Tuesday 28 December 2010

Science Spotlight: Conclusion

Back in January I set myself a project entitled ‘Science Spotlight’ each month I depicted someone of scientific interest to me, from boffins to inventors some had achieved great success others less so. Presented in a simplistic style, reminiscent of traditional children’s education books and comics they also provided a brief biography, which I hoped would encourage readers to research further and learn more about their work and interesting lives. I have received positive feedback from the many visitors to this blog (in some cases from the subjects themselves!) and thank everyone dearly for taking the time to do so. As the project draws to a close I thought I would include all 12 on this thread for easy access. All comments are welcomed, please feel free to share your thoughts Happy New Year!

12/12 Lord William Penney
© Arfon Jones 2010. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday 17 December 2010

'Science Spotlight’ 12/12 Lord William George Penney

The Rt Hon. Lord William George Penney, OM, KBE, MA, PHD, DSC, HONFCGI, FIC, FRS
A talent for mathematics gained Penney a scholarship to the Imperial College, London were He was awarded the Governor's Prize for Mathematics graduating with First Class Honours in 1929. After two years at the University of Wisconsin he returned to England and obtained a doctorate from the University of Cambridge in 1935, returning to the Imperial College in 1936 as Assistant Professor of Mathematics. Being A specialist in the physics of hydrodynamic waves, he was enlisted by the Home Office and the Admiralty during World War II to assist in the design of the mulberry harbours used during the Normandy landings. As part of the British delegation he then worked at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project, observing the Trinity test detonation in 1945, the explosion on Nagasaki and assessing the damage after Japan’s surrender. He was appointed an OBE in 1946, When Britain required an atomic bomb to maintain its position in world politics, Penney was assigned the task. The first British nuclear device was successfully detonated off the West Coast of Australia in 1952 earning Penney a knighthood. In 1954 he served on the Board of the Atomic Energy Authority, becoming Chairman in 1964. He was appointed Lord Penney of East Hendred in 1967 and served as Rector of the Imperial College until 1973. The College built and named the William Penney Laboratory after him.

© Arfon Jones 2010. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday 2 December 2010

Martian Christmas

December is here and so I have made a start on watching my favourite Christmas movies in the run up to the 25th starting with the 1964 classic Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Haven’t seen it? Your loss! At the risk of giving too much away the inhabitants of Mars grow concerned about their children’s future and decide to introduce fun into their lives by kidnapping Santa from Earth and introduce the concept of Christmas to Mars! And the plan must have worked because when I visited Mars back in December 2008 they had Christmas trees and decorations there… Ok you have me, I didn’t visit THAT Mars but Mars 2112 the themed restaurant and bar in the Times Square! Mars 2112 was brought to my attention when a Martian greeted me on the sidewalk, he made a zapping sound and presented me with a flyer that urged me to visit. Intrigued, I did just that but when my brother and I got there much like the red planet…it was uninhabited!
Ok, once again that wasn’t strictly true, there were a few people there, but they seemed to be attending a private function and there were no Martians on hand to show us to a table! First opened in 1998 Mars 2112 also had a "Space Arcade" and a "Mars Bar" but sadly no bartender! As we patiently waited for someone to show I had a look round, the place was impressive with a lovely attention to detail about it. I adore places like this (read about my visit to the Jekyll and Hyde pub here) but when it became obvious that nobody was going to take our order we decided to leave, a great shame as I had high expectations on going in. Here are the photographs taken during my exploration of Mars, you will note the Christmas décor previously mentioned, I was especially impressed with the Martian Christmas trees.

