History of Physics Group


Upcoming meetings:

  • A joint meeting will be held with the Higher Education Group on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 in Glasgow. The title of the meeting will be Development of Teaching Physics in Higher Education through the Twentieth Century. Further details on the event and booking arrangements.
  • The Fourth International Conference on History of Physics
    17-19 June 2020, Trinity College, Dublin
    Further details.
  • A celebration of the 200th anniversary of Oersted's discovery of the magnetic field due to an electric current. 
    Wednesday 16 September 2020, Bristol
    Details on location and booking.
  • Joint meeting with the Environmental Physics Group
    Wednesday 4 November 2020, IOP headquarters, London. 


Our latest newsletter, Issue 37, dated October 2019 is available to download from the newsletter section. This newsletter primarily covers the day meeting held in April 2019 on the subject of Physics at the London Universities.

In the newsletter section there is also a new electronic version of the special edition on Physicists and Mathematicians of Belfast based on a gathering in 2014.


About the group

The group’s main aims are to research and present accounts of the ways in which the subject of physics has developed, and also of the lives and achievements of the men and women who orchestrated this development.  The group also explores ways in which historical developments can be used in the understanding, teaching and general communication of physics.

The main areas of interest are:

  • the history of physics discoveries, theories and concepts
  • the history of experimentation and instruments
  • the history of interactions between physics and society
  • oral history and archives

The group provides a forum where the different and somewhat fragmented disciplines of physics and related subjects are able to interact fruitfully. It pursues the study of the history of physics from the perspective of the physicist, and so its activities are of particular interest to physics practitioners, but it also encourages dialogue between physicists and professional historians of science.

The group organises several lecture meetings each year, of length between half a day and two days, many of them in collaboration with other groups of the Institute of Physics, and usually around a specific theme.  It also supports meetings organised by others when these are likely to be of interest to its members.

The group also produces regular substantial newsletters, which include written accounts of some of the talks from these meetings, other articles and book reviews on the history of physics, and group news. It has also published an e-book which arose out of one of its meetings.

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