Catalogue description Second supplementary catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Powell, Cecil Frank, FRS (1903-1969)

This record is held by Bristol University Information Services: Special Collections

Details of POWELL
Reference: POWELL
Title: Second supplementary catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Powell, Cecil Frank, FRS (1903-1969)

















The papers were received from the Department of Physics of the University of Bristol in November 1999.




This catalogue of papers and correspondence of Cecil Frank Powell is a supplement to those compiled in 1974 (catalaogue CSAC 12/6/74) and 1986 (catalogue CSAC 111/2/86), both available at the University of Bristol.


The collection is presented in a list of content. It covers the period ca. 1941 to 2002. Material supplementary to the previous catalogues has been found for Sections A (Biographical), B (Balloon and Aeroplane Flights), C (Publications), E (Correspondence) and F (Research). However Section G (Visits and conferences) is a completely new section.


Section A, Biographical, presents a series of six photographs of Powell's Cosmic Ray team including visiting scientists and students at the University of Bristol between 1949 and 1960. Those featured include Powell and his wife Isobel Powell, P. H. Fowler, J. H. Davies, D. H. Perkins and H. Heitler. It is numbered to follow on from catalogue CSAC 111/2/86 A.143.


Section B, Balloon and aeroplane flights is arranged in alphabetical order based on Powell's own folder titles and includes material on flight expeditions between 1953 and 1971. It is one of the larger sections of the catalogue and presents a good record of the research of Powell and his team (P. H. Fowler in particular). It includes correspondence, photographs, technical drawings, maps, memoranda and reports on aeroplane flights on Comet, Vulcan and VC10 aircraft between 1957 and 1964 and balloon flights in Bristol, Sardinia, Hyderabad (India), Scotland, Cardington (Bedfordshire), New Mexico, Victoria (Texas) and Sioux Falls (Minnesota) between 1953 and 1971. It also documents balloon making, collaboration with foreign universities and institutions, technical support with naval and air ministries, meteorological services in the United Kingdom and relations with NATO. It is numbered to follow on from catalogue CSAC 111/2/86 B.18.


Section C, Publications, includes documentation of four papers only. Most of the material relates to a paper entitled 'Therapeutic Applications of Beam of Negative Pion Mesons' on cancer treatment written by Powell and P.H. Fowler. It is numbered to follow on from catalogue CSAC 11/2/86 C.25.


Section E, Correspondence, forms the largest section of the collection. It was arranged in an alphabetical sequence as presented here and runs from A to S. The letters T-Z are to be found in catalaogue CSAC 111/2/86. The material covers a wide range of topics from collaboration on research and expeditions with national and foreign universities, to dealings with governmental bodies in the United Kingdom such as the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research or the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and supra-national bodies abroad such as NATO. It also includes material on scientific societies and organisations such as the Royal Society and CERN, and national laboratories such as Rutherford, Culham Laboratories and the National Physical Laboratory. There is also material on the supply of cosmic ray research material by commercial companies, balloon flights expeditions and analysis of exposed emulsion stacks, the issues of atomic energy and nuclear weapons, exhibitions, publications of papers and proceedings of conferences. It is numbered to follow on from catalogue CSAC 111/2/86 E.76, though the sequence presented in this catalogue precedes it in the alphabet.


Section F, Research, is mainly related to collaboration on K- research with foreign universities and institutions. There is also material relating to n-p scattering and neutrino experiments. This material follows on from catalogue CSAC 12/6/74 75.


Section G, Visits and conferences, presents material from 1960 to 1965. Powell only attended some of the conferences but he filed and kept material relating to those he did not attend himself, some of which were attended by other members of his team. Conferences of particular significance to Powell were the series of Rochester conferences on High Energy Physics, the Ultra High Energy Nuclear Physics conference in Bristol (1963), various European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) conferences and the 1965 International Union of Pure and Applied Physics conference.


Throughout this catalogue titles in inverted commas indicate the original typescript or manuscript titles of Powell's folders.

Date: 1941-2002
Held by: Bristol University Information Services: Special Collections, not available at The National Archives
Former reference in its original department: NCUACS 114-13-02
Language: English

Powell, Cecil Frank, 1903-1969, scientist and physicist

Physical description: 17 boxes
  • University of Bristol, H H Wills Physics Laboratory
  • Fowler, Peter Howard, 1923-1996, FRS, Physicist
  • Physics
  • Cosmic radiation
Administrative / biographical background:

Powell was born in Tonbridge, Kent in 1903 and educated at Judd School, Tonbridge and Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. He began his research career at Cambridge with C.T.R. Wilson, but in 1928 he moved to Bristol University as research assistant to A.M. Tyndall.$


Powell spent the rest of his career at Bristol as Lecturer, 1931-1946, Reader, 1946-1948, Melville Wills Professor of Physics, 1948-1963, and Henry Overton Wills Professor and Director of the H.H. Wills Laboratory, 1964-1969.


Powell always encouraged an international approach to research, and from 1950 played an increasingly large part in political and international science, as Chairman of the World Federation of Scientific Workers, 1956-1959, Chairman of the Science Policy Committee CERN, 1961-1963, and in many other capacities. He was one of the signatories of the Russell-Einstein manifesto of July 1955, and presided at the plenary session of the first Pugwash Conference in July 1957.


Powell was a pioneer in particle physics, best known for his discovery of the pion. He was elected FRS in 1949 (Hughes Medal 1949, Royal Medal 1961) and was awarded the 1950 Nobel Prize for Physics for his development of the photographic method of studying nuclear processes and his discoveries regarding mesons made with this method.

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