*Update* It seems that the restaurant closed in January 2012

© Arfon Jones 2010. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday 30 November 2010

'Science Spotlight’ 11/12 Sir Clive Marles Sinclair

Sir Clive Marles Sinclair, born in 1940, Inspired by his father and grandfather who were both engineers Sinclair began designing at an early age. At school he excelled in mathematics and in 1955 he took his O-levels and A-levels in physics, pure maths, and applied maths. Three weeks before his A-levels he drew up the Sinclair Micro radio kit and wrote his first article for Practical Wireless. He decided against going to university and left school before his 18th birthday to sell his miniature electronic kits by mail order. He formed Sinclair Radionics Ltd and in the 1960’s designed and marketed pocket transistor radios and micro-amplifier kits, making Sinclair a pioneer in the field of miniature consumer electronics. In 1972, he marketed the world's first pocket calculator, 1976 the first digital wristwatch and in 1977 the first pocket TV.
In 1979, he set out to build a simple, easy to use personal computer for under £100 and in 1980, The Sinclair ZX80 was launched selling over 100,000 starting the home computer revolution in the UK. He was made chairman of the British Mensa Society in 1980 a role he served for 17 years and in 1983 he received a knighthood. In 1985 he launched the Sinclair C5 an environmentally friendly, streamlined electric vehicle.
Sinclair Research Ltd. continues to market Sinclair's inventions the most recent being the A-Bike a folding bike for city commuters and his latest electric vehicle the Sinclair X-1.

© Arfon Jones 2010. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday 29 November 2010

The Jekyll and Hyde Pub, New York

I’ve frequented the Robin Hood in Nottingham and the Sherlock Holmes in London but had to go to New York to drink at the Jekyll and Hyde… The Jekyll and Hyde is a restaurant and social club for explorers and mad scientists located in Greenwich Village and the banner outside drew me in like a moth to the flame. Guests are warned that anything can happen here as they dine as the place offers an interesting mixture of live entertainment and ‘spooky’ special effects. My brother and I nipped in for a ‘quick’ drink last year on our way back from visiting the Ghostbusters headquarters. As it was pre-lunchtime it was fairly quiet and laid back in there and sitting by a bar that came to life every ten minutes or so while the television looped classic horror movie trailers was brilliant.
The only ‘scary’ moment (for me) was an awkward conversation with a man playing a butler that mingled with visitors, full credit to him and his performance but to be perfectly honest I’ve never been terribly good at ‘interacting’ with actors in character be they Henry Hound, Daleks or Butlers! But once that moment was over with my curiosity got the better of me and I had a wander round. The walls were filled with artefacts supposedly collected from around the globe that would also spring to life but as previously mentioned this was during the morning so there wasn’t much life in them at this time. BUT I did enjoy looking round though and took some photos as I went along.  Hope to go back there someday.

© Arfon Jones 2010. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Saturday 20 November 2010

How to Survive A Zombie Apocalypse In Wales

I had been waiting months for this evening! The How to Survive A Zombie Apocalypse cast was coming to Harlech to present a seminar in zombie survival! I discovered this cult show online last year and followed their work with great interest since, listening to their weekly podcast series and reading the latest news and reviews on their facebook page. But tonight I was finally going to experience the fringe sell out show for myself!

So it was off to Harlech once again. As we made our way towards the theatre I wondered if the building would meet the requirements needed in a zombie invasion. After collecting our tickets, we sat in the lobby to wait for ‘curtain up’ only to be greeted by Donald (David Ash) the HTSAZA survival expert who informed us that being a seminar we needed name stickers. Having attended various forms of seminars over the years it was refreshing to attend one tackling a subject that was of interest to me we stuck the name badges on and made our way to our seats. Dr Dale Seslick (Ben Muir), a leading expert in zombology and HTSAZA founder walked up to the podium and gave a brief introduction to what the seminars were about, Namely survival! The audience didn’t quite know what to expect! He introduced us to the rest of the HTSAZA team science expert Dr Judy O'Dea (Jess Napthine) Dr Dale’s nephew Tristen Granger (Lee Cooper). Having recently been invited to capture the good Dr's likeness for the official web site it was strange to see him ‘in the flesh’ taking questions from the audience.
Having delivered several survival pointers and tips, ranging from the importance of dancing skills during a zombie apocalypse to avoiding vegetarians, it was time for a short break. We remained in our seats and reflected on what we had learnt and as we finished off a bag of M&M’s it was great listening to other audience members discussing zombie movies and questioning if zombies could run.
The second half was excellent, the audience had warmed to the team and were happy to play along with the survival scenario. If a wrong answer was given it cost you your life and so you had to remove your name badge, the audience number was whittled down to 2 survivors, which was a rather good score by all accounts. After the show the crew met the audience in the lobby to sign autographs and pose for photographs I was also able to pick up a signed copy of ‘Dr Dale's Zombie Dictionary: The A-Z Guide to Staying Alive’. We had a fantastic night, it was well worth the wait! It was improvisational comedy at its finest, with its well-acted endearing characters and hilarious slant on a situation familiar to many tackling a topic we have all thought about at some point! Well, I know I have…

