History of Physics Group
The first meeting of 2016 will be A History of Units from 1791 to 2018, and will take place on 17 March at the National Physical Laboratory. The meeting will include talks on the history of the measurement of mass, time, temperature and electrical resistance.
The second meeting of the year will be A Poetic View of William Rowan Hamilton – readings from sonnets written by Iggy McGovern in recognition of the life and work of the 19th-century mathematical physicist, to be held at the Institute of Physics in London on 14 June. Further meetings will follow, and will be advertised here when details are available. They are likely to include meetings on “Rutherford’s Chemists” and a history of chronometers from Harrison to Caesium. We will also be participating in the second International Conference on the History of Physics, to be held in Pöllau, Austria, in September.
Our latest newsletter (No. 33, December 2015) was recently mailed to Group members.
See a report of Professor Helene Langevin-Joliot's talk on her grandmother, Marie Curie, given at the Group's recent meeting on Pioneering Women in Physics.
We sometimes video talks at our meetings. You can find these videos by clicking on the 'Presentations from Group meetings' link on the left-hand side of this page.
About the Group
The Group was established in 1984. Its main aims are to secure the written, oral and instrumental record of British physics for posterity and to explore ways in which history can be used more effectively in the understanding, teaching and general communication of physics. Since the history of physics deals with all aspects of physics the Group also hopes to provide a forum whereby the different and sometimes fragmented disciplines of physics and related subjects may interact fruitfully.
Four major areas of interest have been identified:
- oral history and archives
- the history of experimentation and instruments
- the history of physics ideas
- the history of the interactions between physics and society
The Group intends to pursue those aspects of the history of physics which especially require the skills of the physicist and which are of particular interest to the practitioner of physics. It is generally felt that nineteenth- and twentieth-century physics will be of greatest interest to members of the Institute.
To achieve our aims the Group holds at least two half- or one-day meetings and an evening lecture each year. In addition a regular newsletter is issued which contains information on past and future meetings of the Group and related organisations, articles on the history of physics, and Group news.