27th November - Alexander McKinnon, Glasgow, .
"Lochaber to the Cosmos"
Dr. McKinnon related the story of Charles Thomson Rees Wilson, from his early beginnings as the son of a Scottish sheep farmer to his award of the Nobel Prize for physics and beyond.
Born on the 14 February 1869 CTR Wilson was to lose his father four years later, so the family moved to Manchester and studied to be a physician. Further studies followed Cambridge where he became interested in physics and chemistry.
Wilson also developed an interes in meteorology and worked at the meteorlogical observatory on Ben Nevis. While there he took an interest in cloud formation and "glories", a strange phenomena where the sun cast eerie shadows and coronas on cloud and mist.
This interest led to his development of the cloud chamber, a sealed glass chamber that could produce clouds on a small scale. Experiments with radiation produced ion trails within the chamber leading to the discovery of alpha and beta waves. This with other scientist and the perfection of the cloud chamber led to the birth of the entire field of sub atomic particles. It was these experiments that led to Wilsons award of the Nobel Prize in the 1920's
The story of CTR Wilson was beutifully narrted by Alex with many pictures which took us down many paths from Wilson's love of the Scottish countryside, a vivid description of life and work at the Ben Nevis observatory, his domestic life to his passing in the late 1950's.
from there we learned of the first tentative experiments in an abandoned railway tunnel in the search for Solar and cosmic radiation, and beyond...........
Thanks to Alex for a toally absorbing talk
Following the tea break we were shown a few books from the Sandy MacKenzie librart and our librarian explained that he hoped to be able to have books available at each meeting that bore some relevance to the talk, or when there were no relevant books, as was the case here, other books which might be of interest to members. We were also reminded that books were available from the library upon request and that Tony has added a link on the index page to a complete list available to download.
Jim Barber then took us through a brief tour of the night sky for December and showed some pictures of recent aurora.
He also asked if members were happy with how his monthly sky notes were presented and if there were any suggestion for improvements. The general concensus was that they were very well copmpiled and presented and suitable for both beginners and the more expert among us.
A full copy of Jim's sky notes will be available online shortly.
Dr Alexander MacKinnon is a senior lecturer at the University of Glasgow School of Physics & Astronomy, Astronomy and Astrophysics Group.