This was the last stop of their 2010 tour but check out the offical site for 2011 tour dates!
© Arfon Jones 2010. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Frankophilia! Exhibition: Opening Night

Last night was the opening night of Frankophilia! An exhibition celebrating the life and times of Frank Sidebottom and his creator Chris Sievey. Suzanne Smith Curator the Chapman Gallery at Salford University was inspired to create the show after seeing the creative ways that fans paid tribute after his sad passing in June.

I submitted two pieces for the show, ‘Alas poor Little Frank’painted back in 2006 inspired by Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower’s statue of Hamlet in Stratford-upon-Avon. (A piece he not only signed for me but he also compared it to the works of an old master!)

The Indestructible Frank Sidebottom' Frank made no secret of his passion for the works of Gerry Anderson so, in this piece Frank is depicted in a precarious situation reminiscent of the classic Ron Embleton paintings seen at the end credits of Captain Scarlet. Both pieces framed in ‘antique’ puppet pal cherub frames.

On arrival we were greeted by an array of touching tributes. Frank’s likeness beamed back at us from every angle ranging from plasticine models to scarecrows. His trademark big blue eyes realised in every medium. Everybody seemed to be enjoying the exhibition, taking photos and chuckling as they made their way around the room. I was honoured to be a part of this exhibition and thank Suzanne for inviting me to participate, and I congratulate everyone involved! I’m sure he would have loved it!

Frankophilia!, runs until December 18 at The Chapman Gallery at Salford University Wednesday to Saturday between 12pm and 5pm.

Sunday 7 November 2010

From the Vaults: 1999 ‘Quest for the Celtic Chalice’

In 1999 I was commissioned by the Daily Post to illustrate the ‘Afanc’ a lake monster from Welsh mythology for their ‘Quest for the Celtic Chalice’ treasure hunt competition. The paper offered readers the chance to win a Rauni Higson jewel encrusted silver chalice worth a thousand pounds by solving the clues provided by the paper each day. Being Welsh, born and bred I was fascinated with Welsh mythology and the Mabinogion (medieval Welsh manuscripts) I knew about the Afanc and loved to draw monsters so I relished the idea of illustrating it. More often described as either a crocodile or a giant beaver it was said that the creature would attack and devour anyone who entered Llyn Ffynnon Las. Granted free-reign in its design I decided to base the creature on a Pike and to my delighted he not only featured in the competition’s centre spread he also made the front page!

© Arfon Jones 2010. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday 4 November 2010

Frankophilia! In the media

The Frankophilia! Exhibition is attracting a lot of interest!
Along with a great article by Simon Poole of the City Lifers blog it has also made the BBC Manchester news site

The Manchester Evening News


The Natter

17 November - 18 December 2010 (Wed-Sat, 12-5)
For further information about 'Frankophilia!' contact Suzanne Smith at the Chapman Gallery, Chapman Building, University of Salford, M5 4NT or by emailing

Sunday 31 October 2010


This November, the University of Salford’s Chapman Gallery will be hosting 'Frankophilia!' an exhibition of fan's artwork celebrating the great Frank Sidebottom. I am delighted to be a part of this exhibition!

