Old Blue Scientists???

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dg64
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Old Blue Scientists???

Post by dg64 » Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:24 pm

Hi everyone. I am just re-connecting with the Forum. I am doing the responder slot for the Founders Day dinner this year (Jonathan Osborne doing the main bit) and we are supposed to be talking about the science traditions of the school. Anyone know Old Blues who became scientists and especially any girls from Hertford. The scientists seem to be fairly thin on the ground. Would also welcome any thoughts or perspectives from anyone who recalls science at Hertford, good or bad........

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Re: Old Blue Scientists???

Post by Katharine » Thu Aug 15, 2013 11:27 am

Judy Evans, seems to be trotted out as a senior plastic surgeon. Do you include mathematicians? Dame Ida Busbridge was the first Woman President of the Mathematical Association, I believe. She spent much of her life at St Hugh's College, Oxford, and was there when I was at LMH. She wanted to know why I hadn't applied to her college, but I wanted to get in on my own merit and not because of CH connections!

The Science school at Hertford was very early for girls to have such facilities, and I think we were lucky to have specialist teachers for each of the three main sciences. I wonder when that started?
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Re: Old Blue Scientists??? we

Post by LongGone » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:47 pm

Well, I wasn't at Hertford, but I am a Geneticist (so I guess that counts for one part). Given the high quality of science teaching at CH, I have already raved about Dick Fry in the past, I have always been surprised how few of my generation went on to graduate school. In part this may be that there was a pervasive attitude that only Classics and History were *real* subjects worthy of scholars, the sciences were for unwashed oiks. As an aside, I have found that almost all of my colleagues are well-grounded in the Arts and Social sciences, while almost all of my 'arty' friends are totally ignorant of all of the sciences (and are proud of it).
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Re: Old Blue Scientists???

Post by DavidRawlins » Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:06 pm

Michael Seakins PA1945-54 was a scientist. When I last heard of him he was living in Barbados. He did researh in physical chemistry, and was senior lecturer in Univesity of West Indies.
He was scathing about some of my results in medical research; he had not appreciated the wide variability of biological data.
He was also involved in the local coastguard service, and possibly navy.
His son was in PA 79-85.
Col A 1946-1953

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Re: Old Blue Scientists???

Post by phyllis » Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:43 pm

I believe that the chemistry lab at Hertford went to the Science museum when the girls moved to Horsham. We were always told this was because of its importance as the first Science lab for girls in the UK. I don't believe it has ever been on display but is/was located in the basement at the mueum.

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Re: Old Blue Scientists???

Post by Chris T » Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:11 pm

Although this is late, I hope that it will be of some use.

Jonathan Osborne will almost certainly speak on the heuristic method and CH. But he may not mention how the heuristic method came about, with its origins in the second half of the 19th century.

Prof HE Armstrong had Chas E Browne as an acolyte and (since Armstrong was a Governor of CH, appointed by the Royal Society) HEA ensured that CEB was appointed to head CH Science in 1899. In CH at Newgate Street he taught science in a disused dormitory. HEA was instrumental in designing the first scientific labs at CH Horsham. This was unique in public schools for some years and CH was much visited in the first decade of the 20th century by teachers from other public schools. The heuristic method was developed by CEB, with influence from HEA. Then G Van Praagh, carried it further in chemistry. Osborne will probably mention this. But he may not recount the next para.

All this came about because HEA had spent time studying chemistry in Germany. In 1867 he attended the Paris International Exhibition. He realised from both experiences that the technical education in Germany and France far surpassed that of the UK, for Germany had its trade schools and technical high schools and France its Grandes Ecoles. The UK had no equivalent, for most science was then a gentlemanly occupation. Hence HEA set up an establishment to teach teachers of science. CEB was a pupil there and then a demonstrator. In 1856 WH Perkin (a British chemist) had discovered the first aniline dye (mauveine) and because of industrial adaptations by Germans, a large and profitable German industry was established, and the UK users of their industrial dyes had to pay very large royalties to use a British invention.* So because the UK had an extensive textile industry the drawbacks of UK’s lack of technical education were quickly realised and this was rubbed in by the Paris Exhibition. HEA resolved to do something about this. Hence the rest of the story, involving CEB and CH, with economic influences that few appreciate.

