Thursday, 22 September 2016

"Until general disarmament has been achieved..."

I moved house a little over a year ago, so naturally many of my things are still in boxes piled up around the place.  Rifling through one of them today, I came across this pamphlet issued by the government in 1963 entitled "Advising the Householder on Protection against Nuclear Attack".  It's pretty sobering reading.

The first line of the introduction reads "The primary purpose of the Government's defence policy is to prevent war; but until general disarmament has been achieved and nuclear weapons brought under international control there still remains some risk of nuclear attack."  I suppose since the time of the publication some progress has been made.  The Partial Test Ban Treaty was signed late in 1963 and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty came later.  Still we have not been attacked by nuclear weapons, but "general disarmament" does not seem to be on the cards, except as an accidental side-effect of austerity, perhaps.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Oliver Lodge's Past Years

I'm back from my holidays for the summer now.  Like last year, we ended the school holidays with a week in Deal, in Kent, staying in a friend's house that happens to have a lot of physics–friendly books on the shelf.  I again started reading Oliver Lodge's autobiography, and I got a bit further through it than last time.  It's a bit of a painful read at times, with his bleak assessment of parts of his childhood and schooldays (such as the bullying at school and the violence of the schoolmasters) as well as what seems like a bit of an outsider's career in physics (having started at University late, his not having had the background that leads to it at end of schooling), and the description of his courtship with his to-be-wife sounding very Victorian and somewhat excruciating.  Still, it comes across as a very frank and open description of these sometimes-painful things and so rewarding enough to read.   

I only got about half way through the book during my week there, and not therefore on to the parts of his research career where he was investigating psychic phenomena.  Perhaps that is for the best, but I've made a note this time of how far I got through the book, and maybe next year we will be back and I can pick up from where I left off. 

I've checked, and neither Surrey County library nor the University library have a copy.  I'm not sure I want a copy badly enough to secure one by other means.  I used to use the abebooks website before Amazon took them over, but I'm a little uneasy about giving Amazon money, following widely–reported allegations of unpleasant ways they treat their workers.  Are there any other places one can look, do you know?