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Sixty Years of British Science Innovation - Comments

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 1 by Cartomancer

I note that "discovery that monarchy is an outdated, anachronistic and embarassing institution that needs to be disbanded and forgotten about" didn't make the list. Oh well, I guess we need something to work on in the next sixty years.

Then again, British political scientists did propose the theory in 1649 and conduct numerous experiments to demonstrate it, so perhaps it just needs to be popularised.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 11:12:28 UTC | #944941

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 2 by Agrajag

Oh, yeah? Just wait 'til I finish my list of the scientific accomplishments that have come out of the muslim world in the last 60 years... <_<
Steve

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 11:13:01 UTC | #944942

Anvil's Avatar Comment 3 by Anvil

A big hurrah for British Science.

Fuck privilege. Fuck the Jubilee.

Anvil.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 11:39:59 UTC | #944946

EricTheRed's Avatar Comment 4 by EricTheRed

60 years of inherited privilege at taxpayers expense, oh yes, lets all celebrate.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 11:40:59 UTC | #944947

Anvil's Avatar Comment 5 by Anvil

I've always like the fact that 'Dolly the Sheep' was called 'Dolly' after Dolly Parton as a nod to the origin / location of the cell taken from the donor sheep - It was taken from the udder.

Presumably, had it been taken from the arsehole of the donor sheep, the could have called it 'Philip'.

Fuck privilege. Fuck the Jubilee.

Anvil.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 11:45:53 UTC | #944948

Moderator's Avatar Comment 6 by Moderator

Dear all

This thread is an opportunity to celebrate science. It would be a shame to see that opportunity lost because people can't see past the very brief reference to the Jubilee.

The mods

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 11:46:47 UTC | #944949

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 7 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator - The issue of the monarchy comes up regularly on other threads. This thread is intended by us to be about SCIENCE, and we will treat all further comments about the monarchy or the jubilee as OFF TOPIC here.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 12:05:07 UTC | #944950

Roedy's Avatar Comment 8 by Roedy

If you go back even further you have some biggies like: 1932 James Chadwick discovers the neutron 1897 J.J. Thomson discovered the electron then later the mass/charge ratio

A complete list of major discoveries would go on for pages and pages.

The nice thing about Britain is they don't obliterate all evidence of past glories. You can even touch Roman works. Where I live in western Canada there is only one structure over 100 years old, and it is alone.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 12:22:14 UTC | #944951

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 9 by Cartomancer

This thread is an opportunity to celebrate science. It would be a shame to see that opportunity lost because people can't see past the very brief reference to the Jubilee.

It is interesting, though, that we have had so much scientific progress in the last sixty years, but the antiquated cultural mores of monarchism are still strong. You'd have thought that all the progress and scientific questioning would have made us think a lot harder about just accepting traditional social insitutions at face value. Surely there's a point here about the wider impact of science on society, or lack thereof?

After all, the first item on that list is the discovery of DNA, and the last is cloning. You'd think that concepts of inherited nobility and the mystique of hereditary leadership would be among the first casualties of actually understanding the mechanism behind inheritance and heredity. If we'd taken the importance of science truly to heart we'd be celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of the discovery of DNA next year, not the death of an inconsequential aristocrat this year.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 13:24:12 UTC | #944961

Sinister Weasel's Avatar Comment 10 by Sinister Weasel

A good list, I would add the laser as a scientific discovery of significant importance too, although I am certain we will find many more incredible uses in the next 60 years. The laser really has connected the world like never before with fibre optics, the medical applications are incredible and the research benefits are seemingly endless. It is a good time to be alive, I hope the future generations say the same.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 14:05:20 UTC | #944970

LaurieB's Avatar Comment 11 by LaurieB

I recommend the book The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes.

From the book jacket:

"A riveting history of the men and women whose discoveries and inventions at the end of the eighteenth century gave birth to the Romantic Age of Science.

The Age of Wonder investigates the earliest ideas of deep time and space and the explorers of "dynamic science," of an infinite, mysterious Nature waiting to be discovered. Three lives dominate the book: William Herschel and his sister Caroline, whose dedication to the study of the stars forever changed the public conception of the solar system, the Milky Way, and the meaning of the universe; and Humphry Davy, who with only a grammar-school education stunned the scientific community with near-suicidal gas experiments that led to the invention of the miners' lamp and established British chemistry as the leading professional science in Europe.

Holme's extraordinary evocation of this age of wonder shows how great ideas and experiments-both successes and failures- were born of singular and often lonely dedication, and how religious faith and scientific truth collide."

