Oral history of British science

Hilsum, Cyril (Part 15 of 25)

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  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Middlesex

  • Interviewees

    Hilsum, Cyril, 1925- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 15 [38:35] Story about use of microwave radar in Claribel bullet detecting: being approached for applications from military, such as during meetings in USA; approach from military for system to spot snipers in Northern Ireland c1971; problems with alternative infrared and Fort Halstead proposed acoustic systems; radar's ability to track bullets; [06:15] anecdote about CH's hazardous experiments in corridor using small radar to detect motor swung ball bearings; measurement of bullet incoming angle by radar; complication of maintaining memory of direction of radar in a moving vehicle, resolved by Adrian Mears suggestion of direction finding based on Droitwich radio station; [11:20] description of system's discrete antenna; rushed nature of work, abandonment of other schemes; manufacture by Racal; impact of system in stopping sniping in Northern Ireland; use of new display technology in system. [15:10] Remarks on Claribel: contact with the military during trails on Salisbury Plain, project leader David Colliver; anecdote about selecting which radio station to use with Claribel, Droitwich or Radio Moscow; anecdote about visit by army head Farrar-Hockley; Claribel's semi forgotten status, relevance to systems in use today; chagrin of systems group of Malvern that physics group had developed system. [20:00] Comments on demonstration of miniature radar set with a model train: changing ministries responsible for work; importance of showing public the results of research; annual; physics exhibitions at Alexandra Palace; description of model train controlled by miniature radar; simplicity of miniature radar based on semiconductor; difficulties using transistors for generating microwaves, silicon avalanche diodes. [25:50] Remarks on applications of miniature radars: use in traffic signal systems; sources of ideas, value of exhibitions and press notices; anecdote about generosity to visitors from companies, limited secrecy. [28:20] Story about British Rail train stopping device developed with SERL: existing magnetic system; SERL construction of sensor for train; ambitious speeds planned for future trains; need to stop train moving at zero speed and fail safe; [32:30] anecdote about train stopping specially for CH at Hitchin during trials; incompatibility of system with Southern Rail's electric third rail system. [34:25] Remarks on: airport security systems; basic physics nature of work; 1960s White Heat period, change of ministry but programme remaining the same; civil applications of thermal imaging, CH use of thermal imaging detecting gas leak. [phone]

  • Description

    Interview with physicist, Cyril Hilsum

  • Related transcripts

    Cyril Hilsum interviewed by Thomas Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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