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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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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.

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’

Photograph, Optical Munitions, with J.S. Rogers & E.O. Hercus

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Part of a series entitled “Optical Munitions - School of Natural Philosophy, 1942-1945”. Black and white photo showing Rogers and Hercus examining equipiment.

Inscriptions & Markings

In ink on lower left hand corner : “15”.

Hygrometer, Wet and Dry

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Wet and dry hygrometer made of two mercury and glass thermometers set on wooden stand.

Historical information

Used for measuring relative humidity.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label: “Nat Phil Lab No. Univ of Melb.”

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, Duplicate Set

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph in white envelope entitled “”Cyclotron Photographs (Duplicate set)’

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”

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

ARCHIMEDES Model LL-K (electrical)

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Keys: 10 x 11 x 20 ELECTRICAL!

Thermopile

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Circular metal frame and dials with mixed internal components, on a hinged, hollow cylindrical base.

Inscriptions & Markings

Partially removed label on circular frame: 'NAT. PH[...] [...] / NO. [...]' Partially removed label on base: 'J. H 4' Attached handwritten tag: 'Optical bench / A / Thermopile'

Sample Holder

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Metal sample holder for optics measurements with three circular, intertwined and moveable spheres.

Inscriptions & Markings

Logo and Cyrillic characters with 'No 650157' at top of holder.

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'

Electrometer, Quadrant Dolezalek

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Brass cylindrical galvanometer on three grey enamelled legs.

Inscriptions & Markings

Engraved on top: “W.G. Pye & Co. Eng. Cambridge No. 9250”

Stereoscope with lid (and wooden oddment)

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Olive green enamelled stereoscope enclosed in olive green wooden hinged box. Two test stereoscopic pictures of a rhino also kept in box. A wooden oddment (10 cm) is also enclosed.

Inscriptions & Markings

Engraved in white on stereoscope: “DC-1940 Serial No. 32” Label on front of box: “stereoscope”

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.

MERCEDES-EUKLID [Arithmometer] Model 22

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Keys: 13 x 16

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

Photograph, Cyclotron accelerator

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photo of cyclotron (nuclear physics accelerator): 60 deg. analyser magnet & lift assembly.

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: “MAGNET STANDARD RESISTANCE”, “60 ANALYSER MAGNET & LIFT ASSEMBLY”

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.

Electrostatic Voltmeter

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Round metal instrument with voltmeter (hands missing) with twisting drum inside and a metal coupling device/mount.

Inscriptions & Markings

Engraved in front plate: 'VOLTMETRE / ELECTROSTATIQUE / ABRAHAM & VILLARD / J. CARPENTIER / PARIS / 4050 D2'

TEC AM103 Electrical Adding Macine

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Paper tape output Plaque ‘Tokyo Electric Co Ltd, Made in Japan

White & Gillespie Slide Rule

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

White & Gillespie “Dualface” comprehesive slide rule Model 432 In original cloth covered case

Inscriptions & Markings

“Dual face” Comprehensive Slide Rule Model 432 Melbourne > W&G

Marconi Valve, Transmitting, with stand

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Valve has wooden (possibly mahogany) display stand.

Inscriptions & Markings

On glass: “Marconi Valve, patented, Made in England Cat.2 67.5” Detached accompanying label (partially torn): “Valve Type - CAT 2, Serial No: 575 Anode? For: 5.0 Amp Emission: 9? Operate filament A? 19.2 volts 51. ?”

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 246-247, 249-250

Photograph, Optical Munitions: H.D. Rathgeber

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Black and white photograph of Henri Rathgeber looking through equipment.

Inscriptions & Markings

On front of image in ink: “6” On back of image in pencil: “No. 6 Henri Rathgeber” On back of image in ink: “6”

Photographs, 2.8 MeV Betatron: Glass Donut

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

6 colour polaroid photographs showing different angles of Glass donut for 2.8 MEV Betatron (Reg 61) (269.1,269.2, 269.3, 269.4, 269.5, 269.6) Photographs are of Reg 61: Glass donut for 2.8 MeV Betatron

SUMLOCK Adding Machine

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

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

Accessory box for a No 6 Director Mk I

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Leather accessory box with shoulder strap and metal buckles. Flip open lid.

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 463.1

Inscriptions & Markings

Embossed in lid: 'CASE NO 6 DETECTOR MK 1 / COOKE, TROUGHTON & SIMMS, LTD / 9 / 22 / A.F.A' and broad arrow symbol.

FACIT Electric calculator CM 2-16

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

keys: 11 x 9 x 16

X-Ray Spectrograph, Laby

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

This is the prototype of Laby’s X-Ray Spectrograph (cat. no.274) and was constructed in the Nat. Phil. workshop.