Preface The Start: Department of Natural Philosophy & Astronomy, 1826-1865 LARDNER: 1827-1831 Museum of Natural Philosophy The Lecture Courses RITCHIE: 1832-1837 Resumption of Teaching The Apparatus Ritchie's Researches SYLVESTER: 1837-1841 POTTER: 1841-1843 BROOKE: 1843-1844 POTTER: 1844-1865 Department of Mathematical & Experimental Physics, 1865-67 HIRST:1865-7 CAREY FOSTER: 1865-7 The Courses Department of Physics: 1867 CAREY FOSTER: 1867-98 Developments in Practical Physics Admission of Women Students Academic Assistants Development of Lecture Courses New Accommodation Retirement Old Students Carey Foster Obituary William Grant CALLENDAR: 1898-1902 TROUTON: 1902-1914 BRAGG: 1915-23 PORTER: 1923-28 ANDRADE: 1928-50 Antecedents 1914 war Back in College Quain Professor Acoustics Viscosity of Liquids Physics of Metals Other researches Extra space for research Teaching The War Years, Bangor 1939-44 Back in Gower Street Research Teaching Resignation At the Royal Institution and afterwards Andrade: concluded Outstanding members of Andrade's department Nicholas Eumorfopoulos Dudley Orson Wood Leonard Walden
MASSEY: 1950-75 Antecedents Hoddles Creek, 1908-20 Melbourne,1920-29 Cambridge,1929-33 Queen's University of Belfast, 1933-38 Mathematics Department, U.C.L., 1938-39 The War Years, 1939-45 Mathematics Department, 1945-50 Quain Professor; Department of Physics:1950-72 60th birthday Department of Physics and Astronomy: 1972 Departmental Resources Resources Survey of the Department High Energy Physics Astronomy and Space Research Image Processing General Comments on the Research Work Teaching Effective Staff-Numbers Quain Professor Survey of Research A: Experimental Gas Discharge Studies Optical Techniques Atomic Physics Atomic Physics Group Ionic and Electronic Physics Group High Energy Atomic Collisions Group The Microtron Group Double Magnetic Lens Spectrometer The Emulsion Group Cloud Chambers Nuclear Physics Group The Bubble Chamber Group Search for evidence of C-violation Gargamelle Track-sensitive target Spark Chamber/High Energy Physics Counter Group Space Science Mullard Space Science Laboratory Solar X-ray and Ultra-Violet Astronomy Cosmic X-ray and Ultra-Violet Astronomy Involvement in UV Satellites Geophysics Space Science & Atmospheric Structure Group Ultra-violet and Optical Astronomy Group Satellite UV astronomy Balloon UV astronomy Optical astronomy (IPCS) The Observatory Group Stellar studies Planetary Geology Infra-red Astronomy Group Positron Physics Group Image Processing Group Molecular Beam Group Survey of Research B: Theoretical Atomic Physics & Astrophysics Group High Energy Physics Group General Physics Group CUSC (Computers in the Undergraduate Science Curriculum) Review of other Departmental Affairs Teaching Degree Courses Tutors Teaching Administration Professors' Meetings Academic Staff Meetings Staff-Student Consultative Committee Students' Societies Tea parties Cumberland Lodge Weekend Annual Cricket Match Institute of Education Courses Student Numbers Postgraduate Students Massey: concluding biographical memoirs Space Research (1953-78) Science Policy (1953-83) Royal Society Honours and Distinctions Publications Scientific papers
I entered the Department of Physics at University College London in 1937
and first became interested in its history from a lecture on the topic by
Orson Wood to the Mathematical and Physical Society. I joined the academic
staff of the department in 1945 and later became aware of Wood's typescript,
"About the Physics Department and those who worked therein, 1826 to
1950", i.e., from the time of Lardner to Andrade. On retirement in
1983, I decided to write my own history, extending the period to cover Massey's
tenure of the Quain chair from 1950 to 1975, when the department entered
the field of big science in high-energy physics, space science and astronomy.
Massey welcomed the idea, writing "I look forward to a few sessions
with the tape recorder in the autumn". Unfortunately he became too
ill for me to go to his home before his death on 27 November 1983.
The history is structured around the tenures of the professors during the Departments of Natural Philosophy & Astronomy, 1826-1865, (Lardner, Ritchie, Sylvester, Potter, Brooke, Potter again); Mathematical and Experimental Physics, 1865-67, (Hirst, Mathematical - Carey Foster, Experimental); Physics, 1867-1972, (Carey Foster, Callendar, Trouton, Bragg, Porter, Andrade, Massey) and Physics & Astronomy, 1972-1975, (Massey).
The activities of the professors, their staff and students are described in varying detail. I am particularly indebted to Orson Wood's history, having consulted all the references cited by him. The expansion of the department and its activities, particularly in research, during the Massey period, is evident by its history occupying almost twice as many pages as those devoted to the preceding periods; some of the research etc. covered extends beyond 1975. In the text some references are given explicitly, others in the form, e.g., (B.53), referring to page 53 of Bellot's History of the College. My debt to the authors of some of the numerous sources I have consulted is so great as to amount at times to plagiarism.
The College was formally constituted as the University of London in a Deed of Settlement signed on 11 February 1826. It was established to provide higher education for people denied access to Oxford or Cambridge University, and to afford an opportunity for the study of subjects neglected at the two universities. The first sketch of the courses to be offered appeared in the Prospectus of May 1826. A list of the professorships was published in The New Monthly Magazine in August 1826, and it appeared in The Morning Chronicle in December 1826 as an advertisement for applicants. (B.53). The first appointments to the professoriate were made by the College Council in July 1827. The Council minutes of 6 July 1827 contains the Education Committee's list of the most eligible candidates for their respective professorships, including the Rev. Dr. Lardner for Experimental Physics, and on 12 July 1827, the Rev. Dr. Dionysius Lardner LL.D., F.R.S.L. & E. of Trinity College Dublin, was elected to the Chair of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy. It has been said that Lardner owed his appointment to the influence of Henry Brougham, who assured him that he might expect to earn £1200 a year in fees. (B.39,175). Brougham was a Scot, one of the founders of the Edinburgh Review, who moved to London, becoming a M.P. in 1820 and Lord Chancellor in 1830. A campaigner for reform, especially in education, he became associated with George Birkbeck and the Mechanics' Institutes, and founded the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in 1826. It was largely through his efforts that the dream of a university in London of Thomas Campbell, the Scottish poet, became a reality.
Lardner, the son of a Dublin solicitor, was born on 3 April 1793 and educated for the law, but disliking the work, he entered Trinity College and graduated B.A. in 1817, M.A. in 1819, LL.B. and LL.D. in 1827. He won prizes in logic, metaphysics, ethics, mathematics and physics, and was awarded a gold medal for a course of lectures on the steam engine, delivered before the Royal Society of Dublin and published thereafter. Having taken holy orders, he nevertheless devoted himself to literary and scientific work, making a reputation at Dublin as a contributor to the Edinburgh Review, the Encyclopaedia Edinensis, and the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana for which he wrote the treatise on algebra. Among his works were two books, one being a System of Algebraic Geometry, treating the geometry of plane curves, 1823; the other, An Elementary Treatise on the Differential and Integral Calculus, 1825. (D.N.B.).
Although no date was specified for the commencement of his duties, Lardner began to consider what apparatus would be required for his course and, on 17 July 1827, the Council in response to a letter from him authorised Drs. Birkbeck and Gregory to confer with him concerning the apparatus and his renumeration prior to the opening of the university. On 13 September the Education Committee approved payment of £200 to him for having purchased his first batch of apparatus, and on 11 October Leonard Horner, the Warden, informed the Council of Lardner's request to hire rooms for the reception of the apparatus and the performance of experiments during the ensuing year. The Council authorised Horner on 5 November to conclude the agreement for renting a house in Percy Street for this purpose; it also received and approved the offer of Mr. Francis Watkins, instrument maker, to be the honorary Curator or Inspector of the instruments and apparatus without any obligation to purchase apparatus from him. Moreover on 17 November the Council accepted the report of the Apparatus Committee that Lardner should be paid at the rate of £300 p.a. from 1 August 1827 so long as he should thus be employed.
Lardner's introductory lecture, 'A Discourse on the Advantages of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy as part of a general and professional education', was delivered on 28 October 1828 to a packed audience, and was reported in the next day's edition of The Morning Chronicle as a sensational success. (B.131). In the preface to the published lecture (D.L.U.iii-iv) Lardner refers to a second lecture "devoted to the exhibition of the splendid Apparatus which has been provided for this class, and to the explanation of its uses and advantages in the business of instruction." He then states a "few particulars respecting it."
The apparatus is divided into four classes:
(i) "instruments of philosophical investigation, such as Air-pumps,
Balances, Electrical and Galvanic machines, and apparatus for experiments
in all parts of physical science - equal, if not superior to any collection
in these kingdoms."
(ii)"Working Models of machines, on a scale adapted for exhibition in a large theatre, to a class as numerous as that which may be expected in the University of London."
(iii) "It often happens that an instrument of which the use and application are to be taught, is too delicate for the rough manipulation of the lecture-room, and even though it should be produced, its parts might be too minute to be shown advantageously to a class. This remark applies very generally to instruments of philosophical observation, but more especially to those used in the departments of Astronomy and Geodaesy. In these cases well executed Models in Wood have been prepared, in which all the usual adjustments and minuter parts are exhibited on a larger scale and of less delicate construction."
(iv) Sectional Models. "The construction of these instruments is a subject to which Dr. Lardner has given considerable attention, and he hopes that they are now brought to a state of perfection, which entitles them to be considered the most powerful instruments of instruction which modern times can boast."
The accounts for the year ending 31 December 1827 record that £303:11:0 was spent on apparatus and £82:0:8 as the balance for the rent of the Percy Street house, part of which was lent to the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. In the following three years Lardner spent £1077:9:4, £700:4:5, and £237:2:6 respectively on his museum, making a grand total of £2358:7:3 by the end of 1830. The first University of London apparatus book lists 486 items comprising the museum, the first 406 items being recorded in ink and most of them including the name of the maker, the delivery date and the cost. The first item, the Bramah Press, was delivered on 26 November 1827 and cost £35, and the last item is drawings of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Wood records that "much of this apparatus survived until 1930, or thereabouts, and some was still used in the Intermediate lectures at that time. The rest was stored under the seating of what was then the Large Theatre (below the General Library) and was in part destroyed in a small fire, which burnt also some of the seating in the theatre one Sunday afternoon in or about that year. Much of what remained was lost during the 1939-1945 war - probably stolen, bit by bit, for its metal content; a little is still preserved in the Department." (W.3-4). Some of the surviving pieces continued to be used in the Intermediate and 1st. M.B. courses until they were discontinued in the mid-fifties. At the exhibition to commemorate the sesquicentenary of the college from 9-18 May 1978 there were displayed the Apparatus Book and the following pieces of apparatus:- Magdeburg Hemispheres (1827); Model of Screw, Magnets to rotate about electrified wires, Double Cone and Tracks, Top of an Atwood's Machine (all 1828); a Superior Glass Prism and a Large Double Convex Lens (1829). (Catalogue; U.C.L. Past and Present 1828-1978). This lens was borrowed by Faraday in 1844 when he was carrying out his experiments on light and magnetism; at the time of the exhibition it was still being used in the department to demonstrate lens aberrations. In September 1980 almost all of what was left and other rarely used pieces were donated to the Science Museum for its new Science Teaching Collection on the understanding that they would be made available to the College for special exhibitions and similar functions.
When the College was ready for occupation in 1828 the department was allocated the semi-circular theatre on the first floor of the South Wing, together with two rooms between the theatre and the main building for the apparatus. (B.172). It is worthy of note that at the meeting of the Building Committee on 16 October 1827 Lardner reported that Mr. W. Wilkins, the architect, had informed him that a sum of £500 had been included in the contract price for certain work to be executed in the dome for the reception of astronomical instruments and that he (Lardner) considered the sum could be saved since they would be useless in such a place. On 29 May 1828 following Lardner's suggestion, Mr. Kirby was appointed as his assistant for the care of the apparatus and for attending him during lectures at a salary of £75 per annum.
In the Second Statement issued by the Council in November 1828 explaining the plan of instruction, two regular courses are proposed (i) for the Junior Class every day except Saturday from 3.30 to 4.30 p.m., comprising c.170 hours of instruction at a fee of £7, (ii) for the Senior Class on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon, comprising c.100 hours of instruction at a fee of £6. The syllabuses are given in detail, occupying almost 12 pages; that for the Junior Class on Elements of Mechanics is subdivided into Statics, Dynamics, Hydrostatics-Hydrodynamics (including capillary attraction), and Pneumatics; the headings for the Senior Class are Light, Astronomy, Geodaesy, Heat, Electricity and Magnetism.
However the Report of the Distribution of Prizes and Certificates of Honours for the 1828-9 session records that since no regular class of academical students had presented themselves the lectures were adapted principally to students whose knowledge of elementary mathematics was very limited. Lectures were accordingly delivered three times per week embracing the principal parts of Mechanics, Hydrostatics and Pneumatics. Additional lectures were given twice a week to a few students having some mathematical attainment; these students took an examination and equal prizes were awarded to two of them, namely R. L. Powell of London and Count Calhariz of Lisbon. A very large number of persons of all ages from fifteen to thirty attended several of the courses, as many as one hundred attending one on mechanics. In the 1829-30 session lectures were given to both the Junior and Senior classes and at the close of the session a general examination was held. No prizes were given in the Senior class, but Certificates of Honour were awarded to the two aforesaid gentlemen. In the Junior class the first Certificate and Prize was awarded to Thomas Thomson of Clitheroe and a Certificate was also awarded to Wilton George Turner of London. Lardner also gave three courses of popular lectures during this session on Monday and Thursday evenings from 7.30 to 8.30 p.m.; these were 12 lectures on Astronomy, 18 on Mechanics and Hydrostatics, followed by 18 on Pneumatics, Optics and Heat, detailed syllabuses being given in the 1831 Calendar.
The Midsummer Examination set in 1830 for the Junior Class is reproduced in this Calendar. It consists of 37 questions, some of which are linked e.g., 1-3 on the experimental, geometrical, and analytical proof respectively of the parallelogram of forces; 18-22 on the conditions of equilibrium respectively in a train of wheelwork, a wheel with a double axle, the inclined plane, the different system of pulleys, and the wedge and screw. The last question is "Prove that a solid immersed in a fluid loses the weight of the fluid which it displaces, and imparts so much weight to the fluid." In Lardner's last complete session 1830-31 the First Certificate and Highest Prize was awarded to James Chance of Birmingham, the son of William Chance, one of the founders of the glass-making firm. Seventh Wrangler at Cambridge in 1837, he became a partner in the firm in 1839 and initiated the lighthouse work for which it became renowned; later a knighthood was conferred upon him.
Early in January 1830 Lardner was informed that his salary would cease on 30 October next owing to the College's limited funds and that his renumeration would be restricted to two-thirds of the fees derived from his classes. This prompted a response from him which the Council construed as a letter of resignation; however he disclaimed any wish to quit or to give offence by the terms of his letter. His affairs continued to come before the Council and on 8 May a motion to remove him from office was only lost on a technicality, namely the majority falling short of that specified in a bye-law. There followed in July the imposition of ten conditions on the continuation of his professorship, and a guarantee of £300 for the ensuing session 1 November 1830 to 31 July 1831. Since only 8 students had enrolled for his class by 3 November 1831, the Committee of Management resolved that the course should be divided into two parts, the first consisting of three lectures per week on Astronomy from 30 November to the Christmas recess at a fee of £1. Lardner was absent on 31 November apparently owing to an unexpected summons to Dublin to give evidence in a lawsuit - he had tendered his resignation in a letter dated 30 November owing to the inadequate renumeration afforded by his class!. Needless to say his resignation was accepted by the Council on 3 December; the vacant chair was advertised, applications being required by 31 December. The class was abandoned and the fees were returned to the students who had entered for it.
Bellot writes "He made up in contemporary notoriety what he lacks in more lasting fame. Lardner, his apparatus, his courses, and his salary, caused more pother than almost any other topic in the early history of the college, and he occupies a very disproportionate amount of the early Minutes of the Sessions of the Council. He figured equally prominently in the public eye. He was a very successful popular lecturer, and a man of unbounded energy and great literary activity --- he moved more freely than any other of the professors in the fashionable literary society of his time. --- His public lectures were well attended and highly appreciated. And his apparatus won favour where the more austere learning of some of his colleagues failed. It gave notoriety to his lectures and afforded a diversion to the aristocracy." In 1831 the guarantees of professorial salaries ceased owing to lack of funds and in 1833 the Council was rescued by the professors who guaranteed an income of £3181 for the 1833-4 session. Meanwhile the financial plight of the College is illustrated by the following quotation of Sydney Smith: "I understand that they have already seized on the air-pump, the exhausted receiver, and galvanic batteries; and that the bailiffs have been seen chasing the Professor of Modern History round the quadrangle." (B.131,176-8).
His most memorable literary work is the Cabinet Cyclopaedia which he edited in 133 volumes between 1829 and 1849, securing some of the most eminent writers of the day. Lardner himself contributed the treatises on hydrostatics and pneumatics, arithmetic and geometry, and collaborated with Captain Kater on mechanics, and with C. V. Walker in those on electricity, magnetism, and meteorology. In The Yellowplush Papers Thackeray satirising Lardner writes, inter alia, 'It's the litterary wontherr of the wurrld,' says he; 'sure your lordship have seen it ; the latther numbers ispicially - cheap as durrt, bound in gleezed calico, six shillings a vollum. The illusthrious neems of Walther Scott, Thomas Moore, Docther Southey, Sir James Mackintosh, Docther Donovan and meself, are to be found in the list of contributors. It's the Phaynix of Cyclopajies - a litherary Bacon.' (B.133). Thackeray also satirised him as Dionysius Diddler in the Miscellanies. There is a delightful caricature of him as Dion Lardner in Fraser's Magazine for August 1832, this being reproduced by Harte and North (49;35). Dr. Lardner's Cabinet Library started in 1830 but was discontinued in 1832 after nine volumes had appeared. He also edited the Edinburgh Cabinet Library which ran to thirty-eight volumes, chiefly devoted to history, travels, and biography, between 1830 and 1844.
Lardner is credited with 11 papers in the Royal Society Catalogue, the third and fourth (each short) on lunar theory and on certain properties of vapours being published in the Proceedings in 1831 and 1832 respectively. The last three were communicated to the Royal Astronomical Society in 1852; they were entitled 'On the Uranography of Saturn', 'On the Classification of Comets, and the Distribution of their Orbits in Space', and 'On Certain Results of Laplace's Formulae'.
He was first married in 1815 to Ceclia Flood and they had three children before separation by mutual consent in 1820. He had an affair with Mary, the wife of Captain R. Heaviside, a cavalry officer, and eloped with her in 1840. Heaviside was awarded £8000 in an action for seduction and his marriage was dissolved in 1845 by an act of parliament. Meanwhile Lardner went to the United States and Cuba on a lecturing tour earning, it is said, £40,000. Returning to Europe in 1845 he settled in Paris and his own marriage being dissolved in 1849, he married Mary Heaviside, by whom he had two daughters.
Lardner visited London in 1851 and reviewed the Great Exhibition for The Times. He was reputed to be the Paris correspondent of The Daily News. During his residence in Paris he wrote extensively on natural philosophy and astronomy. The Museum of Science and Art, a collection of works on various branches of science, especially in relation to common life, was launched in 12 volumes in 1856. He died in Naples in 1859. There is an extensive biography, including a comprehensive bibliography, in the Dictionary of National Biography.
