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The Early History of the Cavendish Laboratory

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Leona Hope-Coles.

Physics was introduced rather late into the syllabus of the Natural Sciences Tripos in Cambridge. In this lecture, the extraordinary events which led to the opening of the Laboratory in 1874 will be described. Maxwell, the first Cavendish Professor faced the challenge of creating a world-class laboratory starting from essentially zero. How he and his successors achieved this remarkably rapidly will be described. It will be argued that the Laboratory has followed the agenda set out by Maxwell in his inaugural address of 1871. The challenges have a resonance with how the present programme of the Laboratory is carried out and the challenge involved addressed. The lecture will be delivered at a non-technical level and will be profusely illustrated.

This talk is part of the Cavendish Physical Society series.

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