Thomson, J. J. (Joseph John), 1856-1940

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English physicist.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Trinity Lodge, Cambridge, to Sir Sydney Cockerell, 1927 Feb. 12. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270572272

Physicist (cathode rays, atomic structure, electrons) and administrator. On the faculty at University of Cambridge (1884-1940): director, Cavendish Laboratory (1884-1918), physics faculty (1894-1919), and master of Trinity College (1918-1940); and on the natural philosophy faculty at the Royal Institution of Great Britain from 1905. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1906 for his theoretical and experimental investigations on the conduction of electricity by gases.

From the description of A treatise on the motion of vortex rings, 1882. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79789833

Physicist (cathode rays, atomic structure, electrons) and administrator. On the faculty at University of Cambridge, 1884-1940: director, Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge, 1884-1918; master of Trinity College, 1918-1940; and on the natural philosopy faculty at the Royal Institution of Great Britain from 1905. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1906 for his theoretical and experimental investigations on the conduction of electricity by gases.

From the description of Congratulatory tribute on Thomson's seventieth birthday signed by members of the Cavendish Laboratory, 1926. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 83157677

Physicist (cathode rays, atomic structure, electrons) and administrator. On the faculty at University of Cambridge (1884-1940): director, Cavendish Laboratory (1884-1918), physics faculty (1894-1919), and master of Trinity College (1918-1940); and on the natural philosophy faculty at the Royal Institution of Great Britain (1905-1918).

From the description of Papers. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 154302974

From the description of Papers, 1884-1934. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 81212195

From the description of Lectures, 1910-1911. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 83382533

Joseph John Thomson (1856-1940) was born in Manchester and attended Owens College, Manchester, in 1871. Thomson won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 1876 came to the university to read for the Mathematical Tripos. He was elected a fellow of Trinity, and in 1885 was appointed Cavendish Professor of Experimental Physics.

Thomson began his life-long investigation of the passage of electricity through gases before his appointment as Cavendish Professor. His work was given impetus in 1895 by Rontgen's discovery of X-rays which Thomson found caused gases through which they passed to become conductors of electricity. Thomson investigated the nature of this phenomenon with Ernest Rutherford, and from their research they were able to determine the process by which a current is passed through a gas and the role X-rays play in this process.

Thomson proceeded to the study of discharge-cathode rays. His work led to him to conclude that the rays were a fundamental constituent of the atom, carrying negative electricity, and that their number and arrangement in the atom determined that atom's position in the periodic table. When Thomson first put forward his theory in 1897 his ideas were greeted with scepticism, but two more years of research by himself and others provided the experimental evidence to confirm his ideas about the electron.

Thomson continued to study the structure of the atom and the arrangement of electrons within it, but from 1906 to 1914 he also turned his attention to the study of positive rays. He developed and refined the techniques used to photograph positive rays in the discharge tube. The increased sensitivity of his apparatus allowed him to identify new atomic groupings and isolate for the first time isotopes as unstable elements.

Thomson resigned as Cavendish Professor in favour of Rutherford in 1919, but held a special chair until his death. He was active outside the university in urging recognition of the importance of scientific education and research to the country as a whole. During the First World War he served on the Board of Invention and Research (B.I.R.), set up by the Admiralty to encourage and coordinate naval research. He was also a member of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and became the first President of the Institute of Physics. Thomson also presided over the Royal Commission report on the position of natural science in the education system of Great Britain. In 1915 he was elected President of the Royal Society, which he headed until 1920. In 1919 he was appointed Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and devoted the last years of his life to running its affairs. He died on 30 August 1940.

