Welcome to the UQ Physics Museum


The museum houses a collection of hundreds of instruments, books and memorabilia dating back to the very beginning of The University of Queensland in 1911. Among other things, it offers visitors an insight into how things used to be done, and made and measured, and to learn about slide rules, computer punched cards and magnetic memory. A 1 meter searchlight mirror allows them to shake hands with their own image. The collection documents the era when we changed from most measurements  being based on the human senses to now being automated and sensor based.

You can check out the museum catalog here.

The museum is located on Level 2 in Parnell Building (7). You are welcome to visit 8.30am–5pm, Mondays to Fridays. Although not all items are labelled, many are, and we have a smartphone audio guide system.

Tours guided by humans are available on appointment. For appointments or more information, please contact Museum Director Professor Norman Heckenberg

Note about this website

The website is continuously being developed. Sometimes this leads to problems so please let us know it you experience any difficulties.


H.W. Cox Ltd/London Patent No. /16926 61*33*33 Consists of two concentric coils of wire wound on a cylindrical core of soft iron wires impregnated with paraffin wax, all mounted on a hollow base containing a capacitor (which is constructed from sheets of tin foil separated by paraffin paper). Contains a flat spring contact breaker but also has terminals to which a mercury break may be connected. A polarity change switch is missing. The primary (inner) coil consists of two or more layers of thick silk covered copper wire impregnated with paraffin wax placed in an ebonite tube. The secondary coil is divided into sections separated by ebonite disks (to prevent discharge within the coil), each containing many turns of very thin, fine silk covered copper wire impregnated with paraffin wax also encased in ebonite. This is terminated in two discharging rods. When a small voltage (12 volts, say) is placed across the primary coil, a large one is induced across the secondary coil (105 volts). It is possible because of the large number of turns in the secondary coil, the concentrated magnetic field (due to the iron core and the close of the coils), and the abrupt and rapid interruptions (due to the contact breaker). The coil was invented in 1851 by Heinrich Daniel Ruhmkorff (1803-1877), who was a German instrument maker in Paris. It was popular for energizing discharge tubes and in particular for generating x-rays (which were discovered in 1895 by Roentgen). Harry Cox died of x-ray induced cancer.

Sumpner Reflecting Electrodynamometer

This is the summary that will appear on the front page

Opening hours

The Physics Museum is on Level 2 in the Parnell Building (7) and is open from 8.30am–5pm, Mondays to Fridays.

If you have a smart phone you can choose a tour from the bar at the left or just browse. To help you find the objects in the tour, each display case is coded, eg N25, near its lock, and the location is given in the description.

If you want more information than is shown on the labels, you can use your smart phone to call up more.  Just go to 'search catalogue' at the top of this page and key in the ID number printed at the bottom right of the object label.


What's this?

The Physics Museum is now QR Code enabled! This means you can scan the Quick Response tags you'll find around the museum on your smart phone or tablet to get more information.

More details on getting started can be found here.


Click here to learn about light from museum objects