The Rev. William Ritchie Ll.D., F.R.S., who had applied for the Chair of Mathematics in 1827, succeeded Lardner on 7 January 1832. Born in c.1790, he was educated for the Church of Scotland and licensed to preach, but abandoning the church for the teaching profession, he became Rector of the Royal Academy at Tain on Dornoch Firth in Ross and Cromarty. By extreme thriftiness he saved enough money from his small annual stipend to attend a course of lectures by Thénard, Gay-Lussac and Biot in Paris, and to provide a substitute for the performance of his duties at the academy during his absence. His skill and originality in devising and performing experiments with the simplest materials soon attracted the attention of distinguished philosophers including Sir John Herschel, who communicated to the Royal Society his papers 'On a new Photometer', 'On a new form of the Differential Thermometer', and 'On the Permeability of transparent screens to Radiant Heat'. While still Rector of the Royal Academy he gave a course of probationary lectures at the Royal Institution in the Spring of 1829 and he was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy there in 1831 at an annual salary of £50. (Phil. Mag. xii, 275-6).
Ritchie formed a new class of 12 students and according to the relevant Report of the Distribution of Prizes he "continued to lecture with a zeal and perseverance for which the University has reason to be highly grateful to him. Dr. Ritchie bears a strong testimony to the good conduct and diligence and improvement of his class." History was made in this session in May 1832 when two ladies, Mrs. J. P. Potter and Miss Rogers, attended his juvenile course of 6 lectures on electricity. This historical development followed the Council's resolution on 7 April 1832 that ladies be admitted on payment of the fee (£1) and with the nomination of a proprietor. Mrs. Potter's husband, a clergyman, also attended the course; both he and their young son, who became a distinguished surgeon at the hospital, were registered for the course in natural philosophy. (B.367).
In the following 1832-3 Session the number of students in his regular classes rose to 38; there were two distinct courses throughout the session (i) Physical and Experimental in which the phenomena of nature were explained and illustrated by experiments in a manner intelligible to any attentive observer, (ii) Experimental and Mathematical in which the same phenomena were exhibited but their laws and the underlying theories were demonstrated by the strict processes of mathematical reasoning. Ritchie also gave two short courses of a more elementary and popular character, which were attended by several ladies; c.100 boys in the higher classes of the Junior School attended the second short course.
For the 1833-4 Session (i) was advertised as being peculiarly adapted to students of medicine and young men whose professions do not require an extensive acquaintance with mathematics. Three divisions were listed (a) General Properties of Matter; Statics; Mechanics; Dynamics; Astronomy: (b) Hydrostatics; Hydraulics; Pneumatics; Sound; Heat; Steam; Steam Engine; (c) Common and Voltaic Electricity; Magnetism; Electro-Magnetism and Magneto-Electricity; Relations of Heat and Light; Optics. The fee for the course of three lectures per week was £7; however any division could be attended separately, the fee for each division being £2:10s. The Experimental and Mathematical course embraced the same subjects, the fee for the whole course of three lectures per week being £7. In each of the courses viva voce examinations and written exercises were prescribed.
Ritchie also delivered a course of lectures on Civil Engineering embracing the Application of Statics to the Equilibrium of Arches and Domes; the Pressure of Fluids; Naval Architecture etc.; it was illustrated by Drawings and Models of Bridges, Domes, Locks, Steam Engines etc. Commencing in February, it continued for three months at a fee of £3:10s. There was no Department of Engineering at this time despite the fact that it had been intended to establish one at the outset and J. Millington, then Professor at the Royal Institution, was indeed appointed to the Chair. Incidentally he had applied for the Chair of Natural Philosophy almost four months before Lardner. However he resigned from his chair before the university opened owing to the failure of the Council to guarantee a salary of at least £400 per annum. The chair being unfilled, only occasional lectures in engineering were advertised. The proposal to fill the chair was revived in 1833 but Ritchie objected on the grounds of an invasion of his province and consequently a menace to his salary. Hence special courses on Civil Engineering were given by Ritchie and his successors, supplemented by courses from the Professors of Mathematics and of Chemistry, and the chair was not filled until 1841. (B.135-6). Ritchie's course on Civil Engineering in the 1835-6 Session was reported at the Distribution of Prizes and Certificates of Honours "to have been well attended by gentlemen who on account of the practical tendency of their pursuits might not otherwise have come to the University."
In the Midsummer Examinations of 1836 Ritchie set two papers for each
of his regular classes. Question 6 of the forenoon paper for the Experimental
and Physical Course reads "State a few of the more striking analogies
between light and sound, and give your reasons for adopting the undulatory
theory of light". Wood commenting on this question, recalls Ritchie's
attendance at the lectures of Biot, a fervent supporter of the corpuscular
theory of light. (W.9). Question 8 of the corresponding paper for the Experimental
and Mathematical Course reads "If a body revolve round another as its
centre of attraction, it is required to demonstrate that the radius vector
will describe areas proportional to the times". It is interesting to
note that his second paper for the Experimental Class in February 1837 contains
10 "Describe the processes of reasoning called Inductive, Deductive, and Analogical, and give examples" and
13 "Demonstrate the existence of a First Cause, or of one altogether different from any of the powers of matter with which you are acquainted."
His last papers set in the Summer of 1837 for this class contained 19 questions; in the first paper there occurred "Describe the nature of spherical and chromatic aberrations, and explain the method of correcting both in the construction of an achromatic object-glass" and "Describe the Torsion galvanometer, and explain its mode of action and uses", and in the second, "Describe the properties of steam on which the condensing steam-engine is founded; describe the various parts of that engine with reference to a diagram, and state the improvements of Watt and others", "Determine the specific gravity of this piece of flint-glass by the hydrostatic balance, and also by the hydrometer" and "Determine the specific gravity of this liquid by means of the same instruments". It is interesting to speculate whether the last two questions involved the performance of simple experiments by the students.
In August 1831 the Committee of Management had considered whether the services of Kirby as Curator of the Apparatus were necessary, but after examining him in person, it was decided that they were required, and in July 1832 Messrs. Watkins and Hill were informed that their use of the title of Curators of the Apparatus was not recognised by the university. Ritchie attended the meeting of the Committee on 7 November 1832 praying for an allowance of £30 for the construction of apparatus under his inspection in view of deficiencies for illustrations in Light, Sound, and Heat; he was given leave to draw £10 before Christmas. On Ritchie's recommendation Francis Kerby (the alternative spelling of the surname in the minutes), son of the late assistant, was appointed Assistant to the Professor and Curator of the Apparatus on 25 November 1835. He was required to keep the apparatus in repair, to make any new piece of apparatus needed for experimental research or illustration, and to attend the lectures when required; moreover he was expected to superintend the working of the stills in the Medical Department when required, all for the same salary of £75 p.a. paid to his father from 1828. Apparently one of the rooms allocated to the department for the storage of apparatus was relinquished to the School (see p.12) owing to a fire destroying the School's accommodation in the Great Hall and the rooms below it in October 1836. (B.p.174). It appears from the accounts that Ritchie was only required to spend £53:15:8 on apparatus during his tenure of the chair, which ended on 15 September 1837 when he died of a fever caught on holiday in Scotland.
In the Royal Society Catalogue Ritchie is credited with 44 papers, the first 23 being published between 1820 and 1831. These include the work for which he is best known, namely the wedge photometer, the differential air thermometer, the torsional properties of glass fibres, and his torsion galvanometer. While at College he published two text-books, one on Geometry (1833; 3rd.edition 1853), the other on Differential and Integral Calculus (1836; 2nd.edition 1847). His experimental researches on the electric and chemical theories of galvanism, on electromagnetism and voltaic electricity were more remarkable for the ingenuity shown in the contrivance and execution of the experiments than for their theoretical insight. Wood in his review of Ritchie's work concludes with the last paper printed in abstract (Proc. Roy. Soc. 1837, 483) "Ritchie started by stating that his experiments had shown that Ohm's law for the conducting powers of wires is true only for feeble currents and that for the same metal the conducting power does not vary as the length. Then he states that he had found that the heat developed in the same conductor is proportional to the square of the current and that, in wires of the same diameter conducting equal quantities of electricity, the heat is inversely as the conducting power or directly as the resistance. Had he lived he might perhaps have corrected the errors in the first part of the paper and given a clear statement of Joule's law". (W.10-12).
Ritchie carried out an extensive series of experiments on the manufacture of glass for optical purposes and a Commission was appointed by the Government with a view to their further prosecution financed by public funds. A telescope of 8 inches aperture was made by Dolland from Ritchie's glass on the Commission's recommendation but its performance did not warrant further expenditure on the project. His Royal Society obituary concludes "--- though the traces of an imperfect and irregular education are but too manifest in most of his theoretical researches, yet he must always be regarded as an experimenter of great ingenuity and merit, and as a remarkable example of the acquisition of a very extensive knowledge of philosophy under difficulties and privations which would have arrested the progress of any person of less ardour and determination of character." (Phil. Mag. 276).
On 22 November 1837 the Council resolved unanimously that Mr. James Joseph Sylvester be appointed as Ritchie's successor. He had been expelled from the college at the age of fourteen for taking a table-knife from the refectory with the intention of stabbing a fellow student who had incurred his displeasure. (B.186). Second Wrangler in the Mathematical Tripos in 1837, he came to the College at the age of 23 owing to his academic career at Cambridge being blocked by his Jewish faith. In the Notes and Materials for the History of U.C.L., edited by W.P.Ker, there is written in the section on Applied Mathematics and Mechanics "In Professor Sylvester's hands Natural Philosophy, it is perhaps needless to say, was Applied Mathematics in the Cambridge sense, and his occupation of the chair is sufficient evidence, were any needed, that the chair of Applied Mathematics is not a creation of the year 1864, but a co-heir with the chair of Physics in the patrimony of the old chair of Natural Philosophy." (K.59). Although this applied to his Systematic Course, it should be noted that in his Experimental and Descriptive Course "he hoped to include at least the principal parts of the following subjects in the course of one Session: Dynamics, Statics, the principles of Machinery, Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, Hydraulics, Optics, Astronomy, Light, Heat, Theory of the Steam Engine, Sound, Electricity, and Magnetism"; he also continued to give the lectures on Civil Engineering. He expected to resort to experimental and other means of illustration, so far as was possible, both in the Systematic and Popular Courses.
In 1839 the Schoolmasters' Classes were introduced in order to enable masters of unendowed schools and ushers to attend evening courses in Greek, Mathematics, Latin, and Natural Philosophy; 33 entered for the four classes, 3 for mathematics alone, one being Todhunter. Sylvester's course of 10 lectures started in the week after Easter. (B.169). According to Bellot "He was an inspiring but baffling teacher. Consumed by whatever engaged his understanding at the moment, he could pay attention to nothing else, and the combination with this abandonment of a peculiarly acute mind, which could never pass over a difficulty or accept anything until it had made it its own, rendered him quite incapable of the methodical pursuit of a predetermined course." (B.134).
During his occupancy of the chair the amount spent on Apparatus rose from £2413:17:4 to £24558:14:2. In February 1840 a Mr. Minasis, who had apparently succeeded Francis Kerby, resigned as Curator of the Apparatus and was paid a bonus of £20 mainly for his extra work during the previous session. On Sylvester's recommendation Mr. Watts, a student in the Schoolmasters' Class, was engaged in March as Assistant Keeper of the Apparatus for one month on trial at £5, this being a temporary measure. Mr. John Day, a journeyman telescope maker, replaced Mr. Watts in April on trial for one month at the rate of £60 per annum, and in July 1841 it was decided to pay him weekly, an extra half a crown per week being added in consequence of his good conduct.
In May 1841 Sylvester announced his candidature for the Professorship of Pure Mathematics in the University of Virginia and in August he resigned his chair at College to take up that appointment. In accepting his resignation the Management Committee instructed the Secretary to write to Sylvester expressing regret at the loss of his services and their wishes for his prosperity. Incidentally he only stayed at the university six months since his views on slavery were incompatible with those of his colleagues. While at College the first of his 112 publications listed in the Royal Society Catalogue appeared in the Philosophical Magazine (xi,1837; xii,1838), namely, 'Analytical developments of Fresnel's optical theory of crystals', and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1839 at the early age of 25. The Society awarded him the Royal medal in 1861 and the Copley medal in 1880. In the Dictionary of National Biography he is recorded inter alia " --- as one of the foremost mathematicians of his day. --- In brilliancy of conception, in fluency and richness of expression, Sylvester has had few equals among mathematicians. But his strength was not accompanied by restfulness or caution. He worked impulsively and unmethodically. As soon as a new idea entered his brain, he at once abandoned himself to it, even if it came upon him while lecturing or writing on another theme. Consequences and collateral ideas crowded upon him, and all else was thrust aside. He was wont to write with eager haste in a style as stimulating as it was excited, in flowery language enriched by poetical imagination, and by illustration boldly drawn from themes alien to pure science. In oral exposition he riveted attention. He was great as a maker of mathematicians no less than of mathematics. He imparted ideas and made them fascinating, thus leading others on to employ more prosaic powers in pursuing lines of investigation to which he introduced them. In youth he was one of the foremost in leading the revival of mathematical activity in England. Later in life when in Baltimore, where he founded the American Journal of Mathematics, he brought into being a school of mathematicians which has become an object of universal admiration. Later still he exercised a like stimulating influence as professor at Oxford. --- Sylvester's writings, when collected in a succession of quarto volumes, will, it is estimated, cover some 2500 pages. They are scattered through journals and volumes of transactions covering sixty years. Among these are the Philosophical Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society --- and the Messenger of Mathematics, in which last appears his latest paper, dated 12 February 1897, and annotated less than three days before his death." A photograph of Sylvester is reproduced by Harte and North (100;67).
Potter was born in Manchester in 1799 and educated at Manchester Grammar School from 1811 to 1815. On leaving school he worked in a Manchester wharehouse without success, his leisure time being devoted to scientific pursuits, especially the study of optics and chemistry, in which he was encouraged by Dalton (the founder of modern atomic theory), who at one time was his tutor. In 1830 he wrote an article on metallic mirrors in Brewster's Science Journal. At the British Association meetings in 1831, 1832 and 1833, he read three, two and three papers respectively, and the attention given to these papers induced him to prepare for university entrance. He studied classics under a private tutor and obtained a scholarship to Queen's College, Cambridge, graduating B.A. in 1838 as sixth Wrangler. In January 1839 he was elected a Foundation Fellow of his College, succeeding to the medical scholarship and obtaining the L.R.C.P. qualification, but never practising medicine, and in 1841 he proceeded to the M.A. degree. At the time of his election to the College chair he had published 34 of the 47 papers cited in the Royal Society Catalogue. (D.N.B.).
In April 1842 Potter was granted a sum not exceeding £25 to purchase instruments to illustrate his lectures on optics. Apparently lectures were delivered to an experimental class and to both a junior and a senior mathematical class. He set two examination papers to each of the classes in the Summer of 1842. The papers for the experimental class were headed (i) Hydrostatics, Hydrodynamics, Heat, Pneumatics, and (ii) Optics Geometrical and Physical - Electricity - Astronomy, there being sixteen questions on each paper. Those for the junior mathematical class were headed (i) Hydrostatics, Hydrodynamics and (ii) Optics, Astronomy, there being fourteen and sixteen questions respectively on the papers; the headings for the senior class only differed by the inclusion of Dynamics in the first paper, which contained fifteen questions as distinct from fourteen on the second paper. Potter, in a letter dated 1 November 1842, announced his intention to end his lectures next Easter, having accepted the Chair of Mathematics at King's College, Toronto. Professor P. Kelland F.R.S., Professor of Mathematics in the University of Edinburgh, wrote to Potter on 5 November 1842 offering to finish Potter's course after his departure in April. The Council noted Kelland's letter on 14 January 1843 and accepted his offer on 4 February 1843, Kelland being informed that in the event of his candidature for the vacant chair his appointment to complete Potter's course would neither count for nor against him! Kelland received £84:16:3 for his services.
The vacancy was advertised, four applications being received. On 10 June the Council resolved that it was not expedient to endow the chair, and on 17 June 1843 after a ballot on the respective merits of a Mr. Cook and Mr. Charles Brooke B.A., formerly of St. John's College Cambridge, it was resolved that the latter be appointed, the Council again reserving the right to institute the special appointment in practical mechanics. Brooke accepted the chair on 21 June and by mid-July had presented the Council with a list of new apparatus required and repairs to some existing pieces; he received permission to spend up to £30, this sum being increased by £15 in September for an alteration to the Bramah press. (Incidentally on 27 March 1844 the Management Committee gave permission to Mr. Marshall, then Sub-Curator of the Museum, to use two pieces of apparatus in an external lecture that evening, and on 29 May gave Brooke permission to lend Faraday the large mirror and lens - the lens referred to on p.2).
Brooke soon ran into trouble with the students of the senior mathematical class and they wrote on 13 November "announcing their intention to withdraw from the lecture room finding it impossible to make any progress under the tuition of the Professor in consequence of his neglect of the higher parts of Analysis during a period of 14 or 15 years in favour of other professional pursuits and enquiring what compensation for the fees the Council would allow them." However the students of the experimental class signed a paper signifying their approval of the professor's lectures. These and other pertinent letters and papers came before the Senate at its meeting on 22 November in which De Morgan (Professor of Mathematics) and Key (Headmaster of the School and Professor of Comparative Grammar) featured prominently, the outcome being the unanimous adoption of a resolution that Brooke should be requested to resign his chair forthwith. The Council considered the matter at its meeting on 25 November and also a letter of that date from Brooke tendering his resignation, but expressing his wish to continue the experimental course until the end of the session and his willingness to instruct the junior mathematical class as long as it suited the college. It was resolved unanimously that Brooke's resignation be accepted; that he be requested to continue the lectures to the experimental class until a successor be appointed; and that De Morgan be requested to instruct the mathematical class to the end of the session. On 2 December the Council read two letters of that date (i) from Brooke forwarding a paper signed by 27 students of the experimental class expressing their desire that he should continue their course; (ii) from Mr. J. Chapman of that class asking to be allowed to withdraw from the class and attend a similar course next session without payment of an extra fee - a request not granted! The Council resolved at its meeting on 13 January 1844 to advertise the vacant chair, and approved De Morgan's offer to give the course of lectures on natural philosophy to the schoolmasters' class as well as his own on mathematics.
Charles Brooke was born on 30 June 1804, the son of the well-known mineralogist, Henry James Brooke. He went to St. John's College Cambridge from Rugby School, becoming twenty-third Wrangler in 1827, B.M. in 1828, and M.A. in 1853. His medical training was completed at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, passing the College of Surgeons on 3 September 1834 and becoming a Fellow of that College on 26 August 1844. He was a surgeon at the Metropolitan Free Hospital and the Westminster Hospital, resigning the latter appointment in 1869. His invention of the "bead suture" was a great advance in the scientific treatment of deep wounds. On 4 March 1847 he was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society. He became President of both the Meteorological and the Royal Microscopical Societies, and invented those self-recording instruments which were adopted at the Royal Observatories of Greenwich, Paris and other meteorological stations; his invention gained the premium offered by the government and a Council medal from the jurors of the Great Exhibition. An account of this work was published in the British Association Reports from 1846 to 1849, and in the Philosophical Transactions of 1847, 1850, and 1852. His study of the theory of the microscope led to his improvement of the methods of facilitating the adjustment of the lenses and the illumination of the specimens; they were applied to the investigation of some of the best known test-objects of the microscope. He wrote twelve papers on physical topics, including those on the aforesaid instruments. He edited a revised and greatly enlarged fourth edition of Dr. Golding Bird's 'Elements of Natural Philosophy' after Bird's death in 1854, followed by a fifth edition in 1860, and in 1867 he entirely rewrote the work for the sixth edition. He died at Weymouth on 17 May 1879.(D.N.B.).
On 24 February 1844 the Council being informed that Potter would be a candidate if the chair were moderately endowed, resolved that he be informed of their willingness to appoint him on the basis of a fixed allowance of £150 per annum in addition to his share of the fees and the whole income arising from the Schoolmasters' class provided he accepted before 1 June and gave an assurance that he would occupy the chair for at least three years. Potter's reply contained terms unacceptable to the Council so the chair was offered to Kelland on the original terms. Kelland sought time to reply, expressing his belief that Potter was willing to accept the original proposals; this proved to be the case and on 1 June Potter was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, the last holder of that title. Thus was reversed the Council's decision of 10 June 1843 not to endow the chair. When the Senate was informed of Potter's reappointment with an endowment, it passed a resolution thanking the Council for the "prompt measures taken to secure the services of such a well-qualified gentleman; moreover it fully saw the necessity of departing from the rules owing to the shortage of time."
No Calendar was issued after 1831 until 1853 when Potter is recorded as giving three lectures per week on each of his three courses. The subjects treated in the experimental and descriptive course are amplified in the Supplemental Prospectus of the Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture as follows:-I Mechanical Sciences. Statics: on the nature of statical forces and the modes of measuring them; the composition and resolution of forces; on their tendency to produce rotatory motion; on the finding of the centre of gravity of bodies, and its properties; the principle of virtual velocities; on the elementary machines; on the effects of friction in statical problems. These lectures are illustrated by many experiments. Dynamics: the measure of forces when they produce motion - on bodies impinging; on bodies moving by the action of accelerating and retarding forces; on the lunar and planetary motions, and tides; on the constrained motion of bodies; on the dynamical principles; on the moment of inertia in rotating bodies; on oscillation; on percussion; on motion in a resisting medium, etc. - with many experimental proofs and illustrations. Hydrostatics: the properties of fluids; their transmission of pressure; their pressure on surfaces; on floating bodies; on elastic fluids; on heat; on the hydrostatical instruments - thermometer, barometer, Bramah's press, air-pump, steam-engine, etc. - the experimental proofs are very numerous. Hydrodynamics: the form of jets of fluids; the construction of water-wheels; the properties of diverging and converging streams of air, etc. II Acoustics. III Optics, including the properties of ordinary and polarized light; optical instruments. IV Electricity, comprising electrostatics, electromagnetism, thermoelectricity, etc. V Astronomy: astronomical instruments; methods of observing; phenomena of the universe.
The junior mathematical course comprised Elementary Statics, comprehending the mechanical powers and their combinations; Dynamics, as far as variable forces; Newton's Principia, sections 1 to 3; Elementary Hydrostatics and Hydrodynamics, with the theory and use of hydrostatical instruments; the elementary parts of Optics, and the theory of optical instruments as far as the mathematical attainments of the students will permit; Elementary Astronomy. In the senior course the subjects were Analytical Statics; Dynamics, commencing with variable forces; the higher branches of Hydrostatics and Hydrodynamics; Optics; and Plane Astronomy. Examination questions were proposed to the students at the latter part of each lecture and the answers were expected to be written in the lecture-room. This was to enable Potter to direct the studies of the classes more effectively.
In January 1845 Potter set examination papers on Mechanics for each of his three classes: these were followed in June by two papers for each class, those for the experimental class on Geometrical and Physical Optics, and Astronomy, and on Hydrostatics, Acoustics and Electricity; those for the junior mathematical class on Optics and Astronomy, and on Newton and Hydrostatics; those for the senior class on Optics and Astronomy, and on Dynamics and Hydrostatics; there were sixteen questions on each paper for the experimental class and fourteen on each paper for the mathematical classes. This remained the pattern throughout except for the interchange of Astronomy and Hydrostatics on the junior mathematical papers and usually sixteen questions on each paper, all being set in June. The second paper set for the experimental class in June 1846, contrary to its title, contained three questions on heat, the middle one being "What is meant by the specific heat of a body? Show how to find the specific heats of metals, noticing the precautions to be taken in order to obtain correct results."
During his occupancy of the chair the value of the apparatus in the department increased by £359:2:3, an average of c.£12:7s per year with a maximum of £38:4:2 in the 1847-8 session. In the autumn of 1847 an iron railing was erected around the upper platform of the lecture theatre to protect the models of inventions, which had been presented to the College by the Society of Arts. (K.67). It was reported at the Management Committee's meeting on 31 July 1856 that Potter's assistant, Mr. John Botten, had been given notice of discharge at the end of the week on Potter's request and, on his recommendation, William Waddell, Driver and Gunner of Artillery, had been engaged at one guinea per week - a saving of 5s:6d a week! On 6 January 1859 the Committee sanctioned the purchase of a more powerful electromagnet at a cost of c.£20, to be kept for the more delicate and difficult experiments, since the large one purchased in 1844 had greatly deteriorated by usage and was never large enough to show the effect of magnetism on flames and in similar experiments; this purchase was approved on "the understanding that the instrument like all other articles in the Collection of Apparatus of Natural Philosophy when not in use by the Professor of that subject may be used by teachers for the instruction of classes in other departments of the College and Junior School on application to the office with an undertaking for its return in due course and uninjured." At its meeting on 17 June 1865 the Council approved a recommendation of the Committee on Finances that the assistant to the professor should no longer be paid by the College, but that one of the beadles should be placed at his service for a few hours each week, and on 11 July the Management Committee recommended that notice be given to the assistant that his services will no longer be required.
Porter writes "Potter was a keen experimentalist, as is shown by his 59 papers, chiefly in connection with Optics. He was essentially, however, a man of the previous generation and was unable to assimilate the developments which had taken place since the latter part of the eighteenth century. In connection with theories both of light and heat he belonged to the old school. The undulatory theory, which had been revised by Young and developed by Fresnel, seemed to him to be in conflict with many of his own experiments and he recurred to the corpuscular theory, with the principle of periodicity as an essential property of light. He considered the luminiferous corpuscles as flying off in surfaces, sheets or shells from luminous points, with intervals which are constant for the same colour of the solar spectrum, but which vary from colour to colour. Again, the general principle of conservation of energy was not acceptable to him. The heat produced in boring cannon (as in Count Rumford's experiments in 1798) was attributed by him to the sudden compression of the air between the tool and casting. Also, Joule's investigations on the mechanical equivalent of heat (1841-47) were considered by him to be faulty because they were performed in air." (P.4). Bellot records that "In the early 'fifties Jevons found him very dull but still a good experimentalist. By the 'sixties his incompetence had become notorious. Recalling him in 1921, Dr. Bourne Benson said: "The professor was the dearest of old gentlemen with long, silky, silver grey hair, a winning smile, and a very gentle deprecatory manner. . . But as a teacher in my day, he had one fatal defect. He was worn out, he had lost his memory and not a few of his wits. In his experimental class he was mercilessly ragged. I have seen him snowballed in his lecture-room, I have seen him sprayed. His only retort was a deprecatory gesture which meant 'How could you?'; and all he said was 'Gentlemen, gentlemen.' The apparatus was as worn out as the professor. It never did what it was expected to do. Magnetic force, for example, would be demonstrated experimentally by holding a needle to what might once have been a magnet, but had ceased to attract, whilst the professor said, 'You see it wants a little helping, gentlemen.' In his mathematical class the professor was dependent upon his book. Sometimes, ashamed of copying, he would attempt a few lines on his own, and get hopelessly involved. In despair he would return to his book and copy the conclusion at the bottom. Some unkind student would point out a non sequestur in the middle. The dear old man, with a puzzled look, would glance from the blackboard to his book and from his book to the blackboard, and then turn to his class with an air of triumph and say 'But, gentlemen, you see the conclusion is correct. It is a case of compensation of errors.' " (B.263).
The state of affairs was such that the Senate on 22 June recommended an enquiry into the condition of Potter's classes, expressing no opinion, but affirming the existence of rumours which clearly needed investigation. On 24 June the Council appointed a committee of enquiry and, on receiving its unanimous report on 1 July, resolved inter alia that an offer be made to Potter of an annuity of £150 on his retiring forthwith from the Chair of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy. This he did in a letter of 4 July, and went to live in Cambridge, surviving for the next twenty-one years on his £150 per annum, which had to be bourne by the College's current account when the receipts were barely sufficient to meet the expenses. Only in 1868 were the first steps taken to establish a Retired Professors' Fund on the basis of a donation of £1000 from Samuel Sharpe, a generous benefactor of the College. (B.356).
In his prime Potter was a competent mathematician and a good expositor on paper. He published fifty-nine or more contributions to journals and transactions of scientific societies, and he wrote the following books:- 'Elementary Treatise on Mechanics', 1846; 'Elementary Treatise on Geometrical Optics', two parts, 1847 & 1851; 'Physical Optics, Nature and Properties of Light', two parts, 1856 & 1859; and a 'Treatise on Hydrostatics and Hydrodynamics', two parts, 1859 & 1887. Porter (loc. cit.) rates the treatise on geometrical optics (founded on Coddington's Optics) as a noteworthy contribution to the subject. For him pictured in gown, notes in right hand, books under left hand, see Harte and North (107;72).
Wood cites among his old students Frederick Guthrie who took his B.A. in 1852 and was presumably the Guthrie who played so large a part in the formation of the Physical Society in 1874; W.E.A. Ayrton (1864-66) who gained prizes both in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy and became Professor of Electrical Engineering in the City and Guilds College; and E.H.Fournier d'Albe (1864-5). (W. 16).
With the retirement of Potter, the vacancy was advertised in terms of the appointment of either one or two professors, and resulted in three applications for a Chair of Mathematical and Experimental Physics; two for Mathematical Physics alone or combined with Experimental Physics; three for Mathematical Physics ; and one for Experimental Physics. After consideration of the qualifications of all the candidates, it was decided to replace the Chair of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy by separate Chairs in Mathematical and Experimental Physics. T. Archer Hirst Ph.D., F.R.S., a one-time master at the school, was appointed to the former and G. Carey Foster B.A., an old student and erstwhile assistant of Professor Williamson in the Department of Chemistry, was appointed to the latter by the Council at its meeting on 1 August 1865.
In his first session Hirst lectured three times per week to both Junior and Senior Classes. The subjects treated in the former class were:- Elementary Statics and Dynamics; elements of Plane Astronomy; Newton's Principia, sections 1 to 3; Elementary Hydrostatics and Hydrodynamics; fundamental laws of Sound, Light, Heat, Magnetism and Electricity and the theory of the principal instruments employed in these sciences. The senior class covered the higher branches of Statics; Kinematics; Dynamics of particles and rigid bodies; elements of the calculus of attraction and its applications in Astronomy, Magnetism and Electricity; theory of Wave Motion and its applications to the phenomena of Sound, Light and Heat.
In the 1866-7 Session his courses were divided into three parts terminating at or about Christmas, Easter, and Midsummer. The fee for each part of a course was £2 12s 6d; for a whole course, £7 7s; Perpetual, £10 10s. The Junior Class met on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 9 to 10 am, the Senior Class following from 4 to 5 pm on the same days. The subjects treated were:-
I Elementary Statics, Hydrostatics, and Kinematics.
II Elementary Dynamics and Optics.
III The Elements of Plane Astronomy, and of the Theories of
Sound, Light, and Heat.
I Higher branches of Statics and Kinematics.
II Dynamics of particles and of rigid bodies.
III Hydrostatics and Hydrodynamics.
An extra class on the Mathematical Treatment of the Theories of Sound, Light, Heat, and Electricity was available if required.
In 1867 Hirst succeeded De Morgan in the Chair of Pure Mathematics and, under the title of Professor of Pure and Applied Mathematics, continued with the teaching of the higher branches of mathematical physics. This arrangement only lasted one session, since he soon found the combined work too onerous. T. B. Moore was appointed Professor of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics, being assigned the duty of providing the courses in Mechanics, Hydrostatics, and Astronomy required by candidates for the B.Sc. and B.A. degrees of the University of London, and also that of giving the instruction in Applied Mechanics for students of Engineering, while Hirst devoted himself to Pure Mathematics. However he soon found the work of his professorship so demanding as to leave no time for research and even beyond his physical capacity. He resigned in 1870 to become Assistant Register of the University, and from 1873 to 1883 he was Director of Naval Studies at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. (B.321-2).
Carey Foster started work immediately and on 8 August 1865 the Management Committee agreed that he should either have the services of a Beadle for three days per week or £26 per annum towards the salary of an assistant; moreover he wrote on 30 August requesting the expenditure of £63 on apparatus required at once. In his first session he lectured on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 4 to 5 p.m. There were two divisions in his course, the first ending near Christmas included the physical subjects required for the Matriculation Examination of the University of London, namely, Dynamics or the study of Mechanical Forces; Descriptive Optics; Acoustics: the second included Theoretical Optics; Heat; Magnetism; Electricity.
The teaching of experimental physics obviously required a laboratory so on 19 June 1866 his proposal for the establishment of a physical laboratory and courses of practical instruction in physics came before the Management Committee, which resolved that he be invited to attend its next meeting to submit full details and explanations. This he did on 3 July 1866 and, after inspecting the theatre and room occupied by the professor, the Committee resolved that "the Council be recommended to allow the plan suggested by Professor Foster to be tried; that space be provided for the Physical Laboratory by such alteration in the arrangement of the apparatus room and the theatre of Natural Philosophy as Professor Foster may think desirable; that £1 per week be allowed for payment of Professor Foster's assistant and that all the additional annual expenses of the Physical Laboratory are to be made a first charge on the fees paid by the students attending it; that the necessary tools and other apparatus to be used in the laboratory be provided at the expense of the College, the sum to be expended not to exceed £30." At its meeting on 7 July the Council adopted the recommendation subject to Professor Foster's careful examination of the "stability of the room where the experiments are to be performed." On 31 July Carey Foster was given leave to engage William Grant as his assistant from 30 August next.
In his account of the Physics Department (K.64-70) Carey Foster describes how the upper platform above the seats in the lecture theatre was cleared of most of the miscellaneous collection of models of inventions, which had been presented to the College by the Society of Arts, and were mostly in a very decrepit condition, thereby making room for most of the apparatus-cases from the apparatus-room, which thus became free for experimental work. He states that "This room was accordingly opened at the beginning of the session 1867-68 as a 'Physical Laboratory' and it is believed that this was the earliest attempt in England to provide practical instruction for students of Physics, though Professor W. Thomson (Lord Kelvin) had established a Physical Laboratory in the University of Glasgow, a good many years before." Why he gave the wrong sessional date is a mystery, since the 1866-67 Calendar and Fee Book clearly establish that the laboratory course started in 1866 and not in 1867. Early in the latter year the laboratory was extended by the reacquisition of the other room adjacent to the theatre, originally allocated to Natural Philosophy but then occupied by the School; then two more rooms were added on the floor above, one being used by Grant as a workshop for making and repairing apparatus; and the Still Room in the basement underneath the Council Room and looking out on to the school playground was also acquired. This room, later known as the "dungeon", was the only room with a really substantial floor and was reserved for the professor and students engaged in research. Finally two rooms on the top floor of the South Wing, which were not needed for the purposes of the School, were made into one and assigned to the department.
The Calendar for the 1866-7 Session announced Carey Foster's courses as follows:-
A - THEORETICAL COURSESI General Course
The subjects of the Course will be treated in the following order:-
I Mechanics: including the Laws of Equilibrium and Motion of Solid Bodies, Hydrostatics, and Hydrodynamics, Pneumatics.
II Acoustics. Production, Propagation, and General Properties of Sound.
III Optics. General Properties of Light - Laws of Reflexion, and Simple Refraction, with the principal phenomena depending upon them.
N.B. A knowledge of the elements of the above subjects is required for the Matriculation Examination of the University of London.
IV Theoretical Optics. Illustrations of the Undulatory Theory of Light, by the phenomena of Interference, Diffraction, Polarization, and Double Refraction.
V Heat. (1) Radiant Heat; its general properties, and its relation to Light.
(2) Effects of Heat on Material Bodies, and its relation to other forms of Energy.
VI Magnetism. Phenomena presented by Magnets and Magnetic Substances; Measurement of Magnetic Forces; Terrestrial Magnetism.
VII Electricity. (1) Sources and Effects of Accumulated Electricity. (2) Sources and Effects of Electric Currents.
As a single Session does not afford time for a full treatment of all
the above Branches of Physics, those included in the Second Division of
the Course are divided into Principal Subjects, which are treated with as
much detail as practicable, and Subsidiary Subjects, of which only the most
fundamental parts are considered; and those branches which are taken as
Principal subjects in one Session, are taken as Secondary subjects in the
next Session, and vice versa.
The Principal Subjects for the Second Division of the present Session, 1866-67, will be Magnetism and Electricity.
II Elementary Summer Course
This course will consist of about thirty lectures, beginning on or about the 1st of April, and terminating at the end of the Session. The Days and Hour of Lecture will be announced shortly before the beginning of the Course; Fee, £3 13s 6d.
Subjects: The Elements of Mechanics, Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, Acoustics, and Optics.
N.B. A knowledge of the above subjects is required for the Matriculation Examination of the University of London.
B - PRACTICAL COURSESI Physical Laboratory
Students are first taught the construction and use of the most important physical apparatus (as for example the Air Pump, Electrical machine, Galvanic battery), and are made practically familiar with the conditions needed for the production of the fundamental phenomena of the various branches of physics; they are then taught the use of the most important measuring instruments (as for example, the Balance, Barometer, Theodolite, Galvanometer), and are practised in making accurate observations by means of them. Students who may have completed this preparatory course, will be set to repeat and verify some standard physical research, or will be encouraged to undertake an original investigation.
The instruction in the Physical Laboratory being for the most part individual,
Students can enter at any period for the Session.
Fees for the Session:- six days per week, £21; four days per week, £17 17s; three days per week, £13 13s; two days per week, £9 9s; one day per week, £5 5s.
Fees for shorter periods, six days per week:- six months, £17 17s; five months, £15 15s; four months, £13 13s; three months, £10 10s; two months, £7 7s; one month, £4 4s.
Students entered for one, two, or three days per week, may, with the consent of the Professor, distribute their time of working over a greater number of days; thus a student entered for one day per week, may work three hours a day for two days, or two hours a day for three days per week.
The above payments entitle Students to the use the apparatus belonging to the Physical Cabinet of the College, under such regulations as the Professor may prescribe; but in case of any apparatus receiving an injury, which, in the judgment of the Professor, amounts to more than legitimate wear and tear, the Student in whose charge the apparatus is at the time must make good the injury, or, if required, replace the apparatus at his own expense.
II Mechanical Workshop
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10am to 5pm; Saturday, 10 to 1.
Fees, the same as for the Physical Laboratory (see above).
Practical instruction in Joinery, Turning, and the working of Wood and Metals is given by Mr. William Grant, Assistant to the Professor of Experimental Physics, under the superintendence of the Professor. In addition to the Fee paid to the College, Students are required to pay for most of their materials, and for some of their tools.
18 students enrolled in 1866 for this first physical laboratory course in England. Among them was C. Wheatstone, the son of Sir Charles Wheatstone F.R.S. of King's College London fame, and five Japanese students (of assumed names) who came to study in England in 1864 and 1865 from Satsuma. (W.21-2). Apparently J. Ambrose Fleming was a student of the Experimental Physics course but not of this laboratory course.
