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John Woods interviewed by Paul Merchant

Woods, John, 1939- (speaker, male; interviewee; physicist and oceanographer)
2011-12-08, 2012-02-16, 2012-02-17, 2012-02-18


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  • Title:
    John Woods interviewed by Paul Merchant
  • Contributor: Woods, John, 1939-; Merchant, Paul
  • Other Titles:
    Collection title: An Oral History of British Science

  • Place Name: Royal Overseas League, London and interviewee’s home, Genova, Italia
  • Description:
    Track 1 [1:15:31] [Session one: 8th December 2011] John Woods [JW] born Brighton, Sussex, United Kingdom [UK], 26th October, 1939. Mentions family home Hove, Brighton. Story of father’s life, including work in British Intelligence during World War Two [WW2], partly at Bletchley Park [BP]. Story of father’s code breaking during Burma campaign, WW2. Mentions father’s return to banking after WW2. Comments on tiredness of father resulting from WW2 service. [3:26] Further comments on father’s work at BP related to linguistic/mathematical ability. [5:44] Comments on paternal grandparents. Detailed comments on influence on self of paternal uncle. Story of lives of paternal aunt/uncle. Further comments on achievements of paternal uncle. [11:47] Comments on early life of mother, Kings Lynn [KL], Norfolk, UK. Description of maternal great grandfather’s home, KL. Comments on life of maternal grandmother, including mathematical ability/enjoyment of gambling. [15:40] Comments on maternal grandfather’s [MG] career; academic ability of mother. Story of MG’s sudden death, including effect on mother’s education/career. Mentions mother’s position as Night Sister, Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton. Story of maternal uncle’s WW2 service. [20:43] Comments on influence on self of maternal grandmother, including gift of first camera. Mentions mother’s interest in photography. [22:57] Mentions sight of barrage balloon, WW2. Story of swimming in sea off Hove, in spite of WW2 defences. Mentions first school, aged 4; mother’s notes on JW’s childhood; bullet hole in window of home. Story of VE (Victory in Europe) night, 8/5/45. [25:41] Comments on sights/sounds, WW2. Story of sharing hospital ward with adult sailors following appendix removal, aged 4. [27:31] Story of walking with father in outdoors; holidays on farm; learning to play chess with father and preparatory school teacher. [31:14] Brief description of family home, Hove during WW2. [33:03] Description of/comments on first school. Mentions English prize. [34:09] Description of family home Patcham, Brighton, from 1946. Story of contraction of polio, summer 1947, including admission to isolation hospital, then Chailey hospital for polio survivors [CH], Sussex [1947-1949]. Story of establishment of CH; time spent in CH, including fitting of callipers, reading of books browned by heat treatment; discharge to new family home, Hove; home tutoring. [41:23] Story of starting preparatory school [PS]. Description of PS, including teaching staff. Story of playing correspondence chess; relations with Russian teacher of mathematics; taking of 11 Plus examination; grammar school [GS] interview. [46:03] Detailed comments on interest in architecture at this time, with related stories. Story of GS art teacher undermining plans for career in architecture; decision to apply to read physics at University of Manchester/Imperial College [IC], London, because of presence of Patrick Blackett [PB]. Comments on character/abilities/achievements of PB, with related stories. [54:16] Mentions lifelong photography hobby; photograph taken of PB and Niels Bohr [NB]. Comments on lectures of NB. [55:03] Story of lecture at GS sixth form from visiting physicist. Mentions lack of interest in school chemistry, with related story. [59:00] Mentions contraction of polio at King Alfred swimming baths, Hove. Description of effects of polio on own body. Brief comments on emotional response to polio as a child. Comments on time spent in CH, including story of book on Ordinance Survey maps. Stories of development of interest in maps/cartography. Comments on other childhood pastimes following discharge from CH, including cricket, reading in Hove Public Library [HPL], swimming. Story of making own canoe and bicycle trailer for canoe; cycling holidays with friend using youth hostels [YH]. Positive comments on YHs. [1:08:44] Comments on wide reading, HPL. Mentions lack of science teaching, PS. Story of additional/special mathematics teaching, GS. Comments on teaching/learning in other subjects. Story of holiday with God parents in Paris, aged 13. Mentions learning to dive, aged 15. Comments on enjoyment of history lessons; ability in English.

    Track 2 [1:42:22] [Session two: 16th February 2012] Comments on experience of undergraduate degree, physics, IC, 1958 to 1961; effect of physics training in own approach to problem solving. Story of expansion of IC, late 1950s, including effect on own experience of degree course. Mentions photograph of NB in old Royal College of Science building, IC. Story of coal fire in library of Physics Department [PD], IC. [5:04] Comments on decision by second year of degree not to pursue laboratory physics research; contemporary view of particle physics research; use of analogue computers in third year; development of interest in geophysics, including meteorology, study of cosmic rays (mentions Harry Elliot). Story of opting for electrical engineering in third year, IC. Positive comments on signal theory [ST]. Description of ST. Mentions inventions of mazer/hologram in Electrical Engineering Department, IC. Comments on Colin Cherry’s use of psychology in ST, including cocktail party problem. [12:43] Mentions learning to swim; relearning to swim following contraction of polio. Story of learning to scuba dive, 1955; membership of IC diving club [ICDC], associated with British Sub Aqua Club [BSAC]. Mentions influence of Jacques Cousteau’s [JC] film ‘The Silent World’. Comments on support for undergraduate expeditions of IC Rector Sir Patrick Linstead; role of Royal Geographical Society [RGS]; 1960 ICDC expedition, Cornwall. Story of organising summer 1961 diving expedition of ICDC in Malta, focused on underwater archaeology, including role of Max Mallowan. Comments on discovery of ancient pottery from ancient wreck. Story of giving RGS Monday evening lecture on expedition. [21:12] Mentions offers of employment. Story of successful application to pursue PhD research in meteorology, supervised by John Mason [JM], IC. Mentions Department of Scientific and Industrial Research [DSIR] funding. [23:02] Mentions taking MSc, meteorology, IC. Comments on relations between IC academic meteorology and (then) nearby UK Meteorological Office, South Kensington, London. [24:46] Description of PhD project on early stages in formation of tropical rainfall, set by JM. Mentions [Peter] Shepherd’s interest in turbulence. Comments on reading on turbulence, including George Batchelor’s translations of Russian publications; own experimental work on turbulence. [30:01] Comments on relations between theory and experiment in physics; role in PhD project of LF Richardson’s [LR] model of turbulence developed by Russian scientists, including designation of minimum scale for turbulence; own investigation of water droplets in laminar flow, involving experiment and statistical analysis. [39:27] Comments on reputation/perception of IC undergraduates as earnest/serious. [41:45] Mentions meeting pioneering European divers, including JC, late 1950s. Brief description of work of biologist John [Zachary] Young [JZY] on nervous system of the octopus. Mentions own fieldwork in Capri for JZY. Story of meeting JC, Capri. [48:38] Description of practice of diving, including equipment. Story of advice on deep diving from US Office of Naval Research, London. [58:19] Story of offer of employment from President of RGS/Hydrographer of the Royal Navy [RN], Edmund Irving [EI]. Description of contemporary problems with RN sonar, in context of prioritisation of submarine warfare. Comments on security/secrecy arrangements, including highest ‘PX priority’. Story of visits to Admiralty building, Whitehall, London to read classified material, including comments on naval weather forecasters, meetings with submarine commanders. [1:10:19] Description of RN presence in Malta. Comments on conducting submarine sonar work secretly, alongside PhD work. Brief description of initial studies on surface heating of sea, Malta. Story of investigation of possible effect of surface heating on reducing turbulence, including comments on work of GI Taylor [GT], LR. Description of visualisation experiments in upper layers of sea, Malta, involving photography of released dye. [1:21:57] Story of detailed measurement of temperature profile of upper ocean, Malta; presentation of findings in Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics [DAMTP], University of Cambridge [UOC], including exchanges with GT. [1:25:15] Story of presentation of research in Admiralty building ‘cinema’, including EI’s directions concerning secrecy. [1:27:33] Positive comments on GT’s work in physics. Story/description of DAMTP laboratory; GT’s collection of unpublished papers. [1:30:28] Comments on development of theory/mathematical model concerning suppression of turbulence by formation of density gradient in upper ocean, by solar heating; effect of temperature gradient on sonar, involving varying refraction of sound; continuation of work on sonar problems in open ocean; postdoctoral employment, IC. [1:36:44] Story of concealing RN work from JM; revelation following JM’s appointment as Director General [DG], UK Meteorological Office [MO], 1966. Positive comments on JM as DG, MO. [1:39:38] Story of formal appointment as Senior Research Fellow by Civil Service Board, [1966]. Mentions promotion to Principal Research Fellow.

