In 1956 and 1957, Samuel Devons FRS, Langworthy Professor of Physics at Manchester University, recorded a series of interviews with William Kay, who had been Chief Steward of the Manchester physics laboratory from 1908 until his retirement in 1946. Dealing extensively with Kay's memories of working under Ernest Rutherford FRS at Manchester from 1907 to 1919, the interviews were transcribed and copied to various interested parties. A slightly edited version of the interviews, introduced and annotated by Devons, was published in 1963 as ‘Recollections of Rutherford’ in a new American history of physics journal, The Natural Philosopher.1 This journal was short-lived and not widely distributed, however, so that Kay's interview has often been difficult to locate—frustratingly for historians and others who sought details of laboratory practice in Rutherford's Manchester. The discovery of a typescript copy of the Kay/Devons interviews in the Royal Society Archives, with some additional material not included in the 1963 publication, naturally led to the suggestion that the material be republished as part of this special issue of Notes and Records, both contributing to the discussion on the key roles of laboratory technicians in science and making it more easily and more widely available.
William Alexander Kay (1879–1961) was appointed as a junior laboratory assistant in the Physics Department, Manchester University, in 1894 by Arthur Schuster FRS, the Langworthy Professor of Physics. The young Kay trained under the Laboratory Steward, James Griffiths, a ‘skilled mechanic and wood-worker’.2 Kay then worked for a short time under Robert Beattie, who was responsible for the electro-technics section of the laboratory. After Griffiths died of pneumonia at the age of 51 years in 1908, Schuster's successor as Professor, Ernest Rutherford, appointed Kay to replace him as Laboratory Steward.3
Rutherford had arrived at Manchester from McGill University, Montreal, in 1907, and brought with him the programme of radioactivity research he had started to develop in Canada. With a growing group of students and co-workers, Rutherford now began to explore the structure of the atom, as well as the properties of radioactive substances and the characteristics of their radiations. In 1908 he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry ‘for his researches concerning the disintegration of elements and the chemistry of radioactive substances’. As Laboratory Steward, Kay was in charge of the day-to-day management of the laboratory; he also became Rutherford's personal assistant, making apparatus, setting up and modifying experiments for Rutherford and others, and often taking part in experiments and making measurements under Rutherford's close direction.
In addition to his research assistance and administrative duties, Kay was also responsible for helping the professor with demonstration experiments in his teaching. His manual dexterity at making and manipulating apparatus therefore had a public, as well as a more private, face. According to one student and later co-worker of Rutherford's, Kay's demonstration experiments were ‘beautiful, and often sensational’. Indeed,
it almost seemed at times that the course of the lectures was determined, not by any preconceived plan of Rutherford's, but by Kay's taste in lecture demonstrations; sometimes—not often—in the course of a lecture Rutherford would lower his huge voice to a huge and perfectly audible whisper, and appeal to Kay for information about the experiment he was demonstrating.4
Clearly, Kay's talents ranged across the laboratory's activities, and made him central to the organization of the department.
During World War I, with its staff depleted, the Manchester physics laboratory was turned over to Rutherford's experiments for the Admiralty on submarine detection.5 During this period, Kay continued to manage the laboratory and assist the professor in his work. When Rutherford resumed his radioactivity research alongside his military work in 1917, he drew Kay more deeply into the experiments than hitherto. Following up some observations of Ernest Marsden and the implications of his own nuclear theory of the atom, Rutherford sought to explore the effects of energetic α-particles from naturally occurring radioactive substances on various atoms, in an attempt to learn more about the forces around nuclei and their other characteristics. The experiments involved counting the scintillations produced by energetic particles as they struck a carefully prepared zinc sulphide screen. As Kay indicates, the task was fraught because of the difficulty of obtaining accurate, consistent, reproducible and reliable results. Rutherford's eyesight and temperament were not ideally suited to the business of scintillation counting, and Kay now became his trusted observer.
Thus, in 1917 and 1918 Kay found himself spending hours sitting in a darkened room, eye to a powerful microscope, counting the tiny flashes of light produced in Rutherford's experiments. It was this work that led Rutherford to the conclusion that collisions with energetic α-particles could eject hydrogen nuclei—protons, as he would later christen them—from nitrogen nuclei. This suggested the ideas of nuclear constitution and of nuclear structure: the conceptual origins of modern nuclear physics. Rutherford would spend the rest of his career following through these ideas, and many more would follow in his path.6
Kay's experimental and observational skills were so important to the disintegration work that when Rutherford was appointed Professor of Physics at Cambridge in 1919, he tried to persuade Kay to go with him to the Cavendish Laboratory to continue the work. As the interviews make clear, however, Kay declined for family reasons and remained at Manchester to serve as Laboratory Steward under the next two Langworthy Professors, W. L. Bragg FRS (1919–37) and P. M. S. Blackett FRS (1937–53). Bragg later recalled that Kay's ‘integrity, discretion, wisdom, warmth, and combination of modesty with a sturdy independence made a deep impression on all who knew him’.7 On his retirement early in 1946, the University of Manchester awarded Kay an honorary MSc, the citation describing him as one of ‘the two most outstanding technical assistants to University Physics laboratories in this country in our generation’—the other being Fred Lincoln, of the Cavendish Laboratory.8 Bragg remembered him as ‘a prince of laboratory stewards’.9
After his retirement, Kay did not entirely lose his connections with the Physics Department at Manchester. He evidently visited the laboratory occasionally, ‘eager to keep alive his memories of earlier days, and particularly the most cherished of all—those of the Rutherford period’.10 In 1956–57 these visits led Blackett's successor as Langworthy Professor, Samuel Devons, to record a series of interviews with the ageing Kay concerning his memories of Rutherford and the Physics Department.