Credit for the establishment of the first physics laboratory for undergraduates in England is almost invariably attributed to either R. B. Clifton at Oxford (e.g. see Alexander Wood, The Cavendish Laboratory, 1946, C.U.P., 7) or W. Grylls Adams at King's College London (Cajori, A History of Physics, 1929, The Macmillan Co., New York, 387 et seq.). A. Wood states that Clifton borrowed a room and started practical work in 1867; the building of the Clarendon Laboratory was begun in 1868, it was in partial use in 1870 and completed in 1872. Rucker, in his presidential address to Section A of the British Association at Oxford on 8 August 1894, referred to the Clarendon Laboratory, in which the meetings of Section A were to be held, as follows:- "... the first laboratory in this country which was specially built and designed for the study of experimental physics. It has served as a type. Clerk Maxwell visited it while planning the Cavendish Laboratory, and traces of Prof. Clifton's design can be detected in several of our university colleges."(Nature 50, 1894, 344). Cajori refers to a letter in Nature (3, 1871, 323) in which Adams states ..."I believe that Clifton was the first to propose, more than three years ago, that a course of training in a physical laboratory should form part of the regular work of every student of physics. This system was adopted and at once put into action at King's College... and has been working now for nearly three years." There then follows an account of the arrangements made for the practical work at King's. Clerk Maxwell, the first Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge, was appointed in 1871; the building of the Cavendish Laboratory was started in 1872, and, on 25 June 1874, nine days after its opening, a detailed description of the new laboratory was published in Nature. It began with the observation that "The genius for research possessed by Professor Clerk Maxwell and the fact that it is open to all students of the University of Cambridge for researches, will, if we mistake not, make this before long a building very noteworthy in English science." In Scotland William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) set up a research laboratory in the old wine cellar at Glasgow University in or about 1846, and this seems to have developed into a teaching laboratory. The University Calendar for the 1863-4 session states that "the laboratory in connection with the (natural philosophy) class is open daily from 9am to 4pm for experimental exercises and investigations under the direction of the Professor and his official assistant."(A. Gray, Lord Kelvin, 1908, Dent). 1846 was Thomson's first year in his chair; he was only 23 and had spent some ten weeks in the previous year assisting Regnault, e.g., stirring the water in his calorimeters. A. Wood further records that before compiling the list of apparatus he would require for his laboratory, Maxwell visited Thomson's laboratory at Glasgow and Clifton's at Oxford.
Cajori records that German Professors of Physics allowed their best students to work in their private laboratories, usually in their own houses. Thus Magnus did so at Berlin round about 1846 and his private laboratory apparently evolved into the physical laboratory of the University of Berlin, which was opened in 1863. In a review of Kohlrausch's 'Leitfaden de Praktischen Physics', published in 1870, Akin refers to the description of experiments performed by students at Gottingen for several years past. He explains the rarity of physical, as compared with chemical, laboratories as follows:-"Chemical operations proper possess, it is true, a considerable degree of uniformity and are capable of methodical treatment and exposition; but physical processes and manipulations are multiform, numerous and difficult to classify. That is the reason why physical laboratories are, as yet, few and far between and none of them so systematically organised as the chemical laboratories; and why the workers in Chemistry outdo in individual productiveness the workers of Physics." (Nature 3, 1871, 121). In the same volume of Nature (241) Professor E. C. Picketing gives an account of the arrangements of practical work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and states that at least four similar laboratories were in operation or preparation in America. Tyndall working under Gerling at Marburg (1848-50), wrote that he was doing experiments on electricity and magnetism, but it is not clear that any systematic course of training was given. Adams in his account of 'The Foundation of the Physical Laboratory for Students at King's College, London' (King's College Archives) refers to a visit to Paris in the Easter vacation of 1868 in search of laboratories for the practical teaching of students in physics; at the Sorbonne he found a very complete laboratory, established by M. Jamin, where students were already engaged in the determination of physical constants, but there was no such laboratory anywhere else in France. He also reports finding no physical laboratory for students in Germany!
Although Adams does not claim any priority in his Nature letter, it is surprising that he makes no reference to Carey Foster's student laboratory, since he obviously knew the man, and Charles Wheatstone, a son of his famous predecessor in the chair at King's College, was actually working in the laboratory. For some unknown reason Carey Foster didn't bother to write to Nature claiming priority; it may be that being familiar with practical work in chemistry, knowing of the laboratories in Germany and of Thomson's laboratory in Glasgow, he considered the matter of little consequence. Porter, however, made the position crystal clear, writing as follows:- "Carey Foster at once set to work to make his department correspond to its new title. Up to that time there had been no systematic teaching of the experimental side of physics in the country. Graduates had indeed visited various laboratories to extend their experience and taken part in the private researches of their professors; but that is a totally different thing from systematic practical tuition side by side with instruction in theory which is characteristic of a modern laboratory. The programme for the session 1866-67 provided for such tuition and thus Carey Foster became the pioneer in this direction. Since this fact has been the subject of controversy the practical syllabus for that Session is hereto appended..." (P.5-6 & B.312).
Orson Wood carefully researched the introduction of systematic teaching of practical physics to undergraduates, his findings being recorded in his typescript (W.24-27) and incorporated above. As recently as 1980, Profs. Wilkinson and Domb of King's College restated the claim of priority for Adams in their article, 'Physics at King's', but the author quickly rebutted it.(Phys.Bull. 31, 1980, 18-19 & 130).
The elimination of Experimental from the title of the chair was followed by a change of duties "which was, in accordance with the traditions of the College, left almost entirely to the Professor to determine: the implied restriction of his lectures to a purely experimental and descriptive treatment of the subject was removed, and it was understood that he should carry the mathematical discussion at least as far as to provide for the candidates for the B.Sc. and B.A. degrees of the University of London, all of whom were at that time liable to an examination in Geometrical and Physical Optics and Acoustics." (K.66).
In his first session as Professor of Physics Carey Foster's courses were
listed as A-General and B-Practical, the former including a Junior and Senior
Class and the latter consisting of the Laboratory and Workshop courses.
Lectures for the Junior Class were held on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, from 4 to 5 until the end of April; then from 1 to 2 until the end of the session, the syllabus being as follows:-
I Statics. Experimental illustrations of the Composition and Resolution of Statical Forces; the Mechanical Powers; nature and properties of the Centre of Gravity.
II Dynamics. Experimental Illustrations of the laws of Uniformly Accelerated Rectilinear Motion in the case of bodies falling under the action of Gravity. Illustrations of the laws and effects of Centrifugal Force.
III Hydrostatics and Pneumatics. Laws of the Pressure and Equilibrium of Liquids and Gases. Specific Gravity and methods of determining it. Pumps, Barometers, siphon, &c.
IV Acoustics. Production, Propagation, and General Properties of Sound.
V Optics. General Properties of Light - Laws of Reflexion and Simple Refraction, with the principal phenomena depending upon them.
VI Heat. (1) General Properties of Radiant Heat. (2) Effects of Heat on Material Bodies. (3) The Steam Engine.
Lectures for the Senior Class were held on Tuesday and Thursday from 3 to 4; and Saturday from 11 to 12. In the first and second terms a novel approach was adopted, namely, a study of the general laws of vibratory motion followed by a treatment of sound and light as special cases of such motion; thereafter there were the same illustrations of the undulatory theory of light and the same treatment of heat as in the second division on p. 12. In the third term there was a quantitative study of magnetism and electricity.
Progress had obviously been made in the practical physics course as evidenced by the following quotation from the Calendar "A general idea of the kind of instruction given may be gathered from the following list of some of the subjects taught:-
1 The use of the Balance and methods of accurate Weighing. Modes of determining
the Specific Gravity of solid, liquid, and aeriform bodies. Measurement
of the Bulk of solid bodies, of the Capacity of vessels, and the Calibre
2 Determination of the rates of Expansion by Heat in the case of solid, liquid, and aeriform bodies. Methods of testing and verifying Thermometers. Methods of measuring Temperatures, and of determining Specific and Latent Heats.
3 Comparison of the relative Intensities of different sources of Light. Application of the Goniometer, Sextant, and Theodolite. Measurement of Indices of Refraction. Applications of Prismatic Analysis and of Polarized Light in chemical investigations.
4 Construction and use of the most important Electrical and Galvanic apparatus. Methods of measuring Electrical Currents, Resistance, Quantity, Capacity, and Electromotive force. Modes of testing Conductors and Insulators for telegraphic purposes, &c."
The £30 allowed by the Council for the initial equipment of the laboratory seems ridiculously small. However it should be realised that the department already had a good collection of the more elaborate apparatus and that the type of apparatus required by students could not be obtained from instrument makers, but had to be designed by Carey Foster and made by Grant in the department. Grant's masterpiece (shown in H & N, 129;85) was an electrostatic induction machine of the Holtz type made in 1869, the two glass plates costing £4. It was exhibited in its imposing display case in College for over fifty years; then after being shown at the Sesquicentenary Commemoration it was included in the collection of historic apparatus presented to the Science Museum as explained earlier on p.3. In his first two sessions Carey Foster spent £203.92 on apparatus and repairs. The arrangement whereby ad hoc sums were granted for the apparatus ceased at the end of the 1869-70 session. Thereafter each student was required to pay an additional fee of one guinea per session or half a guinea per term, the total amount being supplemented by a sum not exceeding £100 per annum in order to pay for apparatus, materials, and Grant's salary. In the 1870-1 session £104:19:1 is recorded as the expenditure on apparatus and assistant, there being an additional £100 from College funds for apparatus.
The reference to the workshop course was dropped from the 1869-70 calendar and the list of experiments from the 1971-2 one. Experiments continued to develop, as may be seen from a letter to Nature (79,1908-9,128) on Students' Physical Laboratories by Oliver Lodge, then Principal of Birmingham University. Describing the course of his studentship in 1872-5, he writes -
"the course of quantitative laboratory instruction through which I was myself put by Prof. Carey Foster, in topographical circumstances of some difficulty, was of a high value; and, indeed, reached a standard of accuracy not readily eclipsed in any students' laboratory with which I have since become acquainted. To take a single instance, Carey Foster described his 'bridge' method in 1872, and students were regularly familiarised with it. I remember also making a series of well-designed experiments on moments of inertia, on the kinetic torsion of wires, and on determinations of g by falling bodies and chronograph as well as by pendulums. We also used to measure E.M.F. by the potentiometer method, then called Poggendorff's; while other practical subjects were conduction of heat, rates of cooling, specific and latent heats, on the lines of Regnault; absolute density of liquids, by weighing in them a gauged ivory sphere, density of gases, &c.; a long series on magnetic moments and terrestrial magnetism in the light of Gauss's theory; the usual optical measurements and some less usual; Siemens's pyrometer (then under test for a British Association Committee); much work with a tangent galvanometer and resistance boxes - then comparatively new - on Ohm's and Joule's laws; measurements of electrochemical equivalent, &c., &c.; all before 1875. In one of the last-mentioned determinations a platinum basin was used and a weighable deposit obtained, very much on lines afterwards rendered secure and classical by Lord Rayleigh. Indeed I went through most of the things done in laboratories to-day which do not involve instruments of more recent date, and in 1875 we published a joint paper 'On the Flow of Electricity in a Plane', wherein the equipotential lines were plotted by an experimental method handier and more accurate than had been possible in previous observations of the kind - a method invented entirely by Carey Foster."
For the first time an Elementary Practical Class was introduced on Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the 1872-3 session for a limited number of students, preference being given to those attending or having attended the General Course. However there is no further reference to it until 1878, when there was announced a Practical Physics Course additional to the Practical Instruction in Experimental Physics in the Physical Laboratory. Apparently fundamental experiments of the the chief branches of physics were performed and simple methods of constructing apparatus were indicated in the Workroom. This Workroom adjoining the Engineering Laboratory had been made available for students in the classes of Mathematics, Physics, Engineering and Mechanical Drawing in the 1875-6 session, and was open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday to Friday inclusive and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Carey Foster directed the work therein of his students, specifically recommending it "to gentlemen who may wish to train themselves to become teachers".
In the 1880-1 session the use of the Workroom became an integral part of the Practical Courses, listed as 1 Qualitative Course in connexion with the Workroom, and 2 Quantitative Course (Physical Measurement). During the former course the student first submitted a drawing of an instrument or apparatus, then after its approval, proceeded to make the apparatus in the Workroom, and finally to set it up, test it and use it in one of the rooms of the Physical Laboratory. In the latter course the student became practically acquainted through his own experiments with the experimental methods whereby the fundamental laws of physics had been established; a series of physical measurements were made, guarding against the most important sources of error, and deducing from the results the general expressions constituting the quantitative part of physical laws. These two practical courses were additional to the normal senior practical instruction in the physical laboratory which was open from 10 to 5 on Monday to Friday inclusive throughout the session. However in the 1887-8 session the Qualitative Course was abandoned, the Elementary Course of Physical Measurements continuing from 2 to 4 on Mondays until the 1892-3 session when it was replaced by the addition of 1.5 hr. of practical physics to Carey Foster's lecture course on Experimental Physics.
Carey Foster played a prominent role in bringing about the admission of women students to the College on the same basis as men. It will be recalled (see p.4) that the earliest attendance of any ladies at a course of lectures in College was in May 1832 when Mrs. J. P. Potter and Miss Rogers joined Ritchie's juvenile course of six lectures on electricity and thus became the first two female university students in the country. Nearly thirty years later John Marshall F.R.S., a surgeon at U.C.H. and later Professor of Surgery, delivered a course of thirteen lectures on Animal Physiology in the 1861-2 session to a class of 113 women. In the 1867-8 session it was decided that a series of Tuesday Evening Lectures should be given upon the subjects of Art, Science and Literature, adapted to a general audience, including ladies. This led to the founding in the following session of the London Ladies' Educational Association which proceeded to organise courses of lectures for ladies over the age of seventeen similar to those on offer to men at the College.
The first lectures began in February 1869 and were given in the Beethoven Rooms at 27 Harley Street. There were two courses, each of 23 lectures, one by Henry Morley on The Spirit of English Literature and the other by Carey Foster on Acoustics. Although the notice given was relatively short, 103 tickets at 2 guineas each were sold for Morley's course and 58 for Carey Foster's. When apparatus was required for demonstrations Grant had to transport it to and from Harley Street twice a week. Consequently the lectures in Physics and those in Chemistry by Professor Williamson were transferred to the College. Five courses of lectures were delivered during the Michaelmas and Lent terms of the 1869-70 session, those on Latin, English and French Literatures being in St. George's Hall and those on Physics and Chemistry in the Lecture Rooms at College where there were separate entrances for the ladies classes. The lectures were advertised in Nature (Vol.1,Nov.11,65,1869), Carey Foster's course of 36 lectures on Dynamics and Heat at 11.45 a.m. on Wednesdays and 1 p.m. on Saturdays starting on Wednesday 10 November. Grant recalls "With regard to the admission of women to the classes in University College great caution was exercised and they were not allowed at first to enter by the Main gate of the College. The Physics Department however could be reached without the necessity of entering by the Main Gate and so it was chosen as the first Department into which women were to be admitted. That Department could be reached through the School Playground (now the South Quadrangle) and up the back stairs and that was the way women had to come and go to the Physics classes at first."(G.23). Hirst also gave a course on Elementary Geometry beginning on 24 January 1870. In the 1871-2 session the Council consented to admit all of the women's classes and the number rose to twenty-one. However the classes met and separated at the half-hours, when the men were safely occupied at their own lectures, and the women were admitted by a side door to avoid crossing the front quadrangle. On 28 March 1874 the Council approved Carey Foster's application to admit ladies to study in the Physical Laboratory on the same terms and under the same conditions as the men subject to the provision of a separate room for the ladies and no additional expenditure.
The Calendars from the 1874-5 to the 1877-8 sessions announced in the Physical Laboratory sections that "By special permission of the Council Ladies are admitted to work in the Laboratory under the same conditions in all respects as other students." In 1878 women were admitted to all Faculties except Medicine, there being 309 of them with 600 men, and the University admitted women to degrees. The 1878-9 Calendar included the Junior Class for Women; A Elementary Mechanics; B Experimental Physics, identical to the men's course, but held at different times. However on 3 May 1879 learning that Carey Foster would not be able to take his classes for some weeks owing to illness, the Council recommended that the women's and men's classes should be combined during Carey Foster's illness provided that there was no objection by the students; there was none so the Council endorsed the recommendation. Although classes were mixed, even in 1884 women were not permitted to enter the physics lecture-room by the ordinary door, but were conducted by Grant to the little entrance door high up at the back and told to sit in the topmost row, thus leaving a gulf of empty rows between them and the backs of the men down below. Grant writes "The Laboratory as well as the lectures was open to women and about six or seven entered it as students. Three of these were sisters named Martineau and the youngest afterwards became Principal of Morley College in Waterloo Road and held that office until she died. Women have continued to work in the Laboratory since then but the only one taken special notice of in its early days was Miss Watson. On one occasion when she passed an examination very successfully she told me when preparing for it that she was working 18 hours a day. In these circumstances one would have expected her to pass not only with honours but with flying colours. She afterwards went to South Africa and died there but her name is commemorated by the Ellen Watson Scholarship."(G.23-4). This is the Ellen Watson Memorial Scholarship in Applied Mathematics founded in 1882 by the subscribers to a fund raised in her memory. (An account of this development is given in Bellot (367-73), there being a more detailed treatment in the revised text of N.B.Harte's Centenary Lecture, 'The Admission of Women to University College London', delivered on 21 November 1978.)
Carey Foster managed without academic assistance until the 1873-4 session. Bellot recalls that an assistant was the private servant of the professor, appointed by him subject to Council approval and paid out of his share of the fees. The number of hours of class teaching in physics increased from 180 in the 1868-9 session to 400 in the 1879-80 session apart from the laboratory which was open for 35 hours a week. In and after the 1873-4 session Carey Foster had one, sometimes two, and on occasions, three assistants. Consequently his average income for the period 1865 to 1879 was not quite £276 and it never reached £400. (B.376). After a Senate committee on the conduct of the mathematical and physical classes, the Council awarded him £100 per session from the General Fund in 1881 in recognition of his reorganization of the Chair of Physics and the formation of the Laboratory for Practical Physics. Becoming the first Quain Professor of Physics in the 1888-9 session, his position improved in 1890 when the Trustees of the Quain Fund assigned the annual sum of £500 to promote the study of physics; £300 was added to his salary, £100 for the payment of a skilled assistant, i.e. Grant, and £100 for a laboratory fund at the professor's disposal. Carey Foster also refers to another assistant in the laboratory. (K.69).
His first academic assistant was Benjamin Loewy F.R.A.S., who had been conducting evening classes since October 1870. A regular series of evening classes had been held since 1866, replacing in some measure the schoolmasters' classes which had ceased in 1864. In the 1870-1 session Loewy had given two courses of 20 lectures for students preparing for the Matriculation Examination, and in the following session had also given a two-hourly course on Wednesdays during the Lent and Summer terms supplementing Carey Foster's regular course of physics as far as was required by students taking the 1st. B.Sc. and Preliminary M.B. examinations. He was engaged in 1873 to take the exercise classes then introduced for first and second-year students. Oliver Lodge, then a third-year student, replaced him in 1874. From 1875-8 Lodge was a demonstrator, a part-time post, since in 1875 he was appointed Reader in Natural Philosophy at Bedford College in York Place. During the 1878-9 session he not only assisted Carey Foster but deputised for the Professor of Applied Mathematics, W.K.Clifford, who was ill and died in 1879. Finally he was Assistant Professor from 1879 to 1881 when he became Professor of Physics at Liverpool University College. He published 15 papers, and numerous letters in Nature on a wide range of topics while at College. Among his papers were two, jointly with Carey Foster, 'On the flow of Electricity in a Plane Conducting Surface' (Proc.Phys.Soc.1876,1,113;119). Lodge was the first President of the College Chemical and Physical Society in 1876-7, and he returned to College fifty years later to deliver one of the Addresses given in celebration of the Centenary of its Foundation.
In October 1881 John Buchanan succeeded Lodge as Demonstrator, being assigned the lectures to the Lower Junior (Matriculation) Class, and to help in the Exercise and Practical Classes, and in the Physical Laboratory. He remained alone until October 1884 when he was joined by another demonstrator, R.H.Fison. Buchanan left in 1886, leaving Fison as the only demonstrator for the ensuing session; however he was appointed Assistant Professor in 1887 and joined by two demonstrators in 1888, namely H.L.Reed and J.J.Stewart. Reed only stayed for one session, being replaced by J.Rose-Innes. Stewart stayed for two sessions and was not replaced for a session and then in October 1891 by A.W.Porter, who had graduated with first-class honours in the Summer. Rose-Innes left in 1893 and Fison went in 1894 to take charge of the 1st. M.B. classes at Guy's Hospital Medical School. Porter was joined by C.V.Burton and N.Eumorfopoulos as demonstrators in 1894, Burton left in 1896 when Porter was made Assistant Professor, he and Eumorfopoulos remaining as Carey Foster's academic assistants until his retirement in 1898.
According to Porter, Fison "was an excellent leader and disciplinarian; his ready wit quelled at once any attempts at effervescence on the part of his classes. His lucidity and exceedingly neat blackboard work were great assets with him. He was not distinguished as an investigator. He published a paper jointly with Carey Foster on the difference of potential required to give sparks in air (in connection with which his name is often misquoted as Pryson owing to an unfortunate printer's error); and a second paper on a method of comparing unequal capacities." (P.11). Fison must have been closely connected with Carey Foster since he was chosen to write his obituary notice. In June 1886 when at King's College Cambridge Rose-Innes donated the interest, c.£60 per annum, on a certain sum at his disposal for a fund under the Professor's control to purchase apparatus required for special research or teaching in physics, and from time to time he presented pieces of apparatus to the department, and he was elected to the Fellowship of the College in 1890. He worked on the reduction of gas-thermometric temperatures to the thermodynamic scale, and in 1909 equipped the laboratory with the porous-plug apparatus used by Eumorfopoulos and his collaborators.
In the 1871-2 session Carey Foster replaced the separate Junior and Senior courses by a single course of five lectures per week. Students were advised to write out abstracts of the lectures, either from memory or short notes, as soon as possible after they had been delivered, and to show them to the Professor, who would correct mistakes and explain doubtful points from 11 to 12 on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. However this five-lecture course was replaced in the next session by separate first and second-year courses, each having three lectures per week and covering half of the former topics.
Junior and Senior Classes were reintroduced in the 1876-7 session, three lectures and two exercise classes per week being associated with each course. The same general order of subjects was followed in each class but there was more mathematical treatment of certain topics in the senior class and "especially a discussion of methods employed and results obtained in investigating the quantitative relations of physical phenomena." For the first time students were advised which classes were recommended for the various university examinations. In the following session an Elementary Mechanics course was introduced as Division A of the Junior Class, two lectures and two exercise classes being assigned to it; also Molecular Physics - Elasticity, Capillarity - was introduced as an additional subject in the Senior Class. A Lower Junior Class was held for the first time in the 1879-80 session, it being an introduction to the more detailed and systematic study of the Junior Class for students insufficiently acquainted with mathematics. After 1881 the number of courses began to increase and vary, e.g., for one session only in 1883 there was introduced Principles of Electrical Engineering and Electrical Measurement referring as far as possible to work done in the Physical and Electrical Laboratories.
It should be noted that in the 1884-5 session at the suggestion of Carey Foster his old student, Dr. J.A.Fleming, was invited to give a course of lectures on Electro-Technology, and in the following year there was established the Chair of Electrical Technology, to which Fleming was appointed, thereby becoming the first Professor of Electrical Engineering in Britain. (B.391).
In the 1887-8 session Carey Foster repeated 15 easy experimental lectures on Properties of Matter and Elements of Heat, Magnetism and Electricity, subjects termed Chemical Physics in the Regulations for the First Examination of the Conjoint Board. Fison gave this course twice in the 1893-4 session for the last time, it being replaced by a special course of Chemistry and Chemical Physics given by Professor (later Sir William) Ramsay. For the last three sessions the Chemical Physics course was not listed under Physics but under the Faculty of Medicine courses. In the 1890-1 session the list of courses and lecturers was as follows:-
A Lower Junior (Matriculation) Class Rose-Innes
B Elementary Mechanics Fison
C Experimental Physics Carey Foster
D Supplementary Course on Heat Fison
E Senior Class Carey Foster & Rose-Innes
F Elementary Course on Physical Measurement
G Elementary Course on Electrical Measurement
H Physical Laboratory
G was introduced in this session specially for students wishing to enter the Class of Electrical Technology and to qualify as Electrical Engineers; instruction was given in the use of the most important electrical measuring instruments, and in accuracy of measurement of electrical and magnetic quantities. D was given for the last time in this session, and as explained earlier F was given for the last time in the 1891-2 session, it being replaced by the addition of 1.5 hr. of practical work to C in the following session. With the departure of Rose-Innes in 1893 A disappeared leaving B, C, E, G and H in the 1893-4 session, labelled A, B, C, D and E respectively in the hands of Carey Foster, Fison and Grant. The next session saw the addition of a Mechanics (Matriculation) Class taken by Burton; the appearance of two Experimental Physics Courses, one in the first term for Engineers taken by Porter and the other for Intermediate Science and Preliminary Science (Medical Examination) students taken by Carey Foster; and the Senior Class being listed as Physics for B.Sc. examination and Engineers, still given by Carey Foster. In the last three sessions of Carey Foster's reign the courses were as follows:-
A Introductory Mechanics and Hydrostatics
B Elementary Mechanics
C Experimental Physics
D Senior Physics
E Electrical Measurements
F Physical Laboratory
Burton gave A in his last (1895-6) session and was then replaced by Eumorfopoulos, Porter and Carey Foster giving B and E, and C and D respectively.
In the Summer of 1887 the College spent £225 equipping the dungeon with additional apparatus for instruction in physics and electrical technology; this included an Otto gas-engine, a dynamo-machine, 30 accumulators, an electric-arc lamp, a photometer and the necessary measuring instruments etc. Fleming had charge of the room, Carey Foster having provided £100 of the cost from his apparatus fund. However the accommodation available for the department was quite inadequate. Porter testifies to the difficulties in 1890 under which research laboured - "his research apparatus was completely dismounted each week in order to make room for the undergraduate worker and had to be built up again each following week."(P.8).
Carey Foster continually strove for a purpose-built laboratory and in July 1888 an appeal was made to friends of the College for funds to build a Physics Laboratory and to make further provision for the Department of Electrical Technology, it being estimated that c.£6000 would be required, £1000 having been subscribed or promised. The response was unsatisfactory, but the College decided to go ahead by incurring further debt if necessary. In 1891 a public appeal was made for an Extension Fund of £50,000, the urgent needs of the College being stated as "1. A new Laboratory for Experimental Physics: 2. A properly equipped Electrical Laboratory: 3. Further accommodation and additional machines in the Engineering School: 4. A collection of architectural models and a School of Architectural Drawing: 5. Additional Laboratory space and apparatus for the work it is contemplated to undertake in connection with the Society for the Extension of University Teaching in London." (B.378-9).
The new laboratory (see H & N 128;84), named after Carey Foster in 1899, was built in the south quadrangle between the Central (Library) Wing and the Botanical Theatre and was occupied for the first time at the beginning of the 1892-3 session. The extension of the South Wing, devoted to new Mechanical and Electrical Laboratories, was opened in May 1893 by the Duke of Connaught. When the Department of Mechanical Engineering moved into the new extension fronting upon Gower Street, the basement and ground floor of the Central Wing were assigned to the Physics Department. After a complete internal reconstruction costing £3000, the rooms were ready for use early in the 1893-4 session. The classes of Physics were accordingly transferred from the rooms which had been occupied since the foundation of the College to the new rooms in the Central Wing, the Department of Mathematics which had vacated its rooms on the aforementioned ground floor moving into the old rooms relinquished by the Physics Department. Thus the accommodation of the department was probably as complete and well adapted for its purpose as was to be found anywhere in the kingdom, a fitting reward for the persistent efforts of Carey Foster. (K.68).
On 4 November 1897 the Council received Carey Foster's letter announcing his intention to resign his chair at the end of the session in June 1898 then having completed 33 years as Professor in the College, this being for the good of the College and the furtherance of science, and to make way for a younger man with fresher ideas. A unanimous resolution was passed "that in accepting the resignation of Professor Carey Foster, the Council desire to record their high appreciation of the services he has rendered to the College during the long period of 32 years, and of the distinction which his eminent scientific position has conferred on the College. They desire also to express their hope that the termination of his professorial work will not sever his active connexion with the College, and that they may still have the advantage of his assistance as a member of Council." In 1900 he accepted the invitation to become the first Principal of the College and he served in that office until 1904, when he was succeeded by Gregory Foster, then Secretary of the College. As Principal he represented the College on the Senate of the University under its new 1898 constitution, and played a prominent part in the resulting reorganization, and the negotiations that led up to the incorporation of the College in the University on 1 January 1907.
To appreciate this new constitution, it should be emphasised that what had hitherto been the university became University College London when the seal was affixed to the College charter on 28 November 1836. Immediately afterwards, on the same day was sealed the charter of the new University of London. This second charter "established a body to be known as the University of London, empowered to grant degrees in Arts, Laws, and Medicine, after examination, to candidates holding certificates of having completed a course of instruction at University College, King's College, and such other institutions as might hereafter be approved for the purpose." (B.248). In 1858 the examinations of the university were thrown open to all, irrespective of the manner or place of their education, and consequently without the requirement of any certificate of preparation; however this new charter included the important provision for the granting of degrees in science. The university remained an examining body until the University of London Act of 1898 transformed it into a federal university, the various colleges becoming schools of the university and their students, internal students in the London area, as distinct from the external students studying elsewhere. Faculties and Boards of Studies were established, the latter advising on matters relating to courses of study, provision for teaching or research, examinations and the appointment of examiners, or the granting of degrees. "The Board of Studies in Physics met for the first time on January 28, 1901 when Professor Callendar, Carey Foster's successor in the Quain Chair was elected Chairman. The first Internal B.Sc. Honours examination in Physics was held in 1903, only two candidates were successful, a Miss East from Royal Holloway College and Mr. W. Tannak from the Royal College of Science - each obtaining only third class honours." (W.29). "The establishment of the 'internal side' of the university, which was in full working order in the session 1902-3, freed the teaching from the necessity of conforming to examination schedules made by a Senate which had no Boards of Study to advise it, and enabled the student to study the subject instead of studying his examiner. The provision that graduates of other universities might be admitted as Internal Students to work for higher degrees of the university stimulated post-graduate and research work..." (B.401). The College had proposed in 1898 to vest its site, land, buildings and endowments in the reconstituted university, and an appeal was launched in 1902 to fund this "incorporation", inaugurated by the Drapers' Company agreeing to pay off the College's accumulated deficit of £30,000. The University College, London (Transfer) Act of 1905 came into operation on 1 January 1907; however it was necessary for University College School and the Medical School to be constituted as separate bodies. The Council became the College Committee and the Professorial Board replaced the College Senate. The professors, who had become "recognised teachers" of the university in 1900, now became "appointed teachers" occupying chairs of the university.
Carey Foster concluded his account of the department in Ker's Notes and Materials (69-70) with the following list of his old students who had distinguished themselves in various ways:-
W. E. Ayrton, F.R.S., Professor in the Central Institute of Technology.
Oliver J. Lodge, F.R.S., Professor in University College, Liverpool.
Ellen Watson (the late).
H. Forster Morley, M.A., D.Sc., Fellow of the College.
Theodore Beck, Principal, Aligarh College.
Lewis H. Edmunds, D.Sc., Q.C., Fellow of the College.
J. V. Jones, F.R.S., Principal, University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire; Fellow of the College.
M. J. Jackson, D.Sc., Principal, Sind College, Kurachi; Fellow of the College.
W. E. Sumpner, D.Sc., Fellow of the College.
H. C. Draper, D.Sc., Headmaster, Rutlish Science Schools.
John Buchanan, M.A., Gordon's College, Aberdeen.
A. P. Chattock, Professor in University College, Bristol.
G. W. de Tunzelmann, B.Sc., Principal of the Electrical and Engineering College, Penywern Road.
Hugh E. Harrison, B.Sc., Principal of the Electrical Training College, Faraday House.
S. Z. de Ferranti, Electrical Engineer.
J. A. Fleming, F.R.S., Professor in and Fellow of the College.
T. H. Beare, B.Sc., Professor in the College.
G. U. Yule, Assistant Professor in the College.
A. W. Porter, Assistant Professor in and Fellow of the College.
N. Eumorfopoulos, B.Sc., Demonstrator in the College.
D. K. Morris, Ph.D., Fellow of the College.
J. T. Morris, Demonstrator, Electrical Laboratory, University College.
F. Womack, B.Sc., Professor in Bedford College, London.
J. Rose-Innes, M.A., B.Sc., Fellow of the College.
W. Sutherland, M.A., Melbourne.
A. H. Fison, D.Sc., late Assistant Professor in the College.
C. V. Burton, D.Sc., late Demonstrator in the College.
J. Sakurai, Professor in the Imperial College of Science, University of Tokyo.
W. C. D. Whetham, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.
Fison introduces his obituary notice of George Carey Foster (Trans.Chem.Soc.Vol.115, 1,412-27, 1919) in these words "In the death of Professor Carey Foster in his eighty-fourth year on February 9th, there are many who will feel the loss of a kind and generous friend, to whose gentle sympathy and encouragement much of the happiness, as well as much of the success, of their own lives has been due. A man of extreme modesty and of high if not commanding ability, Carey Foster had made few direct contributions to scientific literature; but the soundness of his judgment, his almost passionate love of exact knowledge, and his enthusiasm, earned the respect of all, and made his presence invaluable on the many committees of learned societies, the British Association, and the various university boards of which he became a member. An extreme diffidence and a nervous shyness that was not without a peculiar charm to those who came to know him well, as well as a hesitation to express a definite opinion on subjects on which he did not feel on the firmest ground, made it easy to undervalue the services he rendered to science and education during the course of a long and active life."
He was born in 1835 at Sabden in Lancashire, the only son of George Foster, a calico printer and a J.P. for Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. After an early education in private schools, he became a student of the College at the age of eighteen and in his twentieth year graduated B.A. with Honours and a prize in Chemistry. For the next three years he was assistant to Professor Alexander Williamson in the Department of Chemistry. Then in 1858 he went to the continent to study under Kekule at Ghent, Jamin at Paris and Quincke at Heidelburg. During this period while he continued with his chemical studies, his interest became more and more directed to physics which was then assuming increasing importance through the work of Clausius, Helmholtz, Kelvin and Maxwell. In 1862 he accepted an invitation to the Chair of Natural Philosophy at the Andersonian University, Glasgow. While there he wrote two articles on Heat for the first edition of Watts's Dictionary of Chemistry in 1863. These articles occupying over 150 pages of closely printed text were a remarkable critical review of this important branch of physics, and immediately established his reputation as a clear thinker and able exponent of Physics. In 1865, encouraged by his friend and former teacher, Williamson, he became the successful candidate for the Chair of Experimental Physics at the College.
Carey Foster's contributions to chemistry were published between 1857 and 1867. The most important were three papers published jointly with Matthiessen in 1861, 1863 and 1867 on the chemistry of narcotine and its products of decomposition, papers making "a long step forward in the knowledge of the constitution of the alkaloids, and may, indeed, be termed classical. The accuracy of the work has been amply confirmed by subsequent investigation."(op. cit. 416). However his judgment on some chemical topics was questionable. Apparently in the discussion which followed Newland's account of his "Law of Octaves" given to the Chemical Society in 1863, he remarked "Has the author tried arranging the elements in alphabetical order?"! (W.35). Elected a Fellow of the Chemical Society in 1856, he served as a Council member from 1865-8, 1872-5 and 1885-6, and as Vice-President from 1888-90.
He is credited with 21 papers in the Royal Society Catalogue, 9 being concerned with chemistry. His best known paper in physics, 'On a Modified Form of Wheatstone's Bridge, and Methods of measuring Small Resistances', was read before a meeting of the Society of Telegraph Engineers (now the Institution of Electrical Engineers) in 1872 .(Telegraph Engineers' Journal, 1872-1873, 1, 196). A Carey Foster bridge designed and constructed in the departmental workshop in 1946 was exhibited at the Sesquicentenary Commemoration; this bridge was then used in the undergraduate laboratory to determine the resistivity of copper in the form of a wire having a resistance of c. 0.01ohm, and to measure the change of resistance of a wire on deformation by a tensile stress; and it still continues its important teaching role in the physics undergraduate laboratory. In 1881 he published 'An account of Preliminary Experiments for the Determination of the Electromagnetic Unit of Resistance in Absolute Measure' (Rep.Brit.Assoc.,1881); however the results were not sufficiently consistent to satisfy the critical judgement of Carey Foster and the work was abandoned. He contributed a paper to the Physical Society in 1886 'On a Method of determining Coefficients of Mutual Induction' (Phil. Mag., 1867, [v], 23, 121-129), a method based on the comparison of the mutual inductance of two coils and the capacity of a condenser, which proved capable of yielding accurate results. His joint papers with Lodge and Fison have been cited on p.18. Among his other publications were further articles on Heat, Thermodynamics, Electricity, and Magnetism in later editions of Watts's 'Dictionary of Chemistry. He collaborated with Dr. E. Atkinson in an Elementary Treatise of Electricity and Magnetism, based on Joubert's 'Elementary Treatise of Electricity', and with Porter in a carefully revised and enlarged second edition, published in 1903, which avoided all but incidental reference to magnetic poles; a third edition appeared in 1910.
Becoming a member of the British Association in 1857, he served on a number of its committees, and was treasurer from 1888 to 1904. He was one of the founders of the Physical Society, which held its first meeting in 1873, and he was President from 1887 to 1889. He acted as President of the Society of Telegraph Engineers in 1880 and 1881. Elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1859, he served as one of the Vice-Presidents from 1891 to 1893 and from 1901 to 1903, and he took a keen interest in the work of the Kew Observatory Committee of the Society. Honorary degrees of LL.D. from Glasgow University and D.Sc. from Manchester were conferred upon him. A portrait of him hangs with those of other College dignitaries in the Old Refectory, and there is a delightful photograph of him sitting at his desk in the department (reproduced by H & N 127; 84).
