Oral history of British science

Parkinson, Bob (Part 8 of 15). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Subjects

    Aeronautical Engineering; Space Science and Engineering

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    The British Library

  • Interviewees

    Parkinson, Bob, 1941- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 8: Further comments on BIS meetings in the Rising Sun at Ashton Clinton: impact of new cheap HP35 calculators, informal nature of exchanges, anarchistic nature of creating things, on limitations of Daedalus report [06:15] Remarks on: later project arranged on same basis but using internet not a pub; close geography of earlier BIS meetings; impact of technology on collaboration and calculations. [09:35] Comments on: first getting a HP pocket calculator c.1972 at Westcott; lady 'computers' who did calculations previously; analysing records of test firings; few female technical colleagues at Westcott; female assistant scientific officers recruited from school, such as carol, who they encouraged to go to university; promoting few people at Westcott. [16:10] Comments on: being on BIS council; 'space cadet' colleagues joining BIS; mindset of 'space cadets' who were interested in rockets; fond recollections of former staff from local area; difference in mindset between space cadets and others, with reference to research establishment enthusiasm for British space endeavours compared to political disinterest and importance of space cadets in driving vision. [22:30] Remarks on Daedalus team: no Westcott colleagues involved; AB, Tony Martin, Gerry Web from Rutherford Appleton, Geoff Parfait, others from Stevenage, Penny Wright, Tim Grant who turned up to help with logistics of long space flight; mixture of skills of group. [27:30] Comments on: writing articles on future of space exploration in the 1970s, with reference to Ken Gatland, publisher of 'Space Flight'; later gaining work as a result of work on Mars exploration papers published in 1970s. [31:20] Comments on writing 'High Road to the Moon' Artist: using Ralph Smith's [RS] paintings, on suggestion of Len Carter; working in the little free time available around birth of son; writing on line printer paper wherever he was; impact of book; RS paintings inspiring him in childhood in 1950s, reference to earlier ACC and RS collaboration 'The Exploration of the Moon.' [38:30] Comments on ACC: importance in reforming BIS postwar; close links with society after move to Sri Lanka; BP attending a screening of '2001' with ACC; Stanley Kubrik and AC's collaboration on '2001'; discussion of errors in '2001' with ACC. [44:25] Comments on science fiction compared to engineering thought experiments, scientific compared to human stories, with reference to ACC's 'Prelude to Space' and 'Childhood's End', hostility of some to science fiction as not being respectable, importance of not being respectable for having new ideas; [50:10] BIS compared to less speculative American equivalent. Comments on science fiction and science: entertainment; both dealing with what-ifs; science fiction acknowledging the changing world more than other literary genres, with examples of hats and computers. [59:30] Remarks on: wearing a suit cloth throughout his professional career; different points of view within BIS, expected route into space exploration; not foreseeing importance of robot missions; [1:04:45] purpose of space flight, with reference to a paper he wrote for ESA on value of space, exploration of Mars, human and robotic space flight, impact of technology on humans.

  • Description

    Interview with aerospace engineer Dr Bob Parkinson.

  • Related transcripts

    Dr Bob Parkinson interviewed by Tom Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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