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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, Optical Munitions: D. Huey

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph Dick Huey at work assembling plate glass for making gla blocks. Same photo as 147

Inscriptions & Markings

On front of image in ink: “27” On back of image in pencil: “No 27” On back of image in ink: “27”

Lens with box and lid

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Round glass lens stored in rectangular cardboard box with lid and supported by cotton wool.

Inscriptions & Markings

On inside of box in pencil: “20/1/40 (?dictatomigialls of l/4). On top of box: “wray flat”.

Dove's Siren

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Metal siren with circular base and foot with for dial. Rectangular top section with measurement dials. Bottom unscrews to allow access to internal mechanism.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label inside lid of wooden box: '373' Engraved on top of siren: 'E KIRKBY / MELBOURNE' Lid of box: '303'

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.

Photograph, Optical Munitions

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph of optical microscope.

Historical information

“Optical microscope made in Australia ater 1939-45 War. Designed by J.J. McNeill and G.G. Schaefer of Munitions School Laboratory, forerunner of Materials Research Laboratories. Built by MSL. Specifications: 2 objectives of 16mm and 4mm and 2 eyepieces 5x, 10x and a substage condenser. (Script of HC Bolton) Full discussion in Bolton, HC, “JJ MCNEILL AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF OPTICAL RESEARCH IN AUSTRALIA. Historical Records of Australian Science 5 (1983) pp 55-70.

Inscriptions & Markings

Information in ink on back - see History of Object for transcript.

FACIT Electric calculator CM 2-16

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

keys: 11 x 9 x 16

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.

Photograph, Optical Munitions: Notman

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph showing young man (Notman) working on graphic designs at a draft board.

Inscriptions & Markings

On front of image in ink: “19” On back of image in pencil: “Notman No. 19” On back of image in ink: “19”

FACIT

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Electronic Digits on Screen Multiply and Divide keys For Plaque Details see 330/EL3 DATED 21-6-80

Statitron Generating Voltmeter

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

The Generating Voltmeter is of the sectored disc type and was part of the control system of the statitron

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”

Periscope, Optical munitions : part of prototype tank ..

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Metal hollow vessel with glass insert opens at one end. At opening metal round plate is perpendicular and has brass cylinder attached.

Photograph, Cyclotron accelerator

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photo of cyclotron (nuclear physics accelerator): Scattering Chamber & associatedeletronics.

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 left to right: “ASSOCIATED ELECTRON(IC)S”, “SCATTERING CHAMBER”

Photograph, Cyclotron accelerator

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photo of cyclotron (nuclear physics accelerator).: Driver amplifier, Excitor amplifier & Mass spectrometer.

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 to bottom and left to right: “DRIVER AMPLIFIER”, “EXCITOR AMPLIFIER”, “MS 10 MASS SPECTROMETER”

Galvanometer, Cambridge, Uni-pivot

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Open dial uni-pivot galvanometer with front glass window.

Inscriptions & Markings

On dial “Cambridge Instruments Co. Ltd, England, Res. 50 ohm. No.L. 79020”. Label: “Sole Agents: A.E. Suppliers Pty Ltd Melbourne”

Photograph, Optical Munitions: ? Kahanine

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph of male scientist (Kahanine) working on graphic design.

Inscriptions & Markings

On front of image in ink: “31” On back of image in pencil: “No. 31 Kahanine’ On back of image in ink: “31”

MADAS

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Electric Keys: 8 x 16

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. 65.1 = steel scale, 65.2 = glass scale, 65.3=steel rod, 65.4 = box. See #63 “Washington Certified Standards.

Inscriptions & Markings

Labels on top of box: “Length standards used by U.B. Grayson” “40aJJR” “Washington certified standards 1.6 inch steel scale, 1.6 inch glass scale, 1.6 inch steel rod. For particulars see certificate 1915” Engraved on glass scale: “BSN 394” “H.J.G. Melb Univ. 1915” “13.0C” “1 2 3 4 5 6” Engraved on steel scale: “BSN 393, H.J.G. Melb Univ. 1915” “ruled at 12.8C” (H,J,G, = Henry Grayson)

Photograph, Optical Munitions: A.C. Goodwin & Peter Law

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph of two scientists at work (A.C. Goodwin and Peter Law).

