History of Physics Group


Our next meeting will be “FOCUS ON LIGHT’’, a conference to mark the International Year of Light and light-based technologies. It will take place on Friday 5th June, at the University of Bristol, commencing at 9:30am.

The programme will include talks on: Maxwell's 'A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field' (1865); Thomas Young’s interpretation of interference patterns; the physics and biology of colour appearance; electric lighting from oil lamps to LEDs; the history of lasers; slowing down light; photonic crystals for biosensing & imaging; optical fibres and communications technologies for the modern world.

Venue: School of Physics, University of Bristol, HH Wills Physics Laboratory, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1TL.

For more details see http://www.bristol.ac.uk/physics/public-engagement/focus-on-light.

The conference is supported by the History of Physics Group of IOP, together with the Quantum Electronics and Photonics Group of IOP, the South-West Branch of IOP and the School of Physics, University of Bristol.

We have two further meetings in 2015:

50 years of Dilution Refrigerators (organised jointly with the IOP Low Temperature Group) 16 September, University of Manchester

Farewell to Magnox (organised jointly with the IOP Nuclear Industry Group) 28 October, Wylfa, Holyhead, Anglesey

Further details of these meetings will be posted when available.

Our next regular newsletter is expected to be issued in the autumn. We welcome contributions from members; if you would like to contribute an article, please contact the Editor, Malcolm Cooper, at mcooper@physics.org.

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.

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.

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