Born in north Wales in 1914, the son of a Lithuanian émigré, Devons studied physics at Trinity College, Cambridge. He undertook research in nuclear physics at the Cavendish Laboratory from 1935 to 1939, and as a scientific officer in the Air Ministry during World War II worked on anti-aircraft barrages and radar. In 1946 he returned to Cambridge as a lecturer in physics and Director of Studies at Trinity College, and from 1950–55 held a chair in low-energy nuclear physics at Imperial College, London. In 1955, Devons succeeded Blackett as Langworthy Professor of Physics at Manchester. In addition to his scientific activities, Devons was a keen memorialist and historian of physics, especially of Rutherford and of the Cavendish—he had been among the last cohort of research students at the Cavendish under Rutherford's aegis (which came to a premature end with his death in 1937). Thereafter Devons retained a powerful sense both of Rutherford's persona and of the historical legacy and institutional identity that Cavendish Laboratory researchers characteristically fostered and promoted.11
As he set about modernizing nuclear physics at Manchester, Devons also interested himself in the history of the Manchester department. The interviews with Kay were one expression of that interest, and we are fortunate that Devons had the idea both of interviewing Kay and, as significantly, preserving the record for posterity. Devons is an effective interlocutor, gently keeping Kay on track, eliciting more specific information or directing him towards new topics as appropriate.12 The interview sequence gives wonderful insights into some of the workers and the rhythms of work in the Manchester Physics Laboratory, as well as the structure of key support work such as glassblowing and instrument making. Rutherford's occasional irritation with his co-workers is evident but so is his infectious enthusiasm to get results out. We learn important things from Kay about the equipment and machinery that Rutherford preferred, some of the otherwise hard-to-recover details of experimental practice (especially who did which tasks), and the ways in which Rutherford sought to develop the work of the laboratory as they seemed to one who worked closely with him for more than a decade.
Soon after the interviews with Kay, Devons himself left Manchester—although, unlike Rutherford, under something of a cloud. In 1960, during his absence on a sabbatical year at Columbia University, New York, allegations were made about flaws in the financial arrangements for a linear heavy-ion accelerator being installed as part of Devons's plan to reinvigorate nuclear physics at Manchester University. Wary in the wake of well-publicized financial problems over the construction of the radiotelescope at Jodrell Bank a few years before, the university censured Devons, who apparently ‘took umbrage’. He decided to remain at Columbia, where he spent the rest of his career.13 Not long after Devons's move to the USA, William Kay died in Manchester on 9 January 1961.14 Devons must have moved quickly to secure publication of his interviews with Kay. They appeared in 1963 in the first issue of The Natural Philosopher, a journal published by the Blaisdell Publishing Company of New York and ambitiously intended (according to its subtitle) to be ‘A Series of Volumes Containing Papers Devoted to the History of Physics and to the Influence of Physics on Human Thought and Affairs through the Ages.’15 Only three volumes of the journal seem in fact to have appeared, but its Editorial Board contained such eminent scholars as the historians of physics Gerald Holton and Martin J. Klein (who also had an article in the first issue), sociologists of science Robert K. Merton and Derek J. de Solla Price, philosopher of science Ernest Nagel, historian of philosophy George Boas, physicist George E. Uhlenbeck and the industrialist, historian, and founder of the Burndy Library, Bern Dibner.16
Historians and others have used the interview from time to time, but its publication in that quickly defunct and now obscure journal has made it hard to track down. Its republication in this issue of Notes and Records will not only make a useful historical source more widely available but will also add a fragment to the public record. The transcript presented in the Appendix includes a final section on ‘Research students’, which did not appear in the 1963 publication. Here we see Devons compare his own memories of Rutherford with those of Kay, and the emergence of a less than flattering picture of Rutherford as a sometimes impatient supervisor (a view corroborated by other sources17) may perhaps explain this section's omission from the 1963 version. Throughout, we must remember, of course, that Kay here is remembering events of nearly half a century before, and that Devons's experience was of a rather older Rutherford in a very different context. The transcript is concerned with Kay's distant memories of practice, and is not an interview with a currently practising technician. It also focuses on Devons's chief interest—Rutherford and nuclear physics—at the expense of the rest of Kay's career at Manchester under Bragg and Blackett. Although it thus illustrates some of the limitations, as well as the virtues, of oral history,18 the material presented nevertheless demonstrates the utility of interviews as a way of acquiring details of laboratory practice and politics otherwise inaccessible to historians and other analysts of science from formal published accounts of scientific work.
The republication of this series of interviews now will serve as a timely memorial to Devons. Both in the course of his scientific career at Columbia and after his retirement, Devons continued to write on the history of physics, especially on Rutherford and the Cavendish—in 1989 he gave the Royal Society Rutherford Memorial Lecture in Australia.19 In 2005 he travelled to London to celebrate his half-centenary as a Fellow of the Royal Society. He died in New York in December 2006. It is therefore doubly fitting that Notes and Records should now republish this important contribution to the history of science and to the historical sociology of laboratory assistants.
A note on the transcript and annotation
In preparing the transcripts of the Kay interviews for publication in 1963, as he indicates in his introduction, Samuel Devons made a number of small editorial changes (including minor additions and excisions), and added a number of footnotes clarifying points in the text and indications of the speaker's identity during the course of potentially confusing dialogue. Speaker identifications have been added in square brackets as they appear in the 1963 publication. In addition, Devons's original footnotes have been added, and are indicated thus: [S.D.:] with Devons's 1963 text. Other footnotes have been added by the present author.
I gratefully acknowledge assistance and information from Keith Moore of the Royal Society's Library, James Peters and Dorothy Clayton of The John Rylands University Library, Manchester, and Professor Robin Marshall FRS of the Physics Department, University of Manchester. I am also most grateful to Yvonne Santacreu for producing the electronic version of the transcript.
The Physical Laboratories, the University, Manchester 13.
Reminiscences of William Kay
The following pages contain a record of conversations with Mr. William Kay, which occurred during several visits that he made to the Department in 1957. William Kay was in the Physics Department from March 1895 until December 1945, and was, for most of the time, Steward. He was Rutherford's assistant during the whole of the period when Rutherford was Professor of Physics here, i.e. 1907 - 1919.
I have attempted to give Kay's remarks verbatim, but I have eliminated a good many of my own remarks which were made simply with the object of stimulating Kay into giving his own reminiscences. Parts of the tape-recording from which this record has been obtained, are not clearly intelligible, and this accounts for the occasional gaps. In one or two cases the names of individuals are also not clear in the recording, but I think that the names that have been inserted are, in most cases, correct.
Kay who is now 79 years of age, is still living in Manchester, but is only a very rare visitor to the Department.
Arrival in Manchester
[Kay] “That's it, yes. Well, the first time he came to this building he came with, I think it was Professor Hahn.20 He did work at Montreal with him, and they'd both crossed over, and the first thing I remember, he came in and I think I was downstairs working in one of the Professor's rooms, so I told him and Rutherford went up three stairs at a time, which was horrible to us, you know, to see a Professor going up the stairs like that, it was almost infra dig, ha, ha,.......... Because in the olden days, you know, even Rutherford used to think people treated him like God Almighty. Rutherford said that once, and he used to laugh like anything about it. But that was my first opinion of him. The first time I ever saw him, he came in with, I think it was Hahn, I'm sure it was, and he just stopped at the bottom and said, “Where is the Professor's room?”, and I told him “Here,” and he just ran up those stairs three at a time. Then of course, he twisted his knee playing golf, and it stopped him playing golf, and it stopped him running up the stairs like that, you see.”
