May 21st, 2013
If you were studying Chemistry at Imperial College in the early 1980′s you would almost certainly have come across the series of teaching videos that we made. These were designed to provide a single definitive version of classic experiments carried out in the labs. The way that it worked was that during a lab period students would have a number of ‘demonstrators’ who positioned themselves around the lab. They would then proceed to show the undergrads the way to achieve what was needed of them during the session. This was deemed to have flaws when it was discovered that very slightly different versions were actually being demonstrated. So, colleagues in the Chemistry Department asked for some of the experiments and also the techniques required, to be captured on video. These videos would then be made available to the students in the college library, prior to the lab session day and also at the start of the actual lab session via video players located around the lab. Starting 32 years ago, from 1981 to 1993, 11 of these classic experiment videos were made. Two of these: ‘Recrystallisation’ and ‘Using an Oil Vacuum Pump’ are on this page.
Making them was not always so easy. To capture the experiments we needed to be able to record, as much as possible, in ‘real time’. That is, record the action without stopping or having to then edit later. We needed to be able to try and capture what would have been demonstrated live in the lab. Also, when an experiment had started, it couldn’t always be stopped on a whim from me because I couldn’t get a good camera shot! So, we had to be able to record with several cameras and this meant shooting in the College TV Studio** where we had three cameras available. Shooting this way meant we could, as much as possible, run in real time; if we had rehearsed what was going to happen. So, using three cameras we were able to plan ‘blocks’ of the experiments that could be recorded before we had to stop and reset cameras etc. Read the rest of this entry »
May 1st, 2013
As we celebrate yet another Post Graduate Ceremony (May 2013) I thought we would look back only a few years ago to 2009. This was the year that the Imperial College gained its own Mace and it was officially presented to the college during the ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall in May of that year. The mace is the generous gift the Goldsmiths’ Company, who have had a long association with the College. It was given to mark the designation of the College as a university in its own right and the award of a new charter by the Queen. The Goldsmiths’ Company commissioned Padgham and Putland of Kent to design and construct the mace. The mace weighs 7.1kg and is of silver and gilt. Its intricate workings incorporate the College crest and motto. The video is part of that May 2009 ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
Lord Kerr was still Chairman of the Governing Body at that time and he accepted the gift on behalf of Imperial College London.
Colin Grimshaw May 2013
April 23rd, 2013
In a previous entry you would have seen the video I made to celebrate the City and Guilds College Centenary in February 1985. As part of the week of events an exhibition was run entitled “Technology 2000″. It was opened by Margaret Thatcher -who was then Prime Minister- on 27 February 1985.
Professor Bruce Sayers was then Dean of City and Guilds and made the introduction. This version of the speech is the full version. The one already seen in the C&G centenary video is edited down to fit into a specific duration. Here then is the full, unedited version, from the original 1985 master tape.
Here is the link to the City and Guilds Celebration video on YouTube. Included in that video is the tour Mrs Thatcher took of the exhibition Technology 2000 and shows some of the people she met.
Colin Grimshaw April 2013
April 1st, 2013
In the first part of this look at Live-Net I showed the lead-up to the opening of the system with a visit by Princess Anne to the Science for Industry exhibition the previous year. But now, we’ll see what followed on from that. Once the demonstrations were over and the Science for Industry Exhibition closed, it was time to start using the system for real. Many tests and trials took place and slowly teaching started to make use of the system. You’ll see some of that teaching in the video at the end of this particular blog entry. Even though Princess Anne had already seen Live-Net in action it was always planned that she would officially declare it open at some point. This took place from Senate House in central London and linked out to all those sites currently connected. The photo shows the Royal Party along with Richard Beckwith looking at the monitors that showed the Live-Net sites (Imperial is in the centre). On the 28 May 1987 the system was buzzing with images going backwards and forwards to Senate House. BT were standing by as part of the demonstration and to ensure 100% connectivity! The person given the overall responsibility for the connection and use of Live-Net at Imperial College was Professor Ernie Freeman then in Electrical Engineering.
Ernie handed over all of the technical tasks to me and that involved the planning of any ‘studio’, purchase of equipment and so on. Initially we simply used the TV Studio as this had cameras, sound and monitors. Later we produced a separate studio solely for Live-Net. As I had been involved from the very start, I was asked to participate in the opening ceremony and can be seen on the right hand side (all dressed up for the occasion) with a camera control box hidden behind some flowers! The background board was a left-over from the Science for Industry exhibition the previous year. There was one final royal visit to see Live-Net, but this time it was not Princess Anne. Read the rest of this entry »
March 1st, 2013
In 1985 a proposal to install an experimental cable TV network between some of the schools of the University of London came to fruition. British Telecom had pioneered the use of fibre optics with the installation of Westminster Cable Television in London. The fibre cables linked to central street boxes that then fed into homes on coaxial cables (Switched Star Cable TV system). This enables users to select what they wanted and the resulting signal was then sent back to the street cabinet and then to the home.
