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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

White & Gillespie Slide Rule

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

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

FACIT Mechanical Model C1-13

Plaque: Made by Atvidaberg - FACIT / Sweden keys: 8 x 13 x 13

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Photographs, 2.8 MeV Betatron: Glass Donut

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

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Meldometer, Joly

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.

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

MILLIONAIRE (#2) 10 keys

Plaque: ‘Hans W Egli/Ingenieur / Fabrikation von flechenmashinen [sic; ?] / Pat. O, Steiger / Zurich II / No 2566. Sole Agents for Australia / Peacock Bros./ Business Systems Company / 558 , 560, 562 Collins St., Melbourne / and at / Sydney, Adelaide, Perth’ Plaque: ‘Presented to . / Department of Information Science / Melbourne University / by the / Gas & Fuel Corporation of Victoria / This calculating machine was used by Engineers of the Metropolitan Gas Co and Gas & Fuel Corporation / from 1917 to 1970’

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

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

Galvanometer, Tinsley

Cylindrical reflecting vertical galvanometer. Case made of black enamelled metal and standing on three legs for levelling.

Historical information

Used to measure electrical current.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label “Part 2”. Label “Purchase of University Commission”. Plaque on front “Reflecting galvanometer, link in aperiodic link out ballistic, H. Tinsley & Co. Ltd No. 41545”

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

Slide, Grayson Test plate with case

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”

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Slide rule, Faber-Castell

White Castell rectangular slide rule (270.1) stored in clear plastic Faber Castell case (270.2).

Inscriptions & Markings

On slide rule: printed - “Castell”, On case: stamped - “Made in Germany”, in pen - “451”, Paper label: “Castell 57/89”

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Photograph, Cyclotron, Duplicate Set

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

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Stereoscope with lid (and wooden oddment)

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”

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Lens with box and lid

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”.

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

MILLIONAIRE (Ticket no 13) 10 keys

Sheet of operating instructions which mentions that O. Steiger is the Patentee. On separate stand about 600mms high Plaque: ‘Sole Agents for Australia / Peacock Bros. PtyLtd / Business Systems / Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth’

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

Photograph, Optical Munitions: G.F. Dainty

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.

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Photograph, Optical Munitions

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”

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Photograph, Optical Munitions: Microscope

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.

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

X-Ray Spectrograph, Laby/Hilger

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.

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

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

Magnetron, 3 cm

Part of magnetron case consisting of a hollow baseless copper cylinder (similar to Reg. No. 18). Copper vanes are arranged spoke-like inside body. Three glass tubes radiate out of the body (similar to Reg. no. 20).

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

Photograph, Optical Munitions: G. Crickmore

Black and white photograph showing Gordon Crickmore using compass. Same photo as 136.

Inscriptions & Markings

On front of image in ink: “16” On back of image in pencil: “No 16 Gordon Crickmore” On back of image in ink: “16”

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

BURROUGHS ADDING Printer

Plaque: ‘Burroughs/Detroit/ Mich / USA’

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

Photograph, Optical Munitions (Duplicate)

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”

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

TRINKS - Triplex

A Brunsviga twin-system with keys 10x10x20 and 12x20.

Inscriptions & Markings

Plaque: TRINKS Double System / GRIMME NATALIS & Co / Braunschweig / AND Brunsviga Calculator Co. / London, Brunsviga House / Snow Hill EC1[London] / Manchester, WIlliam Brown Street / Glasgow, 20 West Campbell St.

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville

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

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”

The Ed Muirhead Physics Museum, Parkville