All posts by John Abel

Silicon from beach to smart phones by Professor Peter Ivey 30th July 2018

 

Peter Ivey is a member of Stumperlowe Probus Club.  He gained degrees in Physics at Bristol University before work­ing in BT Labs for 15 years.  In 1989 he joined the University of Sheffield and left in2003 to run his own com­pany in design­ing micro­chips.

His pre­vi­ous talk was an intro­duc­tion to micro­chip tech­no­logy and this talk covers what is spe­cial about silica.  Whilst silica is an oxide of sil­icon and is a major con­stitu­ent of sand, sand is too impure for micro­chip use. The silica used is quartzite (sil­icon diox­ide SiO2) and it is mined.  Oxygen is removed from the sil­icon using high tem­per­at­ure pro­ced­ures to pro­duce poly­sil­icon.  The elec­tron­ics industry uses poly­sil­icon with impur­ity levels of less than one part per bil­lion.  The poly­sil­icon is recrys­tal­lized to grow single crys­tal boules using the Czochralski pro­cess.  It is then dia­mond cut into thin wafers using a “salami slicer”.  These wafers are then buffed using very high powered phys­ical and chem­ical buf­fers to pro­duce the base for the chips.

Peter then explained how a good insu­lator like sil­icon can become a semi­con­ductor.  It has an atomic number 14.  Four of its four­teen elec­trons reside in silicon’s outer shell and com­bine with eight other elec­trons form other atoms to form a tight bond.  If a phos­phor­ous impur­ity (one part in 10 bil­lion) is intro­duced, Phosphorous has one more elec­tron than Silicon and this “spare” elec­tron can flow from neg­at­ive to pos­it­ive (N type).  Boron on the other hand cre­ates a “hole” and per­mits a flow from pos­it­ive to neg­at­ive (P type).  Electronic chip man­u­fac­ture is all about purity.

The cir­cuits used in chip man­u­fac­ture use extremely fine pho­to­litho­graphy.  Copper is the con­ductor used to fill the depres­sion cre­ated con­nect­ing the bil­lions of tran­sist­ors.  There might be twenty layers of con­nec­tions all sep­ar­ated by insu­la­tion layers in a smart­phone chip the size of a thumb nail.  There will be sev­eral miles of “wires” between tran­sist­ors in such a chip.  The gaps between cir­cuits is so small that a single dust particle could cause a short cir­cuit.

The need to pro­duce elec­tronic chips in such a pure and clean envir­on­ment means that the factor­ies are incred­ibly expens­ive and are few and far between.  They pro­duce chips to cus­tom­ers’ designs.  Whilst the man­u­fac­tur­ing machines are enclosed in a very pure envir­on­ment, they require fre­quent main­ten­ance, so the sur­round­ing envir­on­ment must also be as clean as pos­sible for when the engin­eers access them.  An ordin­ary atmo­sphere could take weeks to clean to the required level for the machines.

Peter’s talk was a bril­liant insight into a world at the core of our modern exist­ence.  He guided us through quite com­plex tech­no­logy in a way that his audi­ence could grasp.  He was inund­ated with ques­tions that means that no one was sleep­ing.  An excel­lent talk!

The building of Hardwick Hall — John Stubbs — 4th June 2018

These days John Stubbs is a volun­teer with Hardwick Hall; before retir­ing he was much involved with spe­cial needs chil­dren. To give a back­ground to the build­ing of the hall, he gave a descrip­tion of Bess of Hardwick’s life. In 1522 Bess was born to John and Elizabeth Hardwick, who lived in a modest manor house on the site of the Old Hardwick Hall. They were sheep farm­ers around Hardwick and mod­er­ately pros­per­ous. John died at about this time while in his forties. Elizabeth was obliged to sell off much of the estate to sur­vive while Bess grew up. At the age of 12 Bess left home to serve at the nearby Codnor Castle. There she met and mar­ried Robert Barlow, who was heir to a gentry family. She was 15 years old. Eighteen months later, Robert died and she gained an inher­it­ance.

Bess then went into ser­vice with the Grey family and found her­self at court in London as Lady in Waiting. Here she caught the eye of an older courtier, William Cavendish, Treasurer of the King’s Chamber. They mar­ried in 1547. Six of their chil­dren reached adult­hood and they bought land that became the Chatsworth Estate before William died in 1557.

Two years later Bess mar­ried again, this time to Sir William St Loe, Captain of the Queen’s Guard and Grand Butler of England. The mar­riage to St Loe was short-lived as he died in 1565, but again Bess man­aged to secure most of his great wealth for her­self. Secure at Chatsworth and very wealthy, Bess mar­ried for a final time, this time to George Talbot, sixth Earl of Shrewsbury, in 1567. He was a states­man high in royal favour, and Bess added the title of Countess to her great wealth.

