Sunday, February 21, 2010

The pleasure of physics research

My Oxford colleague, Professor Andrew Briggs is currently visiting me. Andrew was graduate student in physics at Cambridge when the Cavendish laboratory moved location. Over the entrance to the old laboratory James Clerk Maxwell, the first Cavendish Professor had engraved (in Latin) the words of Psalm 111:2. Professor Sir Brian Pippard, then the Cavendish Professor, recounted in a short history:
The great oak doors opening on the site of the original building had carved on them, by Maxwell's wish, the text from Psalm 111 Magna opera Domini esquisita in omnes voluntates ejus. Shortly after the move to the new buildings in 1973 a devout research student suggested to me that the same text should be displayed, in English, at the entrance. I undertook to put the proposal to the Policy Committee, confident that they would veto it; to my surprise, however, they heartily agreed both to the idea and to the choice of Coverdale’s translation:
Andrew Briggs was that "devout research student." The translation of Psalm 111:2 is:
The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein

1 comment:

  1. Can anyone tell me what happened to the original door that was inscribed. Thank you