatus

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photo of “J” apparatus in laboratory.

Photograph, Optical Munitions, with Fred Caldwell

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Part of a series entitled “Optical Munitions - School of Natural Philosophy, 1942-1945”. Black and white photo of Fred Caldwell looking through instrument.

Inscriptions & Markings

In ink on lower left hand corner : “12”

PLANIMETER

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

See F23

Photograph, Cyclotron accelerator

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photo of cyclotron (nuclear physics accelerator): Beam exit gate & magnetic shield. Duplicate of 194

Historical information

Builit in 1950s and used till the mid 1970s within the Physics Department used in Melbourne. John Rouse and David Caro was involved in the construction.

Inscriptions & Markings

Sticky typed labels on back from top and left to right: “EXIT GATE, MAGNETIC SHIELD”

Dumpy Level (Part of)

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Historical information

Used for setting levels.

Photograph, Optical Munitions

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph of young male examining optical glass

Inscriptions & Markings

On back of image in pencil“29” On front and back of image in ink: “29”

Slide Rule, cylindrical / “FullerCalculator”

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

“FULLER CALCULATOR” : a wooden cylindrical slide rule(92.1) with spiral logarithmic scale 500 inches long. and specially made rectangular box (92.2) and pamphlet (92.3).

Inscriptions & Markings

Engraved on metal of adding machine (92.1): “8462/45” Label on inside of box: “Stanley Trademark Everything for the Engineer Architect and Surveyor in field and drawing office. W.F.Stanley & Co. Ltd, 286 High Holborn London WC1” Stamped on pamphlet: “University of Melbourne Department of Statistics” Label on top box: “display”

Photograph, Van de Graaff accelerator

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Small black and white photo showing equipment comprising of a large oblong ball on top of column.

Inscriptions & Markings

Handwritten on back in pencil: “Van de Graaff Old Physic Building (Natural Philosophy)”

Length Standards, 3 six inch

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

(1) Glass rectangular scale (1-(1)-6 inch); (2)ditto steel rectangular scale, (3) ditto metal cylindrical rod. Enclosed in black hinged box with purple velvet lining. 64.1 = steel scale, 64.2 = glass scale, 64.3=steel rod, 64.4 = box. See#62 “National Physical Laboratory Certified Standards”

Inscriptions & Markings

On top of box labels: “Length Standards 3BA”, “National Physical Certified Standards 1.6 inch steel scale. 1.6 inch glass scale, 1.6 inch rod. For particular see certificate 1915” “40 6”. On glass scale engraved: “13.0 cNP” Engraved on steel scale “H.J.G. Melb Univ. 1915 ruled at 12.9 Celsius” . On glass scale engraved: “H.J.G. Melb Univ. 1915” “1,2,3,4,5,6”. (H,J,G, = Henry Grayson)

Meldometer, Joly

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

The Joly meldometer was created to determine the melting point of minerals. W.E. Wilson, an astronomer and author, stated in 1900 that the Joly meldometer consisted of a ‘a strip of platinum on which minute fragments of any mineral can be placed, while any alteration in its length can be determined by means of a micrometer screw which touches a lever connected with one end of the strip. The strip can be heated by an electric current, and is calibrated by observing the micrometer readings corresponding to the temperatures at which some substances of known melting-points melt’i . One reason why the Joly meldometer was seen as a successful addition to science was the small amount of any substance that it required for testing. Only a minute sample was needed for the instrument to work and so a tiny part could be taken from a delicate item without destroying itii . The instrument was originally manufactured by the Irish company Yeates & Son of Dublin. The Yeates family business was established in the early 1790’s and is thought to have operated until approximately 1922iii . Their business slogan was recorded as ‘Instrument makers to the University’, a slogan which proudly exhibited their relationship with Trinity College, Dublin. The company was located directly opposite Trinity College, the place where the Joly meldometer was created. Working in such close proximity must have assisted this business relationship. The inventor of this meldometer was Irishman John Joly. Joly was born in 1857 at the Church of Ireland Rectory, Hollywood House. His education led him to Trinity College Dublin where, by 1891, he had obtained a Bachelor of Engineering degree as well as a Doctorate of Science. The entirety of his working life appears to have taken place at Trinity College although he is known to have travelled in order to consult with other scientists such as the world renowned Sir Ernest Rutherford. The Joly meldometer was used for a variety of different purposes, with scientists often adapting the instrument to suit their own needs. For instance, the previously mentioned astronomer W.E. Wilson adapted the meldometer to assist him in measuring the radiation of the suniv . Joly used his device in an attempt to ascertain the age of the earth. In 1913, along with Sir Rutherford, Joly came to the conclusion that the earth was approximately 400 million years old. They did this by analysing the decay of radioactivity in minerals. According to our present knowledge of the earth this was a much more accurate date than the dates Joly had previously derived. He had first thought that the earth was 97 million years old due to the volume of sodium in the oceans. Joly’s second analysis of the topic had resulted in the age of 80 million years. This figure was based on the accumulation of sediment. Apart from designing his meldometer, Joly is also remembered for his work with colour photography. In 1894 Joly discovered a method for creating colour photographs from a single platev . He also studied the use of radiation as a treatment for cancer and persuaded the Royal Dublin Society to establish the Radium Institute to assist hospitals. In 1933 Joly passed away at the age of seventy-six.

MADAS

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

MADAS (Multiplication, Addition, Division, Subtraction) Electrical calculator with full keyboard and automatic multiplication. Made in Switzerland c1950. Cost $450. Presented to the Univewrsitiy by Peacock Bros., Carlton

X-Ray Spectrograph, Laby/Hilger

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

The spectrograph employs the principle of single crystal Bragg X-Ray Diffraction to measure wavelengths by interpolation from accepted standard lines. It is suitable for the identification and determination of the charateristic emissions of elements and thus for X-Ray spectrum analysis. The instrument was manufactured by ADAM HILGER Ltd. to the design of Professor Laby and is the best preserved instrument surviving from his research activity. A full description is given in the Hilger Pamphlet with the instrument; alternatively see duplicate in Appendix A5,A6 in Vol 2 of Laby ‘s COLLECTED PAPERS.

Gas X-ray Tube, Victor

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

The investigation of the x-ray appears early on to have been a priority research topic at the University of Melbourne’s School of Physics. This interest was sparked by the appointment in 1889 of Professor T.R. Lyle. Lyle, who was head of the school until 1915, is thought to have been the first person in Australia to have taken an x-ray photograph. A copy of this photograph can be found in the School of Physics Archive. For this particular experiment Lyle actually made his own x-ray tube. His successor, Professor Laby, continued to work with x-rays. During the 1920s Laby worked on the x-ray spectra of atoms and in 1930 he co-published with Dr. C.E. Eddy, Quantitative Analysis by X-Ray Spectroscopy. Also with Eddy, Laby produced the landmark paper Sensitivity of Atomic Analysis by X-rays. Laby went on to have an x-ray spectrograph of his own design manufactured by Adam Hilger Ltd. (see cat. No. 38). School of Physics, the University of Melbourne Cat. No. 22. Jacqueline Eager Student Projects Placement, Cultural Collections 2005 The original X-ray tubes relied on low pressure operation. The electrons and positive ions are produced in the residual gas. Positive ions are accelerated towards the cathode and release electrons which on hitting the anode produce X-rays. These early gas X-ray tubes operated satisfactory only over a narrow pressure range.

Inscriptions & Markings

Manufacturer’s mark stamped: “PATENTED/ VICTOR/ TRADEMARK/ MADE IN BOSTON U.S.A./ TUNGSTEN” A white circular stamp, stamped near the manufacturer’s mark: “[illegible]TER WIGGH[illegible]” Stamped label: “NAT. PHIL. LAB./ No./ UNIV. OF MELB.” Inscription on the end face of the copper piece: “PAT. SEP 5’ 11 DEC. 30’13/ JUNE 23, 14 NOV. 30.15/ 43835”

SUMLOCK Adding Machine

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Inscriptions & Markings

keys: 12 Plaque: ‘Supplied by Bell Punch A’sia Ltd / 160 Castlereagh St., Sydney / 27 Little Collins St., Melbourne / Agents and Services in all states / BPC / Cash Control Systems, Adding Machines, Ticket Registers, Charge Machines / Ticket Printers, Gum Tape, Scaling Machines etc. /’ good working condition

Liquid nitrogen trap

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Demonstration cut-away model of a liquid nitrogen trap for vacuum system, consisting of two coaxial copper tubes, diameters approx. 3 and 2.5 inch resp.

