top of page

Stanford and Johns Hopkins 1965

We set sail in March 1965 with two small boys, Fergus (3 years old) and Peter(2), on SS United States, which was then the fastest passenger steamship sailing the Atlantic.   It was a stormy crossing, and we were much relieved to arrive at New York after several very rough days, and to transfer to a flight to San Francisco.  We rented a house on Alvarado Row conveniently close to the Stanford University Campus, and with the help of Milton and Sylvia Van Dyke, we settled there immediately.


I held an Assistant Professorship in Milt's Department of Aero- and Astronautics,  and was assigned to teach a graduate course on turbulence.  Fazle Hussain, now Cullen Distinguished Professor at the University of Houston, was a member of my class, and I'm sure he will recall more of it than I do;  at least I didn't put him off the subject!

We soon bought a car -- a golden 1958 Edsel Citation Convertible - which served us well.  This car has been described as "the biggest automobile flop of all time",  which is why I had to pay only $150 for it.  I later sold it to a student at Johns Hopkins for $80.  This model is a collector's item now, and must be worth a fortune!  It certainly was very sturdy;  my wife backed into a lamppost which was severely damaged, but the car suffered barely a scratch.  Actually this car, despite its reputation, was the envy of our academic colleagues!

We made frequent visits to the coast, trips to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, and a longer excursion down to La Jolla to give a seminar at IGPP at the invitation of John Elder, who took me on a trip across the border to Tijuana, about which the less said the better -- except that we did watch a game of Jai alai, that "game of a thousand thrills".  

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 09.36.04.jpg

It was a pleasure to renew acquaintance with Andy Acrivos, who had earlier been a Senior Visitor at DAMTP, Cambridge. He already had a strong group of researchers in the Department of Chemical Engineering.


I completed a piece of research on the rapid shearing of turbulence,  and presented this at a meeting that summer in Moscow -- hard to find a destination further from Stanford!  It was my first chance to go to the USSR (as it then was), and the invitation was irresistible. An exciting meeting it was, hosted by A.M.Obukhov and Akiva Yaglom at the Institute for Atmospheric Physics, where vodka appeared to be in plentiful supply. 


I returned to my long-suffering wife and children in Stanford, and we set off to drive back to the east coast across Nevada, Utah, Wyoming,  the Dakotas, up into Canada to visit Linty's twin brother Bobby in Winnipeg, round the north of Lake Superior to visit my Aunt Phoebe and her six children in Ottawa, then on down through New York, and eventually to Baltimore, where I was to spend a further three months.  Linty, now pregnant with Hester, opted to fly straight back to England with the boys. 


At Johns Hopkins, Stan Corrsin was my host in the Department of Mechanics.  I planned to write a book on magnetohydrodynamics, and spent my time collecting material for this; the book never materialised, but I learnt a lot. We had weekly lunch-time sessions grappling with Kraichnan's LHDIA (Lagrangian History Direct Interaction Approximation) theory of turbulence, of which Stan had an advance copy.  It seemed impenetrably complex to me, and I emerged from that none the wiser.  

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 20.48.04.png

Thanksgiving at the home of Owen and Merle Phillips was memorable, as was dinner one day at the home of Clifford Truesdell, whose dining table was strategically placed under the alluring portrait of his wife, toute nue.  Hard to comment!


I returned to Cambridge in time for Christmas.  George Batchelor lost no time in inducing me to partner him in the Editorship of the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, a heavy responsibility that I gladly held for the next 18 years. Through this position, I inevitably developed an increasingly broad view of the subject and its manifold applications. This photo shows us at work on the 25th anniversary volume of JFM, published in 1971.

bottom of page