It was quite out of the blue that we received a call from Dr Mark Johnson, an eminent physicist and engineer, who had some equipment he thought might be useful for the School.
So, a meeting was duly arranged for him to meet the Head of Physics, Mr Mark Appleton.
Having two physicists in the same room, both called Mark, was confusing. There was an element of Schrodinger’s Cat about the whole thing mixed in with Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. ‘Mark’ could be both a Physicist and a Teacher at the same time and I pondered the quantum state of each while they spoke in binary, and of things that even us ‘Trekkies’ don’t understand.
Now, I say this, but it was in that same room as that we now found ourselves, that I had actually done my electronics ‘O’ level practical in 1980. (Yes, they had electricity then). This was the reason that I went on to become an electronics engineer, for a while at least. So, while Mark showed Mark many wondrous things, I did understand what they were saying, like I hadn’t declared that I spoke Greek in a 1960’s war film, but was listening in.
And indeed, the lenses, prisms, and mirrors that he brought were in their hundreds, if not thousands, and were of such high quality that they could be used in professional high optics. The uses, for making telescopes, for demonstrating the properties of light, for experimenting, for beam splitting when making holograms, for investigating, and for being inspired, are immense. Each piece costing up to £100, and there were trays of them.
Mark had also brought an oscilloscope and has offered a Low Frequency Spectrum Analyser. You don’t get many of these to the pound, and the Spectrum Analyser is a marvellous piece of kit. It costs about the same as a small Tesla and is just as much fun. I might just find myself straying back to the physics lab from time to time.
Mark has much more such equipment and has generously agreed to donate it to the School, in monetary terms equipment well in excess of £100,000. We are all extremely grateful to Mark for his generosity.
We hope to see Mark back soon. Perhaps to show the properties of light and some of the wonders of modern physics. He reminded me of Sir James Dyson, someone with an enquiring mind, and a belief that any problem has a solution. Thank you, Mark, for your time and your inspiring donation.
Jan van der Velde
Director of Alumni Development