Oral history of British science

Humphreys, Colin (6 of 9) Oral History of British Science

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  • Subjects

    Materials Science

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    interviewee's office, Cambridge

  • Interviewees

    Humphreys, Colin, 1941- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 6: Discussion about Commission on Electron Diffraction of the International Union of Crystallography: CH chairmanship from 1984; organisational roles of Commission; regular symposia; international table of crystallography; meetings and working; committee membership from various countries; CH role promoting new electron diffraction techniques. [4:23] Remarks on becoming more involved with committees when he moved to Liverpool University. Story about formation of SERC Materials Commission to rectify poor funding arrangements for materials, anecdote about SERC chairman Bill Mitchell's choice of committee name. [05:52] Remarks on Materials Commission: CH first chairman, membership of SERC engineering and science boards; anecdotes about CH talks to successfully win extra funding; time taken CH for work; anecdote about CH presentation and Bill Mitchell to minister Kenneth Clark with artificial hip and shaped metal under-wired bra; impact of materials commission's funding strategy. [10:57] Remarks on: differences between physics and materials science. [11:41] Comments on CH talks to schools: starting in Oxford, increasing at Liverpool; CH becoming professor of the public understanding of physics for Institute of Physics [IoP]; CH frequent talks to school and at Association of Science Education conferences; very busy in CH life; topics of talks to schools, shape memory metals and their uses such as springs and dentistry. [15:15] Description of how shape memory metal works, anecdotes about article in 'Cosmopolitan'. [17:38] Further comments on schools talks and outreach: high temperature turbine blades; artificial hips and arteries; hopes to get people interested in science, anecdote about trying to recruit students; Australian Academy of Science sponsoring CH lecture tour of Australia; Singapore Government sponsoring CH tour of Singapore; CH lectures in USA; CBE and IoP Kelvin Medals for work on public understanding of science; President of Physics section of British Association for Advancement of Science; [22:00] CH hopes to correct decline in science education and low numbers of trained physics teachers, CH advice to Science Minister David Sainsbury. [24:00] Remarks on memory metal: minor research topic for CH; memory metal statue in Sweden; use in aircraft refuelling equipment. [25:20] Story about CH's move from Oxford to Liverpool: anecdote about interview and being offered job; CH difficulties leaving Oxford for small department in Liverpool; anecdote about CH almost changing his mind after a dinner at Jesus College; CH push and pull factors in decision, risks of moving to Liverpool; supportive family, CH staying in halls of residence in Liverpool at first; CH actions to improve department and student numbers, anecdote about repainting department.

  • Description

    Interview with materials scientist, Professor Sir Colin Humphreys

  • Related transcripts

    Colin Humphreys 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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