1. Seventeenth Century Physics
2.
Physics and Industry
3. Planning a Laboratory
4. Professor and Laboratory
5. Design of the Cavendish
6. Teaching and Research
7. Expanding the Cavendish
8. A World-Class Laboratory
9. The Rayleigh Wing
10. Cambridge and Manchester
11. Rutherford's Laboratory
12. The Mond Laboratory
13. The Austin Wing
14. Research Groups
15. A Laboratory Among Many
16. The Move to West Cambridge

 

12. The Mond Laboratory

By the 1930s conditions in the Lab had become too much for many researchers, who were abandoning the Lab to work in more comfortable conditions elsewhere. Kapitza persuaded Rutherford to use £15,000 from the Royal Society to build the Mond Laboratory. C.H. Huges designed the building with large communal areas rather than long corridors, a design which promoted chance meetings between research students as they moved about the building. The ideas that were exchanged during such chance meetings were found highly beneficial to research, and the layout of the Mond inspired the design of the new laboratory in West Cambridge, 40 years later. In February 1933 the Mond was opened.

Kapitza had asked the modern artist Eric Gill to decorate the building with two carvings. The first was a crocodile on the outside of the building. 'Crocodile' was Kapitza's name for Rutherford, as it was a name given to great men in Russian folklore. He also said that Rutherford was like the crocodile in the children's story Peter Pan, and that while the latter could be heard approaching by the ticking of Captain Hook's watch, Rutherford's booming voice would usually arrive before him!

The second carving was a profile of Rutherford, in the entrance hall of the Mond. This carving provoked years of controversy, as Gill had produced the carving in an Assyrian style which some claimed made Rutherford look Jewish! Rutherford himself was not offended by the carving, but left it up to his friend Niels Bohr to decide whether it should be moved. Bohr was sent a photograph of the carving, and found it to be 'most excellent, being at the same time thoughtful and powerful'. Kapitza was delighted that the carving would stay, and had Gill send a copy of the carving to Bohr in thanks for the 'role he played in saving its life'.

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