[Devons] “You worked downstairs most of the time, in the.............?”
[Kay] “Well, the radium room was right at the far end at the top. That's where we kept the radium. That's where he did his production of emanation-rays, in there with Boltwood.21 That's where all the glass apparatus was, but the other room, where we did all the atom work was right at the bottom, a room on the ground floor. And of course, the rooms was all over the place, you see, and Moseley22 did all his work in the room underneath that, you see.”
Experiments at Manchester
“He hadn't been here very long when we got going, you know. Well, he was working here then, and we had a thing for measuring the explosive power of cordite, or something, which was a great big iron bomb, and you got the pressure by the explosion in this 3” steel thing, I think it was,— I mean to say, a 3” wall thickness,—and the temperature by thermo-couple. Well, Rutherford hadn't been here, oh, a week or two, I think, perhaps a few weeks, and then he suddenly thought: “To hell with our......23 It's never been under pressure like that”—That will make it to go up to about 1000 atmospheres and 1000 degrees Centigrade. “What will emanation do in it?” And straight away he fitted it up with no trouble at all. He fitted it up, and put the emanation in, and got his electro-scopes up, and got the decay, and exploded it, and....... It was in one of the cellars. But no, no difference, you see, and he dropped it straight away. But it's so tricky, them kind of things.”
[D.] “What was he looking for?”
[K.] “Well, to see if pressure and temperature had any effect on it,24 you see. ‘Cause you see, when the explosion occurred, you'd got 1000 atmospheres and 1000 degrees Centigrade.”
[D.] “And he was looking for a change in activity?”
[K.] “Yes, at those big pressures for the captures, you see.”
[D.] “It was all quiet, was it?”
[K.] “Oh, yes, perfectly quiet, because I think the bomb walls was about 3” thick, you see. It was quite safe. But he did that so quickly, however, just because he found there was a bomb there. It was done, it was all over in the course of a few days.”
[D.] “When you were here, during this period..... did Rutherford actually make any apparatus himself?”
[K.] “No, no, no, no. We used to, I used to set up nearly all his apparatus. You know, when he did his work, you know, oftener than not, he used to tell me and we did a rough experiment, re.......”
[D.] “Did he sketch out what he wanted?”
[K.] “Well, he'd tell you what he wanted, roughly, you see, but he'd let you make what you wanted, you see, he'd tell you what he was going to do, which was very good, you see. It gives you......... it learnt you a lot and you knew what to do and what not to do. And then we would do a rough experiment, and get one or two curves you see, and then straight away button it on to somebody else to do the real work, and that's how he did his........ attacked these little things, you see.”
[D.] “He tried them out himself first?”
[K.] “He'd try a rough experiment himself on the little things, d'you see, and then he'd turn it over on to somebody and they'd get quite a nice theory about it you see,........ quite amazed! And then he would always........ he never put his name in conjunction with that paper, you know. I think he was a great man that way, you know, and of course, it was always suggested by him, and everything you see. And he used to talk about........ I think I heard him........ once he was saying something about the α-particle and the ions, and he said, “Well,” he said, “α-particle, four times, over seven........ it'll be about 28 cms. It's common sense.”25 It had never been done before, that had never been done, you know.”
“But he knew the answer.”26
“And then pretty soon after he's put Marsden27 on to it, and it was done in no time, you know.”
[D.] “When he started doing an experiment, did he usually have some idea what the answer was first?”
[K.] “He had some intuition, I think. I've never believed in intuition, but he seemed to have some.”
[D.] “Did he talk about the answers before he started?”
[K.] “In a very rough way, you see. He'd get some comparison........ an analogy which he thought was a bit far-fetched, put it down to that, and........ but oftener than not, he was right. And his whole attitude, you know Robinson,28 and well, I used to laugh about it, because when we first started with Geiger29 counting the atoms, you know, I had quite a grin to myself you know.”
[D.] “Was Rutherford good with his hands?”
[K.] “Well, he........ no, and yes. I've never seen a man as could get glass tubing, and glass apparatus, that could rock it about so much without breaking........ I've never seen him break anything in glass. And even though his hands were not quite steady, you see. But he'd set the whole darned apparatus rocking, you know. And he'd be jumping and fidgeting, and........ but he never broke it. I used to think the whole thing would go to bits, but he never broke it. I don't know whether he had some reserve power that told him that the elasticity of glass was such and such........ but he never broke it.”
[D.] “But he didn't, while you were here, make any apparatus?”
[K.] “No, no, no. He'd picked it up a bit from..........., but he never made much apparatus, you see.”
[D.] “But he came in when he was ready to take the observations?”
[K.] “Yes, he'd come in, when we was doing the job, you see, I used to put the........30 we used to use a flat plate for our source, and that was a nice thing an’ all, you know, that........ I don't know whether it was his idea or not, but he come one day, and we used to use a wire for our job, and he come one day and he told me to put it31 on at an angle, which was........ that was when we did the experiment with two plates to get the deflection, you see, so that the angle just top and bottom, was in a line with the two plates where we had our potential on. We had a lot more that length. It was about not quite as big as a 3d. bit.......... But he never broke anything, even when he was pouring liquid air in, you know, he'd think the tap would go on forever, but he'd never break anything. I don't know whether it was luck, or what, but I never saw him break anything, a flask, and........ not many people can say that kind of thing. Because really, I think really, you never break a flask with liquid air when you're pouring it into another flask if you don't let them touch, you know. It's when you let them touch that I think they break because you, often as not there's a little drop of water there, and it freezes and cracks it. But he used to hit it, give it a tap, you know.”
[D.] “He didn't, he didn't worry very much about the design of apparatus, as long as it worked?”