Shrewsbury was made cus­todian of Mary Queen of Scots, who remained in his charge for the next 15 years, moving from one another of his many man­sions, includ­ing Chatsworth. The strains of the royal ‘guest’ put pres­sures on Bess’s mar­riage and after sev­eral years of bitter quar­rel­ling Bess left Chatsworth and came back to her child­hood home at Hardwick. For the next few years Bess star­ted to con­struct a new house around her old family home — the build­ing we now know as Hardwick Old Hall.

In 1590 Shrewsbury died, and work star­ted on Hardwick New Hall. A prom­in­ent archi­tect called Robert Smythson was com­mis­sioned and he intro­duced new ideas of sym­metry and of using vast areas of glass. The heights of each storey increased from the ground upwards with ser­vants at ground level, the family rooms on the first floor and the state rooms above. The archi­tect re-introduced the use of 50mm thick lime-ash floors over green tim­bers that hadn’t been used since Roman times.

A £25m refur­bish­ment of Hardwick Hall has recently been under­taken with large areas of glaz­ing replaced with east­ern European glass. The Hall has a full-time team of masons work­ing on the wall fabric. As vis­itor num­bers stead­ily grow there is a need to increase and improve the vis­itor facil­it­ies. The Stable Yard provides much of this area.

The smithy and cart shed now provides a build­ing to enter­tain school­chil­dren. The East Stables house the garden­ing depart­ment where there are plants for sale. The Coach House and the Ox House provide an exten­sion to the shop and offices. The West Cottages that pred­ate the Old Hall are used to accom­mod­ate a brew­ery, a dairy, a bakery and a chand­lery, and a slaughter­house now has a res­taur­ant at mezzan­ine level.

Hardwick Hall was taken by the State in 1956 in lieu of death duties and given to the National Trust, but is man­aged by English Heritage.

Police — Friends or Fascists? — Tim Hollis CBE — 5 March 2018

Militia being used in the Gordon Riots of 1780.

Tim Hollis is a retired Chief Constable of Humberside and has already talked to the Club about the Samaritans.  This talk has reflec­tions on 35 years of poli­cing start­ing with the Met. and con­clud­ing in Hull.  Since retir­ing Tim has taken a Master’s degree in his­tory at Sheffield University and the first part of his talk encom­passed a brief his­tory of poli­cing in England since Anglo Saxon times.

The nature of poli­cing has been defined as “the mono­poly of legit­im­ate viol­ence within a State”.  A state can range from the whole Roman Empire with part of its bound­ary defined by Hadrian’s Wall to a small city.  In 1755 Adam Smith wrote that to carry a state to the highest degree of opu­lence from the lowest bar­bar­ism requires peace, easy taxes and a tol­er­able admin­is­tra­tion of justice.

In Roman times the office of con­stable in the army had the import­ant respons­ib­il­ity for the horses.  In German cul­ture mar­shals had a sim­ilar respons­ib­il­ity.  For 367 years the Romans ruled Britain through their army.  There was no police force.  In Anglo Saxon times there were reeves who were super­vising offi­cials with local respons­ib­il­ity to the King within the shire.  They could hold court and try local civil and crim­inal mat­ters.  In Norman times these shire reeves became sher­iffs.

Today a police con­stable takes an oath to main­tain the sovereign’s peace.  In 1361 the Justices of the Peace Act made law the concept of keep­ing the peace.  A ” breach of the peace” is in every­day use and a person can be ordered by the Magistrates’ Courts to keep the peace or to be of good beha­viour.

It was not until 1689 with the English Bill of Rights that there was legis­la­tion for a stand­ing army and the first local mili­tia was cre­ated in 1707.  Tim explained how there are fun­da­mental dif­fer­ences between the mil­it­ary and a police force.  The latter should handle public dis­order situ­ations.  In 1780 a mili­tia was used in the Gordon Riots and 285 people were killed.

There has always been a prob­lem of who should pay for a police force and it was only after the Chartists move­ment that in 1856 it was agreed that every­where should have a police force.  It took until 1896 for Barnsley to have one.

In 1977 when Tim joined the Met. after a career in the Parachute Regiment, pay was low as were entry require­ments.  Things improved in the Thatcher era.  The ABC of poli­cing have not changed how­ever.  They are: Assume noth­ing; Believe nobody; Check everything.  Young con­stables on the beat are sub­ject to an enorm­ous vari­ety of prob­lems requir­ing mature judge­ment includ­ing sui­cide and domestic viol­ence.  The 3 P’s they warned about are: Prisoners; Prostitutes and Property.

