History of Science Museum: Collection Database Search

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Former Display Label - Laboratory Physics

Laboratory Physics

During the era of 'classical physics' in the 19th century, most instruments were still relatively simple and their designs could easily be related to their physical principles.

Spectroscopes, electroscopes and galvanometers, induction coils and vacuum were the routine instruments for exploring the physical world. Several of the instruments here came from the University's Claredon Laboratory, the first purpose-built physics laboratory in Britain, completed in 1872. The main areas of laboratory research were electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics and the nature of light.

In the 19th century, natural philosophy transformed into physics. Its practitioners became professional physicists and their activity moved from private experimental cabinets to university and commercial laboratories. Physics also became increasingly mathematical and theoretical.

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