Instruments for Natural Philosophy

Thomas B. Greenslade, Jr.
Professor Emeritus of Physics
Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio 43022

 In February 1975, Deborah Jean Warner, a Curator of Physical Science at the National Museum of American History, called me to ask if Kenyon had any historical physics teaching apparatus. I looked around my office, and reeled off the names of four or five good pieces of apparatus that I was using in my lectures. The next month I was at the Smithsonian, exploring the collection and photographing some of it in black and white and in color. Since then, I have visited and photographed nearly seventy collections of early physics apparatus. This web site displays pictures of about 1850 pieces of apparatus, along with text and references. 

   Physics apparatus often goes by various names. The interrupter, the electrotome and the repeater are all the same instrument. Some apparatus has a person's name attached to it: Matteucci's apparatus or Wheatstone's bridge. Other apparatus isn't used any more: Packard's apparatus or the piezeometer. Clicking on the categories at the right will lead to home pages for each category, which will then lead you to individual instruments. 

   The screen is set for 800x600 pixels. Other settings will cause misalignments of some elements. The contrast and brightness of the computer monitor may need to be increased to view the pictures to the greatest advantage. 

   I would appreciate your mail informing me of errors on these pages.



Daniel Davis

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