    Track 3 [42:56] [background noise until 20:00] Comments on development of numerical weather forecasting, including contribution of LR. Brief story of development/practice of numerical weather forecasting, MO, including pre-lunchtime evaluations. Mentions contemporary Director of Research [DOR], John Sawyer [JS]. Comments on spatial limits of MO numerical weather forecast in 1960s; expansion to global scale, 1970s. Mentions Global Atmospheric Research Programme [GARP]. [6:31] Story of role of inmates of Broadmoor prison in punching cards for MO numerical weather forecasting. Mentions development of ten level weather forecasting model by Fred Bushby. Story of JS’s appointment to MO. Positive comments on JS’s influence as MO DOR, with related story of inspiration to look for weather fronts in the ocean (ocean fronts [OF]). Comments on freedom to discuss Admiralty work in MO. [14:24] Story of development of own investigations of ocean ‘weather’ [OW]. Description of MO aircraft, with related story of former use in Royal Air Force [RAF]; operation of smoke flares. Story of detection of OFs in Ionian Sea by sea surface temperature changes detected by MO airborne infrared sensor, marked with smoke flares. [21:24] Story of use of squadron of rescue ships to take measurements of OF, Malta, including role of Nic Flemming [NF]. [25:53] Story of development of theory of OW; writing of paper on OW for JS; escalation of military interest in OW, leading to NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organisation] research; exclusion from further developments. [33:03] Story of continuing, as Professor of Physical Oceanography [PPO], University of Southampton [UOS], pursuit of submarine sonar/OW research through research of officers of RN Meteorological and Oceanographic Service; effect of this research in neutralising weapon of Russian Navy. [39:25] Description of form/behaviour of OFs, in relation to ocean temperature profile data, with related story of discarded data.

    Track 4 [2:32:09] [Session three: 17th February 2012] Mentions father’s death, late 1960s. Story of parents’ retirement to Steyning, Sussex; mother’s activities following father’s death. Comments on relations with mother. [4:19] Story of correcting perceived arts/humanities gap in education. Mentions interest in old maps. Comments on influence of reading; interest in music. Story of Royal Albert Hall ‘industrial concerts’, from late 1950s. Comments on undergraduate friendships, IC, UOC diving club, including NF. Description of NF’s PhD research in historical geography. Brief story of diving expedition with NF, 1962. Comments on NF’s work in marine archaeology, related to early human migration. Story of cave diving with NF; formation/activities of Society for Science Underwater, including book ‘Underwater Science’. [22:05] Mentions current writing of autobiographical book on own photography. Story of use of radioactive tracer in PhD research on microscopic behaviour/relations of water droplets (‘collection efficiency’); subsequent use of film camera in this work; showing of film of water droplets at Royal Society [RS], London. Description of ‘streak photography’, allowing measurement of water droplet behaviour. [34:11] Story of use of movie camera to generate large numbers of streak photographs. Description of process of developing film. [36:12] Story of revelation of laminar (non turbulent) flow in upper ocean, using dye. Comments on study of surface sea waves. Comments on internal sea waves. Brief story of using dye to reveal internal waves. Story of use of Royal Aircraft Establishment [RAE] camera to make films of internal waves, Mediterranean. Description of neutrally buoyant apparatus for camera. Story of repetition of this work, Atlantic Ocean off Miami, US involving interference from sharks. [48:29] Description of method of remaining suspended at level of dye. Further comments on significance of internal waves, including patches of turbulence produced by their breaking. Mentions interests of Walter Munk [WM]. Comments on treatment of breaking of internal waves in Owen Phillips’ book ‘The Dynamics of the Upper Ocean’ (1966). Mentions showing of internal waves film in DAMTP, 1966. [55:06] Story of presentation of work on internal waves at International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics [IUGG] Joint Oceanographic Assembly [JOA], mid 1960s. Comments on use of own work in Russian studies of turbulence. Brief story of meeting on ocean turbulence, Vancouver, 1960s. [58:42] Detailed comments on female scientists in MO, late 1960s, including distinction between UK headquarters and RAF field stations. [1:03:05] Comments on importance of Mediterranean for RN. Description of role of Mediterranean during Cold War, including position of Malta at unofficial boundary between NATO and Soviet spheres of activity. Mentions own office in Commander in Chief Mediterranean Fleet [CCMF] staff headquarters [HQ], Lascaris, Malta. Detailed description of CCMF staff HQ 1960s/1970s, including organisation/facilities. Comments on Cold War reconnaissance work of RAF Luqa, Malta; RAF Luqu’s processing of own photographs. [1:14:45] Description/story of NATO training exercise involving advance of aircraft carrier force into eastern Mediterranean. Story of atom bomb proof underground grain stores. [1:18:34] Comments on relations/communication with Russian scientists, including chief advisor to the Soviet Navy. [1:20:02]