For a Chief Constable the 3 P’s change to Politicians; Press and Public.  For fur­ther insights you must attend his talk!

Tim is a nat­ural and ener­getic  com­mu­nic­ator and without slides, he kept his audi­ence enthralled for over an hour on mat­ters best described are far reach­ing.

The lost fens — Prof. Ian Rotherham — 8 January 2018

Ian Rotherham is Professor of Ecology and Geography at Sheffield Hallam University.  He is an author­ity on cul­tural and his­tor­ical aspects of land­scapes, espe­cially peat bogs and fen­lands.  He writes and broad­casts on envir­on­mental issues.  He has many books to his name and is an excel­lent speaker.

His talk centered around the wet­lands of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire that before being drained, dwarfed the area of the present Cambridgeshire fens.  Ian star­ted by remind­ing us that Hereward the Wake lead the last sig­ni­fic­ant res­ist­ance to the Norman inva­sion and sought refuge in Ely Cathedral that was situ­ated on an island totally sur­roun­ded by wet­lands.  Access was by float­ing reed pon­toons between the beds of high reeds.  Similar wet­lands stretched up beyond York. The land along the M18 cor­ridor remained wet until the 1600’s.

In 1466 the feast to mark the enthrone­ment of Geoge Neville as Archbiship of York, over 2000 guests con­sumed: 2,000 suck­ling pigs, 204 bit­terns, 2,000 geese, 12 por­poises and seals, and 3,000 cold cus­tards, all washed down with 500,000 pints of ale and 168,000 pints of wine.  The wet­lands were pretty pro­duct­ive places.  Eels were so plen­ti­ful on occa­sions they blocked the rota­tion of water­wheels and wild birds were killed and shipped to London in 100,000’s.  The English “turkey” was the great bus­tard that thrived in the wet­lands.  Bustard Farm near Great Driffield is a reminder of this food source .  Fish, reeds, rushes, peat, willow and brush­wood all came from the carrs.

In 1609 an under­ground earth­quake in south­ern Ireland prob­ably caused cata­strophic flood­ing along the east coast.  In 1600 under Elizabeth I an Act includ­ing the drain­ing dry of marshes, fens, bogs and moors was passed.  The mood developed in the ruling class to dis­like wet­lands and to favour land fit for till­age and pas­tur­age.  In 1626 Cornelius Vermuyden brought in Dutch and Flemish money and work­ers to drain large areas of wet­land at the behest of Charles I.  People flee­ing per­se­cu­tion like the Huguenots were also attrac­ted.  Few people at this time could swim, marsh mal­aria was always a prob­lem espe­cially for those not living in but vis­it­ing the swamps and these areas when drained dra­mat­ic­ally increased in value when drained.  Those drain­ing the land and the land owners could make large for­tunes.

In 1809, Gilpin was very fash­ion­able for design­ing pic­tur­esque land­scapes and he hated fen land and thought the Peak District was the work of the Devil.  By 1900 these wet­lands had largely dis­ap­peared.  By using the latest air­borne light detec­tion and ran­ging meth­ods Ian and his team are uncov­er­ing some of the drain­age work­ings includ­ing around Doncaster and Thorne moors.

Ian is very know­ledge­able and gave a really fas­cin­at­ing talk about the land­scape on our door­steps that most new little or noth­ing about.

 

Hull City of Culture 2017 — James McGuire — 23th October 2017

City of Culture” is an event held every four years high­light­ing one loc­a­tion in the UK and pro­mot­ing arts and cul­ture as a means of cel­eb­ra­tion and regen­er­a­tion.  In 2013 Kingston upon Hull was one of sev­eral cities to submit a bid for the event  Their sub­mis­sion was suc­cess­ful based on the pro­posed use of thou­sands of volun­teers and a budget of £12m.  They man­aged to recruit Martin Green as the CEO and Director of a new inde­pend­ent com­pany and char­it­able trust named “Hull UK City of Culture 2017”.  He has exper­i­ence of organ­ising large events includ­ing parts of the London Olympic Games.  He at an early stage set the budget for the event at £18m and set about rais­ing the money.  In the event over £30m was raised.

James McGuire was born and edu­cated in Hull and is employed for 2017 by the new Company as the Audience Engagement Manager.

