Presented by: 
Professor John Mainstone
Tue 11 May, 6:00 pm
Parnell Building, room 222, UQ

To be or not to be : in 1910/11, physics research and teaching at the embryonic University of Queensland was very nearly destined not to be, but with the turning of the tide appeared Thomas Parnell, physicist.
Professor John Mainstone
Honorary Professor
School of Mathematics & Physics
The University of Queensland
The Physics Museum in the Parnell Building at The University of Queensland houses equipment and other important material that dates back to the very earliest days of the University�s existence. The elegant instrument known as a Sumpner electrodynamometer, in particular, is a pertinent reminder - in this year of UQ100 Celebrations - that quite early in the first decade it was clearly demonstrated that research and teaching would go hand in hand if the fundamental discipline of physics was allowed to develop. On 15 February 1911 the Professor of Mathematics & Physics (the mathematician, Mr H J Priestley) arrived, less than 4 weeks before teaching in mathematics and physics was scheduled to begin at both first- and second-year level. Priestley acted swiftly; on 7 April an offer of appointment as Lecturer in Physics was made to Mr Thomas Parnell. The cloak of invisibility, in Queensland, of the professional discipline of physics had finally been lifted. What had preceded this watershed, and what then followed in its wake, will be unfolded through narrative, image and artefact.
The speaker: Professor Mainstone is a former Head of the UQ Department of Physics. In 1984-85 he was the Director of the University's 75th Anniversary celebrations, the last of the Jubilee events when it would be possible to bring together for such a commemoration some foundation students from 1911 and the latest UQ undergraduates. In 2005, for his role as the long-time Custodian of the now famous UQ Physics Pitch Drop Experiment set up by Professor Parnell in 1927, he was awarded the 2005 Ig Nobel Prize for Physics at Harvard; after much lobbying on his part, the Ig Nobel authorities finally agreed to honour posthumously the experiment's originator, Thomas Parnell.