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Volume 48, 1987.

FORD, Brian J(ohn)

PERSONAL: Born in Chippenham, Wiltshire, England. Son of William John Ford (a chartered engineer, designer and company director) and Cicely Beryl Pryn (Biddick) Ford; married to Janice May Smith (a former high school governor). Children: Anthony John, Stuart Pryn, Sarah Rose Pryn, Tamsin Emily May, (foster-children) Leigh Roy Mills, Timothy James Havard. Education: Attended Cardiff University 1959-1961. Office: Department of Zoology, P.O. Box 78, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF1, Wales, United Kingdom.

CAREER: Scientist, writer and television host. Medical Research Council, Wales, staff member 1958-59; South Wales Echo, Cardiff, Wales, science columnist 1959-62; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), radio and television broadcaster, 1962-; Medical Development Trust, London, England, science consultant 1962-63; College of Art and Design, Newport, England, lecturer in science and technology studies 1965-67; Independent Television system, Bristol, England, and Cardiff, Wales, science telecaster 1965-67; Chairman of "Where Are you Taking Us?" series, 1973-74; founder and chairman of series "Science Now", BBC, 1975-76; director and presenter of documentary film "The Fund", 1976; presentere of television series "Food for Thought", Channel Four TV (London) 1984-86; and personal documentary series "Jensheits das Kanals," West German TV, 1985; hosts television game show "Computer Challenge," BBC Wales. Consulting editor, Northwood Publishing, and editor Voice of British Industry, London, both 1967-68.

Visiting lecturer, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, British Coincil, 1978. University of Cardiff, Wales, member of Court of Governors 1981-, fellow 1986-, Executive Member of Broadcasting Committee, London, 1982-83.


MEMBER: International Society of Protozoologists; European Academy for Science, Arts and Humanities (foreign member); Royal Society of Health; Royal Microscopical Society; British Interplanetary Society; Institute of Biology; Quekett Microscopical Club; Association of British Science Writers (executive board member 1983-86); European Union of Science Journalists' Associations (president 1984-); Scientific and Technical Authors' Committee (chairman 1986-); Society of Authors; Society for Basic Irrerproducible Reserarch (honorary member); British Broadcasting Corporation Club, National Book League (council member); Architecture Club; Arts Club; Savage Club (chairman of entertainments 1986-); Linnean Society of London (fellow). Awards, honors: Nominated by BBC for Italia Prize, 1974, for BBC program "Heart Attack"; Microbe Power was selected one of the New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age, 1980, 1981, 1982; holder of the Kodak Bursary Award, 1981-83; grants from the Royal Society, 1982-84; the Spencer-Tolles Fund, 1982; the Appleyard Trust of the Linnean Society, 1983; the Botanical Research Fund, 1985; the Linnean Society, 1986; the Leverhulme Foundation, 1986-87.

WRITINGS: (editor) Science Diary, Letts, 1967; 13th edn 1979; German Secret Weapons - Blueprint for Mars, Ballantine, 1969; Allied Secret Weapons: The War of Science, Ballantine, 1970, Microbiology and Food, Northwood, 1970, Nonscience and the Pseudotransmogrificationalific Egocentrified Proclivities Inherently Intracorporated In Expertistical Cerebrointellectualised Redeploymentation with Special Reference to Quasi-Notional Fashionistic Normativity, The Indoctrinationalistic Methodological Modalities and Scalar Socio-Economic Promulgationary Improvementalisationalism Predelineated Positotaxically Toward Individualistified Mass-Acceptance Gratificationalistic Securipermanentalisationary Professionism, or How To Rule The World, (scientific satire), Wolfe, 1971, The Optical Microscope Manual: Past and Present Uses and Techniques, David and Charles, 1973, The Earth Watchers, Leslie Frewin, 1973, The Revealing Lens: Mankind and the Microscope, Harrap, 1973, Microbe Power - Tomorrow's Revolution, Stein and Day, 1976, Patterns of Sex - the Mating Urge and our Sexual Future, Macdonald and Jane’s, 1979, The Cult of the Expert, 1982, One hundred and one questions about Science, Hamish Hamilton, 1983; with others, Viral Pollution of the Environment, Boca Raton, 1983, One hundreed and one more Questions About Science, 1984, Hamish Hamilton, Single Lens, the Story of the Simple Microscope, William Heinemann, 1985, Compute; How, Where, Why ... Do you really Need To?, Hamish Hamilton, 1985; with others, Sex and your health, Mitchell Beazley, 1985, The Food Book, Hamish Hamilton, 1986.

