1912: a Titanic year for mass spectrometry

School of Molecular Bioscience, The University of Sydney, Australia.
Journal of Mass Spectrometry (Impact Factor: 2.38). 08/2012; 47(8):1034-9. DOI: 10.1002/jms.3071
Source: PubMed


The 1912 sinking of the Titanic continues to capture the imagination and fascination of the general public. The year coincides with the birth of mass spectrometry that began with the cathode ray experiments performed by Joseph John (J. J.) Thomson in Cambridge. Modifications made to Thomson's cathode ray apparatus by Francis William Aston, resulted in an increase in the brightness of the positive rays that aided their detection. This led to the discovery of heavy isotopes for many of the chemical elements in the ensuing decades. As the discovery of (22) Ne was reported in 1913, another of Thomson's students was taking part in an expedition to help save future ocean liners from the fate of the Titanic. Geoffrey Ingram Taylor took part in the first ice patrol of the North Atlantic in 1913 aboard the SS Scotia to investigate the formation and position of icebergs. This article, 100 years on, describes Taylor's work and its impact on safe ocean passage across the Atlantic.

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    ABSTRACT: Francis William Aston was among the most accomplished physicists of the 20th century. A Nobel laureate and Fellow of the Royal Society, his research career spanned four decades. During this time, he provided experimental proof for the existence of isotopes of many of the chemical elements and recorded their masses using several, hand-built mass spectrographs. A rather private man who lived alone in Trinity College for much of his adult life, Aston remains a somewhat elusive and mysterious figure. This biography attempts to shed some more light on the man, including his character and his personal life, and particularly how his life was shaped by his childhood, environment and education. It contains previously unpublished material and photographs and complements the biographies of Hevesy and Thomson, following Aston's death, and that by Squires detailing the construction and performance of his mass spectrographs at the Cavendish Laboratory. It is published at a timely juncture, some 100 years after Aston's first arrival at Cambridge.
    European Journal of Mass Spectrometry 02/2007; 13(3):177-90. DOI:10.1255/ejms.878 · 1.00 Impact Factor
  • 08/1912; Edinburgh(and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science):209-253. DOI:10.1080/14786440808637325
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    ABSTRACT: G.I. Taylor, one of the most distinguished physical scientists of this century, used his deep insight and originality to increase our understanding of phenomena such as the turbulent flow of fluids. His interest in the science of fluid flow was not confined to theory; he was one of the early pioneers of aeronautics, and designed a new type of anchor that was inspired by his passion for sailing. Taylor spent most of his working life in the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, where he investigated the mechanics of fluid and solid materials; his discoveries and ideas have had application throughout mechanical, civil, and chemical engineering, meteorology, oceanography and materials science. He was also a noted research leader, and his group in Cambridge became one of the most productive centers for the study of fluid mechanics. How was Taylor able to be innovative in so many different ways? This interesting and unusual biography helps answer that question. Professor Batchelor, himself a student and close collaborator of Taylor, is ideally placed to describe Taylor's life, achievements and background. He does so without introducing any mathematical details, making this book enjoyable reading for a wide range of people--and especially those whose own interests have brought them into contact with the legacy of Taylor.
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