Brian J. Ford

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Brian J. Ford
Born 1939 (age 74–75)
Corsham, Wiltshire, England, UK
Nationality British
Occupation Scientist, author and broadcaster

Brian J. Ford (born 1939 in Corsham, Wiltshire[1]) is an independent research biologist, author, and lecturer, who publishes on scientific issues for the general public. He has also been a television personality for more than 40 years.

Education[edit]

Ford attended the King's School, Peterborough, and then Cardiff University between 1959 and 1961, and left after graduating to set up his own multi-disciplinary laboratory.

Work[edit]

Ford has campaigned on the mis-use of forensic data in courts[2] and the misuse of dangerous germs[vague], which have resulted in new laws being passed.[citation needed] Ford's current research interests include e-learning,[3][4] for which he is based at the University of Leicester.

Ford's other publications range from microbial research[5] and elucidating newly threatening infections[6] to examining scientists' dissatisfaction with their lot.[7] Other areas of his interests are the invention of a space microscope commissioned by Brunel University, to be used by European Space Agency[citation needed], safety of the water supply[8] and the rising incidence of head lice[9] and bed bugs,[10] his discovery of new phenomena in blood coagulation,[11] the of plants excretory mechanisms of plants[12] and investigations of the 'ingenuity' of living cells[13] that alter our understanding of the living cell. Ford's proposal for biohazard legislation led to supportive articles in Nature and The Times and has led to the introduction of worldwide biohazard controls.[14][15]

He has written papers on the development of science, such as an essay on scientific illustration[16] and an 18,000-word essay on scientific publishing in the 18th century.[17] One of his best known discoveries is the original specimens of Antony van Leeuwenhoek. They were sent to the Royal Society of London in the 17th century and remained there until 1981 when Ford found the Leeeuwenhoek specimens hidden in the letters[18][19][20] and he then submitted them to extensive microscopical examination using both old and new microscopes.

His scientific papers on the development of science are often remarkably detailed, notably an essay on scientific illustration and an extraordinary 18,000-word essay on scientific publishing in the 18th century which is the definitive source for academics.

Ford has been active in diplomacy and politics, travels extensively and acts as a conference speaker and lecturer. He has also written for The Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard, also writing for journals including the British Medical Journal, Nature, and Scientific American. As a student he had a weekly science column on the South Wales Echo and has since contributed columns for the Mensa Magazine, Boz magazine, The Listener and The Guardian.

Ford has been a guest on the BBC's Round Britain Quiz where he partnered Lady Antonia Fraser, and Any Questions?, presented the radio shows Science Now, Where Are You Taking Us? and Kaleidoscope, and was a founder-member of Start the Week on BBC Radio 4 with Esther Rantzen and Richard Baker (broadcaster).

Many of his programmes involve proffering unrehearsed answers to the public on scientific topics, as on the Cliff Michelmore series Whatever you think (BBC) and Science Hour with Clive Bull ( for LBC). On television he hosted a game show Computer Challenge and the documentary series Food for Thought in Britain and Jensheits das Kanals in Germany. His recent TV appearances include presenting The Man Behind the da Vinci Code and featuring in Weird Weapons of World War II, based on his two books about the Second World War (see below).

In addition to scientific research and academic lectures, Ford lectures extensively to general audiences, in the form of one-man shows on current scientific issues. A long-time science newspaper and magazine columnist, Ford's books have been published in more than 100 editions in many countries.

Fellowships[edit]

Ford is a Fellow of Cardiff University,[citation needed] Member of Gonville and Caius College,[21] University of Cambridge, an Honorary member of Keynes College, University of Kent, former Fellow at the Open University[22] and Visiting Professor at the University of Leicester.[23]

Ford is a Fellow of the Linnean Society, serving as a member of their council as their Zoological Secretary and is their honorary surveyor of scientific instruments. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Biology, a former member of their council and chairman of their history network. Ford edited the book Institute of Biology: The First Fifty Years which is devoted to the history of this Institute.[24]

He is a Fellow of Cambridge Philosophical Society and has lectured to all the above mentioned bodies. In 2004 he was awarded a Fellowship by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and Art, NESTA (London).

Ford is a Fellow of Cardiff University and is the President of the Association of Past Students. Ford is also a Member of the university court.[citation needed]

Other positions[edit]

He was the first British President of the European Union of Science Journalists' Associations,[citation needed] founding Chairman of the Science and Technology Authors Committee at the Society of Authors,[citation needed] and the president of the Society for the Application of Research (SAR) in Cambridge.[25] Ford has been a member of Mensa and was a director of British Mensa from 1993–1997, resigning a few months after being elected for a second term.[26][27] He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society in the 1960s.