Contributor to Purnell's History of Second World War, 1967-68, World Book Encyclopedia, and International Yearbook of Science and Technology. Contributor to columns in The Listener and Mensa Journal. Research papers published in many journals, including Journal of Microscopy, New Scientist, British Medical Journal, Transactions of American Microscopical Society, Radiography, Journal of Biological Education, Microscope, Nature and La Recherche.

Picture of BRIAN J. FORD

Contributor to articles in Science Digest, Times (London), Technology Review (USA), Vous Saurez Tous, Medical News, New Knowledge, Mind Alive, Observer, Private Eye, Guardian, and many other international publications. Editor: Science Diary, 1967-80; Know Britain, 1969-70; and Broadcasting Bulletin, 1983; book critic New Scientist 1970-72.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Books on his scientific work; a series of the television show "Computer Challenge" and of personal documentaries for German television; a book on coastal walks in Britain; laboratory research.

SIDELIGHTS: Ford, a descendant of the inventor/scientist Sir James Watt, is a British biologist who works in London, Brussels and New York. His books used by children include One hundred and one questions about Science and One hundreed and one more Questions About Science. He was also a member of the BBC series "Dial a Scientist". His research work has often been cirted in standard teaching works in the United States and elsewhere. His papers on biohazard law laid down the modern requirements of international law; his book Microbe Power - Tomorrow's Revolution had a profound effect on the launch of the biotechnology era.

   His discovery of the world's oldest microscopical specimens (which was featured in his book Single Lens) has altered our view of science history. More recently, he launched a new theory on plant metabolism at the 1986 Inter-Micro meeting in Chicago, Illinois, on which he is presently working. He has also been a prolific solver of mysteries, and has worked on forensic matters in the courts of law.

Ford's writing career began with his desire to communicate science. "I had always wanted to help with the communication of science to the people. My first articles were written when I was nineteen, and they werec published when I realised that I would need extra money to see my way through college. It was the editor of the newspaper the South Wales Echo who gave me the break - and there I was, a science columnist at twenty. I also played rhythm and blues in a rock band and later had a solo spot at a nightclub. I have even played rhythm and blues on radio and television - and still go to as many gigs as I can manage."

"Telling non-specialists about scientific research is a sure way to test your own comprehension."

Picture from Single Lens, the Story of the Simple Microscope, by Brian J. Ford. Photograph by Jaap Stolp.

"I find it easier to write a research paper fore a specialist journal than to translate it into terms that the layman can grasp. But it is an important task. We imagine that we have a gap between scientists on one hand and the public on the other. In fact, the gap is between one specialist and another. It is true that the taxi-driver or the architect may not understand the ramifications of molecular biology, but neither does the astronomer, the hematologist or the nuclear physicist. We need to talk to each other, and to embrace the culture of the public."

Ford is a devoted family man, he and his wife are registered foster parents, and, for all his international work, he maintains close family contacts. His offspring accompany him as often as possible, and travelling is clearly in the blood. three of the children, now grown-up, live in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, London, England, and St. Tropez, France. Jet-setting between his busy professional schedule and the various branches of the family keeps them all busy.

Ford maintains a well-equipped private laboratory for his own study at his home in Wales. The children were all brought up to be familiar with microscopes from an early age. He commutes to work in London in the 125 m.p.h streamlined train that runs between the two capital cities.

  "It takes me an hour and forty-five minutes to travel from Cardiff to London," he says, "and when I spent my formative years in North London, it often took as long as that to get home. Now we live near the sea and the mountains, yet still handy for the London West End."

Some of Ford's writings have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Russian, French, Italian, Portgugese, German and Spanish.

HOBBIES AND OTHER INTERESTS: Travel (Europe, United States, Soviet Union, India, Southeast Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Pacific Islands), photography (some of his scientific photographs have won prizes in major competitions), rock and roll, relaxing "with the family, on or under the ocean, celebrating the intoxicating experience of life."

MORE INFORMATION: Mensa Journal, 115, 1968, Medical News, October 18, 1968, Times (London), September 17, 1971; October 24, 1971; March 17, 1973; March 25, 1973; April 7, 1973; January 15, 1984; Irish Press, October 30, 1971, Nature, December 3, 1971; February, 8, 1974; August 16, 1974; April 25, 1985; Punch, May 9, 1973; July 28, 1976, Times Literary Supplement, December 10, 1976; Discover, 2 (10), 1981; Scientific American, 246 (1), 1982; 253 (1), 1985; Science Digest, March, 1982; New Scientist, January 20, 1983; March 7, 1985; Sunday Express, July 1, 1984; Mensa, January 1985, June 1986; Washington Times, April 29, 1985.


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