David E. H. Jones

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David E. H. Jones
ChemicalGardenInspection (4298635010).jpg
Dr Jones inspects the container for his chemical garden which NASA flew into space
David Edward Hugh Jones

(1938-04-20)20 April 1938
Southwark, London, England
Died19 July 2017(2017-07-19) (aged 79)
Newcastle upon Tyne, England, UK
Alma materImperial College
Known forDaedalus, DREADCO, prediction of fullerenes, arsenic in Napoleon's wallpaper, chemical gardens in space, stability of the bicycle, fake perpetual motion machines, 3D printing
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Newcastle upon Tyne

David Edward Hugh Jones (20 April 1938 – 19 July 2017) was a British chemist and author, under the pen name Daedalus, the fictional inventor for DREADCO. Jones' columns as Daedalus were published for 38 years, starting weekly in 1964 in New Scientist. He then moved on to the journal Nature, and continued to publish until 2002. Columns from these magazines, along with additional comments and implementation sketches, were collected in two books: The Inventions of Daedalus: A Compendium of Plausible Schemes (1982) and The Further Inventions of Daedalus (1999).

Dr Jones shows some cartoon frames from a cardboard animation device he built as a boy
Dr Jones shows some cartoon frames from a cardboard animation device he built as a boy
Dr Jones reflected in a set of mirrors he positioned to emulate Archimedes mirror attack on ships in Syracuse
Dr Jones reflected in a set of mirrors he positioned to emulate Archimedes mirror attack on ships in Syracuse

He was born on 20 April 1938, in Southwark, London. His father, Philip, was an advertising copywriter. His mother was Dorothea, née Sitters.[1] He attended Crofton Primary School in Orpington, Kent, and then Eltham College.[2] David Jones' professional training was as a chemist. In 1962, he graduated in chemistry and completed a PhD in organic chemistry from Imperial College London. He worked for a year for a company specialising in the design on laboratory equipment and then as a post-doctoral fellow at Imperial where he worked on infrared spectroscopy and he began his column for New Scientist.[2] In 1967 he took up a post as an assistant lecturer at the University of Strathclyde. After one year he moved to Runcorn where he worked as a research scientist in spectroscopy for Imperial Chemical Industries.[1] In 1974, he became the Sir James Knott Research Fellow at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He then became an independent science consultant to industry providing ideas, brain storming services, and scientific demonstrations for television.

Some of his Daedalus inventions proved practical; about one-fifth of them were seriously proposed or even patented by others.[2] His most notable scientific contribution as Daedalus was possibly his 1966 prediction of hollow carbon molecules[3] before buckminsterfullerene was made,[4] and long before its synthesizers won a Nobel prize for the discovery of fullerenes.[5] It is often claimed that the invention of 3D printing was in 1984 by Chuck Hull, but Jones in his Daedalus persona laid out the concept in New Scientist in 1974,[6] 10 years earlier.[7] He was an early proposer of a space elevator (1964) and of archaeoacoustics (1969).

Beyond Daedalus, in scientific circles he is known for his study of bicycle stability,[8] his determination of arsenic in Napoleon’s wallpaper,[9] and for having designed and flown on the Space Shuttle a microgravity experiment[10] to grow a chemical garden.[11]

He is also known for his series of fake perpetual-motion machines, the latest of which is in the Technisches Museum, Vienna. In 2009 a documentary film about his work and inventions, Perpetual Motion Machine,[12] was made and shown at the Newcastle Science Festival 2010.[13]

He was known in Germany as a regular guest on the 1980s TV science quiz show Kopf um Kopf (Head to Head), presenting interesting physics experiments.[14]

In 1972 he married Jane Burgess but the marriage only lasted one year. He had a long relationship with the artist Naomi Hunt.[2] His only immediate survivor is his brother, Peter Vaughan Jones, who said Jones died of complications of prostate cancer on 19 July 2017.[15][1]


  • The Inventions of Daedalus: A Compendium of Plausible Schemes, (1982) W. H. Freeman ; ISBN 0-7167-1412-4
  • The Further Inventions of Daedalus, (1999) Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-850469-1
  • The Aha! Moment: A Scientist's Take on Creativity (2011) Johns Hopkins University Press ISBN 978-1421403311
  • Why Are We Conscious?: A Scientist's Take on Consciousness and Extrasensory Perception (2017) CRC Press ISBN 1351681311,ISBN 9781351681315


  1. ^ a b c Sam Roberts (30 July 2017). "David E.H. Jones, Scientist Whose Alter Ego Challenged Conventions, Dies at 79". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d "Obituaries". The Times: 41. 7 August 2017.
  3. ^ Jones, David E. H. (1966). "Hollow molecules". New Scientist (32): 245.
  4. ^ Jones, D. E. H.; Wasserman, E.; Applewhite, E. J.; Kroto, H. W.; Iijima, S.; Haddon, R. C.; Pillinger, C. T. (1993). "Dreams in a Charcoal Fire: Predictions about Giant Fullerenes and Graphite Nanotubes [and Discussion]". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 343 (1667): 9–18. Bibcode:1993RSPTA.343....9J. doi:10.1098/rsta.1993.0036. ISSN 1364-503X.
  5. ^ "David Jones, British chemist and 'court jester in the palace of science,' dies at 79". The Washington Post. 31 July 2017. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  6. ^ https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=nvabM3KXNsUC&pg=PA80#v=onepage&q&f=false New Scientist – 3 October 1974 – Page 80
  7. ^ https://www.newscientist.com/letter/mg23230991-100-1-editors-pick-3d-printing-you-read-it-here-first/ 3D printing: you read it here first
  8. ^ Jones, David E. H. (1970). "The stability of the bicycle" (PDF). Physics Today. 23 (4): 34–40. Bibcode:1970PhT....23d..34J. doi:10.1063/1.3022064.
  9. ^ Jones, David E. H.; Ledingham, Kenneth W. D. (14 October 1982), "Arsenic in Napoleon's wallpaper", Nature, 299 (5884): 626–627, Bibcode:1982Natur.299..626J, doi:10.1038/299626a0, PMID 6750412
  10. ^ Jones, David E. H.; Walter, Ulrich (15 July 1988), "The Silicate Garden Reaction in Microgravity: A Fluid Interfacial Instability", Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, Elsevier, 203 (2): 286–293, Bibcode:1998JCIS..203..286J, doi:10.1006/jcis.1998.5447, PMID 9705766
  11. ^ Barge, Laura M.; Cardoso, Silvana S. S.; Cartwright, Julyan H. E.; Cooper, Geoffrey J. T.; Cronin, Leroy; De Wit, Anne; Doloboff, Ivria J.; Escribano, Bruno; Goldstein, Raymond E.; Haudin, Florence; Jones, David E. H.; Mackay, Alan L.; Maselko, Jerzy; Pagano, Jason J.; Pantaleone, J.; Russell, Michael J.; Sainz-Díaz, C. Ignacio; Steinbock, Oliver; Stone, David A.; Tanimoto, Yoshifumi; Thomas, Noreen L. (2015). "From Chemical Gardens to Chemobrionics". Chemical Reviews. 115 (16): 8652–8703. doi:10.1021/acs.chemrev.5b00014. ISSN 0009-2665. PMID 26176351.
  12. ^ "Website of Perpetual Motion Machine film". Blogspot. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  13. ^ Blog entry on film, with photographs
  14. ^ "WDR – Kopf um Kopf – 1986, David Jones enters at 23:00". Retrieved 10 May 2014 – via YouTube.
  15. ^ "David Jones, 'Daedalus', the scientific joker – obituary". The Telegraph. 27 July 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.

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