Poynting, J. H. (John Henry), 1852-1914

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Epithet: FRS; Professor of Physics, Birmingham

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000614.0x00024d

John Henry Poynting (1852-1914), physicist; B.A. Trinity College, Cambridge; fellow of Trinity, 1878; first Mason Chair of Physics at the Mason Science College, Birmingham (later University of Birmingham), 1880-1914; fellow of the Royal Society, 1888. While at Mason College he carried out in 1880, an experiment known as 'measuring the gravitational constant'; what he was actually doing was weighing the earth for the first time, using a balance which is now in the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington. The weight, he announced, was approximately 12,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 pounds. Poynting's most important contributions to physics were two Royal Society Papers on advanced knowledge of pressure of light, which revolutionised ideas about motion of energy in the electric field. His Collected Scientific Papers were published in 1920.

Reference: The Dictionary of National Biography: The Concise Dictionary, Part II (Oxford University Press,Oxford, 1961 ).

Reference: C. Penney, The University of Birmingham Research Libraries Bulletin (Number 7, Spring 2000).

For further reading about the University of Birmingham see: Eric Ives, Diane Drummond, Leonard Schwarz The First Civic University: Birmingham 1880-1980 An Introductory History (The University of University of Birmingham Press. 2000).

From the guide to the University of Birmingham Staff Papers: Papers of John Henry Poynting, [1850s]-1910, (University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department)

Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Dibner, Bern, person
associatedWith Poynting John Henry 1852-1914 person
associatedWith Thompson, Silvanus P. (Silvanus Phillips), 1851-1916. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Energy transfer


Birth 1852-09-09

Death 1914-03-30




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