Oral history of British science

Nye, John (Part 14 of 16). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Subjects

    Geophysics; Glaciology

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  • Recording locations

    Interviewees home, Bristol

  • Interviewees

    Nye, John, 1923 - (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 14: Description of work on ‘pattern of dislocations’ of ‘diffraction pattern’ of each light ‘caustic’ (‘catastrophe’), including need for ‘vector’ rather than ‘scalar’ theory. Mentions relevance of ‘quantum uncertainty’. [4:10] Mentions work by T Pearcey on ‘Pearcey Pattern’ in ‘mathematical laboratory’, UOC, 1946. Sir George Airy’s ‘Airy Function’; ‘Handbook of Mathematical Functions’, including entries in recent edition. [6:54] Description of analogue computer used by TP to solve differential equations in 1946. Warren Cairn’s work on ‘torque amplifier’ in Meccano replica of analogue computer; John Findlay’s contemporary representation of radio echoes from ionosphere, involving unacknowledged dislocations. [9:59] role of Meccano replica of computer. Description of process of ‘integrating a function’ in mathematics, using analogue computer, including possible output. [12:46] Long story of visit to Moscow with wife Georgiana in 1969, organised through glaciologist Petr Shumsky. [20:51] Mentions Russian glaciological conference [mid 1970s]. History and status of Russian-Jewish ‘Refusniks’, including tradition of Sunday seminars organised by Victor Brailovsky. 1981 visit to speak at a ‘refusnik’ Sunday seminar, outskirts of Moscow, with John Ziman [JZ]. Evidence of Soviet restrictions on links with the ‘West’. visits to homes of Soviet scientists. Mentions giving lecture at Geography Institute, Moscow. [32:35] clandestine handover of own optics off-prints in Moscow park. Mentions hotel near Kremlin. [34:30] difficult bus journey to meet Russian scientist; Metro journey to second ‘refusnik’ seminar, 1986.

  • Description

    Life story interview with Professor John Nye, physicist.

  • Related transcripts

    Professor John Nye interviewed by Paul Merchant: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

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

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