From the guide to the Sir Joseph John Thomson: Correspondence and Papers, c.1880-1939, (Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Worthington, A. M. (Arthur Mason), 1852-1916. Items in various series of The Royal Society, 1882-1899. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Dirac, P. A. M. (Paul Adrien Maurice), 1902-. Oral history interview with P. A. M. Dirac, 1962 April 1 to 14 May 1963. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Thomson, J. J. (Joseph John), 1856-1940. Congratulatory tribute on Thomson's seventieth birthday signed by members of the Cavendish Laboratory, 1926. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Bragg, William Lawrence, Sir, 1890-1971. Oral History interview with Sir William Lawrence Bragg, 1969 June 20. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn James Clerk Maxwell: Papers, 1879-1931 Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
referencedIn Webb, Harold Worthington, 1884-1974. Autobiography, ca. 1962. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Rutherford, Ernest, 1871-1937. Correspondence, 1890-1937. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Lummer, O. (Otto), 1860-1925. Correspondence, 1899-1922. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Patterson and Lenoir family papers, 1765-1929. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn O. W. (Owen Willans) Richardson papers, [ca. 1907-ca. 1959], Circa 1907-1959 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Thomson, J. J. (Joseph John), 1856-1940. Papers, 1884-1934. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Thomson, G. P. (George Paget), 1892-1975. Oral history interview with Sir George Paget Thomson, 1963 June 20. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Richardson, Owen Willans, Sir, 1879-1959. Papers, [ca. 1907-ca. 1959]. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Stern, Otto, 1888-1969. Oral history interview with Otto Stern, 1962 May 29 and 1963 May 30. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Thomson, J. J. (Joseph John), 1856-1940. Letters. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
referencedIn Michell, John Henry, 1863-1940. Papers, ca. 1884-1890. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Archive for the History of Quantum Physics, 1898-1950 (bulk), 1898-1950 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Gerlach, Walther, 1889-1979. Oral history interview with Walther Gerlach, 1963 February 18 and 23. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Papers and correspondence of Sir Joseph John Thomson, 1856-1940, 1906-1970 Trinity College Library, University of Cambridge
referencedIn Pohl, Robert Wichard, 1884-1976. Oral history interview with Robert Wichard Pohl, 1963 June 25. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Bassett, Alfred Barnard, 1854-1930. Items in various series of The Royal Society, 1887-1923. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. Ru 26: Office Of The Secretary, Incoming Corres..
referencedIn Wilson, Harold A. (Harold Albert), 1874-1964. Oral history interview with Harold A. Wilson, 1964 March 3. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Marconi, Guglielmo, marchese, 1874-1937. Lecture delivered at the Royal Academy of Science, Stockholm, on 11th December 1909 : On the occasion of the award to him of a Nobel Prize for Physics. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
creatorOf Thomson, J. J. (Joseph John), 1856-1940. Papers. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Pohl, Robert Wichard, 1884-1976. Papers, ca. 1900-ca. 1973. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Autograph collection, 1816-1917, 1816-1917 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Bohr, Aage. Oral history interview with Aage Bohr, Margrethe Norlund Bohr and Léon Rosenfeld, 1963 January 23 and 30. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Heaviside, Oliver, 1850-1925. Selected papers [microform], 1874-1922. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn American Physical Society and APS. Joint Committee on the History of Theoretical Physics in the Twentieth Century. Collection, Undated American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Cunningham, Ebenezer. Oral history interview with Ebenezer Cunningham, 1963 June 19. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Comstock, Daniel F. (Daniel Frost), b. 1833. Autobiography, 1963. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Bohr, Niels, 1885-1962. Nuclear history [sound recording] : voices of the past; compiled by Glenn Seaborg. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Herbert Watson: Notes on J.J. Thomson's lectures, 1910-1911 Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
referencedIn Bohr, Niels, 1885-1962. Oral history interview with Niels Bohr, 1962 October 31 to 17 November. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf [J.J. Thomson, biographical materials] University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
creatorOf Thomson, Joseph John, Sir, 1856-1940. Autograph letter signed : Cambridge, to Mr. Cobden-Sanderson, 1922 Aug. 3. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Beck, Guido, 1903-1988. Oral history interview with Guido Beck, 1967 April 22. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Thomson, Joseph John, Sir, 1856-1940. Autograph letter signed : Trinity Lodge, Cambridge, to Sir Sydney Cockerell, 1927 Feb. 12. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Thomson, J. J. (Joseph John), 1856-1940. Letter : Cambridge, to Laurence Housman, 1936 May 9. Bryn Mawr College, Mariam Coffin Canaday Library
referencedIn Compton, Betty Charity McCloskey, 1916-. Oral history interview with Betty Charity McCloskey Compton, 1968 April 11 and 14. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Bragg, William Lawrence, Sir, 1890-1971. Papers. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Dadourian, Haroutune Mugurditch, 1878-. Oral history interview with Haroutune Mugurditch Dadourian, 1964 April 4. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Heaviside, Oliver, 1850-1925. Items in various series of The Royal Society, 1891-1921. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Thomson, J. J. (Joseph John), 1856-1940. Lectures, 1910-1911. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Davisson, Clinton Joseph, 1881-1958. Letters from J. J. Thomson, 1913, and letter to son, James W. Davisson, concerning Davisson's visit to Cavendish Laboratory, his marriage and family life, 1913-1957. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Wilson, Harold A. (Harold Albert), 1874-1964. Autobiographical notes, 1962. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Ernest Rutherford correspondence, 1890-1937, 1890-1937 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Grosse, Aristid Victor, 1905-1985. Oral history interview with Aristid Victor Grosse, 1974 January 11 and April 5. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Scientists Collection, 1563-1973 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn McKeehan, L. W. (Louis Williams), 1887-1975. Autobiography, ca, 1970. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Cockcroft, John, Sir, 1897-1967. Oral history interview with Sir John Cockcroft, 1963 May 2. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Sir James Paget correspondence, 1784-1932, 1784-1932 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Rutherford, Ernest, 1871-1937. Correspondence, 1906-1937. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Bragg, William Henry, Sir, 1862-1942. Papers. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Thomson, Charles. Diary and notebook, 1847-1854. Raymond H. Fogler Library
referencedIn Wood, A. B. (Albert Beaumont). Oral reminiscences of A. B. Wood, 1960. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Havelock, Thomas, Sir, 1877-. Papers, ca. 1894-ca. 1968. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Shankland, Robert S., 1908-. Oral history interview with Robert S. Shankland, 1974 August 20 and 21. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Sir Joseph John Thomson: Correspondence and Papers, c.1880-1939 Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
creatorOf Thomson, J. J. (Joseph John), 1856-1940. History of science graphics, circa 1600s-1900s. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Cockcroft, John, Sir, 1897-1967. Atomic physics [sound recording] : sound track of the film / produced by J. Arthur Rank for the Atomic Energy Commission, 1948. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Shaw, Napier, 1854-1945. Scientific papers. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Thomson, J. J. (Joseph John), 1856-1940. Lectures on Properties of Matter by Prof. Thomson, 1890. Harvard University, Medical School, Countway Library
creatorOf Sir Joseph John Thomson: Correspondence and Papers, c.1880-1939 Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
creatorOf Thomson, J. J. (Joseph John), 1856-1940. A treatise on the motion of vortex rings, 1882. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Niels Bohr Library. The Emilio Segrè visual archives, T-Z, [ca. 1870]-9999. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Rutherford, Ernest, 1871-1937. Ernest Rutherford correspondence, 1906-1937. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Thomson, Joseph. Papers. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
referencedIn Chadwick, James, 1891-1974. Oral history interview with James Chadwick, 1969 April 15 to 20. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Fokker, A. D. (Adriaan Daniël), 1887-. Oral history interview with Adriaan Daniël Fokker, 1963 April 1. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
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