    Track 4 [cont. from 1:20:02] Comments on decision to pursue study of OW in future career, beyond MO; lack of data concerning OW; significance of energy in eddies/‘ocean storms’. [1:25:09] Brief story of JOA, 1977, Edinburgh, UK, including WM’s keynote lecture, focus on eddies, own closing address, story of use of George Deacon’s bible. Mentions World Ocean Circulation Experiment [WOCE]. [1:27:36] Detailed comments on decision to focus on upper layers of the ocean, in contrast to common concern of physical oceanographers with deep water. Mentions own description: ‘upper boundary layer’. Story of offers of employment from US oceanographic institutions, including role of wife in decision making; appointment as PPO, UOS, 1972. Description of small Department of Oceanography [DO], UOS. Comments on lecturing, UOS. Story of origin of seminar series on plankton ecology, DO, UOS. Comments on complicated, multi-disciplinary nature of ecology; definition of physics as concerned with prediction of rate of change with time. Mentions University of Kiel [UOK], Germany as site of origin of study of plankton. Detailed comments on application of physics to plankton ecology. Comments on running of DO; decision to study the upper ocean. [1:44:53] Story of NERC decision not to fund DO, UOS; assistance from National Institute of Oceanography [NIO]. [1:47:42] Mentions own research focus on diurnal variation [DV] in temperature and OFs at UOS, 1970s. Story of development of study of DV, involving identification of role of vertical motion; development of instrument mounted on catamaran for continuous measurement of temperature profile along a track. [1:57:26] Story of development of study of OFs, through computer model of ocean frontogenesis. Mentions Brian Hoskins, Francis Bretherton [FB]. Comments on complication of salinity in ocean frontogenesis. Description of JS’s modelling using density surfaces (‘baroclinity’); own modification of modelling involving surfaces of constant temperature (‘thermoclinity’); theory of ocean frontogenesis combining baroclinity/thermoclinity. Comments on university administrators; scientific achievements at UOS. [2:10:26] Comments on UOS seminar series on plankton ecology. [2:11:11] Story of JC’s development of international equivalence in diving qualifications; diving regulations for science divers devised by NF. Story of UK security service briefing before visit to Cuba for diving conference, late 1960s. Mentions meeting of wife at this conference. Comments on wife’s aristocratic German family. Mentions marriage, early 1970s; birth of son, 1975. [2:24:42] Comments of decision to move from UOS to pursue increased levels of funding/support for own research. Story of invitations to apply for professorship, UOK. Further comments on wife’s family. Story of appointment as Professor of Oceanography [PO], Institute of Oceanography [IO], UOK 1977.

