All posts by John Abel

Harrah for Herr Hundertwasser by Professor Clyde Binfield on 26 November 2018

Clyde Binfield is the Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Sheffield with sev­eral books to his name.  He is also a very accom­plished speaker with both a sense of humour and great curi­os­ity.  Perhaps his love of an artist/architect that was so anti-establishment and a hero of the work­ing man should not come as a sur­prise.

Tourists to Vienna will be aware of this most eccent­ric man, whilst the rest of us may not have heard of him.  Friedrich Stowasser was born in 1928.  In 1948 he joined a Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna only to leave after 3 months and a few months later he changed his name to Hundertwasser

As an artist he was very much influ­enced by the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch but he also had strong “green” sym­path­ies.  He had an aver­sion to the uni­form­ity of straight lines and described modern archi­tec­ture as degen­er­ate.

In his paint­ing of his famous Hundertwasserhaus , the build­ing has no straight lines and green­ery, espe­cially trees pre­dom­in­ate.  At this time when the double helix of DNA was dis­covered, he was paint­ing spir­als.  Through his art he tried to reveal the pos­sib­il­it­ies of a better world with safe envir­on­ment and pro­tec­ted nature

In 1952 he held his first major exhib­i­tion in Vienna.  The main theme in his paint­ings is the recon­cili­ation and har­mony of man­kind with nature.

At the age of 55, he became embroiled with archi­tec­ture.  The above pho­to­graph is a block of social hous­ing now called Hundertwasserhaus.  It is an import­ant build­ing on the Vienna tour­ist cir­cuit and is very pop­u­lar with its occu­pants.  It’s a “make over” of an exist­ing block whose ori­ginal wall can be seen exposed in the left corner.  He appears to have got on well with crafts­men.  The pho­to­graph of a typ­ical bath­room shows how the build­ing has been trans­formed.

In 1959 he became an Associate pro­fessor at Hamburg University.  In 1968 he was lec­tur­ing about the 3 skins.  The 1st. skin is the naked skin, 2nd skin is our clothes and 3rd skin is the home we live in.  At times he would be naked whilst deliv­ery these lec­tures.

Besides paint­ings and build­ings he was famous for his poster and stamp designs.  He made his own clothes and had a pink hat!

He trav­elled extens­ively and spent his later years in New Zealand where he had dual cit­izen­ship and he died whilst cruis­ing on the QE2 in February 2000.

This is a spell bind­ing talk about a man that simply oozes cre­ativ­ity and refuses to be con­strained by rules.

Carbon Dioxide as a commodity and not a problem waste by Professor Peter Styring 29th October 2018

Peter Styring became Prof. of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at the University of Sheffield in 2007.  He gradu­ated at Sheffield then worked at Hull and New York State uni­ver­sit­ies.  He is an expert in Carbon Capture & Utilisation (CCU).  He is the author of “Carbon Capture and Utilisation in the Green Economy” and is Chair of the CO2Chem Network.

His talk began with provid­ing evid­ence that it is CO2 that is the major con­trib­utor to global warm­ing by show­ing a series of “hockey stick” graphs show­ing the global effects of vari­ous sus­pec­ted con­trib­ut­ors.  Deforestation has noth­ing like the effect that it is com­monly thought have and simply plant­ing more trees will not in itself solve the prob­lem. Similarly, the Ozone layer has only a small effect and aer­o­sols have a neg­li­gible effect.

He then moved on to how CO2 is a “green­house gas” and a cli­mate change accel­er­ator.  A prob­lem is that fossil fuels take mil­lions of years to create and seconds to des­troy.  He is con­vinced that the gen­er­a­tion of fossil fuel use for our elec­tri­city, heat­ing, indus­trial pro­duc­tion and trans­port is det­ri­mental.  To mit­ig­ate against this requires: Government policy; life cycle aware­ness & sus­tain­ab­il­ity; cre­ation of new chem­ic­als, pro­cesses and indus­tries.

 

Peter intro­duced the Linsink Waste Hierarchy concept:-

Waste hier­archy is a tool used in the eval­u­ation of pro­cesses that pro­tect the envir­on­ment along­side resource and energy con­sump­tion to most favour­able to least favour­able actions

The top of the pyr­amid is to use no new fossil fuels and the lowest level is to bury the prob­lem.

