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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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469 items

Periscope component

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Used as a periscope instrument. Twin pair of periscope components made of iron and covered in olive green enamel.

KELVIN CURRENT BALANCE

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Last used in a Physics 2 experiment in the 1940-50s. Refer to the printed version Part 2 Laboratory Manual (ed. Natalie Allen) for further details. Likely acquisition in early 1900s by Lyle

Photograph, Optical Munitions, with H.A. Waters

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Part of a series entitled “Optical Munitions - School of Natural Philosophy, 1942-1945”. Black and white photo of H.A. Waters operating instrument on tripod. Two rotary switches marked “Graticule”, switch positions “Off On”; similarly “Vernier” -- “Off On”.

Inscriptions & Markings

In ink on lower left hand corner : “32”.

Rowland Diffraction Grating & Goniometer

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Diffraction grating of 14,437 lines/inch x 3 1/4 inch. Set in goniometer. “The grating is a ruling of 14,437 lines/inch by Rowland, on a concave spherical speculum mirror of 4-1/2 inch aperture and 10 ft radius. First order dispersion is 5.5 A per mm.” (see RTW Bigham: ‘Concave Roland Grating: Eagle Mounting” in ‘Inspection of New Wing’; Appendix B5 , Vol 2 of Laby :CollectedPapers. The remnants of the Eagle Mounting, featuring a 4 inch tube x 10 ft long, presently uncatalogued, lies on the roof of a display cabinet in the PSB basement open cage-store.

Historical information

Speculum metal blanks made by John H. Brashear(1840-1920) from John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Diffraction Grating made by Prof. H.A. Rowland, [School of Physics, University of Melbourne.] No known publications using the Eagle mounting. May have been used exclusively for practical work in Physics III.

Inscriptions & Markings

Kirkpatrick & Co., London

Diffraction grating on glass, Grayson

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Grating made of glass rectangular slab stored in red cardboard box with lid and black lining. 15,000 lines/inch 100.1 = box lid, 100.2 = box, 100.3 = grating

Inscriptions & Markings

On ruling in white ink: “15,000 lines/inch”

Optical glass specimen

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Glass rectangular slab consisting of 15 plates “welded/squashed together”. Slab is concave at top. See no 70 for details.

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”

BURROUGHS Elec. Adding J4191/2

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Output on Paper Roll Plaque ‘S.A. Burroughs/Paris. Made in France / Universel (sic) A.P. Series J/ Volts 240 AMP 0.2’

FELT & TARRANT COMPTOMETER

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Felt & Tarrant Mfg Co, Chicago, USA Note;’For history see extract from EM Horsburgh (editor) “Modern Instruments of Calculation” pp. 98-102. New introduction by Michael R Williams (1st 1914, 2nd 1984). TOMASH Publishers, Los Angeles, San Francisco.

Photograph, Optical Munitions, with J.F. Richardson & Dean

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Part of a series entitled “Optical Munitions - School of Natural Philosophy, 1942-1945”. Black and white photo of J.L. Richardson and -- Dean using an optical bench to test a lens. Lab books are also visible.

Inscriptions & Markings

In ink on lower left hand corner : “30”.

Resistance Decade Box

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Resistance decade box constructed from rectangular base of ferrous metal with black plastic top. Top displays five circular dials with three smaller circular dials on the right.

Significance

Related to objects 450 and 451.

Inscriptions & Markings

Embossed plaque at front: 'J. L. WILLIAM / SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS / SERIAL No 3012 / TYPE RR5S / MELBOURNE / AUSTRALIA' Engraved and filled white on top plate from left to right: 'ABSOLUTE OHMS AT 20 C / MANGANIN' Label reading 'PHYSICS PT 2 222 A4' Logo reading: 'J. L. WILLIAM / SCIENTIFIC / INSTRUMENTS / MELBOURNE / SERIAL No 3012' 'ZERO RESISTANCE / 0.006 OHM' Dials labelled underneath with unit measurements engraved and filled white.

Rotating Anode X-ray Tube

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 A modern X-ray tube differs little from the original Coolidge tube. A minor modification is the rotating anode type that extends the life and increases the available power of the tube by presenting a new portion of the anode when required.

Inscriptions & Markings

“P125/20/40/NrF038803 (?) SIEMENS-REINIGER-WERRE AG ERLANGEN Eigen filleung (?) mind. 0,7 mm AL” On rotating shaft: “FO/33803” On cathode: “23C”

Tube, Geiger counter

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Short glass Geiger counter tube with evaporated gold cathode.

FACIT Mechanical ModelCM 2-16

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Keys: 16 x 9 x 16 ( A note states: ‘Possibly Model No LX (1945) See Sabielmy’s book (1939) Plaque: (See 297/M9 ....Sydney Pincombe ...)

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.