    Track 5 [2:09:08] Comments on IO, UOK, including research ship. Description of UOK supported research on upper ocean using towed Batfish glider. Brief description of Batfish, including instrumentation. Comments on reengineering of Batfish for long towing by German Navy research laboratory; package of instruments on Batfish. Description of operation of acoustic Doppler current profiler. Story of negotiations with UOK concerning research support. Mentions transfer from UOS to UOK of research staff/student. [9:49] Story of involvement in JASIN (Joint Air Sea Interaction) experiment, 1977, northern Atlantic, including relations with Captain of research ship. Comments on relations between Chief Scientist and Captain on a research ship, with related story. [15:27] Description of/comments on ship track from Azores to Greenland, used for Batfish tows, including context of new United Nations [UN] Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS]. Comments on measurement of seasonal variation. [20:11] Comments on findings of eight years of Batfish measurements, including development of theory of relations between ocean and atmosphere involving process of ‘ventilation of the thermocline’; significance of this work in emerging scientific study of climate change [CC]. [24:34] Story origin of GARP, concerned with promotion of numerical/computer weather forecasting on a global scale. Mentions childhood scrapbook on the International Geophysical Year. Comments on role of Joint Organising Committee [JOC] of GARP, mid 1970s; own service on JOC; other members of JOC, including Joseph Smagorinsky [JC]; JOC publications. [33:02] Comments on of aims of GARP; own JOC role in promotion of understanding of effect of atmosphere-ocean interaction [AOI] in CC; JOC member Bob Stewart [BS]; US interest in study of El Nino. Description of El Nino. [39:08] Comments on JOC interest in study of formation of Atlantic hurricanes. Story of GATE [GARP Atlantic Tropical Experiment], including own involvement on research ship Discovery. Description of findings of Batfish tows during GATE, including observation of large differences in spacing of density surfaces either side of OFs; explanation of this observation through concept of conservation of potential vorticity [CPV]; ‘negative viscosity’. Comments on IC lecturer. [51:49] Comments on/discussion of realisation of possibility of measurement of CPV. Mentions research student. Comments on focus of GARP on development of global scale numerical/computer weather forecasting, with CC regarded as focus of future project (eventually called World Climate Research Programme [WCRP]); own and BS’s preparation for WCRP. [58:17] Comments on lack of awareness of MO research on climate modification; effect of decolonisation in Africa; effect of UNCLOS on coastal nations. [1:01:56] Comments on non-political role of JOC’s within GARP. [1:04:25] Comments on role of GATE as precursor of Global Weather Experiment [GWE]; Numerical Experimentation Group [NEG] (established by JOC), including contribution of European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts [ECMRWF], UK. Description of method of running computer models for global weather forecasting with imperfect observational data, devised by ECMRWF. Story of use of satellite measurements of atmospheric radiation in computer models for global weather forecasting, involving overcoming of difficulties identified in Observing System Simulation Experiments. [1:13:35]

    Track 5 [cont. from 1:13:35] Comments on contemporary lack of powerful computers in oceanographic institutions/departments. Story of use of computers used in simulation of nuclear explosions by NEG. [1:14:54] Comments on database collected in GWE; JOC discussion of measurement of wind speed in tropics during GATE/GWE, with related story of failed balloon system proposed by Pierre Morel. [1:22:07] Story of use of geostationary satellites to measure tropical winds. [1:25:13] Comments on transfer of personnel from GARP to planning group for WCRP, 1980, including self, BS, Yuri Izrael, JS, Pierre Morel. Mentions JS’s role in promoting study of El Nino in WCRP [as Tropical Ocean Global Atmospheres [TOGA] project]. Story of use of GARP data to demonstrate that weather was not usefully predictable beyond one week. [1:33:04] Comments on decision to base long term climate modelling/prediction on determination of atmospheric boundary conditions [BC] (sea surface temperature [SST]/land surface temperature). Comments on unpredictability of anthropogenic BCs, with related story. Story of decision to focus on modelling/prediction of SST in WCRP. [1:36:04] Detailed comments on contemporary data showing that oceans were transporting half of heat received in tropics, to poles; contemporary understanding of ocean circulation, late 1970s. Mentions proposed ‘CAGE’ project. Brief comments on TOGA. [1:46:14] Story of planning for WOCE , involving Carl Wunsch [CW], Henry Stommel. Description of use of satellite altimeters during WOCE to measure changes in ocean currents globally. Comments on current measurement at depth during WOCE. [2:00:44] Comments on use of satellite altimeters to measure ocean storms, during WOCE. Story of formation of WOCE committee, chaired by self, CW, FB. Comments on FB’s career.

