‘Voices of Science’: Oral Histories of UK Scientists and Engineers

Posted on 02/12/2013 by


A new website providing access to interviews with over 100 leading UK scientists and engineers has been launched. Voices of Science is drawn from a National Life Stories programme ‘An Oral History of British Science’, and features scientists and engineers telling the stories of some of the most remarkable scientific and engineering discoveries of the past century as well as personal stories of each individual.

Over 1000 hours of unedited interviews, each lasting 10-15 hours, are being made available in full on the British Library’s Sounds website, while the Voices of Science site offers curated access to audio and video highlights from the interviews, as well as photographs, biographies and other contextual information. The project has been generously supported by the Arcadia Fund.

Examples from the archive include:

  • Joseph Farman telling the story of finding the ‘hole’ in the ozone layer using an instrument in a hut in Antarctica
  • Janet Thomson on how she became the first female scientist allowed to Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey, in 1983
  • Dan McKenzie recalling his realisation that the Earth’s crust is made up of moving rigid plates (plate tectonics)
  • Geoff Tootill, last survivor of the team that built the world’s first modern computer, the 1948 Manchester ‘Baby’, remembers how they thought the whole world would only need a few computers
  • Mary Lee Berners-Lee recalls the importance of sellotape to programming some of the first computers
  • Professor Sir Colin Humphreys explaining how he has used his scientific mindset to investigate the events of the Bible

For further information visit Voices of Science (www.bl.uk/voices-of-science).


PHOTO: Dennis Higton (right) and colleagues with a Gloster E.2839, Britain’s first jet aircraft, in the 1940s. Photo Dennis Higton

Posted in: Notices, Project News