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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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99 items with images

Resistance Decade Box

Key words

j. l. william
scientific instruments
resistance decade box
electrical instruments
decade box

Resistance decade box constructed with a rectangular wooden body and black plastic top displaying five large dials and fifteen smaller dials. Unit measurements are inscribed beneath each dial.

Significance

Related to objects 451 and 452

Inscriptions & Markings

Left to right on top panel surrounding dials: 'INT / OHMS AT 20 C MANGANIN / PURCHASED BY UNIVERSITIES COMMISSION / J. L. WILLIAM MELBOURNE' Adhered label at center of top, between dials: 'Part 2 W B S' Long front side has an metal panel with paper label and PVC covering demonstrating setup that has 'SERIAL No 416' engraved along upper edge.

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Resistance Decade Box

Key words

j. l. william
decade box
electrical equipment
resistance decade box
scientific instruments

This rectangular wooden resistance decade box features four large dials for controlling resistances. The dials are mounted atop a black plastic panel, each with a square base. Three smaller dials are mounted to the right of the large dials.

Historical information

This object is believed to be associated with training at the Parkville Secondary Teaching College during the 20th Century.

Significance

Related to objects 450 and 452

Inscriptions & Markings

Embossed plaque at front: 'J. L. WILLIAM / SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS / SERIAL No 3960 / TYPE RB4DS / MELBOURNE / AUSTRALIA' Engraved and filled white on top plate from left to right: 'ABSOLUTE OHMS AT 20 C / MANGANIN' Logo reading: 'J. L. WILLIAM / SCIENTIFIC / INSTRUMENTS / MELBOURNE / SERIAL No 3960' 'ZERO RESISTANCE / 0.004 OHM' Engraved on back edge of top panel: 'SECONDARY TEACHER COLLEGE PARKVILLE' Dials are labelled underneath with unit measurements for resistance settings, engraved and in-filled white.

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Resistance Decade Box

Key words

decade box
resistance decade box
j. l. william
electrical equipment
scientific instruments

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.

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Sample Holder

Key words

sample holder
russia
scientific equipment

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.

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Electro Magnet

Key words

cambridge scientific instrument company
electro magnet
electrical equipment
electrical instrumentation

Composite object with three feet supporting two squared cylinders attached to a clamping device and metal block with four current terminals. Cylinders are covered with red leather. Metal block and clamp base appear painted.

Historical information

Horace Darwin, youngest surviving son of Charles Darwin, was a founding partner of the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company in 1881 (http://www.museumoftechnology.com/cic.html).

Inscriptions & Markings

Engraved on terminal block: 'No 15548 / THE CAMBRIDGE SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENT CO LTD. CAMBRIDGE. ENGLAND' Engraved on side of terminal block: 'To be excited from 200 volts circuit / with coils in series. Connect terminals 2 & 3.'

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Resistance box

Key words

hartmann of braun
resitance decade box
resistance box
electical instruments
frankfurt
natural philosophy laboratory

Wooden box with brass top and 24 knobs (22 larger and 2 smaller) on the right-hand side. In addition there are two extra knobs on the right side of the top, as well as two removable oval access panels with handles on each of the ends.

Inscriptions & Markings

Stamped on top of box: a coat of arms 'HARTMANN OF BRAUN A/M' 'RICHTIG BEI / 20 / GRAD CELSIUS' increments for measurement On front side: Sticker labelled 'NATURAL PHILOSOPHY LABORATORY / NO 7 / UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE' Stamped on end of metal top: 'No. 2665'

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Galvanometer

Key words

galvanometer
tinsley & co
schering & schmidt
electrical instruments
ammeters

Rectangular frame with coiled metal wires on two opposite sides. Symmetrical placement of screws with connecting wires and terminals between the two sides. Removable cylindrical pin through center of top plate. Four smaller coils of wire secured to underside of top plate. Object rests on ends of three screw feet, two forward and one rear.

Inscriptions & Markings

Engraved at center of top plate: ' H. TINSLEY & CO. LONDON S. E.' Engraved at lower centre of top plate: 'NO 16949' Engraved on top of cylinder pin: 'NO 19908' Front side of top plate engraved with: 'DEFLECTING COILS' Engrave on center base of front side: '10 / VOLTS' Left side of top plate label: 'NAT. PHIL. LAB. / NO 65 / UNIV. OF MELB.' Associated label separate to object also has inscription on recto: 'Schering & / Schmidt / Galvanometer' and upside down on verso: 'A. C / [r] [e] [...] Gold[l]ing / p.p. 245' (writing unclear)

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Contact Switch - Morse Code

Key words

morse code switch
contact switch
gambrell bros
telegraphy

Rectangular wooden base with two metal strips on top of each other. Each strip is separated with a rectangular block between them at one end and has a terminal knob at that end. The other end of the top strip has a knob that when pressed produces a contact between the two strips.

Inscriptions & Markings

Engraved on top: 'GAMBRELL BROS & CO LTD / PATT. 5037'

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Adjustable Retort Stand

Key words

retort stand
scientific apparatus
scientific equipment

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

Inscriptions & Markings

On tripod base: 'MET. RES'

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Optical Munitions Test Plates

Key words

dial sight
optical munitions
glass
mk 1

Cardboard box containing cotton wadding and straw padding layered above glass plates individually wrapped in tissue paper. Five plates in the top layer, followed by more padding, 2 more plates, padding, 8 glass plates, padding and straw. Plates are variously sized and circular in shape.

