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Celebrity Drawings by John Moss

Manchester Science, Invention & Discovery

Alan Turing

Alan Turing

Alan Mathison Turing was born in Paddington, London on the 23rd June 1912, the son of Julius Mathison and Ethel Sara Turing, and was educated at Sherborne Public School. Turing could be rightly described as the effective founder of modern Computer Science. Yet he was thought to be an undistinguished pupil who was probably wasting his time with his interest in scientific matters - not thought then to be appropriate to a Public School education. However, he was successful in his School Certificate and from 1931-34 he was an undergraduate at King's College, Cambridge, where he studied quantum mechanics, probability and logic.
By 1935 he had been elected a fellow of King's College and was awarded a Smith's Prize in 1936 for work on probability theory - he seemed on course for a successful and uneventful career. In 1936 he published "The Turing Machine: On Computable Numbers" , in which he outlined and defined the essential principles of the computer - a single machine which can be turned to any well-defined task by being supplied with the appropriate programme. The paper attracted a great deal of attention in scientific circles.
From 1936 to 1938 he worked at the University of Princeton where he worked on theories of using electromagnetic relays to multiply binary numbers, and gained his PhD, as well as publishing various scientific papers on logic, algebra and number theory. As the prospect of war with Germany loomed he turned his attention to the study of ciphers and codes. In 1939 he returned to Cambridge and began work on the German Enigma cipher problem, devising the so-called "Bombe" machine for Enigma decryption.
On the outbreak of war he was moved in September 1939 to Bletchley Park, and took up full-time work on analysis of codes and code-breaking. By 1942 his machines were effectively breaking German U-boat codes, saving many lives in the Battle of the Atlantic.

In 1948, Turing worked at Manchester University, developing further his work on programming and world's first serious use of a computer, as well as publishing numerous philosophical papers on machine intelligence. In 1951 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Turing was also a homosexual. At the age of 41 he was arrested in Manchester on a charge of indecency, and tried as a homosexual, (at that time a criminal offence in the United Kingdom), with ensuing loss of all security clearances, and was thus prevented from completing, or even having access to his own work in biology and physics. The court also ordered that he undergo "chemical therapy" for his condition (ie. his homosexuality) - a course of libido suppressing hormone drugs.
Tragically, he committed suicide by cyanide poisoning on 7th June 1954 at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire. Earlier that year he had been appointed to the Readership in the Theory of Computing at Manchester University.
He is best remembered as the tragic genius who laid the foundation for the modern theory of artificial intelligence and as one of our greatest code-breakers who was instrumental in cracking the Nazi Enigma Machine during the Second World War.
Alan Turing Way at Eastlands which runs between the City of Manchester Stadium and the National Velodrome is named after him.

In September 2009 Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a public apology on behalf of the British Government for the harsh and inhumane treatment to which Alan Turing had been subjected.

Sir Bernard Lovell

Sir Bernard Lovell

Sir Bernard Lovell was the celebrated Professor of Radio Astronomy at Manchester University and Director of Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope from 1951-1980. The world's first radar transmitter and receiver was installed by Lovell at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, in December 1945.
Initially, Doctor Lovell, (as he then was), had installed ex-Second World War military radar equipment at the University's botanical research station in the Cheshire countryside, but, by the late 1940s he had already conceived the idea of a steerable radio telescope. Construction of the 250 foot diameter parabolic reflecting bowl began in October 1952 and the telescope entered service in August 1957. Later, in October 1957, it was also involved in tracking the Soviet Union's (and the world's first) 'Sputnik' artificial satellite. Subsequently, Jodrell Bank has been involved in innumerable astronomical and space research projects. Initially the telescope was known simply the 'Mark 1A'. It still remains one of the largest steerable radio telescopes in the world today.

The development of astronomy at Jodrell Bank really stems from Lovell's very small and modest installations, though the observatory has now grown to a total of eight telescopes, including the MERLIN array of smaller telescopes distributed over England. Work initially concentrated on the behaviour of meteors, but gradually shifted to cosmic radio waves emanating from deep space. This was to dominate the activities at Jodrell Bank, and established radio astronomy as a revolutionary and viable method of investigating the universe. Before Jodrell Bank, astronomers had worked almost entirely within the visible light spectrum, and what could actually be seen with the naked eye. This was Lovell's main claim to fame - that he pioneered radio astronomy and made it a feasible method of space observation and exploration.
As a result of this important and costly work, most of the cost of the radio telescope was met by Lord Nuffield and the observatory was later renamed the Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories. The Mark I is now known as the Lovell Telescope, in honour of Sir Bernard Lovell.