[K.] “Oh, no, no, no, no. He didn't care tuppence. The real thing with him was the........ did you get results for him? If you got results for him, you was made, you know. Although when........ I made a lot of them........32 they had different ranges, and, well, they was only little things, you know, and I used to mount them on a piece of something. They were on the exterior of the apparatus, you know....... And we just used to mount them over a very fine slit. And of course, I used to get everything ready and then he had to put these things in, you see. And then, of course, I'd be in the dark room33 and he'd be merry and bright, because he used to, I think he used to draw his curves to help things along, you know. And all at once he'd be changing this........34 and one was equal to about, I think 0.8 or 0.935 of air, you see, in mica. And he used to always have trouble with that, because invariably he had to put that in. He daren't put the full light on, we used to have a little light. I was in the cubby hole, and he'd try and put this in. But his hands were a bit shaky and........ pair of tweezers, and he'd drop it. And then he'd be groping about on his hands and knees in the very bad light, and he'd say to me, he'd say, “It's a rotten apparatus to make. I've never seen such a rotten thing in my life.” And then he'd find it, and put it in, and then he'd start working, and then he'd say, “My word! You know that this works beautifully!” But he was, he was always on the up-and-down, you know. He was never down for very long.”
[D.] “But he used to enjoy the experiments didn't he?”
[K.] “Oh, yes, I think he liked experiments much better than sitting at home working. Because any little experiment even elementary experiments, that was working at that time, he used to love it, you see,...... love it.”
[D.] “You know this thing with the bomb, did he used to try a lot of you know, sort of crazy things like that?”
[K.] “No, he........ no, I don't know whether that was a crazy thing..... No. I don't know what it was but he used to.........”
[D.] “Did Rutherford work long hours?”
[K.] “Oh, yes, well, of course, he used to come along and perhaps he'd have a lecture, lectures, and then he'd come along and do some work, and then he'd go for lunch, and then he'd perhaps have a meeting, you see, until........ They used to last while about half past four or five, didn't they, these Senate meetings,36 and that kind of thing? And then he'd come along, and he'd start working, especially in the Wartime it was like that, and we'd go on ‘till about quarter to seven, when he'd say all at once, “What's the time, Kay?”, and I'd say, “Oh, about quarter to seven.” “My, word!” He'd jump out of it—because dinner was at quarter to seven or seven o'clock.”
[D.] “Did he come back later on?”
[K.] “Oh, no, no, no. Then, of course, I most likely had a big lecture demonstration to get ready for half past nine the next morning, so I'd be upstairs working alone ‘till that time.”
[D.] “He never came back after dinner?”
[K.] “No, no. I don't think he did. He did all his work at home, all his theoretical work, that is, at home. He never did anything practical at home, or anything, never as far as I remember.”
[D.] “What happened when he had things which were decaying at a certain rate, did he........?”
[K.] “No, I don't think he ever came back. I don't remember him ever coming back. We worked, of course, on New Year's Day and Christmas Day in the War, and that kind of thing, but that was on the....... this submarine detection.”37
[D.] “But when he was working here regularly he used to go home to dinner every night?”
[K.] “Yes, he used to go home to dinner every night.”
“Yes, he was always very, very cheery after his dinner,39 you know. You'd always hear him come in whistling. The only time he was a little bad-tempered was in a morning when he'd........ come from home and he couldn't get a smoke because............... Then he was quite, bad-tempered for a little while, and then as soon as it was over he straight away went after his lecture at half past ten and had his smoke, and then he was a changed man.”40
[D.] “Cambridge students had to leave the Lab. at 6.0. You know, he used to say, “If you can't do all your work up to 6.0.........”, he used to expect them to come early and leave at that time. Did he do that here?”41
[K.] “No, no, no. He never went at 6.0 himself. He was late leaving many and many a time. And when he was here, we had a lot of Professors coming for a year or two years, quite a lot of foreign people........ a lot of young Americans, and all these people you see, and they had nothing to do in Manchester in the evenings, and so they used to all get a key for the front door, and you could come into this place, I should think, in my time with Rutherford, from nine o'clock in the morning till......... perhaps six o'clock in the morning, you'd find somebody in.”
[D.] “Maybe that's why physics was successful in Manchester, there was nothing else to do!”
[K.] “Perhaps it was because they were far from home......... No distractions you see. But Moseley, of course, Moseley was........ He'd got, at the finish, he'd got quite a funny kind of way of working. He would come along at twelve o'clock in the morning, and then he would wander about talking, and not really getting down to it until after his lunch. And then he would get down to it, and he'd sometimes work until four or five o'clock in the morning.”
[D.] “And Rutherford didn't object to this at all?”
[K.] “I don't know whether he knew, but I should........ I don't think much missed him, he never did, he was too canny, I mean to say, you couldn't, you couldn't get round him that way, I think he must have known—because he was talking to him about his work and that kind of thing, you know, and he could tell by the amount he had done whether he was really slogging it, you know. But everybody had a key like that, and Rutherford used to work quite late, Chadwick42 used to work quite late.”
[K.] “........ And he said........ one of his tricks, you know, was counting, you know.44 We'd start counting, you know, and perhaps go along a curve, perhaps a couple of points, and then the next one we'd get nothing, you know. And then you'd say, “There's nothing there, it's just a.......”, because that was the worst time to do the counts, you know, because........ you got very tired, because it strained your eyes, you see, and if you were not careful you might see them.45 And then he used to have a great laugh, you know, and he said, “Of course there isn't,” he says, “I took..... I took the source away.” But he never told you what he was doing, you know, which I think is the best to do if you can. Because I'm sure you can make them, you know if you get tired. I'm pretty sure that if you was to know roughly the number, or if you knew you were going up a bit, or maybe if you had a rough idea of what there should be, you'd find them all right.”
[D.] “Yes.46 Did he do much of the observing himself?”
[K.] “Not very much. He checked me at odd times, you see. Once, of course, I said to him, I said, “It's very strange,” I said, “but I'm getting doubles.”47 This was in the hydrogen, an’ all. He said, “What?”. I said, “I'm getting doubles.” So he stopped the thing he was intending doing, he stopped straight away, and he was in the cubby hole. And then he said, “Now, try and tell which count, which in your estimation is the doubles.” And I told him. Then we did the thing up and really and truly I almost told him that the more........ he gave me the bigger the distance between the doubles. He got very excited about that, but we could never clinch it, could never clinch it. Because then I fitted it up and we got Marsden to come in, just at the end of the War, just after he'd done this work really, to see really just what was double to your eye, you know. And we got some formula which was using about the same velocity as we'd had, you see, and tried it again. He mentioned it in his paper, but nothing.........”
[D.] “He never found out what it was?”