'Earlier this year, fans responded to the sad news of the death of Frank’s creator, Chris Sievey, with a touchingly creative mourning. Images of all kinds of Frank-inspired objects made their way on-line; artwork made in response to the news, or years previously out of sheer Frank-love. 'Frankophilia!' will bring this work together and revel in its beautifully touching daftness - a multi-media ode to Frank.'

17 November - 18 December 2010 (Wed-Sat, 12-5)
Chapman Gallery, Chapman Building, University of Salford, M5 4NT

For further information please contact 'Frankophilia!' curator, Suzanne Smith by emailing
Image courtesy of Frankophilia!

'Science Spotlight’ 10/12 Harry Price

Harry Price (1881- 1948) Born in Holborn, London. At the age of 15 Price spent the night in an old manor house rumoured to be haunted the experience assured a life long obsession with the paranormal. In 1908 He married Constance Mary Knight, her trust fund enabled Price to devote his time and efforts to the study of Psychical phenomena. He joined the Society for Psychical Research in 1920, Also an amateur conjurer and member of the Magic Circle Price gained notoriety in 1922 when he conducted an investigation on behalf of the Society into the work of spirit photographer William Hope. Armed with his knowledge of stage magic he publicly exposed Hope as a fraud launching a career uncovering many other fraudulent claims of supernormal activity. In 1926, Price established the National Laboratory of Psychical Research in London, a scientific establishment for the testing of paranormal powers, with himself as the Honorary Director. Price conducted many investigations during the course of his career His most famous case was the investigation of Borley Rectory in 1937,once described as The Most Haunted House in England. His archive, ‘the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature’ a collection of books, pamphlets and periodicals related to conjuring tricks and psychic phenomena was deposited with the University of London after his death and is still in use today.

© Arfon Jones 2010. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday 19 October 2010


I first discovered Red Dwarf during its forth series in 1991 and from that moment on I was hooked. I read the books, listened to the tapes and I’m not ashamed to tell you dear reader I also organised a Red Dwarf fan club at my school. An idea, inspired in part by my membership to the Official Red Dwarf fan club. Observant fans who spotted the details on the VHS tapes could join and receive a membership badge, card and quarterly newsletters filled with fan fiction, news about the show and details of the Red Dwarf convention, Dimension Jump. An event for like-minded fans to meet and greet and share their enthusiasm for this fabulous programme. So it is with pride I can announce that the 2011 Dimension Jump will feature a logo designed by yours truly!

Inspired by the episode ‘Demon’s and Angels' the fifth story of series V were the crew hope to solve supply problems by ‘Triplicating’ food. The result, one strawberry exhibiting all the best qualities of the original, the other all the worst. I was thrilled to discover that my logo was selected, I thank all involved. I look forward to seeing the logo in use next year!

I was doubly pleased to discover that it wasn’t just my logo that appeared in the newsletter, it also features an illustration created last Halloween inspired by BBC’s Ghostwatch. ‘Ghostwatching’ can be seen accompanying Rich Lawden’s insightful article 'Ghostwatching: My Wonderful Obsession'! In the article Rich shares his passion for Ghostwatch. Thanks Rich for allowing the image to be featured along side your fantastic work!

The logo was unveiled on the Official Red Dwarf site!

