Oral history of British science

Cartwright, David (Part 5 of 9). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Hampshire

  • Interviewees

    Cartwright, David, 1926- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 5: Comments on GD’s management of NIO staff, especially tendency to allow staff intellectual freedom. [2:31] Mentions own initial role as assistant to MLH. Comments on MLH as applied mathematician; relations with MLH; cooperation in studies of statistical distribution of heights of waves. Description of this wave height probability work. Mentions relations with ship motion research; derivation of wave height probability theory from acoustic theories of S.S. Rice. [6:12] Comments on own pursuit of wave probability work through use of PRB. Mentions NS; MLH and own papers on analysis of directional spectrum [DS] of waves, as measured by PRBs. Story of own role in PRB data analysis, including development of methods for digitisation of PRB’s photographic record. Comments on pioneering results of PRB DS analysis, presented at conference in Maryland, US. [11:08] Detailed comments on development of more advanced buoys, including CLB. Description of CLB. Comments on experimentation with line of PRB-like buoys, suggested by MLB. Detailed comments on technicalities of spacing. Comments on limitations of buoy line work; relative success of CLB. [16:29] Comments on relations between own and MLH’s interest in music and wave research. Mentions range of MLH’s research interests. [20:23] Comments on theory concerning frequency distribution of highest wave; own theory concerning frequency distribution of second/third highest wave. Mentions TT/Laurence Draper’s [LD] use of the latter. [23:15] Story of origin of interest in sand waves on continental shelf, involving GD; own development of theory of production of sand waves. [26:35] Comments on own work with AEW and National Physical Laboratory Ship Division, Feltham in applying statistical analysis of waves in experiments involving ships/oil tankers. [29:32] Comments on MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food) sponsored research into storm surges [SS], led by University of Liverpool Tidal Institute [ULTI]. Mentions North Sea floods, January 1953; distinction between SSs developed in North Sea and Atlantic; establishment of tide gauges [TGs] at Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides/Lerwick, Shetland Islands/Malin Head, Ireland. [32:51] Comments on use of cable between England and France to record current/water levels, English Channel; analysis of tide data from new tide gauges. Mentions ULTI’s version of a mechanical device for tide prediction; development of NIO tide predicting programme. [37:05] Story of appointment to NIO of Japanese electronics engineer SI. Description of SI’s method of predicting SS using electric analogue model [EAM] of the North Sea. Mentions replacement of EAM by digital computers; advantages of EAM; SI’s work on Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, US; difficulties conversing with SI; SI’s son Kazuo Ishiguro, now a novelist. [45:28] Comments on relations between SI and other NIO staff. [46:24] Description/discussion of appearance of EAM; method of interaction with EAM. Mentions disposal of old NIO equipment. [52:19] Story of use of PRB, D2, 1955-1956, including role of crew members (including Dick Burt – ‘Net Man’) in deployment/retrieval [reference made to photograph, page 160, OSSAS]. Comments on length of time before retrieval. [55:56] Description of method of retrieving PRB. Comments on ‘instrument engineer’ NS’s role in recovering photographic record from PRB/preparing PRB for redeployment. Mentions car batteries running gyroscopes to hold the vertical. Comments on use of compass in choosing section of photographic record for analysis. [1:00:48] Comments on opening of PRB’s recording box, containing the photographic record. Description of/comments on content of photographic record. Comments on own role in digitising photographic record. Further discussion of appearance of photographic record. [1:04:40] Description of method of digitising photographic record, at Computer Section of the RAE, involving holes punched in ‘Hollerith’ cards [HC]. [1:08:26] Description of processes of analysing wave data on HCs, using RAE computer, involving methods of cross correlation and spectral analysis [SA]; outcomes of this analysis: a record of relations between direction and frequency of waves (‘directional spectrum of sea waves’ [DSSW]). Mentions MLH’s role in naming DSSW; paper published by self, MLH, NS. Discussion of numerical form of computed DSSW. Mentions subsequent plotting of DSSW; corrections to HSs. Comments on computer time taken to perform DSSW; difficulties of using RAE computer; time taken to perform subsequent plotting/analysis of results at NIO. [1:22:44] Description of working relations with electronic engineer NS in development of CLB. Mentions advice of mechanical engineer, Frank Pierce; welding work completed by small company in Haslemere, Surrey. Mentions photographic recording; later paper tape recording.

  • Description

    Life story interview with oceanographer Dr David Cartwright.

  • Related transcripts

    Dr David Cartwright interviewed by Dr 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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