[K.] “No, but when he came here about two years......48 I asked him. “I'd forgotten all about that,” he says. But I don't know if he ever did. The apparatus, you see, we never trusted McLeod guages because, well you know, you really don't know where you are.......... So we always used to have a little spectrum tube on. And we always used that when we couldn't get a spark across the end of a six inch coil.49 And we was only using them and Fleuss pumps and Gaede pumps and sometimes we used a bit of liquid air, and if we hadn't got liquid air we used to have a bit of gold or something to draw up the mercury vapour up........ no conveniences at all.”50
[K.] “I think I used to do all the diagrams, I used to do all the slides, and I used to do all the lectures, and I used to do all the bills and all the clerical work. He hadn't a secretary; the University didn't provide secretaries in them days, and so he had a private secretary in the mornings. Well, when he was lecturing, say on Physics IIIA, Tuesday and Thursday, while he was in the lecture, before he came down, you see, I could use her for an hour. But that's all the help we had with the clerical work, you see. I was supposed to do the lot. And then when he took on something about “The Radiations......”51 Oh!, I forget, somewhere about 1912 or 13, he said to me, “Are you good at drawing and that kind of thing?”, and I said, “No, I've never done, any.” I thought it was strange. He laughed and said, “It's about time you did!” And so then straight away I got so many of these things to draw for him, his book. Well, I never had time to do it here, so, I was married then, and course I used to go home, and get home at eight o'clock and then send my wife and kid to bed, and from half past nine I'd work till about twelve. I think I did quite a lot. And so I did nearly, practically every one of the illustrations. But you know, he had some........... all these people who used to start grumbling: “Oh, he wants me to do this, he wants me to do that,” and yet such was his power over them, or something, I don't know what it was, that they'd have been terribly hurt if he hadn't asked them to do it, you know - which was a great gift.”
[D.] “Who used to pot the radium emanation? Did you used to do that?”
[K.] “Well, not for a long time. We had a man named Lansbury,52 and he did nothing else but look after the radium you see, because there were so many people. But he died, he went to Colorado you know, to this [place]53 where they were getting radium out of Carnotite, or something like that, but he got pernicious anaemia and died. But Boltwood was there, he was a very good experimentalist, you know.
“Oh, no, he was a real fellow for making you work.”
[D.] “But, he worked hard himself?”
[K.] “Oh, yes, oh yes, oh yes. Well, he used to........ some of his work, when he first started, we were here all over Christmas and all New Year, and I know he'd got a valve, the first one in England, I think, from the G.E.C. It took about 5 amps., and wanted about 2000 volts and that's all that he'd got. And then expected me to fit it up, you see. So I had to get in a transformer but I'd got nothing, so I got an induction coil for it, and the darn thing wouldn't work, and I'd been at it all morning, one New Year's Day I think it was, (we'd worked all Christmas), and he come along, and I think he was in a bit of a bad temper because he had to come down. Well, he hadn't to come down, but he knew that I was down and he'd said he'd come down. And he said?, “It isn't working, it isn't working.” I said.............. He said, “I don't think you know how to do it.” I said, “I don't think either of us does.” And he hit me on the back and said, “I've finished. I'm not coming down for two days now,” he says, “you stop at home for two days.” We'd reached the limit, you know, the pair of us, because I don't remember him ever being quite so bad-tempered as that New Year's Day. But usually he understood straight away. I remember I was putting a string in string electrometer you know, during the War. We'd only one or two left, and you couldn't get them from Germany. They wasn't made in England, you know, not for our instruments. And I put this in and he stood over me. Well, I don't know whether you've ever put one of them things in, have you? You can't see the beastly things at all. Well, he stood over me, you know: “Be careful, be careful, be careful, be careful.” And he got me as jittery as himself. And I got it in nicely, and tightened it up, and he started whistling, and I put my finger right through it, I don't know why. And he said “What the deuce have you done, what the deuce have you done? What did you do that for?” “Oh”, I said: “You shouldn't stand over me” I said, “You've got me on the jump.” And after a bit he said, “It's quite right,” he says, “Put the other one in.” And he went in the corridor, and he didn't go far away, and he walked up and down the ground floor corridor whistling “Onward Christian Soldiers.” That was nearly as bad as being on top of me! But we got it in. Oh, he understood quite well the ways of the human being, you know. I don't know whether you've ever been in that position where somebody's standing right on top of you, and you get a thousand times worse, don't you? I put my finger right through it.”
[D.] “Did you do the glassblowing?”
[K.] “No, I didn't do the glassblowing, because it was so handy, you see, just at the back. We were very lucky. In them days it was tin can stuff, you see. And this year, Schuster54 had had a building built at the end of there, and they'd allowed a firm, Baumbach's, glassblowers and T.........’s, a tinsmith's. You could get anything made, you know, and I think—I don't know whether it was arranged that way, but usually he had first go on their services, you know or what, but they always did things very quickly for him. And you could go across there, and say you wanted so and so and in two days you got it, or in a day you got it. And when you didn't want apparatus you were put to no expense, you see. Our current expenses then was about £100, I thinks, I think, and apparatus about £200. And Telefox used to make all the electroscopes and everything like that, and he used to think it was a Godsend. And then if he had to do any biggish thing, I used to go in the Engineering, and they were very good, and I could do the turning or anything like that, you see, and use the furnace and that kind of thing. We used to do all that. There was nobody here.
[K.]55 “Well, I decided I didn't like the change. You know, I thought I wouldn't be as happy there in a smallish place like that, as in a big place like Manchester, you see. And my wife wasn't too keen to go, you see, and leave all her friends and family and that kind of thing, so I decided straight away, I made my mind up straight away and I told him that we'd never stick there. And he argued and argued, and then he said, “Well, why?” Why won't you come? You've promised all this time,” he said, “I asked you the first time I went down to Cambridge, and I said you'd be coming......” And I said, “Well, my wife doesn't want to go.” So he never said another word to persuade me to go. He said, “Well, you wouldn't be any use to me if your wife wasn't happy.” He said, “That's the only excuse I'd have taken from you.” And he never bothered me after that. Lady Rutherford.......... and she said, “I don't understand why you're not coming, I don't understand it at all.” But Rutherford was very good—he said there was a good reason which was......... very, very satisfactory. But he cut it right off, as soon as I told him that, and he said, “Well,” he said, “You wouldn't be much use to me like that, you know.” And I don't think I should have been happy there, you see, because I should have been thought of as an interloper, because......... had been there for years, and I thought it better to be sensible about it, because it would have meant going there for years. And I know that, well I don't think....... I don't think Crowe56 has had too good a time......... because he was horribly impatient, you know.”
[D.] “Who, Rutherford?”
