Robert Bellamy Clifton and the ‘Depressing Inheritance’ of the Clarendon Laboratory, 1877–1919
The account of the early Clarendon laboratory offered in Chapter 2 shows that Robert Clifton's early career in Oxford up to 1877 was relatively dynamic, and marked by optimism for future development of University physics. And yet Clifton's subsequent endeavours in Oxford up to his retirement in 1915 have been widely stigmatized for the absence of internationally significant accomplishments by either the professor or his students. This chapter investigates what Clifton actually did in the period 1877-1915, whom he helped in their research, and what he tried to do to develop Oxford physics, often without success in an increasingly unsympathetic and financially inclement environment.
Keywords: Robert Clifton, Oxford University, physics, Clarendon laboratory