Photograph, Cyclotron, Duplicate Set

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph of cyclotron machinery n white envelope entitled “”Cyclotron Photographs (Duplicate set)’

Ring Transformer

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Cast, assembled. Varnished. Accessories: paper label in plastic sleeve screwed to top. Surface finish: varnished.

Inscriptions & Markings

Paper label affixed to top of object: “Ring Transformer E2/Core Details/Cast Iron Ring/Mean Diameter 15.45cm/Thickness (along radius) 2.0cm/Breadth ([parallel- signified by two vertical lines] to axis) 0.509 cm/Winding Details Primary/Secondary” Damaged label adhered to upper face in back left corner: “Part[illegible]”

Slide Rule, linear Aristo

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Aristo-Scholar VS-2 linear slide rule

Inscriptions & Markings

3Fx18

Lyle Radiograph

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Copies of the Lyle radiograph (see below) are on file with the letter (9Sept 1982) from J F Richardson (Australian Radiation Laboratory, as it was then called) detailing the description of the reproduction as follows: RADIOGRAPH OF PROFESSOR ORME MASSON'S FOOT! MOST PROBABLY THE FIRST RADIOGRAPH TAKEN IN AUSTRALIA. TAKEN BY PROFESSOR LYLE ON MARCH 3RD, 1896 USING A CROOKES DISCHARGE TUBE OF HIS OWN CONSTRUCTION

Historical information

"Salute to the X Ray Pioneers of Australia" by W Watson &Sons Ltd [1946] [Medical Library 610.9 WAT page 24-27 radiograph reproduction p26]

Hewlett-Packard Desk Calculator Model 46

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Electronic desk calculator last used by Betatron group

Meldometer, Joly

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

The following from #2975 in UDE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN ENGINEERING list in the “Irish National Inventory of Historical Scientific Instruments” by Charles Mellon (P/C in file for Cat no 272. “....meldometer as an instrument ‘for the purpose of finding the melting-points of minerals, hence its name. As used by him (Joly), it consists of a strip of platinum,on which minute fragments of any mineral can be placed, while any alteration in its length can be determined by means of a micrometer screw which touches a lever connected with one end of the strip. The strip can be heated by an electric current, and is calibrated by observing the micrometer readings corresponding to the temperatures at which some substances of known melting-points melt’.” Ref. : J. Joly, Proc. Roy. Irish Acad. 3rd series vol 2 (1891),38-64.

