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Physics in France circa 1850-1914 : its national organisation, characteristics and content

Davis, John L (1990) Physics in France circa 1850-1914 : its national organisation, characteristics and content. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85963) (KAR id:85963)


The thesis begins with an examination of what was understood by the term 'physics' in France circa. 1850. The development of the centralised state educational system and the physics research which was produced within this system in Paris and the provinces, is then considered. Although all the relevant institutions, where some form of physics or physical science was taught, have been examined, the Ecole Polytechnique, and the Ecole Normale Superieure have a particular importance in the early period of this study. As time passed and as a result of reforms put in hand by the republican regime which came out of the defeat of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, the universite system grew in importance, while the role of the Polytechnique declined. The Ecole Normale, the Paris Faculty and the provincial faculties form part of the university system and participated in its growth. A knowledge of the objectives of the physics courses in these institutions helps in the understanding of the characteristics of physics in France in this period. The central objective was, largely, to produce either science teachers, or (in the case of the Polytechnique), a type of elite 'technocrat', for the state, i.e. men who could communicate clearly, or technically utilise knowledge, which was already established on a firm theoretical basis. This is not to say that research had no place in the institutions of higher education, on the contrary, and this research, carried out by both teachers and students, is examined here to try to relate its form and content to the particular institution in which it was carried out. The role of national organisations like the Societe' de physique and the Association Francaise pour l'avancement des sciences in the development of physics in France is also considered, as is the role of the Academie des sciences. The predominantly experimental nature of physics research in France is related to the interests of these organisations, to the requirements of the licence programme, and to the increasingly fierce competition for membership of the physics section of the Academie. Abbreviations used for journals frequently quoted in footnotes and the bibliography.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85963
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Uncontrolled keywords: History
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:22 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2022 12:21 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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