It was quite a busy day today and in the middle of it I had reason to dig around looking for old Physics Department stuff. One of the things I found pulled me back to my old friend, the 1937 Owl map. Just for a refresher, here it is:
What I’m interested in this time is the “Atom Smasher–U Find Em, We Smash em!!” I’d never really seen anything that spelled out exactly what Physics Professor H.A. Wilson was up to out there (or more likely I just hadn’t had reason to pay attention to what was in front of my face). Today, though, I found this February 1939 article from the Houston Press about Wilson and his atom smashing. You have to zoom in a couple of times to read it. I leave the entire front page for your amusement:
I realize that they’re talking about the construction of this machine in 1939 and the map is from 1937, but if you take a look at the article you’ll see that there is reference to an earlier machine that Wilson had built. It was all being done in “a frame structure behind the Physics Building.” There had been such a structure since the completion of the building. Here’s a shot from 1915, the year it opened:
And here’s another, probably from only slightly later:
I’m boggled by the idea that Wilson was “smashing atoms” in there, but I don’t really have any ideas of where else it could have been.