Edmund Cartwright

Edmund Cartwright

Edmund Cartwright was born in Nottingham in 1743, into a fairly wealthy land owning family. His brother John was to go on to be a famous parliamentary reformer, but Edmund chose religion, and became rector of a church in Leicestershire. Although, so far as is known, he never ever came to Manchester, his invention of the power loom was to fundamentally influence the development of industrialisation in the city by the beginning of the 19th century.
It began when Cartwright visited Richard Arkwright's factory in 1784, and was inspired by what he saw of Arkwright's mechanised factory systems; he immediately started work on developing a machine that could improve the speed and quality of weaving. With the help of a carpenter and a blacksmith he produced his first working power loom. It performed rather poorly - nevertheless, he took out a patent for his machine in 1785.
By 1787 he had opened a weaving mill in Doncaster and had soon installed looms driven by the radical new steam powered engines produced by Watt and Boulton. Practically all the processes in the production of weaving were now be performed mechanically. The main task of the weavers employed by Cartwright was repairing broken threads on the machine. Problems ironed out, eventually Cartwright's power looms performed well.

But he was no businessman and was eventually declared bankrupt. Disappointed but not disheartened, Cartwright turned to new projects - between 1790 and 1797 he took out patents for a wool-combing machine and an alcohol engine. In 1799 four hundred of Cartwright's power looms we purchased by a Manchester company; despite the factory burning to the ground, probably as a result of arson carried out by Luddite workers who feared losing their jobs, the power loom had arrived, and was to be instrumental in the rise of Manchester as a major textile producing City.
Other local manufacturers were dissuaded for a time from buying Cartwright's machines, but in the fullness of time their advantages were self-evident and the power loom was here to stay.
By the early 19th century, most factories in the region were using a modified version of Cartwright's power loom, despite the patent on his invention, and he applied to Parliament for compensation. MPs such as future Prime Minister and local Bury mill-owner, Sir Robert Peel, had already made a great deal of money from the modified power loom, and there was general support for Cartwright's claim. In 1809 Parliament granted Cartwright the sum of �10,000 in compensation for his loss of earnings through theft of his idea. He went on to retire to a farm in Kent where he died in 1823.

Charles Macintosh

Charles Macintosh, rubberised waterproof fabrics

Charles Macintosh was born in 1766 in Scotland. By 1777 his father had set up a factory in Dennistoun to manufacture a material called "cudbear", a violet-red dying powder.
From the outset, Macintosh inherited a strong interest in chemistry. In his middle age, in 1818, he discovered how to produce dissolved India rubber from coal gas. By joining two sheets of fabric together with this new rubber solution, he had invented a new material that was waterproof.
In the 1820s Macintosh had gone into partnership with Hugh Birley, a cotton manufacturer from Manchester. During this time he had developed his revolutionary waterproof material and later went into business with Thomas Hancock. By 1824, with Hancock, he had resolved all outstanding problems and to develop a viable manufacturing process for the production of waterproofed sheets and coats. His new rainproof coat became known as a "Macintosh", or simply a "Mack".
In 1834 he founded a waterproofing company in Glasgow, but because of intense opposition from local tailors, who were unhappy about the new material, he moved to Hulme in Manchester where he established a factory in 1840 to exploit the material further. The factory is now owned by the Dunlop Rubber Company.
Although Macintosh is best remembered for his raincoats, he was also a brilliant chemist with achievements in many other fields, including the invention of new bleaching powders, as well as working with James Neilson to develop a hot-blast process to produce high quality cast iron. He also established the first Scottish alum works. Macintosh died in 1843.

Sir Henry Roscoe

Sir Henry Roscoe

Henry Enfield Roscoe was to become Professor of Chemistry at Owens College, later to become the University of Manchester, from 1857 to 1886, and built the first ever practical chemistry laboratory in Britain. Also at one time he was elected Liberal MP for South Manchester.
The present University School of Pharmacy contains the laboratory in which he first isolated the element 23 - Vanadium in 1865. In 1858 Roscoe also reputedly produced the world's first flashlight photograph. The Roscoe Medal, commemorating this distinguished Victorian chemist is awarded for outstanding contributions to and excellence in Chemistry in the UK.
Roscoe believed that students should be given "a careful and complete general training". In his presidential address before the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1884, he stated that his students would be given "as sound and extensive a foundation in the theory and practice of chemical science as their time and abilities will allow." Roscoe was a Fellow of the Royal Society. The University's Roscoe Building is named after him.

