1870 - 1887

Balfour Stewart, 1st Langworthy Professor

Balfour Stewart, 1st Langworthy Professor

Langworthy endowed this chair in experimental physics in 1874. It has been held by eminent physicists including Arthur Schuster (1887-1907), Ernest Rutherford (1907-1919), Lawrence Bragg (1919-1937), Patrick Blackett (1937-1953), Sam Devons (1955-1960), Brian Flowers ( 1961-1972), Francis Graham-Smith (1987-1990), Frank Read (1998-2001), and Andrew Lyne (2001-2007). The current holder is Andre Geim.

Balfour Stewart was the first to identify an electrified atmospheric layer which could distort the magnetic field of the earth. This idea, first postulated by Gauss in 1839, but published by Stewart in 1878, is that of the Ionosphere.

1889 - 1907

Sir Arthur Schuster, 2nd Langworthy Professor

Sir Arthur Schuster, 2nd Langworthy Professor

He designed and created the first modern physics laboratory in Manchester which was opened in 1900, and ranked amongst the best in the world. He toured the world measuring the size of the most eminent science laboratories, from Baltimore to Berlin, and then created the Manchester laboratories at a cost of around £6m, in 2010 money, which came mainly from private individuals.

He ensured that Ernest Rutherford was recruited to direct these laboratories. The new physics building constructed in 1967 is named after Schuster.

Arthur Schuster made important contributions in optics and terrestrial magnetism for which he received the Copley Medal from the Royal Society in 1931.

1907 - 1919

Ernest Rutherford, 3rd Langworthy Professor

Ernest Rutherford, 3rd Langworthy Professor

Rutherford was awarded the 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 'his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances,' for work done at McGill University in Canada.

His greatest discovery was of the atomic nucleus, in Manchester in 1911, from which came the Rutherford model of the atom, which catalysed the revolution in modern physics at the start of the 20th Century.

Rutherford is considered to be one of the great experimental physicists. After his death in 1937, he was honoured by being interred with the greatest scientists of the United Kingdom in Westminster Abbey. He received the Copley Medal from the Royal Society in 1922 for his research in radioactivity and atomic structure.

The Rutherford Lecture theatre in the Schuster Building is named in his honour.

Image: Ernest Rutherford in a physics laboratory at Manchester University, circa. 1908.

1913

Henry Moseley and Moseley's Law

Henry Moseley and Moseley's Law

On graduation from the University of Oxford, Henry Moseley was a lecturer in physics working with Ernest Rutherford from 1910 to 1914. In 1913, he published his results on measurements of the wavelengths of the X-ray spectral lines of a number of elements, which showed that the ordering of the wavelengths of the X-ray emissions of the elements coincided with the ordering of the elements by atomic number. This provided independent support for the Rutherford/Bohr model of the atom containing positive nuclear charge equal to atomic number. Moseley was shot and killed during the Battle of Gallipoli on 10 August, 1915, at the age of 27. This tragic loss of such a talented physicist is acknowledged by a plaque in the lecture theatre in the Schuster Building named in honour of Henry Moseley.

Image: Moseley's 1913 result with inset a photograph of Henry Moseley.

Image source: Library and Information Centre, The Royal Society of Chemistry.

1919

William Lawrence Bragg, 4th Langworthy Professor

William Lawrence Bragg, 4th Langworthy Professor

In 1912, he discovered the Bragg law of X-ray diffraction, which is a fundamental tool to study crystal structure. He was joint winner, with his father Sir William Henry Bragg, of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1915.

In Manchester he used X-ray crystallography to study silicates and metals. His greatest papers of that period are those with E.J. Williams on order-disorder phenomena. Their physical explanation of the catastrophic approach to disorder in alloys later formed the basis for the interpretation of other co-operative phenomena in solids.

He received the Copley Medal from the Royal Society in 1966 'in recognition of his distinguished contributions to the development of methods of structural determination by X-ray diffraction.'

The Bragg Lecture theatre in the Schuster Building is named in his honour.

Image source: Acc. 90-105 - Science Service, Records, 1920s-1970s, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

1937

Patrick Blackett, 5th Langworthy Professor

Patrick Blackett, 5th Langworthy Professor

Patrick Blackett was a remarkable experimental physicist. In 1948 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, for 'his development of the Wilson cloud chamber method, and his discoveries therewith in the fields of nuclear physics and cosmic radiation.'

Working with Giuseppe Occhialinihe, he used this method to discover the positron in 1932. The Blackett Lecture theatre in the Schuster Building is named in his honour.

1945

Lovell's first day at Jodrell Bank

Lovell's first day at Jodrell Bank

After working on radar during World War II, Bernard Lovell returned to The University of Manchester to continue his research on cosmic rays - high-speed particles from outer space.

He first came to Jodrell Bank in December 1945 to escape the radio interference of the city. Using ex-military radar equipment, Lovell detected echoes from meteor trails rather than from cosmic rays.

