Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 January 2009
The history of the Cavendish Laboratory is a fascinating subject to study, not just because this famous centre of experimental physics produced a large number of Nobel Laureates but also because it gives us an insight into the unique milieu of the Cambridge physics community. The evolution of the Cavendish Laboratory, however, was not as smooth as might be expected, and the prestige and reputation of its first directors – James Clerk Maxwell, Lord Rayleigh, Joseph John Thomson and Ernest Rutherford – did not automatically guarantee a rosy future. Like other British physics laboratories in the late nineteenth century, the Cavendish Laboratory was a new species to meet the pressure and demand from society. Since it propagated new values and modes of doing science, a struggle with old traditions could not be avoided, and the early history of the Cavendish Laboratory illustrates how the ‘old’ and ‘new’ values fought and negotiated each other in late Victorian Cambridge.
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73 During the 1890s, Thomson received the following honours: Honorary Doctorate, Dublin University (1892); Royal Medal, Royal Society (1894); President of Cambridge Philosophical Society (1894); Honorary Member of Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society (1895); Rede Lecture (1896); President of Section A of the British Association at Liverpool (1896); Honorary Doctor of Laws, Princeton University (1896); Foreign Correspondent of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Turin (1896). For a complete list of honours Thomson received, see Sttutt, , op. cit. (9), 288–91.Google Scholar
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111 Feather, Norman, Lord Rayleigh, Glasgow, 1940, 32–3Google Scholar. The first choice of the scholarship was a chemist named J. S. Maclaurin. Since he declined the opportunity because of a ‘family problem’, Rutherford, the second choice, was awarded the scholarship which was usually assigned ‘once every two or three years’ to the University of New Zealand.
112 The first photograph which had the caption ‘Physics Research Students’ was taken in 06 1897Google Scholar. All photographs since 1897 are hung on a wall of the new building of the Cavendish Laboratory.
114 CUL MSS, Add. 7653 M3, M4, M7, M8.