Oral history of British science
Forrest, Michael (Part 12 of 14). An Oral History of British Science.
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Forrest, Michael, 1934- (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 12: Remarks on: links into universities, PhD students, Imperial, Royal Holloway, York, ongoing personal contacts, MF acting as external examiner; MF view on 'heavy physics', with anecdote about limitations of infra-red physics and Bessel functions knowledge during a JET experiment; MF rating of himself as top experimentalist but mediocre theoretician; [05:20] self induced publishing pressure, importance of publications for promotion; importance of later work extending scattering techniques; benefits of diagnostics and understanding plasma in detail in development of fusion reactor; significance of detection aspects of 1970s work, but other work not followed up; difficulties in potential use of holography to analyse plasma; use of holography on plasma focus. [10:20] Remarks on travel: anecdote about choosing his email address to reflect career spent travelling; work in Frascati in Italy, Sweden, Tripoli in Libya. [11:00] Story about 1980s trip to Tripoli, Libya: building a thetatron; boss [Hugh] Bodin keen on Japanese and Arab links, friends with Professor Abdel Azziz, who Libyan President Gaddafi had asked to built a fusion research facility at El Fatah University; Peter Barnes building a theta-pinch, MF supplying diagnostics. [12:20] Remarks on commercial phase of work in 1980s: attempts to sell Culham technology; MF trip to Japan, with Chris Bishop, who worked on neural networks and now directs Microsoft UK. [13:55] Further remarks on trip to Libya: wealthy university; anecdote about Egyptian academics married to Liverpudlians; low status but clever Palestinian technicians; bright students; anecdote about sharing a hotel with an East German army general; anecdote about local women swimming fully clothed; Russians supplying a free tokamak to Libya after hearing of British work; anecdote about security problems with MF giving a lecture; [18:30] few other security considerations; MF exploring Libyan towns and Moscow alone.
Life story interview with physicist Dr Michael Forrest.