Picture of the Week

LUX dark matter detector

Detecting dark matter

The kind of matter and energy we can see and touch – whether it is in the form of atoms and molecules, or heat and light, only forms a tiny proportion of the content of the Universe, only about 5%. Over a quarter is dark matter, which is totally invisible but whose gravitational attraction can be detected; while over two thirds is dark energy, a force that pushes the Universe to expand ever faster.

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Physical history

20 January 2014


Modern scientific apparatus, all LCD screens and wipe-clean plastic, might be practical and powerful, but it lacks soul.

Surprisingly, perhaps, the age of brass and hardwood is not that far back in history. These two historic instruments, on display in UCL Physics & Astronomy, are less than a century old, yet they look like they come from a totally different age.

Above is a large demonstration model of a galvanometer (a device which measures electric current), with over-sized parts and a glass window to make them easier for students to see during classes. It was built around 1920.

Below is a mid-20th century manometer, a type of pressure gauge.

Micrometer reading manometer

The upper attachment contains a small glass window (facing away from us in this photo, but visible in this close-up) through which readings would be taken.

Photo credit: Oli Usher (UCL MAPS), acknowledgement: Jim Grozier (UCL Physics & Astronomy)


High resolution image



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