Historical information

Associated sheet of paper inside box lists each of the test plates as having been tested and found defective.

Inscriptions & Markings

Handwritten on box lid: 'REJECT TEST PLATES / MK1 DIAL SIGHT' unreadable handwritten inscription '18' '[E. E. N Wa...worth] / [...] / [Kob...]' '23/11/45' Munitions labelled with technical specifications of each lens.

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Direct Current Galvanometer

Key words

j l william
scientific instruments
galvanometer
direct current galvanometer
australian instrument makers
ammeters

Cylindrical and galvanometer made of green-gray enameled metal on a round base.

Inscriptions & Markings

Plaque on top of cylinder: 'DIRECT CURRENT GALVANOMETER / COIL RESISTANCE 20 OHMS / CRITICAL RESIST 120 OHMS / SENSITIVITY 200 m.m/μα / Instrument No. 1023 / J. L WILLIAM'

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Paraffin Section

Key words

paraffin section
spencer buffalo
scientific equipment

Rectangular black box with metal scrapper and black instrument with round metal rod with screw tip and knob.

Inscriptions & Markings

Top of box: 'SPENCER BUFFALO USA' Label inside lid: 'PARAFFIN SECTIONS / [H]ONED NOV. 1952' Painted on box edge: 'W M 790'

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Dove's Siren

Key words

siren
heinrich wilhelm dove
dove siren
edward hope kirkby
fire prevention

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'

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Accessory box for a No 6 Director Mk I

Key words

cooke troughton & simms
accessory box
no 6 director mk i
broad arrow
wwii

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.

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Becquerel Phosphoroscope (incomplete)

Key words

becquerel phosphoroscope
phosphoroscope
optical instruments
phosphorescent
alexander edmund becquerel
jules duboscq
france

The phosphoroscope consists of a round metal chamber with a pair of rotating discs inside, arranged so that no light can pass directly through the chamber. The discs have cut-out windows spaced equally at regular angular distances and are turned by the hand crank linked to a gear mechanism. The sample is placed in a specially designed holder into the small opening near the gearing, and it is exposed to the light source through the large rear condensing lens.

Historical information

The phosphoroscope was invented by Alexander Edmund Becquerel and used to measure the amount of time that a phosphorescent substance will glow after being irradiated by a brilliant source of light.

Inscriptions & Markings

Engraved on chamber: 'Phosphoroscope de E. Becquerel / J. Duboscq a Paris

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Thermopile

Key words

thermopile
scientific equipment

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'

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Electrostatic Voltmeter

Key words

electrostatic voltmeter
abraham & villard
j carpentier
scientific instruments

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'

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Sight

Key words

er watts & sons
spectroscopy
sight
optical equipment
surveying

Cylindrical black sight with metallic fixtures and split sight. Adjustable base with screws.

Historical information

Associated with object 467.2

Inscriptions & Markings

Logo in triangle on side of barrel: 'ERW&S' Stamped on underside of base: '2C'

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Wild-Fuess Barometer

Key words

leppin & masche
scientific instruments
barometer
wild-fuess
leppin and masche

Wild-Fuess cylindrical Barometer used to measure atmospheric pressure and constructed predominantly of chrome and brass. Contained in specially made barometer case (Reg No.2).

Historical information

“Wild-Feuss Barometer - Leppin and Masche - Instructions for Assembling”, 1942. Paper : “A Stand Barometer of New Design” by Laby, 1924. Related to object 2.

Inscriptions & Markings

Engraved near top “LEPPIN & MASCHE, BERLIN NO. 856”. On label near base “Please lower the mercury level after use in order to keep the interior of the glass clean round “zero”.

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Rowland Diffraction Grating & Goniometer

Key words

diffraction grating
rowland & goniometer

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

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Hygrometer, Wet and Dry

Key words

hygrometer
wet and dry hygrometer
measuring equipment

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.”

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Dumpy Level (Part of)

Key words

dumpy level
measuring equipment

Historical information

Used for setting levels.

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Marconi Valve, Transmitting, with stand

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. ?”

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

X-Ray Spectrograph, Laby

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

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Photograph, Cyclotron, Duplicate Set

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

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Photograph, Cyclotron, Duplicate Set

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

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Photograph, Cyclotron (JL Rouse)

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

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Photograph, Opening PS Building

Black and white photo of Weickhardt, Caro and Spicer watching L.H. Martin unveiling a plaque which reads: “This Building was opened on the 23rd February 1974 by Sir Leslie Martin Kt CBE FRS FAA”

Inscriptions & Markings

Handwritten on back in pencil: “Feb 1974 L to R: Wuickhardt (Chancellor), Caro (Head), Spicer, L.H. Martin (age 74”. “A”

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Photograph, Cyclotron accelerator

Black and white photo of cyclotron (nuclear physics accelerator): Rear end of DEE system & accessories. Duplicate of 200

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: “WATER FLOW CONTROLS; REAR END OF DEE STEM,;SHORTING BAR CONTROL”

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Photograph, Cyclotron accelerator

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”

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville