History of Physics Group


We are planning four meetings in 2017:

History of Colliders: 19 April, Bristol.
Developments in Nuclear Fusion: 14 June, Birmingham.
Rutherford's Chemists: 15-16 July, Glasgow.
History of MRI: 13 September, Nottingham University.

Further details of these meetings will be posted when known.

Our most recent newsletter is No. 34 (2016). An electronic copy is available in our newsletter archive

In August 2016, seven members of the Group carried out a 2-day review of the IoP archives. Several valuable items were identified, including a recording of a lecture given by Lord Rutherford at Gottingen in 1931, with notes by John Cockcroft. There are also numerous letters from prominent figures in the history of physics, including James Clerk Maxwell, Lord Kelvin, Sir Oliver Lodge, J.J. Thompson, and William Bragg. The project is ongoing; recommendations have been made, and further activities are being planned.

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.

Related information


IOP Groups

How to join a group

All groups are open to all IOP members

Research Student Conference Fund

The Institute of Physics provides financial support to research students to attend international meetings and major national meetings