Oral history of British science
King-Hele, Desmond (Part 12 of 21). An Oral History of British Science.
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King-Hele, Desmond, 1927- (speaker, male)
Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)
Part 12: Comments on relations with Duke of Edinburgh, through lectures in 1950s and 1960s. Detailed comments on structuring of ‘The Essential Writings of Erasmus Darwin’. [7:15] Comments on differences between self and ED. [10:13] Comments on financial reason for separation rather than divorce; connections between separation and retirement. Mentions meeting RT. [10:18] Comments on daughter Sonia’s interest in animals, expressed in unpublished book on terrapins written as teenager; development of Sonia’s interest in mathematics and in meteorology. [15:22] Discussion of valuing, expressed in poetry, of physical and sexual activity. Comments on playing of tennis in National Championships; negative view of other sports. [21:32] Comments on reasons for not including own views on MT’s Government in autobiography ‘A Tapestry of Orbits’ [ATOO], given MOD clearance. Story of MT’s conversation with civil servant concerning RAE; new ‘Thatcherian’ Head of Department at RAE, 1980. Detailed comments on view of ‘techniques’ through which RAE was undermined in 1980s, including early retirement, departmental reorganisation, renaming RAE the ‘Royal Aerospace Establishment’, , ‘Defence Research Agency’, then later the ‘QinetiQ’ (privatised), move to new site/building, demolition of buildings at old site. Mentions RAE ‘Museum Society’. [31:34] Description of site of RAE, visited recently. [32:25] Story of meeting at 10 Downing Street to mark establishment of British National Space Centre [BNSC], 1985. Mentions resignation of first BNSC Director, Roy Gibson. Mentions appearance of MT. [35:14] Story of establishment and use of Hewitt cameras in Britain. [39:35] Story of abandonment of RGO Hewitt camera in 1987, through decision of SERC, including detailed comments on constitution/operation of SERC committees. Mentions voting against first research proposal of John Houghton [JH]. Discussion of differences between own theoretical research and practical, instrumental work of physicists on SERC committee; effect on funding of this difference; reasons for success of certain scientists in securing funding. [48:19] Story of contradicting JH on causes of climate change.
Life story interview with physicist Dr Desmond King-Hele