E. T. S. Walton ... the life and times

Thread Starter


Joined Dec 29, 2008
A recent post by someone building a Cockcroft-Walton accelerator reminded me of a lecture by Walton, which I attended at school, in 1976. Walton discoursed on several of the stellar personalities of the early 20th century. This was the era of discovery of atomic energy, before the fundamental understanding was laid out in detail. One of the individuals portrayed was J.J. Thomson, discoveror of the electron, who was known familiarly as "J.J.", and was the head of the Cambridge Laboratory, in England, where Walton was employed. According to Walton, J.J. had a tendency to be less than cautious, and routinely disrupted various experiments at the lab. Another story involved C.T.R. Wilson, inventor of the cloud chamber. Walton's lecture also mentioned Lord Kelvin, who, as I recall, preceded Thomson as head of the Cambridge Laboratory.
Walton eventually received the Nobel prize for his work on the Cockroft-Walton accelerator.

edit ... should be 20th century, not 19th ... circa 1900 to 1935 or so.
correction ... William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, was a student at the Cambridge University, but was not a head of the Cambridge Laboratory, as J.J. Thomson was.
Last edited: