Stories Organisations Projects About Login

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

View on Google Maps

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.

469 items

close
Show All Items Items with Images (99) Items with Audio Items with Video Items with Documents
View As Grid List

469 items

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, Cyclotron accelerator

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photo of cyclotron (nuclear physics accelerator): spectrometer magnet & target chamber.

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: “180 SPECTROMETER MAGNET & TARGET CHAMBER”

Adjustable Retort Stand

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Heavy metal tripod stand with three knobs and two adjustable holders.

Inscriptions & Markings

On tripod base: 'MET. RES'

Artillery director (No 6 Mk II with tripod)

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Green painted brass director mounted on a grey metal base plate. Secured to a wooden tripod with coated copper wire cord linking tripod legs.

Historical information

Possibly related to the range-finding equipment sent from England for dismantling during the 1940s so University of Melbourne Physics staff could develop their own equipment. Related to object 463.2

Inscriptions & Markings

Theodolite body engraved with: the broad arrow on top, and on side with 'DIRECTOR No 6 MK II / COOKE TROUGHTON & SIMMS LTD / 1924 / No 1126'

Photograph, Optical Munitions: J.B. Wllis & P.G. Law

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph of two scientists (J.B. Willis and P.G. Law) at work on microscope

Inscriptions & Markings

On front of image in ink: “31A” On back of image in pencil: “31A J.B. Willis, P.G. Law ” (L to R) On back of image in ink: “31A”

Interferometer - Michelson

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

A student demonstration or general laboratory model capable of calibrating the pitch of the mechanical thread in terms of the wavelength ofvisible light, specifically a chosen emission line from the spectra of say mercury.

Galvanometer,Thomson (suspended magnet)

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Brass and glass case enclosing two sets of coils; surmounted by a vertical rod on which a compensating (?) magnet may be moved either vertically or rotated in a horizontal plane; 3 levelling screws and spirit level.

Inscriptions & Markings

Engraved on top of cylinder: “Nalder Bros and Co., Westminster No. 36521”

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)”

Dumpy Level (Part of)

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Historical information

Used for setting levels.

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: 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”

BURROUGHS ADDING Printer

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Inscriptions & Markings

Plaque: ‘Burroughs/Detroit/ Mich / USA’

Camera and accessory box

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Camera and accessory box with accessories and handbook stored inside.

Photograph of main tank ,Pelletron Accelerator

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

The Pelletron is a high Voltage particle accelerator capable of producing 5Mev. The main tank contains the pelletron chain of metal pellets connected by insulating nylon links. The pellets are charged by induction and transported by a chain to the collecting dome. The tank is filled with sulfur hexafluoride a high voltage insulating gas

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)

Resistance Bridge Gambree Bros & Co./ London

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

No. of pieces: 12 Mold, cut, screw, plated, polish. Accessories: 11 detachable screw knobs. Surface finish: varnish, electroplated.

Inscriptions & Markings

Inscribed on top face: “1 MEGOHM/ PATT.948 GAMBREE BROS & Co LTD LONDON. No 120” Chipped paint dot on top face in the front right corner.

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

Capacitor Bridge H.W. Sullivan

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Wood cut and dove tailed, screwed and adhered; plastic moulded, screwed and adhered. Metals cast, forged, machine cut, screwed and adhered. Wood coated (painted varnish).

Inscriptions & Markings

Inscribed on upper face along right edge: H.W. SULLIVAN/LONDON; painted on upper face along front edge: UNIT 10-9 F; painted on front face: PART III and “F” carved into the wood below “Part III”; [Stamped] upper face along left edge: NAT.PHIL.LAB./NO 55/UNIV. OF MELB; adhered label on left side face: PA 4.

MicroscopeSlides with box

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

2 slides (54.1 & 54.2) wrapped in paper and stored in a small hinged metal chemist’s pill box (54.3). ;Also an unidentified 8.5 cm (graphite?) stick (54.4) Slide 54.1 is wrapped in paper and identified as “very precious”. On the slide is printed: ONE INCH divided into hundredths. In ink: “Dup. Beck. Retain.” Next: 1-14 in. cover glass. Then printed: Ruled on glass. H.J. Grayson. No. 2 Slide 54.2 is also wrapped in paper. Ruling can be seen under 3/4 iin. cover glass. Carries labels: “760 or 1/60 xxxx” and “60,000 # good”. On the wrapping paper: “Grayson Test Ruling, given to me by the late Mr W Stone.” Signed: W.M. Holmes, 18.9.50 In differnet penmanship: “Labelled 60,000 gtooves #. White sticker with red bars. Placed in display cabinet 13.8.71 J J McNeill.(All this transcription by EGM)

Inscriptions & Markings

Label On 54.1: “One inc divide into hundredths Dup Beck Retain. Ruled on glass H.J. Grayson No.2” Labels on 54.2: “60”, “60,000# good”. Label on box (54.3): “Grayson Test Rulings 60,000 from W.A. Holmes, Balmoral Ave, Kew”. On metal stick (54.5): “S.F.342” (Prior description by Anna)

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”

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”

Galvanometer, Tinsley

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Cylindrical reflecting galvanometer made of metal and covered in light green enamel.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label: “Purchased by Universities Commission” Engraved: “No. 79133” Plaque on front: “Reflecting Galvanometer, link in aperiodic link out ballistic, 3038 H. Tinsley & Co. Ltd No. 78,424” Attached tag: Diagram (see worksheet) “Rs - shunt resistance Rg = galvanometer resistance”

Photograph, Optical Munitions: G.F. Dainty

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph portrait of G.F. Dainty

Inscriptions & Markings

On front of image in ink: “4” On back of image: “5”, “No. 5 G.F. Dainty”. See History of Object for transcript.

Pyrometer, Cambridge Optical

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Cambridge Optical Pyrometer constructed with round black face erected on wooden tripod. A single yellow wire about 1 metre length is left floating (i.e. wrapped round one leg).

Inscriptions & Markings

On face: “Degree Centigrade Cambridge Optical Pyrometer ?The Cambridge Scientific Instrument Co. Ltd Cambridge England No. 42610”

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.

PLANIMETER

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

See F23

Electrical Tuning Fork 1000 Hz

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Assembled, hand built, moulded, cast. Polished, engraved. Surface finish: polished.

Inscriptions & Markings

Damaged label adhered to upper face: “PUR[illegible] BY/ UN[illegible]” Metal plate: “AUDIO OSCILLATOR/TYPE 813A SERIAL NO. 6. [the number 6 is inscribed into the surface]/ GENERAL RADIO CO./CAMBRIDGE, MASS. U.S.A./ OFF [2 arrows] ON”

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, Cyclotron accelerator

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photo of cyclotron (nuclear physics accelerator): MS 10 Mass spectrometer. Duplicate of 218

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: “MS 10 MASS SPECTROMETER”

Photograph, Optical Munitions with R. Caldwell

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Part of a series of optical munition snapshots 1940-1947. Refer to Cat No 146 for full details. Black and white photo shows Bob Caldwell cutting with a diamond saw through a sandwich of optical glass . Duplicate copy of Cat no 146; in OMP Album Vol 2 #26.

Inscriptions & Markings

In ink on lower left hand corner : “26”. Inscribed on back in pencil: “No. 26 ROBERT CALDWELL”