Archief RC0176 - Bertram Neville Brockhouse fonds

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Bertram Neville Brockhouse fonds

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  • 1947-2003 (Vervaardig)

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6.6 m of textual records and other materials

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Bertram Neville Brockhouse was born 15 July 1918 in Lethbridge, Alberta. At an early age he moved with his family to Vancouver. After graduating from high school in 1935, he worked as a laboratory assistant, and then as a self-employed radio repairman, both in Vancouver and Chicago. He spent the war years in the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve-Active Duty, and he then attended the University of British Columbia, from which he graduated in 1947 with first-class honours in mathematics and physics. He entered the University of Toronto that same year. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1950, with a thesis titled "The Effect of Stress and Temperature upon the Magnetic Properties of Ferromagnetic Materials".

In July 1950, Brockhouse joined the staff of the Atomic Energy Project of the National Research Council of Canada, later to become Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), at the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories. Over the next eight years Brockhouse, as a Research Officer, developed the equipment and theory which resulted in the installation of the famous C5 triple-axis spectrometer at the NRU reactor. This machine remained in use for more than 20 years and was an important training ground for many present day triple-axis spectrometrists. From 1960 to 1962 he was the Branch Head of Neutron Physics.

Brockhouse was persuaded to come to McMaster University in 1962 with the opportunity to build his own group of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows and work at the University's new nuclear reactor. Brockhouse served as the Chair of Physics from 1967-1970. He is the author of many scientific papers and review articles, mainly in solid state, liquid state and neutron physics. He retired in 1984 and died on 13 October 2003. He received many honours over the years, culminating in the award with Clifford G. Shull of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1994 for their studies of solids and liquids by neutron scattering. Their citation by the Swedish academy read in part: "Clifford Shull helped answer the question of where atoms 'are' and Bertram N. Brockhouse the question of what atoms 'do'".

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The fonds contains: correspondence; conferences; offprints, typescripts, and proofs; McMaster University; journals, awards, travel, photographs, realia; Nobel Prize; manuscripts, typescripts and graphs; offprints, works by otheres, blueprints; teaching and administration, personal documents; graduate students.


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The first accrual (41-2000) was acquired in November 2000, the second accrual (21-2005) in October 2005, both from Department of Physics and Astronomy, McMaster University . The third accrual (08-2008) was acquired from McMaster University, Public Relations in May 2008. They supersede a small collection (61-1995) acquired in December 1995.


There have been three accruals. The first accrual has been arranged into six series: correspondence; conferences; offprints, typescripts, and proofs; McMaster University; journals, awards, travel, photographs, realia; Nobel Prize.

The second accrual has been arranged into six series: correspondence; conferences and photographs; manuscripts, typescripts and graphs; offprints, works by otheres, blueprints; teaching and administration, Nobel Prize, personal documents; graduate students.

The third accrual consists of audio and video cassettes mainly containing interviews re the Nobel Prize.

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