Tomsk State University. Physical Department.
Laboratory of training physics experiment
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History of The  Physics  Laboratory (Demoroom)


(An article from the book: History outline of Tomsk university

over the first 25 years of its existence (1888-1813). Tomsk, 1917,

p. 267-272)

Prof. A. Pospelov

The Physics Laboratory of Tomsk State University is located in the central part of the main building on the first floor. It was opened in 1888 in two rooms form. One of them was the storage for devices; it had an area of 98 sq. meters. It adjoined the other room of 62 sq. meters separated with arch partition. It played the role of preparatory room, i.e. an area for preparation of lecture experiments; it had also a small darkroom. Later (under prof. Kapustin) the Physics Laboratory was joined a room on the first floor next to the instrumental hall with an area of 38 sq. meters, and then a large basement with the total area of 122 sq. meters (in 1905). Since it is located straight under the Physics Laboratory it was possible to make an interior passage with a wooden ladder and the hatch. Thus at present the total area of Physics Laboratory (first floor with the basement) is 320 sq. meters (in 1888 it was 160 sq. meters).

The first professor of physics at Tomsk University was Nikolay Aleksandrovich Gezekhus, the doctor of Physics who stayed in Tomsk from August 1, 1888 till September 3, 1889.

On December 16, 1889 Feodor Jakovlevich Kapustin was appointed extraordinary professor, Master of Physics of S.-Petersburg University since 1896. On January 12, 1909 prof. F. Ja. Kapustin retired on a pension according to his superannuate. From January 12 till September 4, 1911 physics chair remained vacant; physics lecturing was entrusted by the faculty of medicine to the professor of Tomsk Technology Institute B.P.Vejnberg. On September 4, 1911 Master of Physics, the doctor of Erlangen University, Alexander Petrovich Pospelov was appointed the extraordinary professor.

In 1888 Vladislav Ivanovich Zdanovich, a teacher of Tomsk Female gymnasium was appointed the laboratory assistant at the Physics Laboratory who held the position till May 15, 1893. In May 1893 at Physics Laboratory the post of curator was established. Valerian Nikolaevich Galanin who had graduated from S.-Petersburg University, mathematics branch was appointed the post of curator and kept it till May 1, 1898. Since October 4, 1898 Dmitry Aleksandrovich Smirnov was appointed the curator of Physics Laboratory. He also graduated from S.-Petersburg University, physics and mathematics department. He kept the post till May 1, 1902. From May 1, 1902 till September 1, 1903 the curator of Physics Laboratory was a physician Mitrofan Pavlovich Tambovsky. Since October 20, 1903 the curator of the laboratory (from payment on hiring) was a physician Konstantin Nikolaevich Makov who left the post in 1905. On January 30, 1914 Wilhelm Karlovich Abold who had graduated from Juriev university, mathematics branch with the 1 degree diploma was appointed the curator of the Physics Laboratory.

Scientific activity of the personnel of the Physics Laboratory is expressed by the papers mentioned below:

N.A. Gezekhus:

  • Deduction from meteorological observations during the solar eclipse on August 7-12, 1897 (Journal “Russian Physics and Chemistry Society” v. ÕÕ, issue 6).
  • About significance of meteorological observations in relation to Siberia (Speech on the first anniversary of the University, 1889).
  • About some new devices and facilities in Physics Laboratory of Tomsk Imperial University (News of Tomsk Imperial University, 1889).
  • Sur la determination de la chaleur apecifique des corps par la methode des melanges a temperature constante (Journal de physique 2 serie T. V11. Octobre).
  • F.Ja.Kapustin:

  • About some features at observation over the atmospheric electricity during the winter time over the snow surface (Meteorology News, 1892, N 10).
  • The influence of weightlessness of gases on some their properties.
  • To a question on influence of electric forces on atmospheric pressure (Journal “Russian Physics and Chemistry Society” ÕÕVII, 1895).
  • Definition of magnetics of Tomsk.
  • D.A.Smirnov:

  • About measuring of radiation by means of thermometers and several definitions of solar radiation in Tomsk (Notes of Imperial Academy of Sciences VIII ser. v. ÕVI, N 2).
  • Magnetic and astronomical definitions on Ob-Yenisei connecting system and on Siberian railway from Chelyabinsk to Krasnoyarsk. (Notes of Imperial Academy of Sciences VIII ser. v. 7, N 7).
  • At present having read this article, there is no any doubt about necessity of wide application of demonstration methods and development of educational practical work in teaching physics in Russia as far back as 1917. It should be supposed that a much deeper examination of domestic experience in physics teaching would be rather useful both by the analysis of curriculum changes of experimental physics course and by following the development of teaching methods. 