[K.] “Oh, yes, when he was working and he wanted you, you know, he'd order a thing before dinner,57 and he thought you should have it working after dinner, you see, or he'd know the reason why. If you didn't........ anybody who was a little bit slow, he'd lose patience with them straight away, you know. Because I remember a professor being here, and he was pretty slow, and Rutherford would bob in, and he'd be doing an experiment, and Rutherford got so angry he put his arm, his hand on my shoulder and on the professor's, and pushed us both into the corridor and said, “Kay, go and take it......... go and do it for him.” It was only a simple little experiment, but he'd never done any you know. It was some man who had come for a year or something, to pick it all up, er..........
“Rutherford, when I saw him last, a year after, he said, “You must come down,” he says, “even Cambridge.......”, he says, “I thank God” he says, “that hydrogen's not........” And he said, “Well, I don't mind........” Yes. But he started....... because I put the whole apparatus up there - it was about a month, or so, after Easter.”58
[D.] “You were going to go with him, weren't you?”
[K.] “Oh, yes. I promised to go for six months. He was all for that kind of thing, but I told him...........”
High Voltages and Big Magnets
[D.] “He tried to make a high voltage equipment, didn't he?”
[D.] “The one in the Bragg Building, in the basement?”
[K.] “Yes, yes, that great big one. And he wanted to stop the β-rays, slow them up, and that kind of thing—of course, he never had a chance, you know, they were no more than......... but we tried it.”
[D.] “He never tried to use a discharge tube, with the Wimshurst?”
[K.] “No, no.”
[D.] “But didn't you tell me about how he tried to get some big batteries set up?”
[K.] “No,61 you see, when we was....... he was always bothering about a big magnet. A big water cooled magnet, you see......... with big currents in, and this, that, and the other. He thought....... I don't know what he thought about the cost, but when it was worked out it was so large that he dropped it like hot cake. He was getting about £250 a year to operate it. There were no grants, you know, in them days.”
[D.] “But he asked you to work it out, didn't he, to find out.......?”62
[K.] “Yes, to find out what it would cost.”
[D.] “And what did it come to?”
[K.] “I forget what it was—to us, then, an enormous sum.”
[D.] “This was to deflect α-particles?”
[K.] “Yes, and, you know, when we did the atoms you see, to get the e/m he wanted to deflect it, you see, to prove these things, and we'd only got 6000 volts, which was a 2000 D.C. voltage generator, about 3000 test-tube batteries, and 1000 Clarke cells or less, altogether. So that you could bend it with a magnet all right, but there was no voltage there to do it properly, so we bent it with the magnet a little, and then superimposed the voltage on it, you see. But we never used, we never bought anything for that whole series of experiments. We couldn't, the War was on, and we had no money, and never thought of buying anything. Our pump was a Gaede pump, a Fleuss pump and a Geiger pump, and then about 1917 Langmuir63 used one of his little umbrella pumps. That was the first of the condensation pumps, you see, and that's all we used. We had nothing special, you see. I don't think that series of apparatus cost the University £30, £40, £50 at the most.
[K.] “............. you know, he knew all his life, from 1908, I think he started on this great idea of wanting big voltages. “I want big voltages,” and “I want big electromagnets.” And that's what he was after all the time. That's what he got at Cambridge, you see, which we never got here, you see, because we'd got no money. But even after that, since 1908 or 9, he always knew he wanted them, and I think if he could have got money and all that kind of thing, he'd have been here a few years in front of him, and possibly........ And I think he was always for getting to this nucleus. Because, you see, when we....... he did that, you see, it was absolutely, it was only atom into atom, the idea of........64 He had no external means of hurrying things up or accelerating them up, had he? He did nothing, he used nothing, you see. There was nothing artificial about it. It was just one element into another, wasn't it?
[D.] “You say he tried to use the big Wimshurst?”
[K.] “Yes, he tried to use the big Wimshurst........”
[D.] “What did he use for that?”
[K.] “Well, if I remember right, I think he was trying to slow down the beta rays.”
[D.] “To measure their energy?”
[K.] “Yes, something like that. I forget just now, but I think it was something like that. And I think he wanted to put a potential against them, put a potential against them, you see, and retard them, slow them up. And hurry them up if they did slow up, you see, it might be the other way around. But all the time from 1909 he was after big voltages and big magnetic fields like. He was always after that.”
[D.] “This was before the actual disintegration work? Long before?”
[K.] “Yes, yes, five or six years before.”
“He got the radium from London, did he?”65
“Oh, no, the radium he had with him all the time, you see. The Vienna Government, I think it was, had given him about £800 worth, and he had that all the time, you see. But I think Sir William Ramsey66 got some an’ all. But he had that and then he took..... here we pulled it down and he took it down to Cambridge you see..........”
The Disintegration of Nitrogen
[D.] “The disintegration work, the first actual experiments were started here?”67
[K.] “Yes, it was in nitrogen, you see.......”
“........ it was done here. It was proved here, where Rutherford did his first disintegration.”
[D.] “You know, there are a lot of the records of Rutherford's background more of them in Cambridge than here.”
[K.] “Oh, yes, there was all that I collected,........ because I always..... I never..... he never asked to do them, but ever since then I kept keeping it, and keeping, it, and keeping it, and I kept it covered, the thing quite covered, and wrapped all round it, and I...... his whole apparatus there.”
[D.] “It's usually thought that the first disintegration work was done by Rutherford in Cambridge. The apparatus is in the Cavendish Museum. He did that work here, didn't he?”
[K.] “Of course he did. If you got the Phil. Mag. for 1918, you'll find it all there.69 In fact, I've got reprints which Rutherford gave to me with his compliments and thanks, you know, before he ever went to Cambridge.”
[D.] “He used to have a room downstairs?”
[K.] “It was done underneath the room there. Yes, No.9, I think it was, or No.15....... Oh, no, the spectrum tube was there. Oh yes, these are all Rutherford's...... what I was saying, Rutherford, Geiger, the spectrum tube, the radium bromide apparatus, I think. But what Aston built had nothing to do with it, of course.”70
[D.] “No,71 that was done at Cambridge.”
[K.] “Yes, the deflection tube. The N14 apparatus. Yes, you see, there was all that, that I collected. The bombardment chamber....... with the nitrogen nuclei. That was the original one.”
[D.] “He continued the work in Cambridge?”
[K.] “Oh yes, he continued........ Oh yes...... The apparatus he was using was laughed at, you see. The things that he counted, the little zinc sulphide screen, which I used, the hydrogens was not much you know, and I had a 2½ d. bit of a microscope, and to keep my eye in, I mean we just put a.......... we was always scrounging little bits of things,....... and we just put a bit of cork, to relieve the pressure of your eye against it, you see. And I had to...... with a little bit of wire, you see, hot wire.”