Entertainer[edit]

Ford's first television appearances included playing boogie piano on "Donald Peers Presents", from Cardiff, Wales. Also in the show was the first appearance of Thomas Woodward, later known as Tom Jones.

Ford is a popular celebrity speaker on cruise ships including the Cunard Line ship RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 and for Seabourn Cruise Line has spoken aboard the Seabourn Spirit. He is a guest of P&O Cruises on vessels such as MV Aurora and the Arcadia (cruise ship); for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines on the Black Watch and Braemar (ship); aboard the Regatta on Oceania Cruises, and for Celebrity Cruises among many others. His presentations are dynamic and largely extemporised.

One characteristic manifestation of Ford's iconoclastic streak is displayed in the title of one of his books, which he intentionally gave the longest and most complex title in English-language publishing history: Nonscience and the Pseudotransmogrificationalific Egocentrified Reorientational 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, London: Wolfe Publishing (ISBN 0-7234-0449-6). The point of the sesquipedalian title was to poke fun at those who conceal their lack of real expertise by using long and complicated words, whilst making the serious point that more people are fooled by these so-called experts than really should be. The book is commonly referred to simply as Nonscience, which is itself a play on nonsense.

Also worthy of note is that Ford has also been a rock & roll keyboards player. He played with guitarist Dave Edmunds and has occasionally performed in recent years. Ford has been active in the diplomatic and political world and is a trained marksman. He can pilot aeroplanes, ski and scuba-dive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

Controversy[edit]

2012 Aquatic Dinosaur “Hypothesis”[edit]

The April issue of 2012 of Laboratory News contained an article that has caused paleontologists and other geoscientists to question the scientific integrity of the publication.[28][29] The article by, written by Brian J. Ford puts forward the idea that all large dinosaurs were aquatic. Ford—a microbiologist—lacked any training in paleontology, and more importantly had not presented any quantitative evidence in support of his idea.[30] Nevertheless, the idea has been uncritically embraced by some elements of the popular press, including BBC Four, Daily Mail, Sky News Australia, Times of India, the Daily Telegraph, Top News, Cambridge News, Metro and IB Times.[31][32] These publications have framed Dr. Ford’s hypothesis as if it were a new idea and a subject of debate among paleontologists, when the idea of aquatic dinosaurs was considered nearly a century ago, and rejected after careful research forty years ago.[33][34][35] Threatened by the critical scrutiny, Ford later wrote a piece in his regular opinion column in the microscopy journal, The Microscope, attempting to defend his hypothesis while comparing himself to Galileo.[36] Again, Ford never provided any evidence in support of his claim and relied largely upon study of the cells of extant species and criticisms of the portrayal of dinosaurs in popular media. When challenged by paleontologists, Ford did not provide any evidence supporting his claim and relied on the premise of an implied conspiracy by recognised and peer reviewed journals.[37]

Bibliography[edit]

Books
As co-author
  • "The recovery, removal, and reconstruction of human skeletal remains, some new techniques", chapter in Field manual for museums. Paris, UNESCO, 1970.
  • "Récuperation, enlèvement et reconstitution des ossements", chapter in Musées et recherches sur le terrain. Paris, UNESCO, 1970.
  • Brian J Ford explains why he considers Cardiff the most unappreciated city in the world, chapter in The Cardiff book, ISBN 0-900807-05-9. Barry: Stewart Williams Publishers, 1973.
  • "Discharge to the environment of viruses in wastewater, sludges and aerosols", chapter with JS Slade in Viral pollution of the environment, ed: G Berg, ISBN 0-8493-6245-8. Boca Raton, CRC Press, 1983.
  • "Sexually transmitted diseases", chapter in Sex and Your Health ed J Bevan, ISBN 0-85533-571-8. London, Mitchell Beazley, 1985.
  • "Las Enfermedades de Transmisión Sexual y Otras que las Imitan", chapter in El Sexo y la Salud ed J Bevan, ISBN 84-320-4570-5. Barcelona, Editorial Planeta, 1985.
  • "Exploring South Wales", chapter in Walking in Britain, ed J. Hillaby, ISBN 0-00-412272-0. London: William Collins, 1988.
  • Anecdote about Charles Bennett, with others including Edwina Currie, David Frost, Neil Kinnock, Jeffrey Archer and Humphrey Lyttelton, in Yours Truly - true life stories from the good and the great, ed A Frank. St. Peter Port, The Guernsey press, 1990.
  • "Sexually transmissible diseases and their mimics", chapter in Sex and Your health, ed J Bevan. London, Mandarin Books, 1990.
  • Robert Hooke, an introduction to Hooke's Micrographia, commentary on CD-ROM edition of Micrographia, 1665 ISBN 1-891788-02-7. Palo Alto, Octavo, 1998.
  • "Witnessing the birth of the microscope", photoessay in Millennium yearbook of science and the future, ISBN 0-85229-703-3. Chicago, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2000.
  • "Eighteenth-century scientific publishing", chapter in Scientific books, libraries and collectors, ISBN 1-85928-233-4. London, Thornton & Tully, 2000.
  • "Scientific Illustration", chapter in vol 4 of The Cambridge history of science, ed R Porter ISBN 0-521-57243-6. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  • "Hidden secrets in the Royal Society archive", chapter 3 in Biological collections and biodiversity, eds BS Rushton, P Hackney and CR Tyrie, ISBN 1-84103-005-8. Otley, Westbury Academic and Scientific Publishing, 2001.
  • "Trouble on the hoof, disease outbreaks in Europe," chapter in 2002 book of the year, ISBN 0-85229-812-9. Chicago, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2002.
  • "Human behaviour and the changing pattern of disease", chapter in The changing face of disease, implications for society, ISBN 0-415-32280-4. London and Boca Raton, CRC Press, 2004.
  • "What Next After SARS?" (Severe acute respiratory syndrome), chapter in 2004 book of the year, ISBN 0-85229-812-9. Chicago, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2004.
  • "Bird flu, the next pandemic?", chapter in 2006 book of the year, ISBN 1-59339-291-5. Chicago, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2006.
As editor

