Cambridge Physicist is streets ahead


The University honoured one of its most famous physicists yesterday (Wednesday), by giving his name to an avenue at the new science and technology campus on West Cambridge.

JJ Thomson Avenue is the principal entrance to the West Cambridge site on Madingley Road.

Some of the University's physical sciences and technology departments are relocating to the site over the next 10 years or so. Departments already situated on the site include the Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, the Computer Laboratory, the Department of Engineering Whittle Laboratory and the Department of Physics' Cavendish Laboratory.

JJ Thomson (1856-1940), who discovered the electron in 1897, became Cavendish Professor in 1884 and remained in post until 1918, when he became Master of Trinity College. His discovery showed that the atom can be split into even smaller parts. The electron was the first sub-atomic particle to be discovered and Thomson's work was the first step towards a detailed model of the atom. JJ Thomson was awarded a Nobel prize in Physics in 1908 for his theoretical and experimental investigations on the conduction of electricity by gases. He is one of 28 Nobel Prize winners who have an association with the Cavendish Laboratory and his son, Sir George Paget, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1937.

Professor Malcolm Longair, Head of the Cavendish Laboratory, said: 'It is only right that we are honouring a scientist who made such fundamental advances in the field of physics. The Cavendish Laboratory is a major part of the West Cambridge site and we are proud that this permanent memorial recognises the remarkable contributions of such an illustrious physicist.'

Andrew Gordon, West Cambridge Site Manager, believes the ceremony is a significant milestone in the development of the site: 'West Cambridge is rolling out faster than we previously anticipated and the official naming of JJ Thomson Avenue makes it feel all the more tangible.'

Guests at yesterday's (Wednesday) ceremony included members of the Thomson family who gathered from all over the world to be present. Other guests present will include the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Alec Broers, Professor Malcolm Longair and Bill Kirkman of the Cambridge Society. The Cambridge Society donated money to pay for the Lime trees planted on each side of the Avenue.

The opening of JJ Thomson Avenue was followed by a lecture by Professor Longair at the Cavendish Laboratory and the launch of their new Physics website.

Reproduced courtesy University of Cambridge Press Office
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The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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