Oral history of British science

Vine, Fred (Part 6 of 12). An Oral History of British Science.

  • Add a note
    Log in to add a note at the bottom of this page.
  • All notes
  • My notes
  • Hide notes
Please click to leave a note

The British Library Board acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors to this recording and the rights of those not identified.
Legal and ethical usage »

Tags (top 25):
(No tags found for this item)
  • Type


  • Duration


  • Shelf mark


  • Subjects


  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Interviewees home, Norwich

  • Interviewees

    Vine, Frederick, 1939- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 6: Story of diversion from interest in teacher training to postgraduate research, marine geophysics. Comments on Shell scholarship, DGG, MR. [7:07] Description of DGG, MR, joined October 1962. Mentions TB’s transfer from atomic physics to geophysics. Comments on significance of coffee/tea time. Further description, DGG. Comments on staff composed of theoretical physicists and applied physicists (making geophysical equipment); status of self and Drummond (Drum) Matthews [DM] as only geologists, based in stables behind MR. Description of stables, MR. [15:40] Comments on DM’s role in International Indian Ocean Expedition [IIOE]; origin of IIOE; DM’s work on HMS ‘Owen’. Brief story of own cruise north-west Indian Ocean [IO] on new Royal Research Ship ‘Discovery’, August 1963. [18:33] Comments on initial supervision by MH during early PhD literature review, magnetic data, techniques, interpretation. [19:46] Comments on chart of World’s oceans, coffee room, MR. Mention’s TB’s work in heat flow, marine geophysics; visiting American oceanographers. [21:33] Description of own workspace first floor, stables, MR. Mentions wife’s role as research assistant, 1963. [22:47] Description of data collected at sea, including pen chart recorder records (‘visual’/’analogue’), magnetic data on punched tape. Mentions UOC’s pioneering use of punched tape, not punch cards. Comments on ‘reduction’ and processing of data; TB’s computer machine code reduction programs for punched tape, allowing computer to produce ‘digital print out and graphical record’. Story of difficulty ‘reducing’ data with this program. [27:49] Detailed comments on output of reduction program, showing ‘magnetic anomalies’ (short wavelength variation in Earth’s magnetic field). [29:09] Discussion of/description of method by which punched tape records are identified with particular part of certain ocean. Comments on distinction between ‘reduction’ and ‘interpretation’ of data. [31:56] Story of use of EDSAC2, UOC Mathematical Laboratory to ‘read’ punched tape, including process of preparing tape for input, testing program, running program from 8pm, one evening a week. [35:29] Comments on output from EDSAC2. Description of DM’s method of gluing paper representations of magnetic anomalies on polystyrene tracks on large map. Comments on DM’s preference over use of computers for interpretation through plasticine model building. [38:32] Comments on lack of correlation between magnetic anomalies and bathymetry (sea floor topography), in contrast to gravity data; tendency for greater anomalies over mid-ocean ridges/rift valleys; smoother (less rifted) ridges in Pacific. [41:02] Description of difference between ‘remanent’ and ‘induced’ magnetisation. Comments on capacity of ocean floor basalts for remanent magnetisation, doubted by Ted Irving [TI]. [45:17] Description of ‘secular variation’ in Earth’s magnetic field. [48:33] Detailed comments on concept of ‘magnetic reversals’ [handling noise], effect of Japanese discovery of rare self-reversing rocks on slow acceptance of concept of ‘magnetic reversals’. Story of oil companies finding reversals in cores, affecting view of geomagnetism in US; development of dating techniques for reversal timescales; irregularity of reversals. [1:00:01] Comments on DM’s IIOE ‘Area 4A’ survey of Carlsberg Ridge [CR], north-west IO, especially the ‘ridge crest’. Description of magnetic anomalies in this survey data, including relations with bathymetry, especially ‘sea-mounts’. Comments on own EDSAC2 interpretation program, involving ‘least squares fit’ by ‘matrix inversion’. Comments on expected positive effect of computer interpretation on 1963 ‘Nature’ paper, ‘Magnetic Anomalies over Oceanic Ridges’ MAOOR. [1:09:22] Mentions low expectations for MAOOR outside marine geophysics. Story of friend’s comments on MAOOR. Comments on surprise at lack of interest in MAOOR within marine geophysics. Mentions RM as exception. Story of contribution to own computer program of research student Dr K Kunaratnam [KK], Imperial College [IC], London. Mentions copy of KK’s PhD thesis. Story of discussion with Jim Hall, IC. [1:15:05] Story of Canadian geophysicist Lawrence Morley’s failed attempt to publish on SFS in ‘Nature’/‘Journal of Geophysical Research’. Comments on DM/MH’s suggested changes to MAOOR: inclusion of computer interpretation and unpublished magnetic profiles. Mentions possible lack of refereeing by ‘Nature’. Discussion of effect on ‘Nature’ of MAOOR’s Cambridge origin. Mentions personal relations with ‘Nature’ editor, Arthur Gale [retired end 1961]. [1:24:07] Mentions 1966 ‘Proceedings of the Royal Society’ paper, using further computer interpretation. Comments on use of data in MAOOR. [1:24:43] Discussion of process of plotting data collected by DM over CR, including use of light table for superimposition. Mentions own and wife’s ‘reduction’ of later IO data (possibly collected by RRS Discovery); possible ‘reduction’ of DM’s CR data by TB or his research assistant. [1:27:52] Detailed comments on/discussion of production of diagrams in MAOOR: [1:28:48] bottom page 947; [1:30:34] circular diagram, drawn with ‘stereographic net’, top left page 948; [93:53] ‘Observed and computed profiles across the crest of the Carlsberg Ridge’, top right page 948; [95:42] ‘Magnetic profiles computed for various crustal models’, bottom right page 948. [1:36:39] Description/discussion of writing of/use of computer program for data interpretation; output of this. [1:40:47] Description of living arrangements, first year research student. Comments on friends. Mentions cruise, 1963. Story of moving in with future wife and her friend. Mentions marriage, 1964. Comments on social life, including rowing, tennis, cinema, theatre; lack of close relations intellectually or socially with fellow DGG research students. Mentions recent video interview with Dan McKenzie [DMK]; DMK’s lack of interest in SFS until 1966. Comments on future wife’s level of interest in SFS work. Positive comments on wife’s role in typing PhD thesis/drafting diagrams. [1:46:51] Comments on timing of writing of MAOOR, in relation to demonstration on Arran field trip, visit to Martin Bott, Durham (March 1963), DM’s honeymoon; possible submission by MH, June 1963. Mentions gap in desk diaries for period as research student, DGG/Princeton University, US.

  • Description

    Interview with geologist Professor Fred Vine.

  • Related transcripts

    Professor Fred Vine interviewed by Dr Paul Merchant: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

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

  • Metadata record:

    View full metadata for this item