Carey Foster was not a good lecturer owing to his nervous manner, and a reluctance to be content with a simple statement that he knew to be but an approximate expression of a truth, and to adopt the customary method of illustrating physical laws by means of simple, although entirely imaginary, experimental data. His use of actual results of laboratory measurements and laborious computations were only appreciated by the more dedicated students, who learnt to revere exact expression and regard it as the heart of scientific knowledge. They continually brought their difficulties to Carey Foster and were encouraged to do so by his unlimited patience in dealing with them. It was not unusual to find him surrounded by a small group of students engaged in earnest discussion half an hour after the end of a lecture. His enthusiasm for teaching and his patience in dealing with the smallest details were also evident in the students' laboratory. Having given a lecture in the morning and having a lecture for senior students in prospect at the close of a long afternoon, he would often help some duffer in difficulties in the laboratory, devoting the best part of an hour to the details of a simple experiment in physical measurement. Indeed on these occasions there was the danger of his love of accurate detail leading him not only to perform the experiment himself, making all the observations, but to carry out the necessary computations, while the student looked on wonderingly, as from a distance. Fison (op. cit. 424-5) concludes this account of Carey Foster as a teacher in these words "It may be that some who have worked in the old laboratory at University College in those days have preserved the scraps of paper covered with logarithmic calculations that Carey Foster often left on the benches, all executed in his wonderfully neat writing, as a memento of the most patient of teachers and most lovable of men, but such prescience is rarely bestowed on youth".
Fison (op.cit.423) writes of William Grant as follows:-
"For some years, the only apparatus available was of the simplest character, but instruments were being constantly designed by Carey Foster himself, whilst the designs were executed by a clever mechanic, William Grant, who acted as his assistant during the whole time of his professorship, and without whom no reference to the laboratory would be complete. Grant, who was quite a character in his own dour way, became a permanent feature of the Physical Department. His love of the apparatus, so much of which he had constructed, and the agony he experienced in seeing it misused, made him a source of terror to all students other than those few who proved themselves worthy to be entrusted with it; whilst many will remember with humiliation his lofty refusal of the tip that was occasionally offered , either from gratitude or from a desire to acquire merit. He was one of the most faithful of servants, and was devoted to Carey Foster, whilst each regarded the other with a simple affection of which both alike were worthy."
Wood who knew Grant during the last three years of his service writes "He was then rather a dour old man, white and waxen of skin, with a well-kept beard which continued the contour of his face. Much troubled with phlegm on his chest, he badly needed a portable spittoon. He was an expert photographer specialising in the photographs of animals at the zoo, but unhappily, broke all his negatives before leaving College. The Library has a print of the front quadrangle taken in the 1880's which he gave to Dr. Rankine before he left. It seems that when he retired, a few members of the staff joined to present him with a portrait - almost certainly a large framed portrait of himself - which the Provost sent to him in Scotland with a letter inviting him to write up any memories he might have of his many years at the College. On Nov. 20, 1913 he wrote to 'Dr. Foster' thanking him for the gift and enclosed with the letter a thirty page manuscript dealing with the history of the College in general and of the Physical Department in particular."
The framed photograph of Grant by Elliott & Fry, bearing the inscription,"William Grant - Assistant in the Physical Laboratory U.C.L. - 1866-1913" is now in the department.
Wood repeats a story told to him by Dr.A.O.Rankine - "Carey Foster bought a Kelvin Quadrant Electrometer from Kelvin & White, the makers in Glasgow. (It would appear from the 1865-73 Catalogue that this electrometer was bought in 1870 and cost £28:10:0). It was considered too delicate to be sent in the usual way and Grant went to Glasgow to fetch it. He nursed it on his knees throughout the journey home, and, once safely in the laboratory, thought it too precious to be used. Later, Trouton, who became Professor in 1902, decided that it should be used in the students' laboratory. Grant was furious and became so angry that he threatened to report the Professor to the College Committee. Thereafter Grant's love turned to hate and it was not long before it met with an accident which led to its destruction - (apparently a dish of strong sulphuric acid put in its case to absorb moisture was left too long and overflowed)". (W.28-9).
Hugh Longbourne Callendar, M.A., F.R.S., was appointed to fill the Quain Chair for a period of seven years from the end of the session in June 1898. He was the eldest son of the Rector of Hatherop, Gloucestershire, born on 18 April 1863. According to his son's fascinating account of his life and work (Phys. Bull., April 1961, 87-90), he was an abnormally precocious boy, writing Latin prose before breakfast every day at the age of ten; being very good at mathematics; and having outstanding practical skill, manifested by the construction of a telegraph, which he used for sending messages in Morse code around the rectory, a Rhumkorf spark coil and a Wimshurst machine - all these without any help round about that early age. At eleven he won the first foundation scholarship to become the youngest boy at Marlborough College; he was Senior Prefect at sixteen, and he won every prize for which he entered, becoming top of school in Classics and Mathematics, yet being active in all games and representing the school in gymnastics and shooting. Acquiring a microscope, he studied geology, botany and biology, preparing hundreds of beautifully mounted slides, which he showed to his children in later life. Being in charge of the telescope presented to the school, he explained the wonders of astronomy to parties of masters and boys assembled on the roof at night. At school he invented the very first fountain pen, devised a system of shorthand, made an apparatus for the simultaneous recording of the force and direction of the wind, devised a system for testing sight and colour blindness by means of a spectroscope, and invented a new kind of vernier telescopic rifle sight, with which he won the Prince of Wales Cup at Bisley.
He entered Trinity College Cambridge in 1882 taking all available scholarships to read Classics and Mathematics. In 1884 he obtained first-class honours in Classics and he became sixteenth wrangler in 1885. Although working 10-12 hours a day, he usually took two hours off in the afternoon not only to keep fit but to excel in sport - representing the university at gymnastics and lawn tennis, and captaining the lacrosse team and shooting eight. In October 1885 he joined the Cavendish Laboratory and, at J. J. Thomson's suggestion, started research work on the variation of resistance of platinum as a means of measuring temperature, his working bench being a windowsill in a passage. Starting where Siemens had left off, he presented his results to the Royal Society on 10 June 1886 and patented his thermometer in 1887. In his autobiography J. J. Thomson says that Callendar was the most brilliant of all his research students during 40 years teaching at Cambridge. He was "an intellectual 'Admirable Crichton' who did everything well. In less than eight months he obtained results of absolutely first class importance. He gave to physics a new tool to determine temperature with an ease and accuracy never before obtainable and he was the first to suggest, from his experiments, the existence of super-conductivity of metal at or about the absolute zero". Incidentally having been taught Callendar's shorthand, he then used it for the rest of his life.
Elected a Fellow of Trinity College in 1886, Callendar not only continued his research work but studied both law and medicine, including 'walking the wards'. In 1889 he published his new Cambridge System of Shorthand and in 1890 he arranged for the Cambridge Instrument Company to start to manufacture his patented instruments as they came along - the platinum resistance thermometer, the temperature indicator, the recorder (which was the first electrical instrument to use the servo principle), the precision resistance bridge etc., there being in 1891 no less than nine original patents in different scientific fields. For the standardisation of his platinum resistance thermometer against the gas thermometer, with typical ingenuity he sealed the platinum spiral inside the bulb of the gas thermometer. His determination of the B.P. of sulphur with E. H. Griffiths in 1891, 4 degrees lower than the value previously accepted, was only 0.07 deg. different from the value of the sulphur point adopted on the International Temperature Scale, established in 1927. This scale from the ice point to the F.P. of antimony was based on the quadratic formula of Callendar, the constants being determined at the ice, steam and sulphur points; a quadric formula was used to extend the scale down to the B.P. of oxygen. His compensated constant-pressure air thermometer was devised in 1891.
From 1891-3 Callendar was Professor of Physics at Royal Holloway College
and in 1893 he went to McGill University, Montreal to take charge of the
new Macdonald Physics Building. There he worked on the theory and practice
of the steam engine, his paper on the subject with J. T. Nicholson, The
Law of Condensation of Steam, when read to the Civil Engineers in London
being hailed as the most important on the subject ever presented to the
Institution. He also devised a method of determining the total heat of steam
by means of the differential form of the throttling calorimeter. At McGill
he developed the continuous flow calorimeter, which he had invented in 1886,
and with H. T. Barnes determined the variation of the specific heat of water
with temperature, leaving Barnes to publish the results. In 1898 when he
was offered the Quain Chair at College, McGill tried to retain his services
by offering him the Professorship of Astronomy as well as that of Physics
at nearly double his salary. However he decided to come to London and his
successor at McGill, Rutherford, commented
"McGill (to which I have been appointed) is a very important place for Callendar (the previous Professor) was an F.R.S. and a Fellow of Trinity and I will be expected to do great things. I think my appointment is a much discussed matter at Cambridge as Callendar was considered a very great man Callendar here (Rutherford had now arrived at McGill) was considered a universal genius and I gain a sort of reflected glory by carrying on with things Callendar was able to do. The trouble is that Callendar left such a reputation behind him that I have to keep rather in the background at present". (Rutherford's Life and Letters, Eve, 54-68).
At College Callendar continued the programme of lectures and practical work arranged by Carey Foster, taking over Carey Foster's lecture courses on Experimental and Senior Physics, each involving four lectures per week throughout the session. He published some fifteen articles and papers, including two of his most important papers, namely 'Thermodynamic Properties of Gases and Vapours' deduced from a modified form of the Joule-Thomson Equation (Proc. Roy. Soc., 67, 226-286), in which all the thermodynamic properties of steam were expressed by means of consistent thermodynamic formulae, and 'On the Thermodynamical Correction of the Gas Thermometer' (Proc. Phys. Soc., 1901, 18, 282-334), which contained the first accurate calculation of the absolute zero of temperature, namely 273.10 to within 0.02 C. The articles were for the Encyclopaedia Britannica on Heat, Thermodynamics, Calorimetry, Thermoelectricity, Vaporization, etc. and they appeared in various editions from 1902-59. Eumorfopoulos published one paper with Callendar on the thermal expansion of platinum and silica; all his subsequent research reflects Callendar's influence, both men delighting in experimental work, especially precise thermal measurements.
In connection with the special appeal launched by the College in May
1902, Callendar referring to Carey Foster's professorship of thirty three
"In this period not only did the science of Physics undergo enormous development and extension, but the methods of teaching and study underwent great change. In 1865 teaching was purely oral, and so far as it was experimental, the experiments were made entirely by the professor. In 1866, Foster opened the first Physical Laboratory for students in Britain south of the Tweed. The available space was small and the instrumental appliances most meagre, but the attempt was at least a recognition of the direction which physical teaching ought to take, and it was possible as time went on gradually to enlarge the laboratory and improve the equipment. The rooms to which the physical department was transferred in 1893 constituted at that time the best physical laboratory in London, possibly in England.
So great, however, has been the development of the science, and so important and varied its applications, that already considerable extensions of the Department are required. In the first place, it is now hardly possible for one Professor to do equal justice to all parts of the subject-Heat, Light, Electricity, Magnetism, etc., at any rate so far as advanced work is concerned. It is moreover of the highest importance that the heads of the department should be able to devote the greater part of their time to research in the work for which they are fitted by their special attainments, and this can only be accomplished by the provision of capable junior teachers (lecturers and assistants) who can undertake the greater portion of the elementary work.
The following extensions of the Department are therefore proposed:-
|An additional Professor at||£300 a year.|
|A Lecturer for elementary students at||£200 a year.|
|An additional Demonstrator at||£150 a year.|
B. The Physical Laboratory requires enlargement especially to provide facilities for research. At the present time the Professor has no space save for this purpose apart from that appropriated for the use of students. Several additional rooms are required for special purposes, such as experiments on heat and other of the more refined observations. This additional accommodation can be provided by building another storey to the present Physical building, and also extending the department into the basement of the main (East) wing. The total cost of these alterations and additions, with a proper equipment of the entire laboratory, would not exceed £10,000.
C. Maintenance. The present grant (an endowment from the Quain Fund of £300 a year for the Professor and £200 a year for expenses, more than half of which goes to pay a mechanical assistant) is even now inadequate for the maintenance of the department and the purchase of apparatus. For this purpose an additional endowment of £300 a year is required.
The total sum required for enlarged and endowing the Physical Department is therefore:-
|Laboratory and Maintenance||£20,000.|
|Total Capital Sum||£42,000."|
(The Needs of University College, London: with some account of the previous history of the college and the part it has played in the increase of knowledge; being An Appeal for the Endowment of advanced University Education and Research in London, 1902).
Callendar did not stay to see the outcome of his appeal since he accepted an invitation to succeed Sir Arthur Rucker as Professor of Physics at the Royal College of Science. The Physics Department at the Royal College was housed in the Huxley Building in Exhibition Road, but the building in the Imperial Institute Road was then being designed and Callendar was able to help design the new physics laboratories which were opened in 1906. Wood attended his third-year lecture course in the 1907-8 session at the Royal College and sheds an interesting light on his style and method.
"He spoke clearly and fluently but confined himself to topics in heat which he had first hand experience. He was tall and dark and had a deceptively languid manner. This gave point to a story he told with somewhat impish pleasure. Having occasion to look through Barnes' paper on the continuous calorimeter in the Science Library copy of the Royal Society Transactions he found, in the margin, opposite Barnes' statement that he, Callendar, had left Barnes to complete the work, the pencilled comment 'Too tired'! He then explained that he allowed Barnes to publish as the single author because it would help him to obtain a Chair. He devised a system which ensured that his students read up the subject and obtained experience in answering examination questions. Each fortnight they were instructed to read specified parts of a text book. On alternate Wednesday afternoons they sat for a three-hour examination on this reading and on the lectures he had given. On the other Wednesday afternoons he went through the questions and commented on the scripts which he himself had marked. Not many Professors would have taken that trouble! " (W.42-3).
Callendar occupied the chair at South Kensington until his death on 21 January 1930. Elected F.R.S. in 1894, he was awarded the Rumford Medal of the Royal Society in 1906. He was Treasurer of the Physical Society for ten years from 1900, President in 1910-12, and was awarded the first Duddell Medal in 1924. Serving on the Council of the British Association from 1900 to 1906, he became President of Section A in 1912. In 1920 he was made C.B.E. for his war work with the Board of Inventions and Research. During the last few years of his life, he studied "knock" and the mechanism of anti-knocking agents in petrol engines, directing research for the Air Ministry. He was the foremost authority on steam and published 'The Properties of Steam' (1920), several editions of 'Steam Tables' (1915, 1922 and 1927), and 'A Manual of Cursive Shorthand' (1889) as well as many scientific papers. His final achievement announced in his Hawksley lecture to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Proc. I. Mech. Eng., 1929, Nov. 1st., 811-38) just before he died was to carry his high pressure temperature experiments right up to the critical point for water and steam, which had never been done before. He then proposed three simple equations, consistent with the laws of thermodynamics, which should suffice to define all the properties of steam for international standard purposes and which should be of the greatest assistance both to the scientist and to the practical engineer. Callendar was an exceptionally simple-hearted and kindly man, ever ready to give his assistants more than full credit for anything they did. He raised the standard of everything he touched in physics and engineering beyond anything that had gone before.
Frederick Thomas Trouton, M.A., F.R.S., was appointed Quain Professor to succeed Callendar in 1902. He was born in Dublin on 24 November 1863, the youngest son of Thomas Trouton, a wealthy and prominent citizen. Entering Trinity College Dublin from Dungannon Royal School, he performed brilliantly as an undergraduate in both engineering and physical science, being awarded the Large Gold Medal, an honour rarely bestowed for work in science, and graduated M.A. and D.Sc. While still a student he pointed out the relation between the molecular latent heats and boiling points of various substances, which became known as Trouton's Law, namely L/T, the change of entropy per mole in evaporation at the boiling point, is constant; although not exact, the relation is a useful rule. Trouton is probably now best known for this discovery, the result of an afternoon's manipulation of data from a book of tables! Later he returned to the study of latent heats and determined the latent heat of evaporation of water from saturated salt solutions, obtaining agreement with thermodynamically based values. As an undergraduate Trouton also participated in the surveying of a railway.
Appointed Assistant to Prof. G. F. FitzGerald in 1884, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1897 and became Lecturer in Experimental Physics in 1901. FitzGerald inspired much of his earlier work, including that begun in 1886 on the experimental verification of Ohm's law for electrolytes. As Porter in his Royal Society obituary notice of Trouton points out, FitzGerald was one of the few physicists who took Maxwell's electromagnetic theory of light seriously, and consequently when Hertz began publishing his investigations on electric waves, FitzGerald was one of the first to give a detailed account of them at the British Association meeting in Bath in 1888, and to stimulate laboratory work to extend and interpret them. Trouton worked with him in studying the reflection from insulators such as glass and paraffin wax; they exhibited "thin film" phenomena and settled the long-disputed question as to the azimuth of vibration in relation to that of polarisation. Trouton's experiments on reflection at the polarising angle from the surface of a bad conductor proved that when the electric vector is in the plane of incidence the reflection is bad, but reflection occurs at all angles when this vector is at right angles to that plane. He also showed that a small reflector, i.e., a disc approximating to the pole of a wave, reflects a wave nearly a quarter of a period in advance of the whole reflected wave, and thereby justified experimentally the "quarter-wave advance" introduced by Stokes in connection with Fresnel's treatment of a primary wave as the resultant of effects from elementary wavelets or secondary waves.
A series of experiments on the relative motion of earth and ether also followed from FitzGerald's influence. The underlying idea of the first experiment was that a charged condenser moving through the ether with its plates parallel to the direction of motion possesses magnetic energy as well as electrostatic energy on the basis of a moving charge being equivalent to a current element, and the source of this energy would be due to a mechanical drag on the condenser during the process of charging. Trouton devised an experiment to test this conclusion and initial indications of a negative result were apparent when FitzGerald died. However he had expressed the view that if such a result was sustained by further work it could be attributed to a contraction of the linear dimensions of the condenser in the direction of motion through the ether leading to a diminution of electrostatic energy sufficient to produce the energy for the magnetic field. Further consideration of the problem convinced Trouton that a turning-impulse rather than a translational one was to be expected, the extra energy gained in turning the condenser through ninety degrees coming from the work required for the rotation; in any intermediate position a couple would be experienced, the maximum value being in the 45-degree position. Assuming a positive result to be obtained, Trouton envisaged the possible building of a machine consisting of condensers for utilising the vast store of energy in the earth's motion through space.
This investigation was the first undertaken by Trouton on taking up the Quain chair. In conjunction with a research student, H. R. Noble, a mica condenser was suspended by a fine wire with its plates vertical, the charges being led onto the plates through this wire and another wire hung from beneath them and dipping into a liquid terminal. The very thorough investigation extending over many months leading to negative results is recorded in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 202A, 165-181, 1904. Assuming FitzGerald was right in his contraction hypothesis, Trouton sought for more positive evidence of its truth. In 1908 with A.O.Rankine, an old student appointed Assistant in 1904, an attempt was made to measure the change of resistance of a wire when parallel and transverse to the ether drift. Four rectangular coils were wound, mounted on a common stand and connected in such a way that they formed a Wheatstone network, the wires forming opposite arms of the bridge being parallel. The bridge was balanced when the wire in two of the coils was at right angles to the resultant drift and then the whole assembly was rotated through 90 degrees and the change of balance tested. Once again every realizable precaution was taken only to lead to a negative result as recorded in Proc. Roy. Soc. 80A, 420-435, 1908. However these researches placed Trouton in the great tradition of nineteenth-century British physics, he being perhaps the last of the well-trained ether mechanists.
