Physics Laboratory at University College, ca. 1900

Physics Laboratory at University College, ca. 1900 Photo courtesy of University of Toronto Archives

CHIN
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen

© 2008, University of Toronto Archives. All Rights Reserved.


It is hard to imagine a time when a science student did not have exposure to the laboratory, and to the scientific instruments that reside there.
It was only in the last decades of the 19th century that laboratory instruction came to be such an essential component of science education in Canadian universities.

It was James Loudon, professor of physics at the University of Toronto, who championed the cause. In 1878 he was successful in establishing the first undergraduate teaching laboratories in Canada, including, notably, a teaching laboratory for physics. The physics laboratory was located in the University College building, pictured here in 1900.

Though this trend towards laboratory instruction had been ongoing in European universities, there was resistance to the change. The class of people who sent their sons (and only rarely, daughters) to be educated at the University of Toronto expected their children to receive the liberal arts education considered appropriate for future lawyers, doctors, and ministers. Courses in physics and mathematics were seen as part of that broad education, alongside philosophy and languages. Laboratory work, though, was Read More
It is hard to imagine a time when a science student did not have exposure to the laboratory, and to the scientific instruments that reside there.
It was only in the last decades of the 19th century that laboratory instruction came to be such an essential component of science education in Canadian universities.

It was James Loudon, professor of physics at the University of Toronto, who championed the cause. In 1878 he was successful in establishing the first undergraduate teaching laboratories in Canada, including, notably, a teaching laboratory for physics. The physics laboratory was located in the University College building, pictured here in 1900.

Though this trend towards laboratory instruction had been ongoing in European universities, there was resistance to the change. The class of people who sent their sons (and only rarely, daughters) to be educated at the University of Toronto expected their children to receive the liberal arts education considered appropriate for future lawyers, doctors, and ministers. Courses in physics and mathematics were seen as part of that broad education, alongside philosophy and languages. Laboratory work, though, was seen as appropriate for technical training, not for the science education of the elites.

In the traditional curriculum, science courses took place in lecture halls, where the instructor might have instruments to demonstrate the concepts and phenomena of science.

In the new science curriculum, undergraduates would get hands-on experience with scientific instruments. The new undergraduate teaching laboratories required the purchase of new instruments from the large instrument makers of Germany and France.

Many of the instruments used by the students in the new labs were similar to the demonstration instruments used by their professors at the front of the lecture theatre. But there were new instruments making it into the laboratories, instruments designed not merely for demonstration, but for experimentation. With these, students were introduced to the techniques of the experimental method.

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Physical Laboratories Lecture Hall, McGill University, ca. 1900

Photo courtesy of Physics Department, McGill University

CHIN
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen

Photograph
© 2008, Physics Department, McGill University. All Rights Reserved.


This acoustical instrument, the sound analyser, made sound waves visible. It allowed one to "see" the simple tones that contributed to the rich, complex sound of an organ pipe, or violin. A musical note was played or sung before the brass receptacles (resonators) and the sound waves were transformed into distinct and separate flame patterns.

Before 1860, physicists only studied sound with a well-practiced ear. Rudolf Koenig of Paris invented several novel ways to study sound waves with the eye. Visualizing sound was particularly attractive for classroom demonstrations and enabled students to conceptualize sound in new ways.
This acoustical instrument, the sound analyser, made sound waves visible. It allowed one to "see" the simple tones that contributed to the rich, complex sound of an organ pipe, or violin. A musical note was played or sung before the brass receptacles (resonators) and the sound waves were transformed into distinct and separate flame patterns.

Before 1860, physicists only studied sound with a well-practiced ear. Rudolf Koenig of Paris invented several novel ways to study sound waves with the eye. Visualizing sound was particularly attractive for classroom demonstrations and enabled students to conceptualize sound in new ways.

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Sound analyser

Department of Physics, University of Toronto Used to visually analyse the constituents of a compound note. Fourteen resonators are connected to eight lines supplied with gas. Activated resonators cause visible fluctuations in the flames, which are viewed in a mirror. Photo courtesy of University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments

Made by Rudolf Koenig, Paris
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen
c. 1876
© 2008, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments. All Rights Reserved.