* By coincidence a similar thing happened with penicillin (which has no direct CH connection to my knowledge). It was discovered in the UK (resulting in Nobel prizes for Fleming, Florey and Chain), but Florey would not permit it to be patented. (“we must not restrict application of its benefits to mankind ...... “). A US company established a method to allow industrial scale production and so all UK users had to pay large royalties for the final product. The original lab method was totally unsuitable for large scale production. So much for certain idealists.

Two useful refs
1. ‘Education and the Economy. 1870-1939’ by M Sanderson. Recent Findings of Res in Economic & Social Hist, 17, 1993, 1-4.
2. When Science & Poetry were Friends”, Freeman Dyson, NY Review of books, Aug13, vol 56, no 13, pp 15-18. (This is a review of “The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science”: Richard Holmes, Pantheon, NY, 2008.)

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Re: Old Blue Scientists???

Post by MrEd » Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:23 pm

Michael Seakins PA1945-54 was a scientist. When I last heard of him he was living in Barbados. He did researh in physical chemistry, and was senior lecturer in Univesity of West Indies.
He was scathing about some of my results in medical research; he had not appreciated the wide variability of biological data.
He was also involved in the local coastguard service, and possibly navy.
Michael Seakins was indeed a Senior Lecturer at UWI in the 1980s, his son Patrick joined the Royal Navy after CH (and Uni I presume) and his other son (younger than Patrick) had a Jamaican accent whilst at CH. Patrick left Jamaica (where he had been in the Coastguard or Naval Forces) and taught for about a year at a private school near Bristol c, 1981 but soon opted to return to the UWI teaching Chemistry in Barbados. Whilst in the UK he was a Lt-Cdr in the RNR and captained a minesweeper in Bristol, and headed the Barbados Defence Force naval section for a while when he moved to Barbados c. 1981/1982. I understood that he was involved in the invasion of Grenada in October 1983 the USA/Caricom effort. He was a great chap, and had many stories about how much more rigorous CH was in his day compared to the 1980s.

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Re: Old Blue Scientists???

Post by bakunin » Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:01 pm

Since the 80s at least, the general attitude had been to look down on science, as far as I can tell. Certainly, a talented rugby player would receive more attention than a potential scientist. And anyway, what's the point, when someone with a chemistry degree will probably waste all that knowledge and insight into the fundamental structure of life, the universe and everything, by becoming an accountant.

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Re: Old Blue Scientists???

Post by wurzel » Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:29 pm

bakunin wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:01 pm
Since the 80s at least, the general attitude had been to look down on science, as far as I can tell. Certainly, a talented rugby player would receive more attention than a potential scientist. And anyway, what's the point, when someone with a chemistry degree will probably waste all that knowledge and insight into the fundamental structure of life, the universe and everything, by becoming an accountant.
That will be my brother then - 2i in Chemical Physics form Bristol, proved the general formulae for calculating crystalline lattice energies was not true in all cases as his final year thesis and then went into financial services audit / consultancy for Deloitte

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Re: Old Blue Scientists???

Post by sejintenej » Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:25 pm

DavidRawlins wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:06 pm
Michael Seakins PA1945-54 was a scientist. When I last heard of him he was living in Barbados. He did researh in physical chemistry, and was senior lecturer in Univesity of West Indies.
another scientist
Douglas M. Ruthven Col A, 1950-1957
Ph.D., Sc.D. (University of Cambridge, 1966, 1988)

Professor Emeritus. Fundamentals of adsorption and adsorption processes at University of Maine, USA

I was his swab for a term. Strange; he must be close to 78 years of age but is still listed on the faculty of that university.
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Re: Old Blue Scientists???

Post by scrub » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:49 pm

bakunin wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:01 pm
And anyway, what's the point, when someone with a chemistry degree will probably waste all that knowledge and insight into the fundamental structure of life, the universe and everything, by becoming an accountant.
From my view, I wouldn't say it's wasted, at the very least you end up with a lot more people knocking around the place who have a greater appreciation/interest/understanding of the underlying dynamics of the world they live in. Not the worst outcome.

Very few who start an undergrad degree will end up doing research, fewer still stay in the same field they start in. I've seen lots of people move away from what they study at degree level, even those that go on to do a PhD. A bit more than half the PhD students I've worked with have moved completely out of research, some stay connected to science others move well away from it.
The "standard" academic career path is more like an Escheresque cat's cradle than a gentle linear slope so for many people movement is normal and (usually) by choice.
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