He explained how the City was extens­ively bombed during WW2 to be fol­lowed by the loss of its fish­ing industry to Iceland.  The main long stand­ing indus­tries include Smith & Nephew, Armco, BP and pre­fab­ric­ated build­ings and cara­vans.  Despite its well regarded uni­ver­sity and its motor­way con­nec­tion, there was a feel­ing in 2013 of a com­munity in decline.  A local joke at the time was “you’ll find more cul­ture in a yogurt pot than in the whole of Hull”.  The present Hull is very dif­fer­ent.  It has a grow­ing off shore wind tur­bine industry, its tour­ism industry is expand­ing with a new hotel in the city center and a pro­posed pas­sen­ger liner ter­minal planned to aug­ment the ferry ter­minal.  By attract­ing 2,500 local volun­teers and refur­bish­ing city center build­ings there is a wel­com­ing buzz and a belief in the future of the city.

Although the city of cul­ture is a 12 month event, the impetus gained will con­tinue into the years ahead.  In 2017 the activ­it­ies were centered on four sea­sons. The 1st (January to March) was “Made in Hull” and chal­lenged pre­con­cep­tions and showed what Hull is really made of.  The 2nd (April to June) was “Roots and routes” and explored Hull’s place in a con­stantly chan­ging world.  The 3rd (July to September) was “Freedom” where it cel­eb­rated its rebel­li­ous streak and its free­dom of thought, unboun­ded by con­ven­tion.  The 4th (October to December) will look to the future and “Tell the world”.  It will look at how Hull is rede­fin­ing itself as a key city within the North.

The talk was a wake up call to embrace a city on Sheffield’s door­step that has been ignored for too long.  Useful addresses for Hull City of Culture are listed below:

Turner Prize 2017 (Ferens Art Gallery, on until Sunday 7 January 2018)

https://www.hull2017.co.uk/whatson/events/turner-prize-2017/

Walking Tours (Hull’s Old Town)

http://www.tourhull.com/

Hull New Theatre and Hull City Hall

https://www.hulltheatres.co.uk/whats-on/year

Hull Truck Theatre

https://www.hulltruck.co.uk/

The Death Of The Common Attorney.- Jerry Pearlman — 14 August 2017

Born in Redcar and art­icled in Leeds in 1950’s, Jerry Pearlman prac­ticed as a soli­citor in Leeds for nearly sixty years.  As well as the enorm­ous range of work one might expect in a gen­eral legal prac­tice,  Jerry has par­tic­u­lar expert­ise in rights of way.  His ram­bling and access talk how­ever is for another occa­sion.

Whilst look­ing at many aspects of a legal gen­eral prac­tice, his theme was to com­pare the legal pro­fes­sion of yes­ter­day with the legal industry of today and to ques­tion if the public is now really better served.

When Jerry qual­i­fied the use of Latin phrases was common place and helped to dis­tin­guish the legal pro­fes­sion.  An aver­age house cost £500 as did a motor car and the con­vey­an­cing fees for house pur­chases were often the main stay of a soli­cit­ors prac­tice.  Today the cost of con­vey­an­cing has come down but so has the secur­ity of the trans­ac­tions. Traditionally the con­vey­ance date was on a Friday.  This is now called Bad Friday and is when fraud­sters target soli­cit­ors offices on line to inter­cept money trans­ac­tions and redir­ect funds into their bogus bank accounts.  The intro­duc­tion of licensed con­vey­an­cers over the past 45 years has brought down costs for the public but Jerry argued that the busi­ness is less secure.

On the sub­ject of pre­par­ing one’s will, it used to be the sole province of a soli­citor and the value of a soli­cit­ors prac­tice was often based on the number of wills kept in the office safe.  Then account­ants and Banks offered the ser­vice and now there is even a Society of Will Writers.  The latter is com­pletely unreg­u­lated.  Jerry asked if this is really in the best interests of the public?

Liquor licens­ing is another area where Jerry wondered if the relax­ing of having to prove public need is a good thing.  Today alco­hol can be bought at most super­mar­kets and even at petrol sta­tions.  He blamed this for an increase of binge drink­ing and alco­hol con­sump­tion gen­er­ally.

Divorce is another area that was the province of the soli­citor who might be able to temper the situ­ation.  Now with legal aid more dif­fi­cult to obtain, divorce can be some­thing where much is done on line.  Law stu­dents now help couples through divorce.

The Police  now have a power to cau­tion and fewer minor cases  come to court.  This means that there is less oppor­tun­ity to train young law­yers in court pro­ced­ures and this has lead to a lower­ing in the stand­ard of the law­yers’ per­form­ance in court.

This was a  pro­vok­ing talk on mat­ters that most people are aware of but have not given thought to.  There was great poten­tial for dis­cus­sion during and after the talk which was well received.