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Fireside Chat ‘From Galvanometers to Oscilloscopes: The development of instruments to detect and record electrical signals 1850 to 1970’

February 11, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm GMT

Duddell double beam oscillograph, 1909.

By Robert Whitworth.

These days life is so dependent on electrical devices that we take them for granted. This chat will use instruments from the historic collection at the University of Birmingham to illustrate the challenges faced by early workers on electrical systems. We start with detecting direct currents with a galvanometer, then proceed to recording signals and finally to observing alternating currents with a cathode-ray oscilloscope. Such instruments are the precursors of modern digital instrumentation.

Biographical details
Dr Robert Whitworth was Reader in Crystal Physics at the University of Birmingham. He is an experimentalist with wide experience of electrical instrumentation in both research and teaching. His specialty was in the crystalline properties of ice. In retirement he has spent over 20 years working on the Birmingham University Collection of Historic Physics Instruments. A group from the SIS visited the collection in 2007. He was responsible for restoring a rare Wheatstone Wave Machine in the collection and demonstrated this at an SIS open day in London in 2012.


February 11, 2023
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm GMT
Event Category:


On-line, for SIS-members only.


Louise Devoy
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