Patrick Steptoe & Dr Robert Edwards

Doctor Patrick Steptoe, Oldham gynaecologist
Patrick Steptoe
Dr Robert Edwards, Cambridge University physiologist
Dr Robert Edwards

Patrick Steptoe was the Oldham Royal Hospital gynaecologist, who, together with Cambridge physiologists Dr Robert Edwards and Doctor Barry Bavister, with a research team from Cambridge University, succeeded in producing the world's first ever 'test tube' baby, Louise Joy Brown, on 25 July 1978.
Baby Louise, hailed at that time as "a miracle baby", was born to mother Lesley Brown of Bristol, who, like many other infertile women at the time, had little hope of ever conceiving naturally.
Louise, a perfectly normal baby, weighed 5lb 12 oz at birth by Caesarian section in a groundbreaking procedure. She, and Dr Steptoe were the subject of an hour long television documentary which was seen by 400 million people world-wide. Baby Louise also had the distinction of having a Royal Mail commemorative stamp being struck to mark her birth.
Steptoe's pioneering IVF procedures were to make possible thousands of births to otherwise childless couples throughout the world, and is widely held to be one of the most important scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century. Doctor Edwards died in the spring of 2013.

Sir James Chadwick

Sir James Chadwick

Born on the 20 October 1891 in Bollington, Cheshire, the son of John Joseph Chadwick and Ann Mary Knowles, he attended the Manchester High School and in 1908 entered Owens College (now the University of Manchester). He graduated from the Honours School of Physics in 1911 with an MSc and in 1921 was awarded a PhD at Trinity College, Cambridge.
After 2 years working with Professor Ernest Rutherford in Manchester, in 1913 he was recommended for a research scholarship at Reichsanstalt in Berlin to work with Hans Geiger. This resulted in his internment during the First World War as a potential security threat. After the war, in 1919, he returned to England to work at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, and was destined to eventually became its director.
In 1925, he married Aileen Stewart-Brown of Liverpool. They had twin daughters, and the family lived in Denbigh, North Wales. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1927, and was awarded the Royal Medal of Royal Society in 1928.

In 1930 working with Bothe and the Joliot-Curies, Chadwick identified a neutral particle, the so-called 'neutron'. This discovery subsequently lead to the development of the nuclear fission process. That same year he also jointly published "Radiation from Radioactive Substances" with Ellis and Geiger. In 1935 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.
Chadwick remained at Cambridge until 1935 when he was elected to the Lyon Jones Chair of Physics at the University of Liverpool where he initiated an accelerator programme. From 1943-1946 he headed the British Mission to the Los Alamos atomic weapons project, and he was knighted in 1945. He went on to become master of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. From 1957 to 1962 he was a part-time member of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. He retired in 1959 and died on the 22 November 1974 at Cambridge.

Lawrence Earnshaw

(c.1707 - 1767)
Lawrence Earnshaw, born into a weaving family at Mottram Moor some time around 1707, is perhaps, undeservedly, one of the least remembered of local celebrities. He spent much of his adult life inventing ingenious machines, yet died in relative obscurity.
Despite having no formal education, from a young age he was showing a curiosity and interest in clock mechanisms and other machines. He began his working life as an apprentice to a local tailor - a position he maintained for eleven years, while developing an impressively wide range of other skills, including engraving, painting, making optical instruments and sundials, tuning violins and harpsichords, gun making, bell founding and coffin-making. But of all these, it was clock-making that held his interest most, and he specialised in creating many long case clocks, culminating in his greatest achievement, an astronomical clock. For this he made all the calculations, and spent over seven years in its creation, despite continuing money problems. Finally, the finished timepiece was sold to the Earl of Bute for the sum of £150. One of Earnshaw's clocks still survives in Mottram Court.
Around 1753 he invented a machine to spin and weave cotton, but, more of an inventor than businessman, and awe-struck by the speed and efficiency of his invention, he soon after destroyed it, believing that it would cause widespread unemployment and hardship among local spinners and weavers. Thus his machine disappeared into obscurity and Earnshaw failed to achieve either the fame or wealth which he undoubtedly would have earned from the invention.
Lawrence Earnshaw died on the 12th May 1767 and is buried in St Michael's churchyard in Mottram in an unmarked grave. The local parish record shows an entry for his death, describing him as an "...ingenious man of Mottram".A Blue Plaque erected on the Court House in Mottram marks his achievements.


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This page last updated 21 Jan 12.