Oral history of British science

Ash, Eric (Part 8 of 13)

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  • Recording locations

    British Library, London

  • Interviewees

    Ash, Eric, 1928- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 8 [32:52] Remarks on other research at UCL: interest in metrology, highly precise measurements; research on super resolution microscopy using microwaves rather than light-waves; advantages of super resolution microscopy; limitations of electron microscope for looking at living species; link between super resolution microscopy and confocal microscopy; [05:00] EA as part of wider research group, including Kumar Wickramasinghe; EA work on experiment with skilled technician Mr Nichol, who later suffered from dementia; Charles Kao suffering from Alzheimer's. [06:15] Description of experimental equipment setup. [07:25] Remarks on new technologyn: developments in electronics; increased use of computers to record data; EA giving IEE Christmas lectures in 1968 on solid state electronics using complex integrated circuit in demonstration; EA experience at IBM 1969-70 where people were building semiconductor memories; impact of new electronic technologies, relying on PhD student to discover new technology; anecdote about physiologist Andrew Huxley making his own electronics equipment. [13:45] Remarks on: EA becoming head of UCL department in 1980; size of department; EA attending Harold Barlow lecture today; EA colleagues, predecessor Alec Cullan, PhD students, Simon Bennett; EA arrangements for PhD supervisions; EA advice text to PhD students titled, 'To those about to', anecdote about advice on good laboratory practice.[19:00] Comments on scientific approach: attributes of good scientist, EA admiration of Dennis Gabor; [21:17] value of scientific method; keeping scientific method in mind during work, comparisons with chancellor George Osborne and economic experiments; not seeing scientists as wise men; ability of science to give negative answers; research failures; anecdote about failed analysis using mechanical computer during PhD. [25:23] Remarks on EA as head of department: need for teaching reforms; EA tutorial group teaching assessments; EA trying to numerically gauge how academics were spending their time, anecdote about protest from lightest loaded lecturer; annual social evening at EA house; [29:45] limited changes in EA role when he became head of department; EA late resignation to go to Imperial College meaning he continued to lecture at UCL for some time; EA enjoying lecturing; need to regularly update some lecture courses, anecdote about quantum mechanics course; EA not considering becoming a vice-chancellor until offer from Imperial College.

  • Description

    Interview with electrical engineer, Eric Ash

  • Related links

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

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