Inscriptions & Markings

On front of image in ink: “9” On back of image in pencil: “No. 9 A.C. Goodwin Peter Law” (L to R) On back of image in ink: “9”

PLANIMETER

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

See F23

Harmonic Analyser, The Stanley#3

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Wooden box (28.1) containing the following (11 items + 2x21disks (sets A &B): 28.2: black enamelled harmonic analyser (main body,serial no. 37 28.3: plastic slide rule (40 inch) 28.4: Instruction manual 28.5: Long steel metal rule (92 cm) with handles 28.6: Wooden clipboard with paper 28.7: brush 28.8: fixed arm planimeter Serial No. 25498 - 4 components and box 28.9: fixed arm planimeter Serial No. 25499 - 4 components and box 28.10 Harmonic analyser black piece 28.11 Harmonic Analyser long metal attachment 28.12 Harmonic Analyser short metal attachment 28.13 - 28.55: 42 metal discs (not numbered individually) 28.56 Key to box (not numbered)

Inscriptions & Markings

Front right hand side of box in texta: “GW7446”; on inside lid of box: “GW7446”; On harmonic analyser in white: “No. 3 Harmonic Analyser Stanley London Serial No. 37. Made in England”; On clipboard (28.6): ?“P.Cholec Shade”; Stamped on brush (28.7): “Made in England Pure Bristle”; Label in planimeter box (28.8): “7/124/F/152/500 Fixed Arm Planimeter Serial No. 25498. 1 Rev = 100 sq. cms. Constant = 18.676”. Inscribed on planimeter (28.8): “Albrit 25498 Made in England” Label in planimeter box (28.9): “7/124/F/152/500 Fixed Arm Planimeter Serial No. 25499. 1 Rev = 100 sq. cms. Constant = 18.676”. Inscribed On planimeter (28.8): “Albrit 25499 Made in England” On discs 28.13-28.55: Half are “A” disk and half are “B”. All are inscribed.

First day cover, TH Laby &c

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

First day cover showing stamps of famous Australians including Thomas Laby, Scientist.

Inscriptions & Markings

Printed: “ Australia postcover Famous Australians Stamps and Cover Design Bruce Weatherhead”. Postmarked: “Philatelic Sales Centre Melbourne 3000 First day of issue - 10 November 1976”

Galvanometer, H. Tinsley & Co.

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Cast, assembled, moulded. Coated. Accessories: plastic dials and base. Surface finish: enameled, coated.

Inscriptions & Markings

Plaque: “GALVANOMETER/TYPE 4500A/NO. 33871/H. TINSLEY & CO./ LONDON S.E. 25” Label under the plaque: “NA[illegible]HIL LAB”

FACIT Mechanical

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

keys: 16 x 9 x 16 Plaque: ‘Sydney Pincombe Pty Ltd, Sole Australian Agents Made by ....FACIT/ Sweden/ same as M11

Clock, Cooke Astronomical with case

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Astronomical Cooke clock with large black face and wood-glass box casing. Enclosed in outer security case.

Historical information

Used by Prof. Laby probably in experimental determination of “J” the mechanical equivalent of heat. Also as master clock in master-slave system of clocks in Old Physics Bldg.

Inscriptions & Markings

On clock face: “T. Cooke & Sons York England”

Slide rule , Castell

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Plastic white rectangular Castell slide rule (271.1) stored in green lined rectangular case (271.2).

Inscriptions & Markings

On slide rule in green font: “Castell”

MERCEDES-EUKLID [Arithmometer] Model 22

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Keys: 13 x 16

Photograph, Optical Munitions (Duplicate)

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph entitled “G.A. Ampt and E.J. Hartung and experimental pots of opitcal glass” Duplicate of no. 158

Inscriptions & Markings

On back of image in ink: “37 L to R: G.A. Ampt and Prof. Hartung”, “1886-1953 see ADB Vol 7” On front of image in ink: “37”

Polarimeter #2 part B

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Brass cylindrical optical element erected on wooden rectangular base.

Inscriptions & Markings

Scale round perimeter. Label on base: “Nat Phil No. Univ. of Melb”

Photograph, Optical Munitions: Microscope

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph of optical microscope.

Historical information

“Optical microscope made in Australia after 1939-45 war. Made in Australian Optical Company, Melbourne heade by Lawrence Dickens Collection Design probably by Maximilian Hertzberger; Messrs Curtis and W. Gallaghar, both ex MSL, were responsible for production. Full discussion given in Bolton, H.C. J.J. McNeill and the Development of Optical Research in Australia. Historical Records of Australian Science 5 (1983) pp 55-70”

Inscriptions & Markings

See History of Object for transcript of writing on back of image.