References[edit]

  1. ^ GRO Register of Births: JUN 1939 5a 88 CHIPPENHAM - Brian J. Ford
  2. ^ Laboratory News p 20, 8 July 1991
  3. ^ Laboratory News p 16, January 12, 2006
  4. ^ Times Higher Education Supplement p 2, November 18, 2005
  5. ^ The Microscope vol 52:3/4 pp 135-144 2004
  6. ^ The Microscope vol 51:4 pp 209-220 2003
  7. ^ New Scientist vol 145 p 11, March 18, 1995
  8. ^ 'Merely going through the seaside motions', The Guardian p 23, August 17, 1991
  9. ^ 'Pediculus, bug with a lousy image', Sunday Times, November 14, 1971
  10. ^ InFocus magazine pp 6-14, September 3, 2006
  11. ^ Clinical Laboratory International vol 30(5) pp 12-13, September 2006
  12. ^ Journal of Biological Education vol 20(4) pp 251-254 1986
  13. ^ Biologist magazine vol 53(4) pp 221-224
  14. ^ The Revealing Lens, published by Harrap, pp 201-202
  15. ^ 'Call for law to control laboratory poisons', The Times, September 17, 1971
  16. ^ Chapter 24 'Scientific Illustration', Cambridge History of Science (ed: Roy Porter) vol 4 The Eighteenth Century, Cambridge University Press, 2001
  17. ^ 'Eighteenth Century Publishing', chapter for Scientific Books, Libraries and Collections, published by Thornton and Tully
  18. ^ Biology History vol 5(3), December 1992
  19. ^ The Microscope vol 43(2) pp 47-57
  20. ^ Spektrum der Wissenschaft pp 68-71, June 1998
  21. ^ McCrone Research Institute (McRI) - Chicago, IL
  22. ^ The Royal Literary Fund
  23. ^ University of Leicester - Leicester Professor elected at Cambridge
  24. ^ Institute of Biology: The First Fifty Years, Institute of Biology, ISBN 0-900490-37-3
  25. ^ "Society for the Application of Research.". 
  26. ^ "Mensa Elections", p.4, Mensa Magazine October 1993
  27. ^ "Musical Chairs", p.4, Mensa Magazine March 1998
  28. ^ http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/dinosaur/2012/04/aquatic-dinosaurs-not-so-fast/
  29. ^ http://skeletaldrawing.blogspot.com/2012/04/when-journalists-attack.html
  30. ^ http://www.labnews.co.uk/features/prehistoric-revolution-2/
  31. ^ Cohen, Tamara (April 3, 2012). "Dinosaurs DIDN'T rule the earth: The huge creatures 'actually lived in water' - and their tails were swimming aids". Daily Mail (London). 
  32. ^ "Aquatic dinosaur theory debated". BBC News. April 3, 2012. 
  33. ^ Sauropoda#Ecology
  34. ^ Henderson, D.M. (2004). "Tipsy punters: sauropod dinosaur pneumaticity, buoyancy and aquatic habits." Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 71: S180–S183. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2003.0136
  35. ^ Kermack, K.A. (1951). "A note on the habits of sauropods". Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 4: 830–832.
  36. ^ Ford, B.A. (2012). "Aquatic Dinosaurs Under the Lens". The Microscope. 60:3: 123-131
  37. ^ Hay, W.W, Henderson, D.M, and Ford B.J. (2012). "Letters to the Editor". The Microscope. 60:4: 179-180

External links[edit]