A Big Surprise Behind the Physics Amphitheater

A little while ago I was contemplating this photograph:

Knapp commencement day with machine

It’s Carl Knapp, of course, and he’s posing in the Physics Amphitheater on the day of his graduation in 1916. I like the picture very much–he must have been proudly showing the folks from back in San Angelo the place where he went to class. But then I started wondering about the equipment in front of him.

So over I went to the freshman labs, which are still in the old building. I showed the picture to faculty member Stan Dodds, the guy who keeps tabs on what remains of the historic equipment, and he took me to a place that I hadn’t known existed. It turns out that (quite logically) there’s a room full of demonstration equipment behind the front of the lecture hall. My jaw dropped when I walked in–I was so boggled I forgot to get my handbag out of the shot:


Seriously, are you kidding me?! I have no idea how I missed this. It’s just a wonderful room–like a time machine–and there’s a lot of stuff in those cases, some of it certainly ordered by H.A. Wilson, Rice’s first professor of physics.

stuff in case

And these aren’t the exact pieces in the Knapp picture, but they’re the same kind of equipment and almost as old:



Honestly, I have no idea what will happen next.

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3 Responses to A Big Surprise Behind the Physics Amphitheater

  1. mjthannisch says:

    Is the first object some kind of slide projector?

  2. sb says:

    That title sounds like a Dear Penthouse letter.

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