Historical information

Joly Meldometer The Joly meldometer was created to determine the melting point of minerals. W.E. Wilson, an astronomer and author, stated in 1900 that the Joly meldometer consisted of a ‘a strip of platinum on which minute fragments of any mineral can be placed, while any alteration in its length can be determined by means of a micrometer screw which touches a lever connected with one end of the strip. The strip can be heated by an electric current, and is calibrated by observing the micrometer readings corresponding to the temperatures at which some substances of known melting-points melt’i . One reason why the Joly meldometer was seen as a successful addition to science was the small amount of any substance that it required for testing. Only a minute sample was needed for the instrument to work and so a tiny part could be taken from a delicate item without destroying itii . The instrument was originally manufactured by the Irish company Yeates & Son of Dublin. The Yeates family business was established in the early 1790’s and is thought to have operated until approximately 1922iii . Their business slogan was recorded as ‘Instrument makers to the University’, a slogan which proudly exhibited their relationship with Trinity College, Dublin. The company was located directly opposite Trinity College, the place where the Joly meldometer was created. Working in such close proximity must have assisted this business relationship. The inventor of this meldometer was Irishman John Joly. Joly was born in 1857 at the Church of Ireland Rectory, Hollywood House. His education led him to Trinity College Dublin where, by 1891, he had obtained a Bachelor of Engineering degree as well as a Doctorate of Science. The entirety of his working life appears to have taken place at Trinity College although he is known to have travelled in order to consult with other scientists such as the world renowned Sir Ernest Rutherford. The Joly meldometer was used for a variety of different purposes, with scientists often adapting the instrument to suit their own needs. For instance, the previously mentioned astronomer W.E. Wilson adapted the meldometer to assist him in measuring the radiation of the suniv . Joly used his device in an attempt to ascertain the age of the earth. In 1913, along with Sir Rutherford, Joly came to the conclusion that the earth was approximately 400 million years old. They did this by analysing the decay of radioactivity in minerals. According to our present knowledge of the earth this was a much more accurate date than the dates Joly had previously derived. He had first thought that the earth was 97 million years old due to the volume of sodium in the oceans. Joly’s second analysis of the topic had resulted in the age of 80 million years. This figure was based on the accumulation of sediment. Apart from designing his meldometer, Joly is also remembered for his work with colour photography. In 1894 Joly discovered a method for creating colour photographs from a single platev . He also studied the use of radiation as a treatment for cancer and persuaded the Royal Dublin Society to establish the Radium Institute to assist hospitals. In 1933 Joly passed away at the age of seventy-six. Jacqueline Eager Student Projects Placement, Cultural Collections 2005 iMollan, Charles, Irish National Inventory of Scientific Instruments, Samton Limited, 1995, p. 302. iiJoly, John, 'On the determination of the melting points of minerals, Part 1. Uses of the meldometer', Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol. 2., 1891. iiiInstitute for Learning Technologies, "Stephan Mitchell Yeates' http://www.ilt.columbia.edu/projects/bluetelephone/html/yeates.html, accessed on 04.10.2005 ivMollan, Charles, Irish National Inventory of Historic Scientific Instruments, op cit. vMollan, Charles, The Mind and the Hand: Instruments of Science 1685-1932, Samton Limited, Dublin, 1995, p. 34.

Photograph, Cyclotron accelerator

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photo of cyclotron (nuclear physics accelerator): Gas target cell & neutron shielding.

Historical information

Builit in 1950s and used till the mid 1970s within the Physics Department used in Melbourne. John Rouse and David Caro was involved in the construction.

Inscriptions & Markings

Sticky typed labels on back from top and left to right: “WAX, GAS CELL” Handwritten on back right hand corner in pen: “Don’t know”

Tube, Neutron counter

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Boron Triflouride neutron proportional counter. Long glass tube covered in black enamel

Inscriptions & Markings

Cello taped label: “20th Century Electronics” “Type G.60 Operate at 1250 Volts No. KK854” “Made in England”

Photograph, Cyclotron accelerator

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photo of cyclotron (nuclear physics accelerator): switch magnet & beam lines.

Historical information

Builit in 1950s and used till the mid 1970s within the Physics Department used in Melbourne. John Rouse and David Caro was involved in the construction.

Inscriptions & Markings

Sticky typed labels on back from top and left to right: “SWITCH MAGNET & BEAM LINES”

Galvanometer, Cambridge

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black metal cylindrical galvanometer on rectangular wooden flat base - 40 ohms resistance.

Phase plate

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Rectangular clear glass plate.

PhD Thesis (JC Bower) - Some Expansion Chamber Experiments in Atomic Physics

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

PhD thesis of Dr John Crawford Bower, who undertook his MSc at the University of Melbourne before completing his doctorate at the Cavendish Laboratory in 1939. Bower was in the RAF Operational Research Group in World War II before returning to the University of Melbourne to become a physics lecturer after the war.

Photograph, Optical Munitions: Optical glass

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph showing male hands preparing glass for fusing. Same photo as 144.

Inscriptions & Markings

On front of image in ink: “24” On back of image in pencil: “No. 24 Glass Preparation for fusing” On back of image in ink: “24”