Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Maxwell's Enduring Legacy
A Scientific History of the Cavendish Laboratory


  • Date Published: July 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107083691

$ 76.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an evaluation copy?

This title is not currently available for evaluation. However, if you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an evaluation copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • The Cavendish Laboratory is arguably the most famous physics laboratory in the world. Founded in 1874, it rapidly gained a leading international reputation through the researches of the Cavendish professors beginning with Maxwell, Rayleigh, J. J. Thomson, Rutherford and Bragg. Its name will always be associated with the discoveries of the electron, the neutron, the structure of the DNA molecule and pulsars, but these are simply the tip of the iceberg of outstanding science. The physics carried out in the laboratory is the central theme of the book and this is explained in reasonably non-technical terms. The research activities are set in their international context. Generously illustrated, with many pictures of the apparatus used and diagrams from the original papers, the story is brought right up to date with descriptions of the science carried out under the leadership of the very different personalities of Mott, Pippard and Edwards.

    • A modern scientific history of arguably the most internationally famous physics laboratory
    • Provides a challenging but accessible account of the physics and groundbreaking discoveries made throughout the years
    • Brings the history right up to date by including recent developments in physics
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'In what is patently a labour of love, the astronomer Malcolm Longair now gives us a comprehensive scientific history of the Cavendish in Maxwell's Enduring Legacy. Longair, who was the lab's head from 1997 to 2005, describes its inception well … Longair's history is in the form of a well-organized modern physics book, most of its twenty-two sections replete with charts, tables and lucid technical explanations presented neatly in boxes. Abundant diagrams, photographs, line drawings, floor-plans and facsimiles of historical documents give fascinating insights into the lab's development.' Graham Farmelo, Nature

    '… a wonderful exposition of the many contributions made by this renowned institution … written by one of its recent leaders … The author writes with great erudition on the incredible range of essential research projects that were conducted at this famous laboratory. There are helpful notes, indexes, and references.' N. Sadanand, CHOICE

    '… any physicist (from within or outside the Laboratory) will surely find a wealth of information of interest.' Guy Pooley, The Observatory

    'One must say that the Cavendish is extremely fortunate that one of its recent heads has had the vision, energy and talent to meet the formidable challenge of chronicling the evolution of the Cavendish into the world-leading institution … This magnificent book is a fitting tribute to past and present staff and students at the Cavendish. … The focus has naturally been on events in the Cavendish itself. However, the author properly locates those events in the wider international context. Moreover, he is not averse to offering supporting physical explanations, as well as mathematical expositions where appropriate … Having expertly traced the history of the Cavendish - which has required much archival research - the author closes with a survey of the highly diverse activities of today's Cavendish and signals also the future of another re-building of the Cavendish planned for completion in 2020. The legacy of Maxwell would appear to be safe for another 140 years.' K. Alan Shore, Contemporary Physics

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107083691
    • dimensions: 256 x 193 x 34 mm
    • weight: 1.62kg
    • contains: 93 b/w illus. 140 colour illus. 35 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Figure credits
    Part I. To 1874:
    1. Physics in the nineteenth century
    2. Mathematics and physics in Cambridge in the nineteenth century
    Part II. 1874 to 1879:
    3. The Maxwell era
    Part III. 1879 to 1884:
    4. Rayleigh's Quinquennium
    Part IV. 1884 to 1919:
    5. The challenges facing J. J. Thomson
    6. The J. J. Thomson era, 1884–1900 - the electron
    7. The Thomson era, 1900–19 - atomic structure
    Part V. 1919 to 1937:
    8. Rutherford at McGill and Manchester Universities - new challenges in Cambridge
    9. The Rutherford era - the radioactivists
    10. Rutherford era - the seeds of the new physics
    Part VI. 1938 to 1953:
    11. Bragg and the war years
    12. Bragg and the post-war years
    Part VII. 1953 to 1971:
    13. The Mott era - an epoch of expansion
    14. The Mott era - radio astronomy and high energy physics
    15. The Mott era - the growth of condensed matter physics
    Part VIII. 1971 to 1982:
    16. The Pippard era - a new laboratory and a new vision
    17. The Pippard era - radio astronomy, high energy physics and laboratory astrophysics
    18. The Pippard era - condensed matter physics
    Part IX. 1984 to 1995:
    19. The Edwards era - a new epoch of expansion
    20. The Edwards era - new directions in condensed matter physics
    21. The Edwards era - high energy physics and radio astronomy
    Part X. 1995 to present:
    22. Towards the new millennium and beyond
    23. The evolution of the New Museums site
    Author index

  • Author

    Malcolm Longair, University of Cambridge
    Malcolm Longair is Emeritus Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy and Director of Development at the Cavendish Laboratory. He was appointed the ninth Astronomer Royal of Scotland in 1980, as well as the Regius Professor of Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, and the director of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. He was head of the Cavendish Laboratory from 1997 to 2005 and he has served on and chaired many international committees, boards and panels, working with both NASA and the European Space Agency. He has received much recognition for his work over the years, including a CBE in the millennium honours list for his services to astronomy and cosmology.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.