Oral history of British science

Hall, Mike (Part 20 of 21). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Type


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  • Subjects

    Climate History

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Godwin Laboratory, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

  • Interviewees

    Hall, Mike, 1947- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 20: Comments on installation of air conditioning unit, SV, 1970/1971. [1:41] Comments on experimentation with glassware, 1970/1971. [2:19] Description/discussion of use of ‘standard carbonates’ and ‘controls’ in IA, ensuring international calibration. [7:44] Comments on nature/extent of communication with NS during 1974/1975. [9:04] Brief story of assistance to Judith McKenzie, ETH laboratory, Geological Institute, Zurich, Switzerland. [9:58] Comments on NERC [Natural Environment Research Council]/EC [European Community] funding for technical improvements/equipment acquisition. Story of extension to own NERC funding. [11:53] Comments on NS’s focus on academic work. [13:17] Comments on effect of fatherhood on structure of working day; time spent with children; children’s interest in/understanding of own work. Mention’s daughter’s work experience post, GL. [18:40] Comments on reasons for not accepting/seeking employment elsewhere. [19:44] Comments on relations with other laboratories involved in IA/RD, including RD laboratory of British Museum. [22:20] Description of equipment development for IA, during 1980s to present, including purchase of additional MSs, improvement of preparation systems allowing smaller sample sizes, computer controlled automation of preparation systems (from the late 1980s). [27:45] Description of use of computer software supplied by MS manufactures to control MSs. Comments on use of dependency of certain MS control software on late 1980s/early 1990s computer hardware. Mentions relations with company Pro-Vac Services [PVS] concerned with maintenance/servicing of MSs, including older instruments. [30:07] Comments on reasons for keeping older MSs running; accuracy of older MSs. [32:28] Description of method of determining accuracy of data, related to use of ‘standard carbonates’/ ‘controls’. Comments on relations between accuracy and experimental procedures. [33:59] Comments on relatively plentiful/easily acquired funding for equipment development in 1960s/1970s; gradual decrease in availability of funding to the present. [35:20] Comments on own perception of most exciting IA work during career (all in 1970s/1980s): IA of foraminifera from long OSC V28/238, identifying succession of ice ages, involvement in US CLIMAP [Climate: Long range Investigation, Mapping, and Prediction] project, NS’s correlation of IA results with Milankovitch cycles of solar orbital variation. [36:57] Story of displaying results of IA of OSC V28/238 around wall at party, NS’s house. Comments on time taken to conduct IA of samples down length of OSC V28/238. [38:38] Detailed comments on enjoyment of working on a single OSC. [41:26] Comments on work for CLIMAP project; correlation with Milankovitch cycles; origin/acquisition of OSC samples. [44:16] Brief comments of IA of ‘bulk sediment’, rather than isolated formaminifera. Brief story of IA of samples of grain, for Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge. [46:22] Story/discussion of attempt to encourage NS to develop IA of materials other than carbonates; diversification into other materials since NS’s death. Comments on NS’s intimidating, focused character, with related stories. [50:34] Comments on IA work for Department of Plant Sciences, UOC. Further comments on own wish [in 1990s] to pursue IA of materials other than carbonates, involving different techniques/equipment. [52:48] Description of new equipment acquired following NS’s death, for IA of organic material/water/nitrogen and carbon isotopes. Comments on related links with/work for Department of Archaeology [DOA], UOC. Mentions work of Tamsin O'Connell, DOA; IA of ocean water, organic material. Comments on NS’s view of introduction of TD by AW. [54:47] Comments on experience of managing the GL with a range of instruments, including role of technical staff. Description of recent funding of GL through contract IA, at a set price per sample. Comments on range of material analysed; lack of time to learn running of MSs acquired recently. [59:11] Detailed description/discussion of repair/maintenance of older MSs, including relations with PVS. [1:07:43] Comments on maintenance of computer software/hardware. [1:08:14] Comments on future use/disuse of older MSs; PVS’s collection of old MSs. [1:09:49] Comments on longstanding relations with PVS. [1:12:02] Comments on feelings about older MSs; supervision of running of MSs, including approval of all results. [1:14:00] Comments on reasons for retiring in March, 2012; retirement plans, including travel; preparation for retirement from GL. [1:20:26] Comments on interest in fishing, including use of fishing waters of UAC. [1:22:18] Comments on effect on GL of NS’s retirement/death. [1:24:37] Story of visit to NS the day before he died. [1:25:29] Story of organisation of party to mark 35 years of working with NS. [1:28:46] Description of archive of NS’s work at Royal Society, London. Comments on records of IA work, GL. Comments on roles of Personal Assistants to NS, from 1990s. [1:33:02] Comments on relations with parents during own working life. [1:35:24] Comments on effect on GL/self of popular/media interest in climate change; own response to questions regarding climate change. [1:37:01] Comments on experience of being interviewed for National Life Stories.

  • Description

    Interview with laboratory manager and technician in climate history Mike Hall.

  • Related transcripts

    Mike Hall 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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