    Track 6 [55:13] Story of development of own research at UOK (in relation to aims of WOCE) on relations between ocean water clarity and SST. [6:13] Description of measurement of ‘ocean colour’ (chlorophyll concentration) by calibrated NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) satellite. Brief story of revelation of global plankton distribution and seasonal variation. [8:36] Detailed story of construction of mathematical model relating SST to plankton ecology, with plankton treated as individuals; invitation to use powerful Cray computer. [15:57] Detailed comments on focus on individuals/use of ‘primitive equations’ in own plankton model. Comments on effect on own plankton model of increases in computer processing power. [26:18] Description of process of interacting with remote Cray computer; method of associating ‘sub-populations’ with individual ‘agents’. Mentions other agent-based computer modelling of organisms; published paper 1982; inclusion of plankton ecology in climate models of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research [HCCPR]. [39:00] Comments on potential of agent-based computer models in higher animals, exhibiting learned behaviour. Description of method of induction used in fisheries research. Comments on inappropriateness of this method in predicting behaviour of human populations, in relation to CC. [44:23] Detailed comments on value of climate history research. Mentions ecological research on ants. Comments on ecological/biochemical significance of microorganisms. [48:43] Story of use of SST/plankton ecology model to simulate effect of rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, leading to identification of Plankton Multiplier [PM] effect. Description of PM. Comments on front page article in ‘The Times’ newspaper, following published paper on PM, including invention of name ‘Plankton Multiplier’. Detailed comments on reasons for political interest in/acceptance of PM effect; Margaret Thatcher’s [MT] interest in PM. Comments on MT’s relations with James Lovelock [JL]; ability of PM to account for past glacial/interglacial periods, in relation to Milankovitch theory; inclusion of PM in HCCPR climate models.

    Track 7 [2:35:07] [Session four: 18th February 2012] Story of building house in Corsica with wife and brother-in-law. [5:41] Comments on relations between personal and professional life as PPO, DO, UOS; playing of tennis with wife in UOS tennis club. [8:01] Story of move from UOS to UOK, 1977; location of home near UOK; family life in Germany in context of wife’s extended family. Mentions birth of daughter, 1980. [11:20] Comments on children’s lack of involvement in own work. Mentions children’s interest in aquarium, Kiel and visits to DO. [12:14] Comments on personal political outlook. [13:54] Story of reading political memoirs/literature on governance in relation to expectations of future employment, UK. Mentions Harold Wilson’s memoirs. Comments on nature/extent of political ambition/interest. [16:27] Story of/comments on rapid formation of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC], late 1980s, including own appointment as lead author, close relations/continuities between IPCC and earlier WCRP, GARP. Comments on Donald Rumsfeld quotation, concerning ‘unknown unknowns’, in relation to aims of IPCC; potential local/regional effects of global warming [GW] by two degrees centigrade; current inability to predict local effects of CC/GW. [24:22] Story of modified declaration of allegiance to German state as senior civil servant. [31:22] Comments on ability/achievements of Hermann Bondi [HB], Chairman of NERC [1980-1984]; own appointment of NERC councillor while PO, IO, UOK. Story of HB’s reorganisation of NERC, to improve relations between headquarters and research institutes, involving three new ‘Grade 3’Directors of Science. Story of veto of appointment of unnamed senior oceanographer as Director of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences [DMAS]. [38:02] Comments on influence/decision making of House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology [HLSCST]. Story of own appointment as NERC DMAS [1989-1994]. Mentions Fellowship of [Linacre] College, University of Oxford [UOO]. Description of own staff, NERC. [41:26] Comments on preparedness for role as DMAS, including reading on governance, relations with members of the HLSCST (including Lord Shackleton) through membership of Geographical Club of RGS. [43:03] Comments on aims as DMAS to increase the scale/ambitiousness of British oceanography. Story of meeting with First Sea Lord, RN and MOD Chief Scientific Advisor (Ron Oxburgh [RO]) to discuss combination of NERC/RN funding; establishment of committee to coordinate interests of academic and RN research in oceanography, supporting engagement of academic oceanographers in large projects, including WOCE. [50:32] Description of relations with Directors of oceanographic institutes. Comments on own role in securing funding for Marine Sciences. [52:29] Comments on publication of new NERC strategy for Marine Sciences; lecture at Foundation for Science and Technology [FST], RS; constitution/significance of FST. [55:08] Comments on production of brochures to attract funding for projects in Marine Sciences; MT’s interest in CC. Story of distribution of brochure on plankton ecology project at CC briefing to MT’s Cabinet. Detailed comments on relations with MT in successful efforts to secure funding for projects in Marines Sciences concerned with CC. Mentions tripling of funding for NERC Marine and Atmospheric Sciences over period of service as Director [1989-1994]. Brief comments on own strategies for approaching MT for funding. [59:51]

