Oral history of British science
Wintle, Ann (Part 7 of 11). An Oral History of British Science.
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Interviewee's home, Cambridgeshire
Wintle, Ann, 1948- (speaker, female)
Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)
Part 7: Story of relations with potassium-argon laboratory [PAL], Department of Geodesy and Geophysics [Madingley Rise], UOC, including friendship with Marcia Miller [MM], technician and wife of geophysicist Jack Miller [JM]; meeting of husband Jack Jacobs [JJ] at Madingley Rise party; history of PAL, including backgrounds of JM/MM. Comments on 1970s/1980s debates over potassium argon dating chronologies; value of field experience in interpreting sample dates. [5:08] Comments on different dating techniques/samples of Stephen Moorbath, UO. [6:35] Story of party at Madingley Rise, 1980, including meeting of JJ; development of relationship with JJ. Positive relationship with/marriage to JJ, including lack of career conflict as JJ older/retired, shared interests. [10:42] Description of process of devising sampling strategy for loess deposits in the field, through on site discussions with geologists. Mentions time taken to process one sample; batch processing. [13:43] Description of process of taking loess samples, protected from exposure to light; use of gamma ray detectors/spectrometers in the field; collection of sand samples. [17:45] Comments on geologists’ view of loess sections as terrestrial equivalent of deep ocean sediment cores; formation of loess sections in relation to glacial/interglacial climates. [20:53] Comments on contemporary British geologists studying loess, John Catt, Ed Derbyshire. [22:57] Detailed description of process of preparing loess samples for TLD in laboratory wet room. [31:26] Description of process of labelling samples, including role of laboratory notebook. [32:49] Description of use of manual TLD equipment. Mentions introduction of computer recording, replacing chart paper and ruler. Comments on development of automatic TLD equipment by laboratory in Risø, Denmark, from early 1980s. [37:49] Story of origin/development of relations with Risø laboratory, including comments on members of staff: Lars Bøtter-Jensen [LJ], Vagn Mejdahl [VM]. [40:21] Comments on British laboratories with TLD equipment; good relations within British luminescence dating [LD] community. [42:46] Comments on suppliers of LD equipment; functionality of UK, US and Danish LD equipment; tendency for most LD labs to contain a Danish Risø Reader [RR]. Mentions recent Japanese equipment development. [47:04] Comments on formulation of scientific questions involving TLD; funding of research/PhD studentships/technicians by NERC project grants, TLD dating laboratory, UOC, 1979 to 1986. Story of first two PhD students, including Chinese Zhou Liping [ZL]. [53:10] Comments on content of research projects, combining technique development and application in providing chronology for climate changes. [55:19] Story of visits to loess deposits/scientists in Eastern Europe [EE], funded by Royal Society exchange schemes, including Poland, Hungary, Estonia. Mentions geographer Hannah Proszynska [HP] and family, Poland. [58:46] Story of visit from members of British intelligence services, concerning EE exchanges. [59:29] Story of visits via Moscow to Galina Hutt [GH], Tallinn, Estonia. Comments on relations between membership/involvement in Communist Party and funding for scientific work in Tartu, Estonia. [1:02:00] Story of GH’s surprise that shops in UK contained items for sale; effect of GH’s Russian background on her status in Estonia. Comments on experience of social hierarchies, Estonia. [1:07:08] Comments on provision of equipment to laboratory in which GH worked, through conduct in relation to CP of its Director. Mentions Chinese loess scientist Liu Tungsheng’s [LT] advancement through support to CP. [1:09:20] Description of operation of minder on journey, Moscow to Estonia. Story of assistance of scientific attaché. British Embassy, Moscow in transport of samples from Estonia, via Moscow, to UK. Story of recent destructive examination of suitcase by German customs. Mentions tendency to declare existence of samples in luggage. [1:06:01] Further comments on visit from members of British intelligence services, prompted by EE/Chinese visits/exchanges. [1:18:24] Comments on family (including daughter HP) in Warsaw with TLD laboratory at home; HP’s life/career/character. [1:22:51] Comments on reasons for not having children. [1:25:46] Story of meeting of loess scientists on Loess Plateau [LP], China . [1:34:18] Description of observational fieldwork on LP. [1:35:57] Story of three Quaternary scientists, working separately on distinct areas of Belgium. [1:38:49] Comments on lack of national differences in study of loess; debates over interpretation of loess sections. [1:43:28] Comments on experience of China, 1985; hierarchical organisation of Chinese science. Story of discovering status in China of PhD student ZL’s father. Comments on limited experience of state control in China, 1985; social relations between members of 1985 LP visit, including story of catching LT in fall on LP.
Life story interview with Physicist Professor Ann Wintle.