Radio astronomy observations have continued at Jodrell Bank ever since.

Image: The Botany Huts at Jodrell Bank and the first radar systems used on the site in the December of 1945.

1957

The Mark I Telescope and the dawn of the space age

The Mark I Telescope and the dawn of the space age

In the October of 1957, the first act of the Mark I Telescope (renamed the Lovell Telescope in 1987) was to use radar to track the rocket that carried Sputnik I into space at the dawn of the space age. With a reflecting bowl 250ft in diameter, this was the world's largest telescope.

Still operational more than 50 years later, various upgrades have made it more capable than ever, and it continues to be used to carry out cutting-edge research.

Image: The Mark I Telescope under construction in the mid-1950s.

1962

Long-baseline interferometry developed at Jodrell Bank

Long-baseline interferometry developed at Jodrell Bank

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, astronomers including Henry Palmer and Hanbury Brown developed the technique of radio-linked interferometry; they took mobile aerials across the country and connected them back to telescopes at Jodrell Bank using a radio link.

This sharpened our view of objects in the radio sky, allowing their positions and structures to be measured with greater accuracy. This was a key development in the identification of radio sources as quasars: distant galaxies powered by supermassive black holes.

Image: A small dish taken to various locations across England and linked back to Jodrell Bank.

1965

Henry Hall builds the first 3He-4He Dilution refrigerator

Henry Hall builds the first 3He-4He Dilution refrigerator

The dilution refrigerator concept was due to H. London in 1951. It was not until 1965 that the first working refrigerator was built in Manchester by Henry Hall. This allows the study of liquid helium below 0.4K. The School continues work in quantum fluids with rotating helium cryostats.

Henry Hall wrote the widely used book on Solid State Physics, part of the Manchester Physics Series, published by Wiley.

1966

First picture is sent from the surface of the Moon

First picture is sent from the surface of the Moon

In February 1966, the Soviet Union landed the Luna 9 spacecraft on the Moon and its signal back to Earth was intercepted by the Mark I Telescope at Jodrell Bank.

Noticing that the signal was similar to an early fax machine, one was borrowed from the Daily Express offices in Manchester and plugged in to the telescope receiver.

Out scrolled the first ever picture taken from the surface of the Moon.

Image: The first picture of the lunar surface taken by Luna 9 and received at Jodrell Bank.

1979

Discovery of the first gravitational lens

Discovery of the first gravitational lens

A survey of the radio sky made with the Mark I Telescope in the early 1970s led to the identification of an interesting object which looked like two stars.

A team led by Dennis Walsh showed that the two objects were actually separate images of the same quasar: a gravitational lens. Light from the quasar is bent by the warping of space-time around a foreground massive galaxy cluster.

Image: Double Quasar - the first gravitational lens - made with e-MERLIN and the Hubble Space Telescope.

1990

The Cambridge Telescope extends the range of MERLIN

The Cambridge Telescope extends the range of MERLIN

The MERLIN array of radio telescopes grew out of the work on radio-linked interferometry pioneered at Jodrell Bank in the 50s and 60s. In 1990, a brand new telescope at Cambridge was added to the array, which meant up to seven telescopes were connected across 217km, providing the same sharpness of view as the Hubble Space Telescope but at radio wavelengths.

The array is now connected by optical fibres, giving a huge boost in power. Called e-MERLIN, the new array is a pathfinder for the Square Kilometre Array to be sited in Africa and Australia.

Image: The 32-metre Cambridge Telescope, part of the e-MERLIN array.

2000

Ig Nobel Prize for levitating frog

Ig Nobel Prize for levitating frog

Andre Geim's 1997 research into the possible effects of magnetism on water scaling led to the famous discovery of direct diamagnetic levitation of water, and to a frog being levitated.

Andre Geim and Michael Berry were awarded the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize for this result.

2003

Discovery of the Double Pulsar

Discovery of the Double Pulsar

Discovered by astromoners Andrew Lyne, Michael Kramer, and collaborators at Jodrell Bank in 2003, the Double Pulsar contains two neutron stars; ultra-dense remnants of exploding stars circling one another, appearing as two 'cosmic lighthouses' to our telescopes.

This discovery has provided the most stringent strong-field test of Einstein's General Relativity theory, showing that it is correct to better than 99.9%.

Continued observations with the Lovell Telescope and others are continually improving the precision of these measurements.

Image: Artist's impression of the Double Pulsar System.

2010

Nobel Prize for the discovery of Graphene

Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov win the 2010 Nobel Prize for the discovery of graphene

Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov made the first samples of graphene by the famous 'sellotape method' in 2004. Graphene has remarkable electronic, mechanical and thermal properties.

They received the Nobel Prize in 2010.

Andre Geim is the current - and 11th - Langworthy Professor. Andre Geim received the Copley Prize from the Royal Society in 2013.

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