Written for Brought to Light by: Rachel Key. Student research group: Rachel Key, Olivia Provis, Nadina Paine.
Used for measuring angles on crystals. Brass, and black and silver metals
This artefact is a scientific instrument called a Goniometer and was used for measuring the angular arrangements of the faces of crystals of minerals. It is believed this apparatus would have been used as a teaching and learning tool at the University of Adelaide during the 20th Century. After the Goniometer became obsolete it was then heritage listed by University Collections. In terms of construction, this Goniometer has a black iron base, a plastic arm, brass rotating wheels and a steel body. In the centre of the Goniometer there is a glass dome believed to be used for reflecting light in order to create straight lines for angle measurements. Furthermore, there is a small lens which light would have shined through to create the reflections on the glass dome.
The manufacturer of this Goniometer was German company "R. Fuess Berlin Steglitz" and this name was engraved on the large brass wheel of the apparatus. This company first started producing apparatus for Crystallography in the 1870s. However, due to the plastic component on the Goniometer, it can be suggested that this is a later model. As plastics did not become widely used until the early to mid 1900s, it can be proposed that this Goniometer was constructed in the mid to late 1900s. Due to this suggested date, there is potential that the celebrated geologist, Sir Douglas Mawson used this apparatus whilst teaching and researching at the University of Adelaide between 1905 and 1952. Other academics in the Department of Geology and Mineralogy (as it was known at that time), such as Dr Brian Skinner and Dr John Jones, were prominent in the field of Crystallography in the late 1900s.
The size and construction of this model also provides clues about the use of the Goniometer. It was discovered that other Goniometers made by the same company were of a similar size, but were far more elaborate in terms of construction. They had multiple lenses, telescopic arms and did not appear to be as solid in their construction. Therefore, due to the compact and durable nature of this model, it can be speculated that it was used by students as a learning tool, rather than for detailed research. It would also have been easy to transport, having a low risk of being damaged.