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Ta            les of the Part II








               In June we celebrated a century of the Part II year by having a special
               celebration for this year’s cohort. Thank you very much to our alumni who
               shared their stories of this formative experience, ranging from romance to
               health and safety horrors, and some words of wisdom.


               Ronald J Clarke (Keble 1937)
               Aged now 97, I write in response to your interest in past
               Part II experiences.  Now difficult to comprehend, no
               choice of subject matter was offered in the wartime years
               of 1940-41.  I was instructed to work on a research project
               in arsenical blister gases in the Dyson Perrins Laboratory.
               It was believed that Hitler might well use various types of
               toxic gases, which fortunately never occurred, though I
               could never avoid some hand blisters in my work!  I was
               supervised by Dr Parkes and overall by the distinguished   and studied theology to become a Baptist Minister, but
               Prof. Robert Robinson.  It was not a particularly attractive   the Geology job helped me financially.  My Part II went
               piece of research, but was, however, carried on by Basil   very well, otherwise I would never have had the chance
               Thewlis and published in a joint paper around 1947.  This   of a doctorate, and it was during this period that I fell in
               work, along with the splendid tutorial system at Oxford,   love and became engaged to my present wife.  I grew one
               helped me greatly in developing initiative and critical   particularly large yttrium aluminium garnet (YAG), too big
               thinking.  My subsequent industrial life was largely in food   for our experiments, and I had this stone cut and set for her
               research, much in the fascinating area of instant coffee.  In   engagement ring.
               retirement, I wrote and co-edited numerous articles on the
               subject of coffee in all respects.
                                                                Nick Fisher (Magdalen 1960)
                                                                In all the well-deserved celebrations of the Oxford
               Michael Ball  (Brasenose 1956)                   Chemistry Part II as a unique grounding in research

               I did my Part II working with Dr Geoff Garton, preparing   experience, I hope the alternative of research in the history
               synthetic garnets doped with various rare earth elements.    of chemistry for those who do not see themselves as
               I was producing single crystals, and another student, Jim   laboratory chemists will not be forgotten. Many of Britain’s
               Roberts, was making polycrystalline samples. On the day   foremost historians of science have entered the profession
               of our vivas his was scheduled for the morning, mine for   through this portal. For me, the Radcliffe Science Library
               the afternoon.  Jim came back and told us that he had been   was my laboratory, where I quickly found myself hooked
               taken aback. The examiner, Mr Powell, (nicknamed Tiny)   on the intricacies of mid-nineteenth-century French
               Reader in Crystallography, began by producing handfuls   organic chemistry, and I went on to have a very rewarding
               of large natural garnet crystals which he presented to Jim,    career in the history of science, at first in Glasgow and
               asking whether he made anything like them, and poor   latterly at the University of Aberdeen.
               Jim was flummoxed. I went prepared with several tubes
               of my crystals in my pockets, and when Tiny made the
               same opening move, I responded with a firm “Yes”, and   Nick Vanston (Balliol 1960)
               produced my crystals. The other examiners could hardly   J. M .Pratt was my supervisor and the topic was the
               conceal their amusement. But Tiny never forgot me, and   trans-effect in cobalamins. One experiment involved
               when the Professor of Geology needed someone to teach   measuring the IR spectrum of cobalamin in the presence
               a 1st year course in Chemistry for geology students, Tiny   of various concentrations of cyanide ions. The complex is
               remembered and recommended me after I had finished   very sensitive to visible light, so the measurements had to
               my doctorate 3 years later.  I eventually changed course   be made in pitch darkness. This entailed returning to the




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              Periodic       The Magazine of the Department of Chemistry
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