For some years the viscosity of quasi-solids interested him and much ingenuity was displayed in investigating it; with E. S. Andrews he applied the bending beam method to pitch, the torsion method to soda glass at different temperatures, and the falling sphere method to shoemakers' wax in which the velocity of a ball bearing was determined by means of X-ray observation as the ball descended 1.8 cm. in a fortnight. This X-ray method for the examination of opaque media was introduced by Trouton. While in Dublin Trouton had begun work on the adsorption of water vapour by flannel, glass and other substances with the view to constructing a recording hygrometer based either on the change of weight or, in the case of glass, the change of electrical resistance between two wires fused on the surface. Although this aim was not achieved, it led to a long series of investigations on adsorption in which several curious effects were observed, e.g., when the amount of water admitted to a vessel filled with glass wool was gradually increased, the equilibrium pressure of the vapour varied continuously, but the the curve obtained by plotting pressure against water-content had a marked kink in it, analogous to the kink given by van der Waals' equation for gases. A curious consequence was that it could be arranged for a glass surface holding a certain amount of water vapour to have a lower vapour pressure than a drier surface. Analogous effects were observed with phosphorus pentoxide; if very dry and ordinary phosphorus pentoxide were placed side by side under a bell jar and water was admitted in small quantities day by day, the ordinary oxide got continually wetter while the dry remained dry except for a few specks probably due to dust or other impurity, since it was too dry to take up moisture at all. Trouton was working on the general phenomena of adsorption with the help of his assistant, H.Burgess, when he first felt ill. It was established that the effects observed with glass and water vapour were not peculiar to them since similar effects were obtained with the adsorption by silica of the salt from various salt solutions. A brief account of this work was given in Trouton's Presidential Address at the Australian Meeting of the British Association in 1914 - an address read for him since he was then too ill to travel.
It will be recalled that the College became incorporated into the University during Trouton's tenure of the Quain chair. Under the University Regulations in order to qualify for registration as an undergraduate student it was necessary to pass the Matriculation examination. This involved passing in five subjects at the same examination, failure in any one requiring resitting the whole examination again. Three of the five subjects were compulsory, namely English, Mathematics and a foreign language, the other two being selected from a long list. The Matriculation courses listed by the department were X1 Mechanics; X2 Sound, Light and Heat; X3 Electricity; and they were given by H. J. Harris, B.A., an assistant in the Mathematics Department! Incidentally this examination, first held in November 1838, was held for the last time in June 1951. For some thirty years prior to the latter date, many school pupils gained exemption from matriculation on the basis of the requisite credits in the School Certificate Examination. Having matriculated a student could be registered for a three-year degree course. In the first year four subjects were studied and were required to be passed in the Intermediate examination taken at the end of the session. However a student with a marginal failure in one subject and a satisfactory performance in the other three could be "referred" in the one and allowed to retake it at the end of the second session. The Intermediate courses offered by the department were Y1 Elementary Mechanics still given by Porter, and Y2 Experimental Physics now taken by Trouton, these courses being renamed Junior Mechanics and Junior Physics in the 1908-09 session. The degrees available were a B.Sc. Pass degree in three subjects, e.g., Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics, and a B.Sc. Honours degree in one main subject and a subsidiary subject, e.g., Physics with Mathematics; Chemistry usually with Physics. Mathematics was special in that it required no subsidiary subject. Z1, the Senior Physics course, given by Trouton covered I Molecular Physics - Elements of Elasticity, Capillarity, Dynamical Theory of Gases, II Heat and Thermodynamics, III Sound and Light, IV Electricity and Magnetism, there being four lectures a week during the two sessions of the course; I became General Properties of Matter in the 1909-10 session. A, Higher Senior Physics, supplemented Z1 and was taken concurrently with it by the honours students, there being two lectures per week given by Trouton and Porter. Honours, Pass, and Subsidiary students worked in the senior laboratory on three days, two days, and one day per week respectively. Other courses provided by the department were a special course on Thermodynamics for second-year Engineering students and one on Physics for first-year Medical students.
In the long vacation of 1905 the department was enlarged, an additional storey being built to the Carey Foster laboratory and the large lecture theatre being reconstructed with a suitable lecture bench and seating accommodation for 132 students. On the upper floor there was also the smaller lecture theatre seating some 70 students, an apparatus room, a preparation room, and a common room for the professor and his academic staff. In the western half of the basement there was a laboratory for 36 intermediate students working in pairs, a research laboratory for Eumorfopoulos, and a workshop; the eastern half was used as a laboratory for senior students, who also worked on the ground floor of the Carey Foster laboratory. A lobby leading from the senior laboratory contained a sink and an ice-chest and gave access to an accumulator room, equipped with 60 large open-cell accumulators, and thence to another small room (really part of the Birkbeck building).
Wood who joined the academic staff as an assistant in October 1910 gives a graphic account of conditions in the laboratories at that time. During their 11/2 hour period of practical work the intermediate students worked in pairs, each pair performing the same experiment(s) in the same period. The apparatus was put out by the laboratory steward and instructions for performing the experiments were written on a blackboard beforehand by the assistant in charge of the class. Before work began the assembled class was informed about procedures and precautions - how to use a micrometer screw gauge or a Fortin barometer, how to attach a wire to a screwdown terminal or which side of a concave lens should be viewed to see the virtual image of a pin! These introductory talks saved time during the period and enabled staff to discuss any problems individual students had met in reading or in exercise work. Details of apparatus, procedure, and results were written in approved note-books and handed in after a lecture two or three days later together with exercise books containing answers to three numerical problems set each week. These books were marked and returned at the next practical period. Until the outbreak of war in 1914 Wood marked some 300 books each week. Apparently causes of error in the results of experiments could usually be easily located since Eumorfopoulos had prepared elaborate tables for each set of apparatus giving correct measurements and the results obtained on the basis of correct evaluation of incorrect data.
Duplicated lists of students due in the senior laboratory each day of the week were prepared at the beginning of each session, and round about 5 p.m. each day Eumorfopoulos would allot the experiment to be carried out by each student due in the laboratory the next day. Records of the work done were kept on stiff cards about 25 cm. by 7.5 cm. in size, each card labelled with student name, course, and day(s) of attendance in the laboratory. The cards were ruled in columns, one for each branch of the subject and in rows showing the number of the experiment, e.g., P for Properties of Matter - P5, Compound Pendulum, so that dates of performance, accounts and marks could be seen at a glance. Instructions, hand-written by Eumorfopoulos on blue linen-backed paper, were provided for each experiment so that students could start work without waiting for verbal instructions from members of staff on duty in the laboratory. Later when there were more students manuscripts were typed and pasted on cardboard, and the allotted experiments were displayed on sheets of millboard on a notice board.
The adequate laboratory equipment was well designed to provide good training in laboratory techniques. Such apparatus as could be made in the departmental workshop had been made by Grant, e.g., two good Helmholtz twin-coil galvanometers. In the senior laboratory there was a reasonable supply of resistance boxes, including a Callendar-Griffiths bridge and a Thomson-Varley slide, and of optical appliances - travelling microscopes, cathetometers and spectrometers. Moving-magnet mirror galvanometers were used in many of the electrical experiments with lamps and scales, the lamps usually being of the Nernst filament type, although one with an oil lamp was occasionally recalled into use. (W. 51-53).
Research was also actively pursed by academic staff and post-graduate students. In 1906 friends of Carey Foster set up the Carey Foster Fund for a Research Prize in Physics to commemorate his services to the College and to education in general. The prize took the form of books or instruments or apparatus to the value of £5 and was awarded by the Quain Professor to a student in the department engaged on research during the session preceding the award of the prize. The first prizeman was E. P. Metcalfe who had graduated with first-class honours in 1904 and was working with Clive Cuthbertson on the refractive indices of gaseous potassium, zinc, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, selenium and tellurium. In July 1907 Trouton, who had been giving £100 to the department for buying apparatus, transferred this sum to establish two scholarships for research in physics valued at £60 and £40 per annum and guaranteed for five years. The first scholar was E. N. da C. Andrade, who had gained first-class honours in the external examination in 1907, and received £60 in December of that year for his work on the flow of metals such as lead under constant stress. The guarantee was renewed in the 1912-13 session; moreover Professor and Mrs. Trouton in 1914 gave £300 for supplementing the apparatus, and £114 8s for special service in the department.
There were some twenty publications by Assistant Professor Porter over a very wide field including patterns formed by diffraction gratings, resolving power of a spectroscope, growth of photographic images, electric splashes on photographic plates, lagging of wires and pipes, inversion points of fluids passing through a porous plug, solidification of helium, osmotic pressure of compressible solutions; with post-graduate students there were the diffraction of light by particles whose size is comparable with the wavelength (with B. A. Keen), an experiment on the rotatory polarisation in liquids (with E. T. Paris), and he also suggested and supervised F. Simeon's work on the viscosity of calcium chloride solutions and on the relative thermal conductivities of solid and liquid sodium. Eumorfopoulos published his paper on the expansion of mercury using a large silica weight thermometer, and those on the boiling point of sulphur using a Callendar compensated gas thermometer, filled with nitrogen, probably the only one used in this country. Rankine, who gained first-class honours in 1904 and was appointed Assistant in the following session, first collaborated with Trouton on a study of the stretching and torsion of lead wire beyond the elastic limit; he then published papers on the decay of torsional stress in solutions of gelatine and the behaviour of over-strained materials; there followed the work on ether drift, and then his closed-circuit method for the viscosity of gases, especially those available in only small quantities, and its application to the then rare gases. Clive Cuthbertson, who after obtaining his B.A. at University College, Oxford, joined the Indian Civil Service but was forced to retire owing to ill-health; he was a student in the department from 1897-99 and was Assistant Private Secretary to the Marquess of Salisbury from 1900-02, returning to the department for research in 1902. Working with a Jamin interferometer in an upper room in the Carey Foster laboratory, he carried out an extensive series of investigations on the refractive indices of gases with the specific objective of understanding the underlying mechanism. His many papers, alone and in collaboration with others including his wife, Maud, and research students, "placed the question of the refractivities of the elements on a totally new basis. --- His work has now become widely known and recognised as the standard work on the subject." (Trouton's citation on his election to the Fellowship of the College in 1908). With Porter he endeavoured to measure the refractive index of radium emanation of which only one-third of a cubic millimetre was available - and no index for a gas had ever been determined with less than ten cubic centimetres; in spite of this an approximate value was obtained, difficulties other than those arising from the small quantities available making it impossible to obtain precise values. However it was clearly shown that the value was the largest of the non-valent group. Shortly after the outbreak of war he gave up research and became a Staff-Sergeant, Instructor of Musketry at Hythe, and then from 1915 to 1919 a temporary clerk in the Foreign Office. He was elected F.R.S. in 1914 and made O.B.E. in 1918. Percy Phillips, who had worked with Poynton in 1905 on an experiment to determine whether change of temperature had any effect on weight, worked on the recombination of ions and then on the viscosity and refractivity of carbon dioxide near its critical point.
Wood recalls Trouton as a "charming and kindly man, a good story teller but a hesitant lecturer. Everyone liked him but his discipline in his intermediate lectures was notoriously bad. He would spell 'lens' with a terminal 'e' and 'dew' as 'due', while another of his peculiarities was an inability (or unwillingness) to distinguish between electric intensity and electric induction, the difference involving the factor 4/K or its reciprocal. He would say 'Ignore this factor for the time being in your problem, and then at the end decide how to put it in. If you think it should be 4/K put it in as K/4 and vice versa. (A.O.Rankine in a letter). He introduced the 'real is positive' sign convention in his lectures on geometrical optics and it is possible that it originated with him or with FitzGerald." (W.44). During Trouton's illness Porter was acting head of the department and in the autumn of 1914 Dr. Percy Phillips was appointed to the academic staff and gave most of Trouton's lectures. Trouton resigned from the Quain chair at Christmas 1914 and lived in retirement at Tilford in Surrey, and afterwards at Downe in Kent until 1922, when on 21 September he died almost a month before his 59th birthday. He kept all his mental faculties little impaired until his death but paralysis of both legs rendered him incapable of locomotion during the last five years of his life. Despite this incapacity and the loss of his two eldest sons in war service, Trouton remained unbroken in spirit, his wit and charm undampened until extinguished in death.
William Henry Bragg, M.A., D.Sc., F.R.S., Cavendish Professor of Physics at Leeds University, was appointed to the Quain Chair as from 1 September 1915, Porter having been in charge of the department from January of that year. Bragg was born on 2 July 1862, the son of a yeoman farmer at Westward, near Wigton in Cumberland. At the age of seven he went to school at Market Harborough, being one of the six boys with which the old grammar school opened after re-establishment by his Uncle William. In 1875 he entered King William's College in the Isle of Man and rose to become head of school. Early in 1880 he tried for a scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge and was awarded an Exhibition, but was advised to return to school for a year since he was only seventeen. The following year he tried again but didn't do so well; however he was elected to a minor scholarship on the strength of his previous performance."In his notes Bragg puts his 'stagnation' down to a storm of religious emotionalism that swept through the school - the boys were scared of eternal damnation and of hell fire, and very much exercised as to what they should do to be saved. 'It really was a terrible year' says Bragg, who, though essentially a religious man, adds, 'But for many years the Bible was a repelling book, which I shrank from reading'. This from his private notes, but the period evidently left a strong mark on his mind, for in the Riddell Memorial Lecture on 'Science and Faith', given in the year before he died, he says, 'I am sure that I am not the only one to whom when young the literal interpretation of Biblical texts caused years of acute misery and fear'." (Royal Society Obituary Notice by Andrade). At Trinity he obtained a major scholarship in 1882, was third wrangler in the Mathematical Tripos, Part I in 1884, and gained first-class honours in Part III in 1885. J. J. Thomson was appointed Cavendish Professor at the end of 1884 and Bragg attended his lectures among others during 1885. At the end of that year J.J. asked him if Sheppard, who had been senior wrangler in Bragg's year, was applying for the professorship of mathematics and physics at Adelaide, which had just become vacant on the resignation of Horace Lamb, who had held the post since the foundation of the university in 1875. Sheppard was not a candidate, but the query prompted Bragg to apply, and with two others he was interviewed by the electors - the Agent General (Sir Arthur Blyth), J. J. Thomson and Horace Lamb - and chosen for the post. Naturally Bragg was delighted; the salary of £800 a year, the prospects of a new country and being his own master thrilled him. Bragg had not studied physics, but apparently the electors supposed he would pick up the subject as he went along. Anyway he read Deschanel's Electricity and Magnetism while sailing to Australia.
The life there suited him down to the ground, his social gifts making him very popular. In 1889 he married Gwendoline, the daughter of Charles Todd, the Postmaster General and Government Astronomer of South Australia, who was elected an F.R.S. in that year and later became a K.C.M.G. Apparently Bragg at first was an unimpressive lecturer but by careful application he developed towards that past-mastery of the art which he afterwards attained. Moreover he became interested in experimentation and following Röntgen's discovery in 1895 he set up the first X-ray tube to operate in Adelaide, but he made no attempt to carry out any original investigation; in fact in his first eighteen tears at Adelaide he published only three minor papers on electrostatics and the energy of the electromagnetic field. In January 1904 the Australian Association for the Advancement of Science met in Dunedin, New Zealand, and Bragg gave the presidential address to Section A on "Some recent advances in the theory of the ionization of gases", a critical review of the field, the most pointed criticism being directed towards work on the scattering and absorption of the ionizing radiation by matter. A few months later some radium bromide was given to him and with the assistance of R.D.Kleeman he began his classical researches on the range of the alpha particle and the allied questions of the ionization produced by the particle and of the stopping power of substances. Publishing a paper every few months, he soon established himself as an original investigator of the first rank and in 1907, less than three years after the reading of his first original paper, he was elected an F.R.S., Rutherford, with whom he had corresponded freely on the alpha-particle work, being his proposer. There followed in 1908 the offer of the Cavendish professorship of physics at Leeds which brought him back to England.
At Leeds Bragg was first fully occupied with organizing the teaching of the laboratory. In 1912 his monograph on alpha rays was published under the title 'Studies in Radioactivity'. He began to be deeply concerned as to the nature of X-rays, a problem exercising the scientific world. The doubtful results of certain attempts to produce diffraction had militated against the general acceptance of a wave nature. Bragg inclined to the opinion that they were of the nature of a particle, an electrically neutral doublet. However von Laue's suggestion that the rays might be diffracted by a thin slice of crystal, confirmed by the experiment of Friedrich and Knipping, caused a sensation in the physical world in the Summer of 1912. Bragg's interest was immediately captured and Andrade (loc.cit.) quotes what he wrote in Nature in November of that year - " Dr. Tutton suggests that the new experiment may possibly distinguish between the wave and corpuscular theories of the X-rays. This is no doubt true in one sense. If the experiment helps to prove that X-rays and light to be of the same nature, then such a theory as that of the 'neutral pair' is quite inadequate to bear the burden of explaining the facts of all radiation. On the other hand, the properties of X-rays point clearly to a quasi-corpuscular theory, and certain properties of light can be similarly interpreted. The problem then becomes, it seems to me, not to decide between two theories of X-rays, but to find, as I have said elsewhere, one theory which possesses the capacity of both." Bragg's elder son, William Lawrence, had just graduated with first-class honours in physics at Cambridge and his father suggested that he should start research on X-ray diffraction. There followed the now well-known W. L. Bragg reflection law, based on the reflection of waves from parallel layers of atoms, a much simpler interpretation of the phenomenon than that based on interfering wavelets from a three-dimensional array of atoms. Collaboration between father and son led to the publication of their first joint paper, early in 1913 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, which founded the science of crystal analysis by means of X-rays. Up to the outbreak of war in 1914 Bragg produced five further classical papers, in one of which he collaborated with Lawrence on the structure of diamond. The others dealt with the general technique of the X-ray spectrometer; the characteristic absorption of the different radiations and its effects; the structure of sulphur and quartz; and the general question of intensities. In these experiments Bragg used the ionization spectrometer to detect and measure the rays, his earlier work having taught him how to overcome the difficulties associated with this type of measurement. The work of the Braggs in the two years 1913, 1914 established the use of X-rays for the determination of the way in which crystals are built, and this was recognised by the award of the Nobel prize for Physics in 1915 to them jointly "pour leurs recherches sur les structures des cristaux au moyen des rayons de Roentgen". Bragg was a leading figure in Leeds University and became Pro-Vice-Chancellor; he continued his X-ray work into 1915, publishing e.g., a paper on the the spinel group of crystals. In July 1915 he was made an original member of the Board of Inventions and Research then instituted to give the Admiralty expert assistance in organizing and encouraging scientific effort in connexion with the requirements of the Naval Service, the submarine menace then becoming acute.
Bragg worked at College until April 1916 giving, e.g., the lectures on electricity to the B.Sc. Honours class. He then became Resident Director of Research at the Admiralty experimental station at Hawkcraig, but after many troubles largely within the Admiralty a laboratory was built for him at Parkeston Quay, Harwich, where he started work in 1917, having under him A. O. Rankine and other physicists. The departure of Rankine left Porter, Eumorfopoulos and Wood to carry on the work of the department, much depleted of students but still with the same number of classes. During this period the Admiralty took over part of the Carey Foster laboratory and incidently left behind 18 Tinsley galvanometers at the end of the war. During the course of the experiments and research on anti-submarine work principles were established and methods, as well as apparatus, devised which were of great service in the war against the submarine; in particular the hydrophone rendered outstanding service. In acknowledgment of his war work, as well as his scientific eminence, Bragg was made a C.B.E. in 1917 and was knighted as a K.B.E. in 1920.