At the IPCC con­fer­ence in Korea we received a dire warn­ing “to reduce the rate of global warm­ing to a max­imum of 1.5 0C per annum and we have only 10 years to save the planet”.

Peter is con­vinced that legis­la­tion alone is not the answer and solu­tions that create a “profit” are a prac­tical approach.  Taking inspir­a­tion from Sir Fraser Stoddard, he believes in using CO2 to make things.  Peter Medawar speaks of “some­thing to be clever about” to create a world where there is no sur­plus CO2.  Peter covered many aspects of CO2 util­isa­tion and in par­tic­u­lar, vari­ous forms of trans­port.  He thinks there is a big future for the mass pro­duc­tion of Dimethyl Ether.  This liquid is a sub­sti­tute for diesel and is already used for some goods vehicles in Canada and the US.  For a small cost, diesel engines can be con­ver­ted to use DME with no emis­sion pol­lut­ants.  This is a much better method of cap­tur­ing CO2 and prob­ably much less costly than stor­ing it under the North Sea.

This was a spell bind­ing talk given by an inter­na­tional expert that cuts through some of the mis-information that is around today.

The curious world of old-time punishments — 1 October 2018 by Ian Morgan

Ian Morgan has given a number of talks to the Club.  His pas­sion is his­tory.  He has pub­lished books on his­tor­ical and crime sub­jects, made many appear­ances on local radio and is a guide for some English Heritage prop­er­ties.

His talk star­ted with the earli­est laws still in use.  Until recently the 1266 Assize of Bread and Ale was the oldest but it was updated due to met­ric­a­tion.  The oldest is now the 1267 Assize of Distress.  This meant that a person suf­fer­ing dis­tress from another should take the matter to the Crown Court and not just take their own revenge.

Until the 1840’s there was not a police force as we think of one.  Local people would pay into a Felon Society to cover the costs of main­tain­ing a con­stable.  A form of pro­tec­tion was the “hue and cry” and parish­ion­ers must help to detain a felon if not the parish may have to pay com­pens­a­tion to the victim.  At this time pris­ons were essen­tially to hold people before their trial.  The pun­ish­ment for approx­im­ately 285 crimes was hanging or quite likely trans­port­a­tion to the colon­ies.

None cap­ital pun­ish­ments were flog­ging, birch­ing, pil­lory, stocks, duck­ing stool, scold’s bridle or branks.  It was only later that hard labour and tread­mill type pun­ish­ments were used when crim­in­als and debt­ors were incar­cer­ated for long peri­ods.  Branding 1.5 “ high let­ters onto crim­in­als was common to sig­nify the type of crime com­mit­ted.

Birching on a birch­ing stool was com­monly 12 lashes and was stopped in England in 1948 but con­tin­ued in Jersey until 1955.  Public flog­ging with a cat ‘o nine tails was abol­ished in 1830’s although it con­tin­ued in pris­ons and died out in 1930’s.

A pil­lory and or stocks were common in many vil­lages and all towns.  One could be pil­lor­ied for many offences and might be ser­i­ously injured or killed by the pun­ish­ment.  Prisoners would be kept in the stocks for sev­eral hours or even days and might be tor­tured as well has have all manner evil sub­stances thrown or poured over them.  There were even finger and thumb stocks that were some­times used in schools and by employ­ers sus­pect­ing petty theft.

Ducking stools were fre­quently used on women for such things as vin­dict­ive gos­sip­ing and pros­ti­tu­tion and entailed the com­plete immer­sion of the person in water sev­eral times.  This was some­times fatal.  Another pun­ish­ment for nag­ging and gos­sip­ing was the scolds bridle.  In 1799 a man was placed in a bridle for 3 days and then was hanged.

Ian’s talk con­tin­ued to cover cap­ital, prison and less obvi­ous pun­ish­ments.  The talk is crammed full of really inter­est­ing detail and makes one real­ised how atti­tudes have changed over the past cen­tury.  The last public behead­ing was in 1747 and the last removal of a head after hanging was in 1817 in Derby.

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.