Cavendish Laboratory

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Cavendish Laboratory:

see Cambridge, Univ. ofCambridge, University of,
at Cambridge, England, one of the oldest English-language universities in the world. Originating in the early 12th cent. (legend places its origin even earlier than that of the Univ.
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Cavendish Laboratory


a physics laboratory at Cambridge Univeristy (Great Britain). It was founded in 1871 by the Duke of Devonshire, a relative of Cavendish, after whom it was named. The laboratory was initially used only as a training center for experimental physicists. Later (chiefly under the supervision of J. J. Thomson and E. Rutherford), it became one of the foremost scientific research laboratories in the world. The directors of the Cavendish Laboratory have been J. C. Maxwell (1871–75), J. W. Strutt (Baron Rayleigh) (1879–84), Thomson (1884–1919), Rutherford (1919–37), W. L. Bragg (1938–53), N. F. Mott (1945–71), and A. B. Pippard (since 1971). The world’s foremost physicists have worked at the laboratory, including Rutherford, C. T. R. Wilson, J. S. E. Townsend, O. W. Richardson, M. L. E. Oliphant, F. W. Aston, P. M. S. Blackett, J. Chadwick, J. D. Cockroft, J. D. Bernal, P. Langevin, P. L. Kapitsa, F. Crick, and J. Watson.

The scientific problems that have been dealt with at the Cavendish Laboratory over the years include the electric discharge in gases, nuclear physics research, crystallography, X-ray structure analysis, molecular biology, and radio astronomy. Discoveries made at the laboratory include the discovery of the electron (1897), artificial nuclear spallation (1919), and the neutron (1932). A model structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was proposed (1953) at the laboratory, and the Wilson cloud chamber (1912), the mass spectrograph (1913), and the linear accelerator (1932) were created there.


Wood, A. The Cavendish Laboratory.Cambridge, 1946.
Larsen, E. The Cavendish Laboratory, Nursery of Genius. London, 1962.
Thomson, G. P. J.J.Thomson and the Cavendish Laboratory in His Day. London, 1964.

I. D. ROZHANSKII [11–-1]