Bragg and Rankine returned to College at the end of the war but Rankine, who had been made an O.B.E. for his war work, left at the end of the 1918-19 session to become Assistant Professor of Physics at Imperial College of Science and Technology. Bragg promptly started research, assembling a brilliant team of workers who occupied most of the Carey Foster Laboratory. It included W. T. Astbury, I. Backhurst, R. E. Gibbs, A. Müller, G. Shearer and Kathleen Yardley (later Dame Kathleen Lonsdale), who had so impressed Bragg by her outstanding performance in the London B.Sc. final examination in 1921. Some were appointed as demonstrators, others as research assistants paid a salary of £450 per annum. Since the equipment was scanty at first, most had to be designed and made. Continuously evacuated X-ray tubes, both hot wire and gas filled, were introduced and a self-rectifying gas tube was evolved, which gave useful service for many years. The ionization chamber was replaced by the photographic plate and the first attack on the structure of organic crystals was begun. Braun, who had worked alone in the workshop in Trouton's time, was transferred to the main College workshop, and replaced by a highly skilled instrument maker, C. H. Jenkinson, who came with Bragg and supervised, or made with one or two assistants, the new equipment. The workshop itself was moved to two large rooms adjoining the Birkbeck laboratory, one for metal and the other for wood work, access being gained through the accumulator room. For much of this work Bragg applied the powder method, whereas before he had worked with single crystals. His results on naphthalene and its derivatives were embodied in his presidential address to the Physical Society in 1921; he demonstrated that the benzene or naphthalene ring is an actual structure preserving its general form and size from compound to compound. This work was the starting point of the series of investigations on different classes of organic compounds which he directed afterwards at the Royal Institution. He also worked on the probable structure of ice, and at an annual dinner of the Alpine Club exhibited a model made of soft dental wax, which wilted as the evening became warmer. For the first time in its history the department began to make a major contribution to the advance of scientific knowledge and to become well known both in the world of science and in the outside world, just as the Department of Chemistry had become through the researches of Sir William Ramsay during his tenure of the chair of chemistry from 1887 to 1913. However Bragg's tenure of the Quain Chair was cut short in 1923 when on the death of Sir James Dewar he was elected to succeed him as Head of the Royal Institution.
Dewar was over eighty years old at the time of his death and there was much to be done in the way of reorganization at the Royal Institution. Bragg promptly directed the work of the Davy-Faraday Laboratory to the problems of crystal structure, having taken all his apparatus and entourage from College. He soon attracted other distinguished researchers to the laboratory which speedily became a world-centre of research. In 1919 Bragg had given the Christmas Lectures at the R.I. on 'The World of Sound'. One of his first tasks on going to the Institution was to give the series on 'Concerning the Nature of Things', and on two other occasions, namely at Christmas 1925 and Christmas 1931, he gave the lectures on 'Old Trades and New Knowledge' and on 'The Universe of Light'. Following the 1925 series Bragg took "Craftsmanship and Science" as the subject of his Presidential Address at the British Association in Glasgow in 1928. The Royal Society bestowed on him the Copley medal, its senior award, in 1930, having awarded him the Rumford medal in 1916. He was an honorary doctor of some sixteen British and foreign universities, and a member of the leading foreign societies. In 1931 he received the Order of Merit, and in 1935 at the age of seventy three he was elected to the Presidency of the Royal Society. During the early stage of the second world war he was chairman of several important scientific committees and held a number of other appointments as well as carrying out his duties at the Royal Institution. He even wrote a little book, 'The Story of Electromagnetism, to help boys of the Air Training Corps in their studies. For some time his heart had been giving him trouble and he tried to avoid physical exertion, while remaining ever active in his mind. As late as December 1941 he wrote to Nature on the new phenomenon of extra reflections or diffuse spots in X-ray photographs. On Tuesday, 10 March 1942, he had to take to his bed, and two days later he died.
In his obituary notice Andrade writes inter alia "Bragg had an astonishing career. Up to the age of forty he never showed any desire to carry out original experiment. He then straightaway embarks upon a perfectly precise and important piece of work and within a few years his name is known wherever physics is seriously studied. He spends some years carrying out a careful series of experiments which can be interpreted to prove the corpuscular nature of X-rays, and he stresses this interpretation. He then himself conclusively demonstrates, by the work with which his name will always be associated, the wave nature of X-rays. He starts life as an extremely shy and retiring youth, never, apparently, quite at home in Cambridge, and in his old age becomes a national figure, at ease in all surroundings, whose personal appeal is known all over England."
In the Riddell Memorial Lecture on 'Science and Faith' given in the year before he died, Bragg says "I am sure that I am not the only one to whom when young the literal interpretation of Biblical texts caused years of acute misery and fear". However religion continued to be a strong influence in his life; devoid of dogmatism, he had a simple piety and was an enemy of unbelief; and something of his own belief is given in the aforesaid lecture.
Andrade concludes his obituary notice with "There was, we like to think, something peculiarly British about Bragg. His attitude towards physics was that characteristic of the great experimenters of our land, especially his strong pictorial sense. He was a lover of the traditions, especially those of the great institutions with which he was connected. His lack of pedantry, his gift for popular exposition, his strong feeling for the craftsman in factory and workshop are all characteristics which he shared with Faraday, with Tyndall, with J.J.Thomson. He was an ornament, not only of English science, but of English learning, a great teacher and a good man, whose death came as a personal loss to all those who knew him. With him went an outstanding representative of a great period of English physics." A chronological bibliography, prepared by Kathleen Lonsdale, is appended to Andrade's obituary notice; it runs from 1891 to 1942 occupying eight pages. There is a reproduction of a photograph of Bragg seated at his desk in the Carey Foster laboratory in Harte & North (274;153).
At the end of the war special arrangements were made for students to start their intermediate courses in January 1920 and take a special intermediate examination in the following August. Students, who had left College for war service after passing their intermediate examinations, were released in time to return in the January; they were allowed to sit their final examinations in the autumn of 1920. Amongst the latter were Backhurst, Gibbs and W. S. Stiles, who having been appointed Demonstrators for the 1920-21 session, were given leave of absence until completion of their final examinations in November.
To cope with the increased number of students the senior laboratory was extended by taking over the junior laboratory which adjoined it. In 1920 the disused All Saints Church, which butted on to the Carey Foster laboratory and had been bought by the College in 1912, was made available for the intermediate students, S. M. Dhar B.Sc. being employed as a demonstrator and Miss L. Kilpack as laboratory steward. This was only a temporary measure since the church was due to be converted into the Great Hall as a memorial to the students who had lost their lives during the war. The building of the new Anatomy block and its occupation in 1923 provided a longer term solution. The large room adjoining the senior laboratory northwards, which had been the Anatomy dissecting room; the old Birkbeck laboratory, which had been built in 1845 for G.Fownes, the first holder of the chair of Analytical and Practical Chemistry, together with the small rooms between it and the workshop, were allocated to the department. The floor of the dissecting room was lowered to the level of the basement since it was said that students had habitually dropped pieces of their dissections through gratings in the stone floor on to the ground below. It was redesigned as a physical laboratory by F. M. Simpson, the Professor of Architecture, who incidentally made no provision for ventilation in a new glass roof. The Birkbeck laboratory was renovated and a short staircase provided giving access to it and the workshop from the new physical laboratory. When all these alterations had been completed the intermediate practical classes reverted to the basement, the senior classes extended into the new territory, and the Carey Foster laboratory was left free for research.
Mrs. E. Wood, wife of Orson Wood, was a temporary assistant during the 1918-19 session, and in the following session G. A. Sutherland, B.A., and L. H. Clark, B.Sc., were appointed Assistant and Demonstrator respectively. In the summer of 1920 Eumorfopoulos retired from teaching to concentrate on his involvement with the Union Society - having been Honorary Treasurer since 1912 - and on his porous-plug experiments; he became an Honorary Research Assistant, Wood assuming charge of the teaching laboratories. As mentioned earlier Backhurst, Gibbs and Stiles were appointed as Demonstrators and Dhar as Assistant for the 1920-21 session, Dhar replacing Clark who left to take up a post as physicist at the Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith. In the following session Sutherland, now an M.A., became an Assistant Lecturer, Astbury became the fourth Demonstrator and J. H. Smith, B.Sc., replaced Dhar; student demonstrators were first employed for a period of six hours per week, Miss G. E. Mocatta and G. A. V. Foster each being paid £10 per term to mark the intermediate exercise and practical books and to demonstrate in the laboratory to the students whose books they had marked. Under an arrangement between the College and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research Astbury, Gibbs, Müller, W. G. Plummer and Shearer became Research Assistants for the 1922-23 session; Backhurst and Stiles having joined the National Physical Laboratory, S. Northeast, B.Sc., R. C. Richards, M.Sc., B.A., were appointed Assistants and J. R. H. Coutts, B.Sc., and J. J. Hedges, B.Sc., both ex-students, were appointed Demonstrators, although Hedges left at December for a research post at Woolwich and Coutts went to Rothamstead at the end of the session, later becoming Professor of Physics in the University of Grahamstown, South Africa.
After the war the Mechanics course was taken over by the Mathematics Department, and after the 1920-21 session considerable alterations were made to the lecture programme, the arrangements for the two sessions from 1921 to 1923 being as follows:-
X - Matriculation class, 4 lectures per week throughout the session,
given by Gibbs;
Y - Intermediate class, divided into three groups, 3 lectures per week throughout the session,
Y1- Mathematical group taken by Porter,
Y2- Biological and Medical group taken by Sutherland,
Y3- Engineering group taken by Wood;
First-year lectures for students having passed, or having been exempted
from, the intermediate examination:
Z1 - General Electric Theory, one per week during the first and second terms, given by Bragg;
Z2 - Thermodynamics, two per week in the first term, given by Porter;
Z3 - Properties of Matter, two per week in the second term, given by Wood;
Z4 - Electrolysis and the Theory of Solutions, one per week in the third term, given by Porter;
Z5 - Geometrical Optics, two per week in the third term, given by Wood.
Z6 - Physical Optics, one per week in the first and second terms, given by Wood;
Z7 - Sound, one per week in the first term, given by Wood;
Z8 - Heat, two per week in the second term, given by Porter;
Z9 - Theory of Electrical Measurements, one per week in the second and third terms, given by Wood;
Z10 - Electron Theory, two per week in the third term, given by Bragg.
The course of instruction in practical physics in the laboratory was
designated Z11; students taking physics as a subsidiary subject were required
to attend the laboratory one day per week, while those taking it for the
pass/honours degree course were required to attend two/three days per week
The A1 or Higher Senior Lectures, four per week over the two-year period, were shared by Bragg and Porter.
The course on Thermodynamics for second-year engineers, designated Z12, one lecture per week in the second and third terms, was given by Wood.
There were three postgraduate courses:-
A2 - Radioactivity, Radiation and X-rays, one lecture per week, given by Bragg;
A3 - Electric Oscillations and Waves, one lecture per week in the first term, given by Porter;
A4 - Thermodynamics, one lecture per week, given by Porter.
With the exception of Wood, who ran the undergraduate laboratories and dealt with such administrative work of the department as was delegated by Bragg, members of staff undertook research. It should be realised that until 1915 the only higher degree awarded by the University of London was the D.Sc. gained in general by some good independent research over a ten-year or more period. The Ph.D. degree was then usually obtained by postgraduate study at a German university. In 1915 the University introduced the M.Sc. degree awarded after one year or two years of postgraduate study or research, and in 1920 the Ph.D. degree was introduced requiring a minimum of two years research. As pointed out by Wood this doctorate soon became a necessary qualification for advancement of academic staff and a valuable asset for entry into industry. It led to a considerable increase in the number of postgraduate students, but also to a marked decline in the standard of teaching and especially demonstrating in the undergraduate laboratories by junior staff keen to obtain promotion (W.61). Astbury determined the crystal structure of tartaric acid; Backhurst studied the variation of the intensity of reflected X-radiation with crystal temperature; Clark published a paper on the average range of beta-particles in different materials; Gibbs published papers with Porter on systems with propagated coupling and the theory of freezing mixtures; Shearer published a paper on the relation between molecular and crystal structure as shown by X-ray crystal analysis; Sutherland worked on architectural acoustics, publishing a paper on the whispering gallery phenomenon in St. Paul's Cathedral, and was responsible for the acoustical properties of the hall in Friend's House, Euston Road; and Porter continued with his miscellaneous researches.
Alfred William Porter, D.Sc., F.R.S., succeeded Bragg as University Professor as from 1 October 1923, the Quain Chair being in abeyance. He was born in Liverpool on 12 November 1863 and began training as an architect, but his interest in physics having been stimulated by Oliver Lodge, he started to study the subject seriously round about the age of twenty five. A student first at Liverpool University College, he graduated with first-class honours under Carey Foster in 1890, becoming successively Demonstrator in 1891, Assistant Professor in 1896, Fellow of the College in 1897, and University Reader in Thermodynamics in 1912. In 1911 he was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society. From 1906 to 1912 he was Recorder of Section A of the British Association, and in 1914 he deputised for Trouton as President of this Section in Australia; on this occasion the University of Melbourne conferred on him the honorary degree of D.Sc. Later he became President of the Section in Glasgow in 1928. In 1913-14 he was President of the Röntgen Society and later became an Honorary Member of the Society under its changed name of the Institute of Radiology. From 1920-22 he was President of the Faraday Society. As stated earlier he had been in charge of the department from the resignation of Trouton to the appointment of Bragg, and during Bragg's absence on war service. The decision not to fill the Quain Chair was made possibly owing to the nature of his researches being outside the main fields of physics in vogue; however once the decision was taken to make him Head of Department, the refusal to grant him the Quain title was unkind and unworthy of the College considering his long distinguished service and his age of sixty, leaving only five years before retirement.
In the 1923-24 session W. W. Barkas, B.Sc., and E. G. Richardson, M.Sc., were appointed as Demonstrators, and E. Tyler, M.Sc., as an Assistant; Professor W. W. Wilson was brought in from Bedford College as Quain Lecturer, in accordance with the terms of the Quain Trust, to assist Porter with the Higher Senior Classes. Sutherland, now a Senior Lecturer, left at the end of the session to become Principal of Dalton Hall, University of Manchester. Richards was made Quain Lecturer in Physics in the following session; Smith was made an Assistant Lecturer and L. F. Bates, B.Sc., Ph.D., from Bristol University, joined the staff in the same grade. Northeast was not re-appointed for the 1925-26 session, but A. C. Burton, B.Sc., a College graduate, was appointed as Demonstrator only to leave at the end of the session for the post of Physics Master at the Liverpool Collegiate School, and later becoming Professor of Biophysics at Western University, Ontario, Canada. Smith and Tyler also resigned, the former on his appointment as Professor of Physics at the School of Engineering, Cairo and the latter to become Lecturer at the College of Technology, Leicester. Following these three resignations, G. B. Brown, M.Sc., who had been a Research Assistant of W. L. Bragg at Manchester, joined the staff as an Assistant, R. C. Brown, B.Sc., a graduate from Queen Mary College, as Demonstrator, and A. M. Cassie, M.A., B.Sc., as Assistant Lecturer for the start of the 1926-27 session. At the end of this session Richards left for the R.A.F., Cranwell, and Gibbs returned from the Royal Institution, where he had become an authority on the structure of quartz, as a Research Assistant for the next session.
In the 1924-25 session the Y1, Y2 and Y3 Intermediate courses were taken by Wood, Smith and Bates respectively. Richards took over the Z1 course, Porter took the Z2, Z4, Z8 courses and a new Z7 course on Electron Theory, the lectures on Sound being transferred to Z3, taken by Wood, as were Z5, Z6 and Z9; the Physical Laboratory course was re-designated Z10. There were three postgraduate courses, A2 Modern Problems in Diffraction with special reference to X-rays, A3 Crystal Structure and X-rays, and A4 Modern Developments in Thermodynamics, A2 and A4 being taken by Porter, and A3 by Smith. In the following session there was added A5 Quantum Theory by Richards, but it was replaced by a new A4 Vacuum Techniques, Developments in Quantum Theory, Investigations in Turbulent Motion in the next session. In Porter's last session the Z courses were listed in the Calendar as First Year, Z1 Heat and Thermodynamics, Porter; Z2 Electricity and Magnetism, Bates; Z3 Properties of Matter, Wood: Second Year, Z4 Electricity and Magnetism, Bates; Z5 Sound, Wood; Z6 Light, Wood. A4 became Recent Experimental Work in Sound by Richardson.
During Porter's headship members of staff with the exception of Wood combined teaching with research. Bates worked on the range of alpha-rays in rare gases, and the specific heats of ferromagnetic substances; Barkas and Coutts studied the distribution of particles in colloidal suspensions; Cassie published a paper on secondary and tertiary beta-rays with Professor H. Robinson; Richards published papers on the resistance of a hot wire in an alternating air current, a method of studying the behaviour of X-ray tubes, and a note on high-frequency oscillating discharge in rare gases; Richardson published on Lissajou's whistling flame, aeolian tones, theories of the singing flame and the Trevelyan rocker, critical velocity of flow past objects of aerofoil section, novel experiments in aerodynamics, amplitude of sound waves in pipes, building acoustics, and characteristic curves of liquid jets (with Tyler); Smith published on the calculation of the magneton number of an atom in solution, abnormal reflexions of X-rays, molecular symmetry in crystal structure, and theories of magnetism; both Richardson and Smith wrote textbooks, the former on 'Sound; a Physical Text-book' (Arnold & Co., 1927) and the latter on 'Vacuum Practice', a translation of 'La Technique du Vide' by L. Dunoyer (G. Bell & Sons, 1926). Porter continued with his miscellaneous researches publishing some fifteen papers alone as well as those with his collaborators, including research students; the former covered such topics as eddies in air, heat engines and refrigerating machines, single crystals of aluminium and other metals, the law of molecular forces, a revised equation of state, the vapour pressure of binary mixtures, X-ray spectra formed by diffraction gratings, and the Soret effect. When Porter retired the Eagle mounting of a six-inch Rowland grating, which was housed in the central room of the ground floor of the Carey Foster laboratory, was transferred to the University Observatory at Mill Hill. C. C. L. Gregory, the assistant lecturer in Applied Mathematics, who was responsible, under Professor Filon for all the work in astronomy, had supervised the construction of the mounting in the departmental workshop and continued to have charge of it.
Rankine in his Royal Society Obituary Notice after citing Porter's service under the four Professors - Carey Foster, Callendar, Trouton and Bragg - writes "It was not until 1923 that he himself became Professor in the Department to which he had devoted so much of his energy. There is little doubt that he could have secured more rapid advancement, but for his apparent reluctance to leave London, and the restriction of opportunity thereby imposed. He preferred to remain as the backbone of the teaching organization, and those who studied physics at University College during the period from 1900 to 1923 are indebted to him for most of what they learnt. Porter was, primarily, a teacher, and an excellent one, especially to senior students. His original contributions to knowledge were numerous and notable, but they seemed to emerge chiefly from his studies of subjects upon which it became necessary for him to give lectures. He would find the theory of such a subject in what he considered to be an unsatisfactory state, and proceed to reformulate it with precision. His publications on the theory of osmotic pressure are a case in point. His interests ranged over most branches of physics, but he will be remembered chiefly as a reliable and original investigator and exponent of thermodynamics".
Porter wrote an excellent textbook on 'Mechanics' (Murray 1905) which the publishers unfortunately let go out of print; as mentioned earlier he collaborated with Carey Foster on the latter's adaptation of Joubert's 'Electricity and Magnetism'; he was responsible for the fifth edition of Preston's 'Light' (1928); and he wrote 'Thermodynamics' (1931) and 'The Method of Dimensions' (1933) in the series of Methuen's Monographs on Physical Subjects. He was a kindly, gentle man; although a bachelor living with a sister, he was very fond of children, and delighted in giving them a treat at the pantomime, which he enjoyed regularly for many years. He was reticent about himself and his family, being known to his colleagues only in his professional capacity. His chief recreations were walking and cycling; he travelled by aeroplane in its early days. Every day he lunched at Maple's with a few friends, continuing to do so after retirement. It was near Maple's that he was seriously injured in a street accident early in 1938; after a partial recovery he went to live with his sister in West Kirby, Cheshire, where he died on 11 January 1939.