Oral history of British science
Humphreys, Colin (2 of 9) Oral History of British Science
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interviewee's office, Cambridge
Humphreys, Colin, 1941- (speaker, male)
Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)
Part 2: Comments on Imperial College physics course: anecdote about being warned of drop out rate; anecdote about mix ups with acoustics lecture; anecdote about bad lecturers leading to better understanding due to need to do extra work; description of physics lectures; anecdote about maths lecturer rubbing text off blackboard as she wrote; lectures encouraging people to read their books; superb maths lecturer Stanley Raimes; poor behaviour in lectures; anecdote about Catholic Priest classmate, a teacher, having problems with the theory of relativity; [05:10] reading in library after lectures with course-mates; broad range of scientific subjects on physics course; CH learning Russian in first year; CH opting for theoretical physics not materials in third year; lecturers from Tom Kibble, who worked on Higgs Bosun, Matthews and Nobel laureate Abdus Salam; appeal of quantum mechanics to CH, but CH thinking he wasn't clever enough to do theoretical physics; [11:30] mathematical tools, such as slide rules, CH use of biggest computers in country for PhD research; CH becoming more experimental as research career progressed; heavy workload;. [13:43] Remarks on small proportion of female students on course: comparisons with school; comparison of male and female chess and spatial reasoning skills; exceptional female crystallographers, relevance of difference upbringings; female students range of attractiveness, degree of mixing with male students; few female staff, such as spectroscopist Lady Anne Thorne. [17:42] Remarks on teaching at Imperial: good lecturers Stanley Raimes and John Pain; poor lecturer Otto Klemperer; writing up experiments; textbooks, such as Kittel on solid state physics. [20:34] Remarks on: influence of Imperial on CH; developing of leadership skills through being year representative to Student Union; social life at Imperial limited by lengthy commute from Chiswick; musical concerts and theatre trips; Christian Union Society; long distance to Imperial College sports ground, CH supporting Imperial teams; CH progress and award of first class degree; careers guidance, advice of final year tutor Harold Hopkins to go somewhere other than Imperial next; CH career choices, almost working for STC [Standard Telephone Cables], King College London on acoustics and biology, acceptance by Cambridge Metal Physics Group in Cavendish Laboratory; CH decision to go to Cambridge.
Interview with materials scientist, Professor Sir Colin Humphreys