|The material in this section documents the first steps in Blackett's scientific career - his work at the Cavendish Laboratory under Rutherford, his year in Gottingen with Franck, his move to Birkbeck College, London, in 1933 to head his own department and then to Manchester to occupy the Langworthy Chair of Physics. He photographed the disintegration of the hydrogen nucleus (1924), collaborated with G P S Occhialini to provide evidence of the existence of the positive election (1933) and support the research of George Rochester and Clifford Butler which led to the discovery of the V-particles (1947). Not all the evidence has survived - whether in the form of laboratory notebooks, working papers or correspondence - but these documents which remain testify to Blackett's energy, persistence and deft experimental technique
Section 1 should be consulted for several items of interest pertaining to Blackett's work on particle disintegration and cosmic rays - see especialy his application to the Royal Society for a Moseley Fellowship (A.12), press-cuttings relating to the electro-magnet built by Metropolitan-Vickers for Blackett and installed in the Magnet Hut at Birkbeck (A.15), letters of congratulation on the award of the Nobel Prize, many of which recall Blackett's work which led to the award, and of course the obituary notices and tributes published after his death.
The material is presented as follows:
B.1-21 Laboratory notebooks on particle disintegration, 1920-1932
B.22-61 Working notes and papers on particle disintegration and cosmic rays, 1923-1956
B.62-67 Photographs of particle disintegration and cosmic rays
B.68-74 Working notes on theories of the origin of cosmic rays, 1949-1955
B.75-83 Working notes on astrophysics, 1953-1959
B.84-131 Lectures, broadcasts, publications, 1932-1960
B.132-147 Correspondence, 1923-1974
Because Blackett's research evolved from one topic to another, interest in each being aroused and developed by previous work, the above categories are not rigidly defined and are intended to provide only a rough guide to contents. Even if it were possible to distinguish areas of interest more strictly, Blackett's record-keeping would make inevitable some degree of overlap, since he often intermingled various types of document to suit his purposes, eg pages were torn from laboratory notebooks and kept with the working papers, photographs and notes for lectures were inserted in notebooks, etc. Wherever possible, the presence of 'anomalous' material of this kind is indicated in the entries below.