Moving this technology one step further on, BT proposed a system where the fibre came direct to a cabinet located at some of the Universities in London (UCL, Imperial, Kings, QMW, RHBNC and the ULAVC at Senate House). The resulting system was called Live-Net and consisted of a bundle of fibres providing 4 in and 4 out channels at near broadcast quality. It had been decided to locate the central switch for the whole system at the University of London’s Audio Visual Centre located at Senate House. This would also act as an additional transmission point for establishments around that area, for example Birkbeck College. Read the rest of this entry »
February 1st, 2013
On the 19th June 2001 Sir Richard Sykes, then Rector of Imperial College, launched the first e-MasterClass with a broadcast to distinguished guests from government and other institutions in Britain, Australia and Thailand. The launch was preceded with the statement “Topical debate between masters at the cutting edge of scientific research and peer group scientists and industrialists around the world will be launched next month in what is believed to be the first e-MasterClass of its kind”. This first 40-minute presentation about healthcare policy was chaired by Chris Toumazou and was held in the video conferencing suite, which at the time was located next to the TV Studio on the level 2 walkway.
The technology used to link the various locations was Video Conferencing using ISDN2. The equipment allowed the ‘multipointing’ of the three sites into a split screen which meant that participants could all see and hear other with very little time delay. Images were viewed on 50 inch Plasma screens, something back then that was both new and expensive.
Press release information following the second e-MasterClass announced “Professor Ara Darzi impressed participants at the University of New South Wales, Australia, with a presentation entitled Look no hands — an exploration in cybersurgery which encapsulated his team’s dynamic new approach to micro-surgery and robotics and set out his vision for the future of surgery”.
January 17th, 2013
You can now find all of the remaining videos that were made for schools on the Imperial YouTube Channel. They are located in the Archive section along with other gems that are being added as time permits. I’ve included two of them in this blog, but do go to YouTube to be able to see them all. One video that stands out as an example of science and technology is the one with Denis Smith on Water Power and the Industrial Revolution. We made the video in many parts of the UK at various (then) working Watermills, Pumping Stations and so on and it was a real joy to make too. Read the rest of this entry »
January 1st, 2013
Back in early 1982 a tenuous link with the History of Science and Technology division brought forth an idea to make a series of videos designed for schools. Colleague Dr Kathy (Kathleen) Burk had links with a publishing company based in Wiltshire. They produced mainly audiotapes on history and some on music. They had started to venture into videos but with limited success from both the technical and production viewpoint (they had no production facilities of their own).
It was therefore suggested that because of the Imperial College connection with the company there might be some merits in linking together our combined skills: History; Publications & Marketing and Video Production. So a compromise was reached over the production of 8 videos between 1982 to 1990.
In this entry I’ll be showing you two videos made between 1982 and 1984. Simon Schaffer has become a well known presenter on broadcast television with series such as the 2004 “Light Fantastic” shown on BBC TV. But back in 1982 he had only recently joined Imperial College in the History of Science and Technology division. Kathy Burk asked him to consider making one of the videos for schools and so we produced the 1982 video called Science and the English Enlightenment. Read the rest of this entry »
December 21st, 2012
The Centenary of the foundation of the College was celebrated on 9 July 2007 with a ceremony in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen and Duke also opened the College’s new Institute of Biomedical Engineering before taking part in an honorary graduation ceremony that saw the first ever Imperial degrees awarded to five distinguished figures, including His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.
The visit cemented a long-standing relationship between the UK’s Royal Family and Imperial. The College stands on land purchased with the profits of Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition of 1851 in fulfilment of his vision for a centre of science and culture in South Kensington. Read the rest of this entry »
December 14th, 2012
24 years ago in December 1988 Imperial College held the first event aimed at children to introduce them to science. The event was Christmas Caper and departments and sections throughout Imperial College came together to create a ‘wonderland’ of science for the kids. Not all the things were specifically science, face-painting being one of them. It was held during the afternoon and staff were encouraged to bring their own children along. It took place in what was the lower refectory in Sherfield Building. The event was masterminded by Claire Ash, the then Rectors wife.