History of Physics Group


Our next meeting will be a one-day meeting on the history of MRI, to be held in Nottingham on 18 April 2018. For details and registration go to our conference page.

The third International Conference on the History of Physics will take place in Donostia-San Sebastian (Spain) from 17-21 October, 2018. See the website for details including a Call for Papers. The deadline for receipt of abstracts is 15 March 2018.

Our most recent newsletter is a special issue on the History of Particle Colliders (January 2018). This newsletter is not available in print form. Our most recent regular issue, No. 35, can also be downloaded from there.

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.

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