Development of Atomic Structure

We were delighted to welcome local resident Professor Randal Richards, OBE, to the College recently to lecture to Sixth Formers and interested Hundred pupils on the subject of the development of atomic structure.

Prof. Richards is no stranger to the College. A committee member of the University of the Third Age in Kennet (a UK-wide movement of retired and semi-retired people who come together to develop their learning, social and creative interests), he has worked with the Science Department previously, to help make a number of our recent lectures possible.

Randal skilfully told the story of humanity’s slow, but ever accelerating, (and indeed, continuing), understanding of the atom. Beginning with the Greeks, and fast forwarding to scientists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when many refused to believe such particles even existed, he outlined how, through careful experimentation and observation, some of our most famous scientists developed new and ever more accurate ideas to explain their observations.

From our pupil’s point of view, ideas of the atomic and electronic structure of atoms begins at GCSE and is significantly extended at A level, in both Chemistry and Physics. Prof. Richard’s whistle-stop tour of the subject was of particular interest to our pupils as many approach their next set of internal examinations. Indeed, their knowledge was brought right up to undergraduate level.

Prof. Richards lectured at Strathclyde and Durham Universities, where his interests included polymer science and technology. Following his academic career, he was appointed director of research and innovation at the EPSRC – the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council – a British Research Council that provides government funding for grants to undertake research and postgraduate degrees in engineering and the physical sciences.

He retired from the EPSRC as the deputy chief executive in December 2008 and was subsequently awarded the OBE.

Dr Garry Doyle
Head of Science

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