Flame patterns produced by the sound analyser

This drawing represents the flame patterns produced by the sound analyser, corresponding to the component notes of a given sound. It is from a University of Toronto lab manual dating from 1895.

CHIN
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen
c. 1895
© 2008, University of Toronto. All Rights Reserved.


James Mark Baldwin (1861-1934), who was a proponent of the new teaching and research methods emanating from Germany in the latter half of the nineteenth century, established the first psychological laboratory in the British Commonwealth in 1892.

Previously, psychology had been closely tied to what was termed "armchair philosophy." Against pressure to maintain the classical teaching methods, Baldwin introduced a vigorous laboratory component to his teaching. Students could now experience laboratory research. The first laboratory was located on the second floor of University College, Toronto.

The Hipp chronoscope was the central timing device in Baldwin’s first teaching laboratory. It was used to measure reaction times of subjects under varying conditions. The chronoscope was a finicky instrument, requiring constant tinkering to function properly. With an experienced operator, however, the uniform clockwork offered unparalleled precision.
James Mark Baldwin (1861-1934), who was a proponent of the new teaching and research methods emanating from Germany in the latter half of the nineteenth century, established the first psychological laboratory in the British Commonwealth in 1892.

Previously, psychology had been closely tied to what was termed "armchair philosophy." Against pressure to maintain the classical teaching methods, Baldwin introduced a vigorous laboratory component to his teaching. Students could now experience laboratory research. The first laboratory was located on the second floor of University College, Toronto.

The Hipp chronoscope was the central timing device in Baldwin’s first teaching laboratory. It was used to measure reaction times of subjects under varying conditions. The chronoscope was a finicky instrument, requiring constant tinkering to function properly. With an experienced operator, however, the uniform clockwork offered unparalleled precision.

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Hipp chronoscope

Department of Psychology, University of Toronto Used as a timing device in the psychology laboratory. Photo courtesy of University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments

Made by Peyer & Favager, Co., Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen
c. 1890
© 2008, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments. All Rights Reserved.


Invented in 1859 by Gustav Kirchoff (1824-1887) and Robert W. Bunsen (1811-1899), the spectroscope was a standard instrument of the chemical laboratory in the second half of the nineteenth century. It provided a powerful means for analyzing chemical compounds by observing their characteristic spectra of light. Light from a selected source would be broken up by the prism and diffracted into a signature spectrum. Specific spectra identified chemical elements. The well-known British instrument-maker, John Browning, sold this model to the Chemical Laboratory at the University of Toronto.
Invented in 1859 by Gustav Kirchoff (1824-1887) and Robert W. Bunsen (1811-1899), the spectroscope was a standard instrument of the chemical laboratory in the second half of the nineteenth century. It provided a powerful means for analyzing chemical compounds by observing their characteristic spectra of light. Light from a selected source would be broken up by the prism and diffracted into a signature spectrum. Specific spectra identified chemical elements. The well-known British instrument-maker, John Browning, sold this model to the Chemical Laboratory at the University of Toronto.

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Spectroscope

University of Toronto, Department of Chemistry Used to analyse chemical compounds by observing their characteristic spectra of light. Photo courtesy of University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments

Made by John Browning, London
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen
c. 1880
© 2008, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments. All Rights Reserved.


Until around 1880, the history of astronomy and observatories at Canadian universities is often linked with military or governmental astronomical activities. This is because astronomy had very practical uses in determining time and location. Surveys, mapmaking, navigation, and time-keeping were all of practical military and civic interest.

In the case of the Kingston Observatory, as with the Toronto Magnetic and Meteorological Observatory, an observatory was situated at the university campus, though it was funded and/or operated by the government or the military. Eventually, the university took over operation of the observatory, using it to satisfy teaching needs, as well as the practical needs of the public.

The Kingston Observatory was built by the City of Kingston in 1855. In 1855 the Observatory had few instruments, but this equatorial telescope with a 6 1/4-inch lens was ordered from Alvan Clark, the best lens maker in America at the time.

