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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Oral History of British Science

Oral History of British Science"The voices, memories and experiences of hundreds of British scientists are being captured by a major new initiative at the British Library. An Oral History of British Science, led by National Life Stories, is the first project of its kind in Britain and will gather 200 audio-visual interviews with the British scientists who have led the world in scientific innovation. Genetic engineering, the internet, and climate change are topics that make media headlines around the world. Yet little is known about the journey behind the important scientific and technological advances made in Britain that have transformed our world. No archive recordings exist of some of Britain’s most esteemed scientists of the twentieth century, including Alan Turing (1912-1954), codebreaker and pioneer in the history of computing, and the physiologist A.V. Hill (1886-1977), whose work on muscles was recognised by the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1922. Even those associated with iconic British inventions, such as Christopher Cockerell (1901-1999) who invented the hovercraft, appear to have left no substantial oral testimony documenting their life and work. Remarkably few living British scientists, including several Nobel laureates, have been interviewed at length. No comprehensive historical survey of British scientific endeavour and discovery exists which draws on personal memory and experience. An Oral History of British Science will interview both the well-known names of British science as well as lesser-heard and neglected voices such as technicians and women scientists, to ensure their memories are preserved for historians of the future. This oral history programme will capture the culture of science in Britain since the Second World War through 200 audio interviews, each averaging 10-15 hours in length, complemented by some shorter video recordings to document key events, instruments and locations. The archive is organised around four themes to reflect the character and emerging issues of science in the twentieth century"

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