Contemporaries (pre 1914)
[D.] “Well,72 how many people were there about 1913 just before the War?”
[K.] “You know, you should have photographs of some of the greatest people in the world here, you know, of the old scientists. We had, from about 1909 until about 1913 or 14, I think we had photographs every year, and there was Geiger........... Well, we had them,73 I had them in all the rooms, all over. In fact they was in the corridor. In fact, we had one of the Royal Society about.......... oh, there was Lodge,74 and the Scotchman—I forget the names sometimes—Lord Kelvin, Rayleigh, all those people, with an angel's halo round their head, or something, to pick them out with their names underneath75 which with a lot of people used to be very impressive. That's what I have against the normal, ordinary person now, that he's not interested in the poor, old scholars that did the work, a lot of the work. They say, “He's dead, well what's the good?”” But there was Geiger, Moseley, Darwin,76 Robinson, Chadwick, Nuttall,77 Evans,78 Schuster,79 Rutherford, Makower,80 the man that went on radio-activity at the hospital81.............. Russell, all those people, they were all here, you know, and Simpson,82 the meteorological man, you know, and oh, there was quite a big crowd then, and....... of course, they've all gone now. But I used to have them in the corridor, and then I think Professor Blackett83 had them in that other room, and the Library, I think if I remember right, and I think he had them shifted because he wanted the room for something. We used to have a lot of them in the corridor, you see, and they used to be quite impressed, did the junior students, you see. Now they hear of Lord Kelvin, but they don't know whether he was squat, tall, not a thing. Of course, to the modern idea, they'd be a rum crowd, you see, because a lot of them had whiskers, and one thing and the other, you know.
[K.] “Well, Geiger, he was only a young fellow, but he came primarily for Schuster, and he was here at the time, like, and so Rutherford give him work to do, which he did very well—he started as an experimentalist, you see. But that was the idea in them days you know, there was nothing able to count any small thing84 like that. We had an ionisation chamber, which we made ourselves, which was the old-fashioned cigar box, you know, with electrode and plate in......... and put about a 100 volts on it, and a quadrant electrometer. No string electrometer in them days, you know. And sure enough, it worked!”
[D.] “But when he decided he wanted to count these particles, did he ask Geiger to try and make some change in the counter?”
[K.] “Oh, I think he give a rough idea what is was he wanted....... he could give a rough idea about the apparatus. It was the same with Geiger, because many a time I'd see Geiger stuck, you know and he was stuck, until Rutherford come. And as soon as Rutherford come he was busy in another half hour because he'd given him the idea.”
[D.] “Who made the actual equipment? Did Geiger make it himself?”
[K.] “Oh, no, no. No, Geiger....... we used to make it, we had our own workshop, you know. We had a lathe, and one or two little things, and mechanics. I used to do all that kind of thing, you know, I used to do all that and all the............”
[D.] “Rutherford was working here right through the War, wasn't he?”
[K.] “Right through the War, right through the War.”
[D.] “In Manchester all the time?”
[K.] “All the time, he never went away, he just...... no, he never went.... he just went to London on his meetings with the Board of Inventions,85 wasn't it called in them days, you see. And...... but he was back the next day.”
[D.] “Did he have many people coming to visit him during the War?”
[K.] “No. He used to meet them in London mostly, I think. But of course, we had a tank,86 you know, and he had three or four men. He had Gerrard,87 and one named Roberts,88 and one named Powell89........ and Wood, A.B. Wood,90 I remember him. And we had one or two of the Naval Officers.”
[D.] “And did he do his own research during the War at all? Did he do his radioactivity work in his spare time?”
[K.] “Oh, all that was done during the War.”
[D.] “He was working during the War?”
[K.] “The nitrogen disintegration....... that was started and finished.”
[D.] “While he was doing this other work?”
[K.] “Yes, yes. Of course, we didn't do a great deal of that other work because after Rutherford had got things going, the big tank and all that kind of thing; you see, we used to all give him perhaps three or four counts a week, you see, on this light atom work. We was doing both, you see. But as it got bigger, you see, it was, it was, transferred. And we did a lot about quartz—I think we had one for a reflection thing, you know, getting a return wave from a submarine.... and cutting quartz. Because they couldn't cut the quartz properly in England, I don't think, because what we used to get, we used to have a standard weight, sort of thing, when I used to do that........ put a certain weight on and find out whether it........ plus a negative on this thing you see....... And you'd get one piece of quartz perhaps as big as two inches by one and you'd have three areas of positive and about six area of negative, so one struck the other out, and you'd have to break them off and put all the positives together and91..... I think we used that in the War, you know, so we did quite a bit of that. But them was only side-products, you see, and that was when we had to get our.... do something to our apparatus, you see, and it was done often as not at night, when we didn't have time.”
[D.] “And there was teaching going on all through the War?”
[K.] “All the time. There was Rutherford himself, and Evans, and Tunstall. I think it was Tunstall. He was a student at that time. Oh yes, everything was going on just the same.”
[D.] “Did Rutherford express any opinion about his War work? Did he grumble about it? Did he talk about it, or say anything? Did he say he'd rather be doing his own work, or anything of that sort?”
[K.] “Oh, I don't think he liked it very much.”
[D.] “He didn't like it?”
[K.] “Oh, no he didn't like it at all, but he hadn't much chance, that's why he put his back into it............ like he did everything else, but I'm pretty sure...... he said to me. “To hell with this lot.” he said. But I'm sure he didn't give all his time to it; and so really and truly as the War progressed, you see, he did less and less, you see, only going to the meetings, you see. But we did less and less experiments owing to the fact that he did none. I daresay we stopped all ours about 1917 or 1916 on.”
[D.] “And went back to the92..........?”
[K.] “Went back to his work then properly, you see. And then of course, we used to do that all the time, except for the lectures and things like that.......... But I don't know anything about that, he didn't talk much about that. He was never very enthusiastic about it, but I know once he had an idea of............... these things that Robinson used to use, which was very tempting at the time, because..... I think in two days he wanted one putting up - altogether we had a conical tube, and I think we put, I should think it was about twenty........ in about two days and that was right from scratch, from rock bottom, without...... And then go over them, and solder them, and then put the tubes on them, and then put them in this conical thing. And I think it took us....... it was about 2½ days, working late at night and everything. We started work with it, I think on a Saturday just after lunch...... and I think by about 3 o'clock, he'd chopped every one off. And...... don't forget there was a lot of labour in, but he'd no compunction, if they didn't work, they didn't work...... But in everything like that no compunction at all...... “Chop it off!” he'd say.”
