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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