Historic science relic returns to Adelaide

Thursday, 1 May 1997

A microscope originally belonging to one of South Australia's first Nobel Prize winners, Sir William Henry Bragg, is being returned 'home' to the University of Adelaide.

Discovered by an Australian science historian at an auction in England, the microscope will be donated to the University's Department of Physics.

Who was William Bragg?

Sir William Henry Bragg was Professor of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Adelaide from 1886 to 1909.

In 1898 he spent a year on study leave in England, where he purchased equipment for the University's physics laboratory and the new engineering school.

He also bought a small brass microscope for his own use and the amusement of his family. Professor Bragg occasionally used this instrument in his research into x-rays, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in 1915 with his son, Lawrence.

About the microscope...

The microscope is housed in its original wooden case, with a handwritten label by Professor Bragg bearing his name and address in South Terrace, Adelaide.

The instrument remained with the Bragg family until it was donated in 1989 to the British Science and Technology Trust, to raise funds for the promotion of science.

Science Historian Dr John Jenkin (a physics graduate from the University of Adelaide and now at La Trobe University, Melbourne) spotted the instrument at an auction in England in 1990.

Dr Jenkin is the author of a book on the Bragg years and has an extensive collection of Bragg memorabilia. He has generously decided to donate the microscope to the University, where it will go on display.

 

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