Oral history of British science

Davies, David (Part 4 of 12). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Recording locations

    Interviewee’s home, Salisbury

  • Interviewees

    Davies, David, 1939- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 4: Story of 1962 2 month cruise on Royal Research Ship [RRS] Discovery II [D2]. Mentions playing viola on board. Comments on significant crew, including boatswain/net man (Dick Burt [DB]); relations between scientists and officers of Royal Fleet Auxiliary posted on D2. Mentions separate dining of crew. Comments on cruise destination (Madeira Cape Verde Abyssal Plain); geophysical equipment deployed, including camera designed by Anthony Laughton [AL]. Mentions technicians JC/John Jopling. Mentions break, Tenerife. Description of practices for recording magnetism, gravity, heat flow; methods of coring/dredging; operation of AL’s underwater camera. [9:44] Mentions own/TF’s focus on seismology, using RSBs. Description of practice of seismology using RSBs. Mentions relations between DGG and NIO [National Institute of Oceanography]. Description of effect of rough seas on D2. Mentions analysis of seismic records by John Jones, University College London [UCL]. [14:15] Brief comments on effect of alcohol on MH. Story of holiday with wife (Philippa) at their family home ‘Rushay’ on estate at Wootton Fitzpaine, Dorest. Comments on relations will Hill family to present, including annual holiday at ‘Rushay’; role of MH as enabler of scientific work of others. Story of Philippa’s morse code messages to MH on D2, including report of his election as FRS [Fellow of the Royal Society]. Comments on MH’s view of himself in relation to eminent father AV Hill. [19:48] Comments on shift work on D2; playing with water balloons; analysis of cruise data, including own role in computer operation. [21:44] Story of failure of JS’s ocean bottom seismometer. [23:05] Mentions computer analysis of cruise data. Story of origin of developing interest in interpretation of seismic records; literature search on transmission of waves through complicated materials; introduction to Walter Munk [WM] through MH; invitation to work with Freeman Gilbert [FG]/George Backus [GB], Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics [IGPP], Scripps Institution of Oceanography [SIO], La Jolla, California, US (United States of America); introduction to ‘Blacknest’ [BN] group led by Hal Thirlaway [HT] concerned with monitoring underground nuclear bomb tests [UNBT], [Atomic Weapons Establishment], Aldermaston, Berkshire. Comments on contemporary political interest in atmospheric test ban [ATB]; UNBT; development of arrays of seismometers by BN. Mentions DGG technician Roger Butler. Story of visit to BN with WM. Comments on unrestricted BN data; BN’s relations with university departments. [34:40] Comments on ability of TB to attract research funding from sources including US Office of Naval Research [ONR]. Mentions Shell funding of own PhD. [37:00] Story of visit to IGPP, 1963, including relations with FG/GB, use of IBM computers. Comments on second visit to IGPP, including influence of FG’s expertise; first published paper, with WM. Mentions Keith Runcorn [KR]; Maurice Ewing. [42:29] Comments on similarities/differences between IGPP and DGG. Story illustrating increase in amount of seismic data, early 1960s. Mentions funding of seismic research by US’ ONR and Vela Uniform program; FG’s sabbatical, DGG. Comments on small international community of scientists involved in analysis of seismic records, early 1960s. [48:53] Comments on International Indian Ocean Expedition [IIOE], 1963-1964; military interest in geophysical data. Mentions MH’s publication ‘The Sea’. Story of DGG cruise on RRS Discovery, 1963. Mentions involvement of Fred Vine [FV], JS, TF. Story of ‘seismic line’ on Seychelles Bank; ‘run ashore’ Seychelles. Mentions collaboration with MHS Owen. Brief story of experience on US research ship. [1:01:10] Story of FV discussing results of magnetic survey around a seamount. Mentions Harry Hess/Tuzo Wilson. [1:04:40] Description of role of Discovery officers; role of Discovery crew, including DB, carpenter, stewards. Mentions inclusion of female DGG research students (Carol Williams [CW]/Charlotte Keen [CK]), 1965 cruise. [1:08:31] Description of spatial divisions between scientists/crew. Mentions ornithologist; ship’s doctor. [1:10:35] Comments on relations between scientists/officers. [1:12:41] Comments on relations between scientists/crew. [1:13:57] Description of own role in seismic work on Discovery. Comments on tension over devotion of ship time to different experiments; relations with people of countries bordering Indian Ocean. Mentions visit to Tsavo National Park. Brief description of 1963 cruise findings/publications, including Royal Society [RS] conference. Story of own interpretation of some of JS’s data from ocean bottom seismometer; analysis of seismic data with FG using IBM 70/90 computers, Newman Street, London and ICL (International Computers Limited) computer at Atomic Energy Research Establishment [AERE], Harwell. Comments on relations between DGG/AERE, including story of proposal concerning uranium filter for seawater. [1:28:22] Comments on content/examination of PhD; Atlantic Ocean cruise, 1965, including MH health concerns, inclusion of CK/CW. Mentions election to Fellowship, Peterhouse, 1965. Story of MH’s deteriorating heath/suicide, 1966. Mentions job title, DGG. Story of supervising research students, DGG. Comments on Red Sea research of research student Clive Tramontini [CT], predating plate tectonics [PT]. Mentions computer generated fit of continents by TB/Alan Smith/John Osemeikhian/[Jim Everett]. Comments on contemporary work of research students Dan McKenzie [DM]/Bob Parker [BP]; contemporary US geophysics. [1:39:15] Comments on perception of self as facilitator, DGG; Red Sea cruise on Assab with CT, 1966/1967.

  • Description

    Interview with geophysicist Dr David Davies

  • Related transcripts

    Dr David Davies 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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