Thursday 30 September 2010

'Science Spotlight’ 9/12 Sir Bernard Lovell

Sir Alfred Charles Bernard Lovell, OBE, FRS Born in 1913. Studied physics at the University of Bristol, obtaining a Ph.D. in 1936. He worked in the cosmic ray research team at the University of Manchester until the outbreak of World War II. During the War he led the team at the Air Ministry’s Telecommunications Research Establishment, developing the H2S, the first airborne, ground scanning radar system earning him an OBE in 1946. he then returned to Manchester with an ex-army mobile radar to continued his research on cosmic rays However electrical interference from the city’s tram system prevented him from doing so forcing him to move to The University’s horticultural/botany department at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire.
The first Transit Telescope constructed in 1947 provided valuable data however readings were limited, a fully steerable telescope was needed prompting the construction of the “Mark I” Telescope in 1957. Standing at 76.2 m (250 ft) in diameter it was the largest steerable dish radio telescope in the world. That same year, the Soviet Union launched the first space satellite, Sputnik I the “Mark I” was the only telescope in the world able to track the satellite's carrier rocket. Since then, it has been used for pioneering work in the discovery of pulsars and quasars. Lovell was knighted in 1961 for his contributions to the development of radio astronomy and served as Director of Jodrell Bank until his retirement in 1981.

© Arfon Jones 2010. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Back to the Asylum, Lincoln 2010

Beth and I returned to Lincoln for the second annual Victorian Steampunk Society get together, a weekend of catching up with old friends, making new ones and sharing ideas and we had a lovely time. With this year’s event promising to be bigger than the last it exceeded the former psychiatric hospital to Lincoln Castle home of the Magna Carta. With the iconic Lincoln Cathedral towering over us the event was steeped in history!

Saturday, I wanted to follow up last year’s invention ‘The Cellular Condenser Ray’ and so I invented ‘The Glaciation Ray’ once the dinosaur had been reduced they can now be frozen and displayed in the ‘The Patented Cryo-preservation Curiosity Cabinet’ no biting, no feeding only fresh specimens every time! The frozen dinosaurs seemed well received by the visitors attracted by the icy glow emanating from amongst the wonderful contraptions on display by such inventors as Andy Dingley! Once sure that the inventions were in working order we continued with the rest of the day. Lincoln Castle played host to the Bazaar Eclectica, each stall holder was allocated a prison cell having perused the delights on offer and stocked up on our supply of Stokes tea we then returned to our favourite haunt The Sir Joseph Banks Conservatory for some cream tea.

We then attended a fascinating lecture on the history of the stereoscope given by Stephen Thomas founder of Visual Discoveries Ltd. Who is reviving this Victorian wonder by producing a 100% effective, lightweight affordable version for the 21st century. After the presentation we were able to experience them for our selves the beautifully crafted stereoscope were passed along the audience who marvelled at the photographs contained inside they were fantastic. Check out their web site, with a growing catalogue of views of different towns, villages and cities and a set called '3D Fun' for children in the works I highly recommend them!

We then made our way to the costume contest. Standards were high this year my favourites had to be the Postal Robot and Rachel White aka Miss Helga Von Flamme the intrepid aviatrix! Supporting a snazzy red flying helmet and rocket pack its no surprise Rachel wowed the judges and crowd and achieved 3rd place!

7:30pm onwards to the Empire Ball with Beth on my arm. Having had our photo taken as we entered we were then greeted by our generous hosts Thadeus Tinker and Lady Elsie. The place was awash with attractive women wearing amazing ball gowns with well-groomed gentlemen peppered around the room everyone dressed to impress! We settled down to an evening of live entertainment, conversation, wine and waltzing courtesy of Ghostfire.
On the Sunday, Rachel and Andy invited us to a picnic! We had a lovely cup of tea and carrot cake under the trees as we discussed ideas for future costumes and props. The sun held out throughout, we tidied up and made our way to the castle, as there was free Gin to be had! Hendricks Gin were one of the sponsors of the event and they were giving free samples to anyone who participated in a game of movie charades ‘The Day of the Dead’ and ‘Psycho’ latter the free gin had been won and consumed before making our way to the closing ceremony. After completely giving up trying to locate my raffle ticket they announced the winners of the contraption competition, Andy’s Dornberger Ætherian Rocket-Pack won this year’s Brunel Award with the Patented Cryo-preservation Curiosity Cabinet being awarded the Highly Commended rosette. And so ended another weekend at the Asylum.


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