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William Edwin James: Designer and Maker of Astronomical Optics

  • H. C. Bolton (a1) and D. W. Coates (a2)


We give an account of the life and work of William James, including his many contributions to astronomy in Australia mainly through his skill in designing, figuring and testing aspheric surfaces.



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Bolton, H. C. 1983, J. J. McNeill and the development of optical research in Australia. Historical Records Aust. Science 5 (4), 55-70
Bolton, H. C. 1990, Optical instruments in Australia in the 1939-45 War: Successes and lost opportunities. Australian Physicist 27 (3), 31-43
Bolton, H. C. 1991, A. M. G. Thorn: Crossing the gap between amateur and professional science. The Victorian Historical Journal 62, 51-9
Bolton, H. C. 1995, The Australian Optical Society’s Medal is awarded to W. E. (Bill) James AM, FAIP. Australian & New Zealand Physicist 32 (5), 81-2
Bolton, H. C, & James, W. E. 1995, What the killer whale sees. Australian & New Zealand Physicist 32 (4), Educational Supplement 3-6 [This is the last article written by James.]
Cannon, R. 1987, Observing the Supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud’. Australian Physicist 24, 216-21
Davis, J. 1990, Chatterton Astronomy Department, School of Physics, University of Sydney, in a letter of 26 July 1990 to one of the authors (HCB)
Davis, M. E. 1990, Henry Evans Baker: A Brave, Able, Original Man (Privately published by the author, Brisbane, Queensland)
Dawkins, R. 1986, The Blind Watchmaker (London: Longman Scientific and Technical)
Eddington, A. S. 1940, The Expanding Universe (London:Pelican Books), A70
Gascoigne, S. C. B. 1988, Australian astronomy since the Second World War, in Australian Science in the Making, ed. Home, R. W. (Cambridge Univ. Press), 345-73
Gascoigne, S. C. B., Proust, K. M., & Robins, M. O. 1990, The Creation of the Anglo-Australian Observatory (Cambridge Univ. Press), Ch. 6, p. 96 and Ch. 10, p. 168
Hargreaves, F. J. 1948, The Size of the Universe (London:Pelican Books), A193
Hargreaves, F. J. (1962-64). Letters to Bill James, May 1962 to June 1964. [Available in Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science. Manuscripts, James, E. MS 137. See also note in Historical Records Aust. Science (1986) 6 (3), 424. Photocopies of these letters are to be presented to the University of Melbourne Archives.]
Hartung, E. J. 1968, Astronomical Objects for Southern Telescopes (Melbourne Univ. Press), 33
Jagger, W. S. 1992, The optics of the spherical fish lens. Vision Research 32 (7), 1271-84
James, V. 1973, This Religion Business (Melbourne: Beacon Publications)
James, V. (date unknown), Why I am a Unitarian
James, V. 1981, Windows on the Years (privately printed)
James, W. E. 1990a, An exercise in practical optics. Australian Physicist 27, 59-60
James, W. E. 1990b, Note on polishing a cube. Australian Physicist 27, Education supplement, p. 4 [opp. p. 167]
James, W. E. 1994a, Beyond the fringe—Making optics for astronomy. Newsletter of the Australian Academy of Science No. 25
James, W. E. 1994b, Australian & New Zealand Physicist 31, 226-30
James, W. E., Steel, W. H., & Evans, N. O. J. L. 1990, Design and testing of a cube-corner array for laser ranging. Soc. Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers, Optical Fabrication & Testing 1400, 129-36
James, W. E., & Waterworth, M. D. 1965, A method for testing aspheric surfaces. Optica Acta 12, 223-7
Jeans, J. H. 1937, The Mysterious Universe (London: Pelican Books), A10
Jeans, J. H. 1939, The Stars in their Courses (London:Pelican Books), A59
Luck, J. 1995, Eulogy delivered at the funeral of W. E. James, 1 June 1995
Malin, D. 1993, A View of the Universe (Cambridge Univ. Press)
Mellor, D. P. 1958, The Role of Science and Industry in Australia in the War of 1939-1945 (Canberra: Australian War Memorial), Series 4, Number 5, Ch. 12
Parer, D., & Parer-Cook, E. 1994, The complicated killer, Wildlife Magazine of BBC 12 (3), 38-46
Rodgers, A. W. 1990, Letter of July 1990 to one of the authors (HCB)
Thorn, A. M. G. 1938, Hints on the polishing, figuring and after-care of high-grade optical surfaces. Laboratory Journal of Australia 1, 128-31
[Reprinted in the standard text of Twyman, F. 1952, Prism and Lens Making: A Textbook for Optical Glassworkers (London: Hilger and Watts), 44-8]
Thomson, J. V. 1952, An account of the grinding, figuring and testing of the 200-inch mirror for the Hale Reflector, in Twyman F. 1952, Prism and Lens Making: A Textbook for Optical Glassworkers, 2nd edn (London: Hilger and Watts), 568-76


William Edwin James: Designer and Maker of Astronomical Optics

  • H. C. Bolton (a1) and D. W. Coates (a2)


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