I would add that the fascinating story of Joseph Banks weaves its way through the book, in and out of many curious characters. Also the spirit of competition between the French and the English was very interesting and productive. As an American, this was unknown to me before I read this book. It was a great read!

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 14:13:22 UTC | #944973

Anvil's Avatar Comment 13 by Anvil

Comment 11 by LaurieB

I recommend the book The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes

I'll second that. A great book which goes beyond the science and into the lives of the characters.

I cannot now hear a mention of Herschel without asking 'Which one?'

Anvil.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 14:27:23 UTC | #944977

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 14 by Alan4discussion

@OP - In July 1967, Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, then a physics Ph.D student at New Hall College at the University of Cambridge, noticed a bit of “scruff” on the charts she was analysing. She was using a radio telescope to study quasars, but the regularity of this read-out caught her eye. The signal showed a pulse at a rate of about one pulse per second.

I think we also need this enabling technology included in the list! It has been involved in so many nationally and internationally important discoveries.

http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/aboutus/lovell/ - For over 50 years the giant Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank has been a familiar feature of the Cheshire landscape and an internationally renowned landmark in the world of astronomy.

Since the summer of 1957 it has been quietly probing the depths of space, a symbol of our wish to understand the universe in which we live. Even now, it remains one of the biggest and most powerful radio telescopes in the world, spending most of its time investigating cosmic phenomena which were undreamed of when it was conceived.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 14:33:57 UTC | #944981

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 15 by mordacious1

They didn't even mention the invention of the Dyson vacuum cleaner....now that's innovation.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 14:45:39 UTC | #944985

bluebird's Avatar Comment 16 by bluebird

Jaguar, car, that is. '67-'68 "E" type ~ drool.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 15:32:37 UTC | #944994

gr8hands's Avatar Comment 17 by gr8hands

Sinister Weasel, I believe the laser was a U.S. invention.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser#History

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 15:59:28 UTC | #944998

gr8hands's Avatar Comment 18 by gr8hands

On December 2, 1922, in Sorbonne, France, Edwin Belin, an Englishman demonstrated a mechanical scanning device that was an early precursor to modern television

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_inventions_and_discoveries

Excellent collection of inventions and discoveries!

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 16:10:49 UTC | #944999

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 19 by Jos Gibbons

If anything can justify "national pride", discoveries like these can. But why could the BSA only think of 6 worthwhile things to mention from the last 60 years (none of which were in the last 15)? I'm not sure whether it's because they had trouble coming up with stuff, there's not much to discuss, they wanted to only mention the best of the best, or my "how many examples" standards are too high. But I suspect some people who will comment on this thread will be persuaded of one of those ideas, or perhaps another I've not thought of, so it might make for good discussion. But perhaps what would make for better discussion would be some other examples of science innovation in the last 60 years in the UK. But perhaps what would make for even better discussion if any examples of scientific innovation of which we are proud, or for which we are grateful, or which we find impressive. Come on, people - help me out here.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 16:14:34 UTC | #945001

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 20 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 16:23:17 UTC | #945005

Anvil's Avatar Comment 21 by Anvil

Comment 17 by gr8hands

Sinister Weasel, I believe the laser was a U.S. invention.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser#History

Pedant!

Anvil.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 16:24:29 UTC | #945006

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 22 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 16:27:00 UTC | #945007

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 23 by Zeuglodon

Rule Brittanica! <:-D

If we're going for innovations, could an innovative individual like Arthur C. Clarke count? He was the prophet of the Space Age, after all. Or how about Peter Higgs? Tim Berners-Lee? Dorothy Hodgkin? Stephen Hawking? John Sulston? James Lovelock?

1953: Watson and Crick announce discovery of the double helix structure of DNA

Call it a personal peeve, but I still think Rosalind Franklin got a raw deal out of this. She was the one that obtained the evidence in the first place (the photographs), and yet Maurice Wilkins got more credit than her. Darned adversarial scientists.

1965: The theory of plate tectonics and continental drift

That's not exactly a clear-cut "British Science innovation". Never mind that Wegener was the originator of the theory, most of the work was done by Americans like Maurice Ewing, Bruce Heezen, and especially Harry Hess. The main English person who contributed, as far as I can tell, was Arthur Holmes, and he mostly was the inspiration for Hess's ideas of the convection currents involved.

