Header v24 #72 2013Previous Issue of eRittenhouse

Table of Contents:

  • Papers

  • Denis Shephard on Geophysical Instruments in Australia’s National Historical Collection  (under Collections)  Australia’s National Historical Collection includes about 750 geophysical instruments that has been described as ‘the most extensive assembly of historic geophysical apparatus in Australia’.   The instruments represent the full range of survey and laboratory work carried out by Australian national government geophysicists through the 20th-century.  Several of the instruments also relate directly to Australia’s relations with the international scientific community.  This article provides a general overview of the collection as well as a closer look at some selected instruments from the collection.
  • Thomas B. Greenslade, Jr.  on The Water Motor    At the beginning of the twentieth century, water motors competed, in a small way, with the electric motor for providing rotary motion in the laboratory and shop. 
  • Maria Lucia de Niemeyer Matheus Loureiro and Vitor Luiz Silva de Almeida on Emmanuel Liais and the cœlostat:  Notes on a forgotten instrument    French astronomer Emmanuel Liais, director of the Imperial Observatory of Rio de Janeiro, designed and ordered the construction, ca. 1874, of an apparatus he called a cœlostat but apparently his cœlostat was never used and it’s current location is unknown.
  • David Ludwig and Oliver Zauzig on The Documentation of University Collections in Germany   Recent efforts in Germany to increase the visibility and accessibility of university collections include an online database of university collections to stimulate collection-based research and collection preservation.  This can be seen as a model for similar efforts on an international level. 
  • Thomas Greenslade and David Keeports on The Murfee Resonator patented in 1912 by a scientific man, Edward H. Murfee, to generate perfect pitch, an alternative to the piano tuner’s tuning fork.  Murfee’s resonator can be used to produce a known frequency.
  • Allan Mills on The Polarimeter   Some materials, such as sugar in solution, rotate the plane of polarization of linearly polarized light passing through them.  Laurent’s invention of the ‘half-wave plate’ is still used to rapidly and specifically assess the concentration of sucrose in solutions.  A lecture demonstration apparatus is also described.
  • About our Authors

  1. Vitor Luiz Silva de Almeida (most recent paper: Emmanuel Liais and the cœlostat) is a historian and is currently a Masters student in the Graduate Program in Comparative History – Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro – UFRJ.
  2. Thomas Greenslade (most recent papers:  The Murfee Resonator and  The Water Motor) received an A.B. in physics from Amherst College in 1959 and a doctorate in experimental low temperature physics from Rutgers University in 1965.  Tom was a physics faculty member at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio (1964 to 2005).  His research deals with early physics teaching apparatus, and he has a web site, a collection, and nearly 355 illustrations of early apparatus which have appeared in the American Journal of Physics.  A prolific author, Tom has 257 publications  and has given almost 200 talks.  He is the chair of the History and Philosophy of Physics Comm. of the American Association of Physics Teachers.  They awarded him a Distinguished Service Citation in 1987, and in 2002 listed him as one of the 75 most influential physics teachers and physicists in the United States.  Tom also has a contribution on Wheatstone Bridges under the Collections section of eRittenhouse.
  3. David Keeports  (most recent paper: The Murfee Resonatoris a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Physics at Mills College, where he has taught physics and physical chemistry since 1982. He is a regular contributor of articles to science education journals. He has served on the manuscript review panel of the Journal of College Science Teaching and on the Editorial Board of The Physics Teacher.
  4. John Kuenzig (Review of  The Discover’s Lens)  has been a bookseller since 1996, specializing in science, technology, engineering, and medicine.  He also buys and sells scientific instruments, and is currently the distributor for the remaining copies of the original Rittenhouse print edition.
  5. David Ludwig (most recent paper:  The Documentation of University Collections in Germany with Oliver Zauzig) David Ludwig studied philosophy, history of science, and cognitive science in Berlin, Potsdam, and Stanford. From 2010-2012, he worked as predoctoral researcher in a collaborative project on material models in the history of science at Humboldt University Berlin. Since 2012, he is postdoctoral fellow of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and works on a project on scientific ontologies at Columbia University. 
  6. Maria Lucia de Niemeyer Matheus Loureiro (most recent paper: Emmanuel Liais and the cœlostat) works at Museu de Astronomia E Ciências Afins – MAST (Museum of Astronomy and Related Sciences, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). She is a museologist with a doctorate degree in Information Science.
  7. Allan Mills (most recent paper:  The Polarimeter)  began with a degree in Chemistry, but have in fact spent most of his working life in academic departments associated with Geology and Astronomy.  As a post-doctoral fellowship at Oxford he carried out radioactive dating of ancient rocks, and this led to posts in Canada and Harwell.  However, most of his career was spent as Lecturer in Planetary Studies at the University of Leicester, where (besides teaching) he researched tektites and meteorites.   Allan says “It is rather difficult to do research in any branch of modern science at home, so following retirement I have concentrated on early scientific instruments and related topics. A long term interest in mechanical matters, and the possession of a well-equipped workshop, has enabled me to construct working replicas as well as making new apparatus.  Currently I am researching kaleidoscopes – a far more extensive subject than might be expected, for Brewster’s two-mirror kaleidoscope has proved to be the simplest member of a whole family of 2-D and 3-D instruments.”
  8. David Pantalony (latest post  Fr, Clarke’s electron selector) is curator of Physical Sciences and Medicine at the Canada Science and Technology Museum (CSTM).  His book Altered Sensations: Rudolph Koneig’s Acoustical Workshop in Nineteenth-Century Paris (Springer) won the 2012 Paul Bunge Prize.  He teaches a fourth-year history seminar using the collections at CSTM.
  9. Denis Shephard  (on instruments in Australia) has worked as a dairy farmer, a survey and civil draftsman and as a curator at the National Museum of Australia.  Since his retirement in 2008 he has volunteered in the Map Room of the National Library of Australia.  At the NMA he worked with, among other collections, the chronometers, land surveying instruments and geophysical surveying equipment.  In retirement he continues his interest in these collections through research work and writing.
  10. Deborah Warner  (most recent paper:  The Sprengnethers and their Seismographs)  works with the physical science collections in the National Museum of American History, a branch of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Her bibliography includes books and articles pertaining to the history of scientific instruments, women in science, and celestial cartography, as well as sugar and other sweet stuff.
  11. Oliver Zauzig  (most recent paper:  The Documentation of University Collections in Germany with David Ludwig) studied history and geography at the Humboldt University Berlin. He works at the Coordination Center for scientific University Collections. Since 2007 he has researched the history of university collections and he worked in the collaborative research projects “University collections in Germany” and “Material Models in Research and Eduction”.