    Track 7 [cont. from 59:51] Story of Cabinet Office [CO] meeting in response to HLSC report, critical of UK Marine Sciences, including establishment of CO Coordinating Committee for Marine Science & Technology [CCMST], [1987]; arrangements for appointment of Chairman. Comments on closeness to centre of political power as DMAS; past experience/familiarity with senior RN personnel. [1:08:57] Mentions new research ships. Comments on centralisation of NERC Marine Sciences in National Oceanography Centre, Southampton [NOCS]; former locations of Research Vessel Services (Barry) and Institute of Oceanography (Wormley, Surrey). Story of securing site for NOCS; securing funding for NOCS building, including role of then Chief Scientific Advisor, CO (Bill Stewart). Comments on career/achievements of unnamed senior entrepreneur/industrialist; scientific research of Chemical Defence Establishment (CDE), Porton Down [PD], Salisbury, Wiltshire. Detailed story of assistance of this industrialist in securing funding for new NOCS building; design of NOCS building. [1:28:18] Comments on reaction of staff of oceanographic institutes moved to NOCS; organisation of relocation of staff. [1:29:58] Detailed comments on unnamed industrialists’ capacity to profit from research of PD, late 1980s. Brief comments on MO contribution to studies of turbulent diffusion of chemical/biological agents, PD. [1:38:15] Brief discussion of relations with PD. [1:39:15] Comments on MT’s interest in science; relations with MT; relations between JL and MT; own strategies for approaching MT for funding, with related story. [1:49:05] Story of ozone measurement by Joseph Farman, British Antarctic Survey [BAS]. Comments on independence of BAS, through relations with Foreign Office. [1:54:00] Story of being asked to terminate employment of JF, in context of conflict between NERC and BAS; encouragement of JF to publish ozone measurements. [1:55:51] Story of end to service as DMAS, NERC, 1994. Story of appointment as Professor of Oceanography and Dean of Graduate School of Environment [DGSE], IC, 1994, including role of RO, then IC Rector. Comments on activities as DGSE; RO’s role as Chairman of Shell oil company. [2:04:34] Brief description of role of CO Foresight Committee [FC]. Mentions own service on Marine Panel of FC [MPFC]. Detailed comments on MPFC interest in problems of road/rail transport in relation to expansion of containerised global trade. [2:10:33] Story of ‘Container World’ [CW] project [from 2001], involving computer modelling of containerised global trade; interest of customs and excise agencies in CW model; container company tests of CW model. Detailed comments on use of CW model by container companies. [2:23:03] Comments on retirement from IC, 2005; development of plankton ecology modelling from 1989, including collaboration with Tony Field, Department of Computing [DOC], IC, from 1994. Story of development of ‘Virtual Ecology Workbench’ by Wes Hinsley, DOC. Mentions role as Head of Department of Royal School of Mines, IC. [2:32:51] Mentions recent work on ecological ‘recruitment’, and on relations between plankton and sewage pollution.

  • Notes:
    Recording: 2011-12-08, 2012-02-16, 2012-02-17, 2012-02-18;
    - Woods, John, 1939- (speaker, male; interviewee; physicist and oceanographer);
    - Merchant, Paul (speaker, male; interviewer)
    Recording Notes: audio file 7 WAV 24 bit 48 kHz 2-channel
    Duration: 11 hr. 52 min. 30 sec.
    Access restrictions: none

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