Comment 9 by Cartomancer

Science still has limited PR as far as the mainstream is concerned; most people know it as a technology hatchery or as "something the geeks do". I doubt many of them have ever considered that science is a way of thinking.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 16:44:53 UTC | #945010

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 24 by Alan4discussion

There are quite a few on this link:-

http://www.britsattheirbest.com/ingenious/ii_20th_century_1950_1970.htm

1952 FIRST COMMERCIAL JETLINER IS LAUNCHED - The de Havilland Comet flies into history as the world's first commercial jet airliner. The airplane experiences metal fatigue, is redesigned in 1955, and continues to serve passengers until 1980.

1950S RICHARD DOLL IDENTIFIES CANCER'S SMOKING GUNS - Richard Doll, a man well-known for his kindness. conducts his research into cancer at Oxford. He publishes a seminal study with Austin Bradford Hill that statistically links lung cancer to cigarette smoking.

1952 - 1959 COCKERELL INVENTS HOVERCRAFT

1950s-1960s JOHN CHARNLEY INVENTS HIP REPLACEMENTS

1950s - 1970s MURDOCH INVENTS DISPOSABLE HYPODERMIC SYRINGE, TRANQUILLISER GUN, SILENT BURGLAR ALARM AND CHILDPROOF BOTTLE TOP

1957 – 1980s JAMES LOVELOCK INVENTS ELECTRON CAPTURE DETECTOR (ECD) - He invents an electron capture detector that can identify tiny amounts of chemical compounds in the atmosphere and on Earth. The detector is particularly sensitive to the halogens – five nonmetallic chemical elements: fluorine, chlorine, bromine, astatine and iodine.

1959-1980s LOUIS AND MARY LEAKEY AND THEIR SONS UNEARTH FOSSILS OF EARLY HOMINIDS IN AFRICA;

1960 BRITS INVENT VERTICAL TAKE-OFF AIRCRAFT - Sidney Camm, Ralph Hooper, and Stanley Hooker invent a vertical take-off aircraft that can soar straight up into the sky. Rather than using rotors or a direct jet thrust, they build an innovative vectored thrust turbofan engine. Their invention allows aircraft to take off from sites without runways. Harriers are used effectively in the Falklands War, and can be used for rescues in dangerous emergencies.

1964 PETER HIGGS THEORIZES HOW ELEMENTARY PARTICLES ARE CREATED WITH BOSUM

1960s JIM MARSHALL INVENTS THE MARSHALL AMPLIFIER AND SPEAKER STACK

1960s JAMES BLACK SAVES MILLIONS OF LIVES WITH BETA-BLOCKERS

1960s HERCHEL SMITH SYNTHESISES HORMONES FOR BIRTH CONTROL PILL, MAKES MILLIONS, AND GIVES IT AWAY

1965 OWEN MACLAREN DESIGNS A DOUBLE-JOINT BABY BUGGY

1965 FRANK PANTRIDGE INVENTS THE PORTABLE DEFIBRILLATOR, AND SAVES THOUSANDS OF LIVES

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 16:52:26 UTC | #945011

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 25 by Alan4discussion

Comment 15 by mordacious1

They didn't even mention the invention of the Dyson vacuum cleaner....now that's innovation.

That sucks!

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 16:58:16 UTC | #945012

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 26 by ZenDruid

I think a great portion of these developments and discoveries can be directly related to the technology that came out of WW2. Sonar gave us the mid-Atlantic ridge, thus plate tectonics; radar gave us radio astronomy; the Manhattan Project gave the impetus for nuclear energy technology.

Oh yeah. Wernher von Braun....

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 17:01:26 UTC | #945014

Anvil's Avatar Comment 27 by Anvil

And Sir Clive Henry Bunting for the Bunting String.

Anvil.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 17:14:20 UTC | #945016

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 28 by Red Dog

Comment 26 by ZenDruid :

I think a great portion of these developments and discoveries can be directly related to the technology that came out of WW2. Sonar gave us the mid-Atlantic ridge, thus plate tectonics; radar gave us radio astronomy; the Manhattan Project gave the impetus for nuclear energy technology.

Oh yeah. Wernher von Braun....

Not to mention the digital computer. The work that Alan Turing did on electric code breaking for the Brits in WWII paved the way for the first digital computer.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 17:22:04 UTC | #945020

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 29 by Schrodinger's Cat

Undoubtedly one of the biggest discoveries of the decade, if not the century...

Oh don't be shy......how about 'ever'. I'd rate the discovery of DNA as the greatest scientific discovery of all time. Largely because it so directly affects what and who we are.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 17:46:18 UTC | #945023

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 30 by Jos Gibbons

Let's not forget that "the discovery of DNA" dates to the 19th century, "the discovery that DNA is the code of heredity" dates to c. 1940, while the double-helix 1953 discovery served mainly to explain how DNA is reproducible.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 17:51:00 UTC | #945026