Lamp, Standard Pentane

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Vernon Harcourt’s Standard Pentane Lamp, consisting of the following components: 27.1: Wooden hinged box with key 27.2: Glass Pentane lamp 27.3: Metal clamp attachment 27.4: Empty glass bottle 27.5: Glass bottle stopper 27.6: 1.5 CP weight 27.7: 1 CP weight 27.8: Small metal bullet 27.9: Instruction sheet Miscellaneous: 2 screws to be reattached to lamp green small piece of glass small flat rectangular piece of metal cotton wool

Inscriptions & Markings

Label on front of box (27.1): “1K5”; “Natural Philosophy Laboratory No. University of Melbourne” Label on inside of box (27.1) “Negretti and Zambra Opticians Meteorological Instrument Makers to the Queen To the Prince of Wales The Royal Observatory Greenwich The British Meteorological Society Admiralty, Board of Trust, Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Holborn Viaduct. 45 Cornhill. 122 Regent Street & Crystal Palace London” (emblem also included on label). Plaque on lamp (27.2): “Nat. Phil. Lab No. Univ. of Melb.”; “Vernon Harcourt Standard Pentane Lamp No. 2. Made by Woodhouse & Rawson Electrical Manfg Coy No. 4590” Label on clamp (27.3): “Nat Phil. Lab. N. Univ. of Melb” Moulded on glass bottle (27.4): “4 oz” Inscribed on weight (27.6): “1.5CP” Inscribed on weight (27.7): “1 CP”

“MULTO” (Brunsviga)

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

ODHNER/BRUNSVIGA TYPE MULTO model 13or 113 keys: 10 x 8 x 13 same as F288/M1

Inscriptions & Markings

Ser. no.

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: “8” On back of image in pencil: “No. 8 A.C. Goodwin Peter Law” (L to R) On back of image in ink: “8”

Statitron

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Photograph of the general view of the statitron. The accelerating tube is encircled by corona rings.

Photograph Optical Munitions: Optical Flat

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Part of a series of optical munition snapshots 1940-1947. Refer to Cat No 137 for full details. Black and white photo of optical flat in de luxe case with certificate: “GLASS OPTICAL FLAT, made by Natural Philosophy Laboratory, Melbourne University” Number 18. Accuracy of surface flat within .000,001 inch .... Issued by (signd) T.H.L. Feb 19, 1941. Duplicate copy of Cat no 137; in OMP Album Vol 1 #17.

Inscriptions & Markings

In ink on lower left hand corner : “17”. Inscribed on back in pencil: “No. 17”

Photograph, Optical Munitions, with G. Armitage

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Part of a series entitled “Optical Munitions - School of Natural Philosophy, 1942-1945”. Black and white photo of Geo Armitage testing a monocular (or part of the binocular testing program?). Same apparatus as in no 134.

Inscriptions & Markings

In ink on lower left hand corner : “7”.

FACIT CA1-13 Electric Calculator

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Slide, Grayson Test plate with case

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Test plate rectangular glass slide with rulings under circular cover glass within yellow circle and brown border enclosed in red hinged box with blue lining. Described as “A sample Microscope slide - Test plate with rulings from 30,000 to 120,000 per inch”. This is the only surviving ruling reaching up to 120,000; hence is both unique and valuable.

Inscriptions & Markings

Labels on slide: “Test plate 10,000 to 120,000. Ruled by H.J. Grayson, Melbourne”. No of lines per inch Band 1-10,000 2-20,000”. On label on side: “No of lines per inch Band 3 -30,000 4 - 40,000 5-50,000 6-60,000 7-70,000 8-80,000 9-90,000 10-100,000 11-110,000 12-120,000”

BURROUGHS ADDING Printer

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Inscriptions & Markings

Plaque: ‘Burroughs/Detroit/ Mich / USA’

MONROE

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Elec. 10 keys Information sheet with machine

Decade Inductance Box, 10 x0.01H

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Cubic black box with ten brass contacts over which a rotary contact wiper moves; the wiper is rotated by a black knob.

Inscriptions & Markings

Inscribed on top: “INDUCTANCE Type 17-C”, “10 x 0.01H”, “Muirhead & Co. Ltd No. 126967”, “PI 111”. On front: “MUIRHEAD”. Label: “Purchased by UNIVERSITIES COMMISSION”

Photograph, Cyclotron (JL Rouse)

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph of cyclotron equipment displayed on bench. Stored in white envelope entitled “”Cyclotron - Photographs around the vacuum chamber from J.L. Rouse (Feb 1991)” Similiar to 247

Post Office Box

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Assembled wood, bakelite and metal (screwed). Metal plate top screwed onto wooden box base, 15 black dials 3.0cm in height. Brass electrical connectors, brass plugs with Bakelite tops. Surface finish: machined.

Inscriptions & Markings

Inscribed on top face along the back edge: “T.E.P.L MELBOURNE [an arrow pointing upwards] 240 1941” Inscribed on top face along the front edge: “EUREKA, BRITISH STANDARD OHMS” Also instructive labels inscribed on top face: “POSITIVE POLE/LINE OR EARTH” “LINE AND GALVANOMETER” “GALVANOMETER” “NEGATIVE POLE AT 15.5OCENT”

Photograph, Cyclotron accelerator

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photo of cyclotron (nuclear physics accelerator): Internal beam deflector power supply.

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: “DEFLECTOR POWER SUPPLY” Handwritten in top left hand corner: “16”, “HV DC Supply for internal beam defection”

Hewlett-Packard Desk Calculator Model 46

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Electronic desk calculator last used by Betatron group