  • Lomonosov as a physicist (the Report of Naturalists Society, 1912).
  • Foucault's Experience (Tomsk Imperial University, 1912).
  • A simple humidity-meter and the relative humidity table (Notes of Tomsk Imperial University, 1912).
  • Objective representation of molecular motion (the Report of Naturalists Society, 1912).
  • About relative loss of body weight in incident system (the Report of Naturalists Society, 1912).
  • To a question on the atomistic structure of electricity (the Report of Naturalists Society, 1912).
  • To a question on a body state in accelerated moving system in a vertical direction (News of Warsaw Polytechnic Institution, 1913).
  • Application of free fall method system to definition of compression time of stretched spring (Notes of Tomsk Imperial University, 1913).
  • Reversal of the phenomenon of gravitation in the system moving in a vertical direction with acceleration faster than free fall acceleration. (Notes of Tomsk Imperial University, 1913).
  • V.K.Abold:

  • Versuche uber Registrirung der Bewegungen von Horizontalpendeln vermittelst photographischer Platte. (Notes of standing Central Seismological Committee v. V1, issue 1).
  • From the very beginning physics teaching was made up of a theoretical course being read in the first term per 6 hours a week and in the second term per 5 hours a week, and of practical training. The latter always were unessential, but attended willingly by the students. Classes are going mostly during the evening time and last for two hours two-three times a week; they are unassisted students’ work on measuring physics. The account of practical work made in 1912 are mentioned below:

  • Determination of gravitational acceleration by method of mathematical pendulum.
  • Body density by mass and volume.
  • Liquid density on scales of Mora and an areometer.
  • Liquid density by densimeter.
  • Mercury density by connected vessels
  • Young's modulus by wire extension.
  • Boyle's law test.
  • Test of constant points of thermometer.
  • Thermal coefficient of length of solid bodies.
  • Absolute expansion of mercury.
  • Specific heat of solid bodies.
  • Latent heat of vaporization.
  • Latent heat of ice melting.
  • Relative humidity.
  • Molecular weight on depression of freezing point of solution.
  • Optical force of glasses.
  • Microscope magnification.
  • Spectrum analysis.
  • Length of a light wave by diffraction grating.
  • Saccharimetry.
  • Specific resistance of metals.
  • Comparison of electromotive forces of elements.
  • Reduction coefficient of tangent boussole.
  • Definition of a mechanical equivalent by Joule-Lents method.
  • Students’ practical work is taking place in a free premise between cases of the main room, and also in two rooms of the basement floor. The primary arrangement of the Physics Laboratory was carrying out by prof. N.A.Gezekhus by means of special funding of "sibiryakov" capital at a rate of 7876 rubles; the further development of laboratory stock was occurred by annual assignments: from standard items 750 rubles and special funds 100 rubles. Also it was by means of emergency assignments from the University capital. By May 1, 1913 there were 1578 devices in the laboratory stock to the amount 28560 rubles, and the total property accounted for 33418 rubles 40 copecks. Two devices acquired in 1912-1913 should be paid the special attention:

  • A cinema projecting apparatus and a film-making apparatus in the value of 950 rubles.
  • The device for reception of liquid air consisting of the Whitenhead’s compressor with the electromotor on 8 hp and Grodzisk’s liquefier; the total value of installation with devices for storage of liquid air is about 2700 rubles.
  • The Physics Laboratory owns as well the mechanical workroom comprising two lathes for metal and wood work, and also a set of tools for mechanical operations. At present the workroom is located in one of the rooms of the basement. The devices equipment of the workroom is carried out partly by means of the Physics Laboratory and partly by the University mechanical workshop. Nowadays there is a mechanic at the workroom who fulfills all necessary repairing and jobbing for the laboratory.

    The Physics Laboratory is also in charge of the seismic station which has the following history: In 1905 prof. Kapustin entered upon an agreement with the standing Central Committee at Imperial Academy of Sciences of Petersburg concerning the establishment of a seismic station at the Physics Laboratory of Tomsk University. According to his applying prof. Kapustin received two heavy horizontal Zelner’s pendulums and one Rifler’s pendulum clock. Since November 30, 1906 the station started functioning; seismograms were continuously registered up to March 17, 1910. Then because of the departure of prof. Kapustin and “considering the absence of funds for paper and for compensation to the attendant” the station had to stop its activity. However in September 1912 the station recommenced the activity but in a new premise, a special settled cellar. The funds for this had been released by the International Seismological Association. Now this station, which arrangement was much accommodated by the member of standing central Seismic Committee A. Ja. Orlov, conducts photographic records of periodic diversions of pendulums under the influence of the lunar attraction yielding some sort of “tides” of the earth crust. The Academy of Sciences now allocates funds for layout of a stone corridor in the new seismic station, gas pipeline and electrical illumination, together with expenditure for keeping the station and seismogram processing. Due to the station reorganization it will be possible to make constant recording of earthquakes in a special equipped premise of the new seismic station. 

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