In 1861, the City transferred the building and equipment to Queen’s University, on condition that the observatory continue to provide several public services, including weekly corrections to the City Read More
Until around 1880, the history of astronomy and observatories at Canadian universities is often linked with military or governmental astronomical activities. This is because astronomy had very practical uses in determining time and location. Surveys, mapmaking, navigation, and time-keeping were all of practical military and civic interest.

In the case of the Kingston Observatory, as with the Toronto Magnetic and Meteorological Observatory, an observatory was situated at the university campus, though it was funded and/or operated by the government or the military. Eventually, the university took over operation of the observatory, using it to satisfy teaching needs, as well as the practical needs of the public.

The Kingston Observatory was built by the City of Kingston in 1855. In 1855 the Observatory had few instruments, but this equatorial telescope with a 6 1/4-inch lens was ordered from Alvan Clark, the best lens maker in America at the time.

In 1861, the City transferred the building and equipment to Queen’s University, on condition that the observatory continue to provide several public services, including weekly corrections to the City Hall clock, and publishing daily barometric and temperature readings.

Nathanial Fellowes Dupuis is a prominent figure in the history of the Observatory at Queen’s. As an undergraduate in 1863, he was employed as assistant observer at the Observatory. He would later become Dean of the Faculty of Practical Sciences.

Dupuis was a skilled craftsperson and, when a new instrument was needed at the Observatory, he often just built it himself. He furnished the Alvan Clark telescope with a micrometer, and he built several clocks of remarkable accuracy (essential components of any observatory). He also constructed instruments for teaching, including orreries (physical models of the movement of planets), geometrical models, and a wave motion demonstrator.

This wooden clock was one of several built by Dupuis. The nine dials indicate mean time; sidereal time; the equation of time; the day of the month; the time of the Sun’s rising and setting; the Sun’s declination; the Sun’s longitude; the phases of the Moon; and the position of the planets on the ecliptic.

These geared slides were used in astronomy classes to illustrate celestial movements. The slide was projected onto a screen, and with a turn of the crank, the gears moved the image to simulate the movements of the planets and stars.

Instruments used in teaching astronomy were found in the laboratory as well as the observatory. Gyroscopes were used to model the rotation of the Earth. As the knob spins inside a frame, the angle of its axis of rotation gradually changes (it teeters back and forth as it spins, much like a spinning top). This phenomenon (the "precession" of the axis) accounts for the apparent gradual shift in the stars positioned above the Earth’s poles. This double gyroscope from the University of Toronto was likely used to challenge students to give a mathematical description of the movements of its parts.

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

1Alvan Clark 6 1/4-inch telescope

Department of Physics, Queen´s University

Made by Alvan Clark, Boston
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen
c. 1855
© 2008, Department of Physics, Queen´s University. All Rights Reserved.


Nine-dial clock

Department of Physics, Queen´s University The nine dials indicate mean time; sidereal time; the equation of time; the day of the month; the time of the Sun's rising and setting; the Sun's declination; the Sun's longitude; the phases of the Moon; and the position of the planets on the ecliptic

Built by Nathanial Fellowes Dupuis, Queen´s University, Kingston, Ontario
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen
Late 19th Century
© 2008, Department of Physics, Queen´s University. All Rights Reserved.


Astronomical Geared Slides

Department of Physics, Queen´s University These geared slides were used in astronomy classes to illustrate celestial movements. The slide was projected onto a screen, and with a turn of the crank, the gears moved the image to simulate the movements of the planets and stars.

Made by Newton & Co., London
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen
19th Century
© 2008, Department of Physics, Queen´s University. All Rights Reserved.


Double Gyroscope

Department of Astronomy, University of Toronto Photo courtesy of University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments. Used to model the rotation of the earth, and the precession of the earth´s axis. This double gyroscope from the University of Toronto was likely used to challenge students to give a mathematical description of the movements of its parts.

Made by Newton & Co., London
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen
c. 1900
© 2008, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Identify and appreciate the way history and culture shape a society’s science and technology
  • Describe scientific and technological developments, past and present, and appreciate their impact on individuals and societies
  • Describe the interaction between technology and education

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