[K.] “I think at that time he was doing the Physics IIIA, I think. Of course, there was nobody lecturing in them days, you know, only Evans......”
[D.] “This is during the War?”
[K.] “Yes, and during.......... but before the War he didn't do any advanced lectures, only one term or two terms for the Honours students in their last year. He took all the first year people, you see, twice a week, and then one course to the Honours school, you see. Because you see, in them days the Professor nearly always took the first year people. In fact they were the only people that could keep order.”
[D.] “They93 were much rowdier then?”
[K.] “Oh, my Lord, yes. Of course, Rutherford had no trouble with them very much, he was a great big man and he had a great big voice, you know, and they were a little bit scared of him, but some of the Professors had an awful time. In fact, I've spoken to Doctors that used to be in the lectures with those people, and you know, our lecture rooms they used to just put their pot94 and hit it you see, and it'd catch you right in the face, you see. So we put salt round, and that did it, you see. But the first year medical, you know, was pretty hot stuff. I don't know what they are now. Even in Professor Bragg's95 time, you know, they would get together and they'd say they were going to stop all the lectures, and so if there was a lecture going on, they'd come to the door, and all burst in and howl and let ‘em have it, and rock and roll I suppose, and with all those stopped lectures...... then of course, they'd swell their numbers with the lecturer's people and go somewhere else.”
[D.] “Did Rutherford ever say why he lectured to the first year?”
[K.] “Well, to tell you the truth, I think he loved certain experiments more than anything, but it was tradition then, I think. I think it was tradition then that all the Professors took the first year students because of the discipline, you see. They had more power to enforce punishment than had a lecturer, so that the students...... But I think really that he used to love the experimental part as much as anything, as much as anything probably.”
[D.] “Nuttall was here all the time, wasn't he?”
[K.] “Yes, but I don't think......... it was Makower at that time....... and there was Robinson, and there was Nuttall, and there was Evans. Evans was a very good lecturer, you know, that went to Swansea. I daresay he was one of the best lecturers I've heard, so far as lectures are concerned. I don't know whether Rutherford had the reputation........ well, Robinson said that, in his lecture that, he wasn't a great lecturer, but he was tremendously interesting, and, you see, I don't think he kept to the textbooks.”
“He would wander about, you see, and really give you physics, which was interesting. But he was always a great one...... whenever he give his first....... before he give his first lecture, he always used to tell the students now they wasn't at school. “You've not come here to be taught, and drilled, like you are at school. You've come here to be told how to reason out things for yourself and learn yourselves, and if you then find you don't get through the subject, read in the library—go and teach yourselves.” He was always keen on that.”
[D.] “You said he used to lose himself in lectures. You got the impression that his mind at that time was always97 on his work?”
[K.] “Well, no, I don't think........ he'd only lose the thread of his lecture, I think, when he was on some........ he mentioned some little thing that he was interested in and then he'd wander for a little bit, and then pull himself up with a jerk, you see. During that time he would say, “Oh, well, that's not for educational purposes gentlemen.” But they loved that, you know, they loved listening to him wander a bit, you see, because they'd never read anything like this before you see........... They were the first few people, and they thought they were being let into something great.
[K.] “........... And all the students thought the world of him, you know. His first year students—I don't know whether it's ever been done before in this University, but when they knew he was going, they...... and as the time got a little bit near, about July and that kind of thing, they clubbed together,—that was the first year people, medicals and all kind of thing, clubbed together to give him a present. And they gave him a nice gold watch, a stop-watch, you know, the old-fashioned kind......... The one that keeps going, you know, all the time..... And they presented it to him in the lecture room, about 300 students. And he'd said about a fortnight before he was going to buy a new one.
“Did he lecture to his research students at all?”
“Well, he was wonderful in the Physical Society, you see. We used to have....... the research people would always give a little paper before they published it, you see, on their work, and then there would be questions and answers, and suggestions, and some of these people, they'd not been used to lecturing, you know, and it was perhaps a little crude, but Rutherford would just get up and five minutes he'd go through the whole thing, you know, and put it in a nutshell. And then there'd be quite lively discussions on it, you see. And while a fellow was lecturing, Rutherford was sitting on the front seat, you know, seemingly half asleep, but he must have been very, very wide awake.”
“He did this even when he was a young man?”
“I remember him when he was at the Cambridge Physical Society. Of course he was in his sixties then.”
“Oh, no. When he was here he was only in his thirties then.”
“Yes, but he always used to look as if he was asleep during the lecture, and then he'd wake up at the end and start asking awkward questions.”
“Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes, he used to be good that way. And, of course, he had a firm hold on the Department, the teaching department, and the research department, because he would walk in sometimes in a morning, very often, almost twice a week, and he would go round to the people, and say, “Well, what have you done?”, and they'd tell him, and often as not, you know, when you were doing a job it would take about three or four weeks, you know, and when he came about two or three days after and said “Have you had any results yet?”, well, they nearly had a fit, and thought they were letting him down and this, that and the other, and they worked like mad. I don't know whether he did that intentionally, but he had...... always had them right on top. And he went round periodically to the research people, and especially the younger ones, you know and just kept them right on their toes.”
“Was he impatient with the students as well, the research students?”
“Oh yes, oh yes. Especially if they didn't just do as they was told. They used to have a standard of radium in a glass tube, and one of them was using it, and it used to be lent to the hospital, just as a standard. They never used it...... radium bromide. And this young fellow left it to the........ had got it from the hospital, and he was told that every time it came back it had to be given to me and I'd give it to the student, and the student would give it to me, so that, etc............ so that it was never allowed to lose sight of. And he forgot to tell me he'd got if off the Infirmary..... because he came back one day and he said, “Have you got that standard?”. I said, “Oh, no, the Infirmary's got it yet.” He said, “Have they? Come on downstairs!” And we went to see to this young fellow, he was in his first year. And he played steam with him, and he never come for about two or three days after, this student. He was taking a degree, you know, he was taking an M.Sc. I don't know whether he smelt a rat, but oh, he could play steam when he got going. But if ever it happened....... he used to apologise the next day if he'd let off steam to anybody.”
- Received November 7, 2007.
- Accepted November 7, 2007.
- © 2008 The Royal Society