e-Matters 25th February 2021

Dear Members and Friends,

In this edition of e-Matters we dare look forward to a time when we can regroup and, as such, please do take a close look at the rescheduled events programme. Still some way to go, but with the Government’s announcement to remove the road blocks of normal life we live in hope.

We continue to invite Members and Friends to send us their contributions for e-Matters. We like especially to receive esoteric pieces, and in this vein thank you to all our authors from all disciplines.

As well as this electronic newsletter, Members will soon receive a special edition of Christ Church Matters (along with Development Matters), reflecting on a year of pandemic at the House. Enjoy yours when it comes (either as a portable or electronic copy, depending on your communications preferences).

With best wishes from us all,
Mark Coote
Director of Development

News from the House

Events Updates

Dear Members and Friends,

Whilst there is room for cautious optimism that we may be able to welcome you back to the House later this year, I fear it is yet too early to confirm anything, other than the postponement of ALL events through to May. Please see below for the current state of play. Any questions should, please, be directed to development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk

THE COMMEMORATION BALL 2021:

You will notice that the Commemoration Ball has once more had to be postponed. This is because a final decision had to be made in January, and we could not at that point confidently commit to the expenditure. A separate email will be sent to all those who have tickets relating to retaining them or seeking a refund. If you do not yet have a ticket, but are interested in attending the Ball on the new date of the 18 June 2022, please send an email to development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk with the Subject: Commemoration Ball 2022 ticket enquiry.

24-27 February: Torpids Cancelled

27 February: Returner’s Dinner in Hall Postponed

13 March: Family Programme Lunch Cancelled. It is proposed to hold a Family Programme Dinner in Hall on Saturday 12 March 2022.

19-20 March: Mark Sansom Retirement Event Postponed to Friday 18 March 2022

16 April: 1960,61,70,71,80,81 Reunion Dinner Postponed to Saturday 19 March 2022

24 April: Boat Club family day and boat naming Postponed to Saturday 9 October 2021

25 April: 1546 Lunch Postponed to Sunday 19 September 2021

It is hoped we will have a better idea of what is possible by the beginning of Trinity term (19 April).
A further update will be sent out then. 

The dates below are provisional if in italics.

26-29 May: Summer Eights. (May be postponed until 7th Week (9 – 12 June))

29 May: TOM event, Family Programme event & BC Drinks/BBQ (Possibly the 12 June)

29 May: ChChBCSoc Dinner (Possibly the 12 June)

 

18 June: 2020 Leaver’s Party in the Thatched Barn Postponed: We hope to be able to move this dinner to Saturday 19 June 2021, in Hall.

19 June: Commemoration Ball Postponed to Saturday 18 June 2022

25 June: Gaudy 1971-75 TBC

 

11 September: Board of Benefactors Gaudy in Hall  TBC

12 September: 1546 Lunch

17-19 Sept: Women’s 40th Anniversary Weekend  TBC

18 September: Talks, seminars, & Dinner

19 September: Family BBQ at the Sports Ground

19 September: Ch Ch Assoc. AGM

 

1 October: Gaudy 1976-80 TBC

3 October: Family Programme Tea TBC

9 October: Boat Club Soc. Family day & "Hammers" Boat Naming TBC
 

Fingers crossed for April!
Best wishes,
Simon Offen.
Deputy Director of Development 

 

The Christ Church Association AGM

The CCA AGM (postponed from last September) will now be held on Saturday 13th March from 11.30am to 1.00pm. As we still cannot meet face-to-face, this will be via a Zoom Webinar.

Members will need to register to attend by completing this form by 5pm on Monday 8th March where there is also the opportunity to ask questions so they can be grouped together to save time at the meeting.

 

Photo of Professor Sarah GilbertProfessor Sarah Gilbert, Saïd Professor of Vaccinology, Recently Joined the House as Senior Associate Research Fellow

Professor Sarah Gilbert, Saïd Professor of Vaccinology, recently joined the College and the Common Room as a Senior Associate Research Fellow.

Professor Gilbert is widely known for her work developing a vaccine for Covid-19. While spectacular, this is only one of her many remarkable achievements in the development of vaccines against influenza and other emerging and re-emerging viral pathogens. Her research encompasses many stages of development of vaccines, from theoretical work on the development of new vaccines, their pre-clinical testing, production and clinical testing.

To find out more about Professor Gilbert’s ground-breaking research, see her recent interview with Andrew Marr and an overview of her work and that of her colleague, Professor Andrew Pollard, on the Oxford Vaccine in the Guardian.

 

Photo of Professor Yarin GalProfessor Yarin Gal co-leads research into the effectiveness of government interventions against COVID-19

Professor Yarin Gal, Tutor in Computer Science at Christ Church, has co-led new research into the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions in reducing the transmission of COVID-19. The findings from the study, led by the Oxford Applied and Theoretical Machine Learning Group (OATML), were published earlier this week in Science Magazine. Professor Gal’s graduate students, Jan Brauner and Sören Mindermann, also presented this research at the German Centre for Infection Research and at Africa Centre for Disease Control.

Illustration representing the covid-19 virusWorldwide, governments have mobilized a range of resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. This has included attempts to control the spread of the virus with nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) such as limiting gathering sizes, business closures, closures of educational institutions and stay-at-home orders. However, the effectiveness of different NPIs at reducing transmission is poorly understood. The researchers in this study gathered chronological data on the implementation of NPIs from 41 different countries between January and May 2020. The researchers then used data modeling to estimate the effectiveness of each intervention. They used a Bayesian hierarchical model that links NPI implementation dates to national case and death counts, and supported the results with extensive empirical validation.

Oxford Applied Theoretical Machine Learning Group logoMeadow floodingJohn James, Head Gardener of Christ Church, writes about the recent flooding in the Meadow in the Gardens and Meadows Blog:

"With recent heavy and continuous rain both here in Oxford and upstream along the course of the River Cherwell and the River Thames, Christ Church Meadow has once again been fulfilling its historic role as a floodplain, and storing water pouring out of the surrounding rivers. As soon as the rivers breached their banks, the Meadow filled up very quickly, protecting areas further downstream from flooding. As the river levels recede, the meadow will release the water back into them in a much more controlled manner.

Such flooding does not normally occur very often but it is spectacular when it does and means that the riverside walks had to be closed. In some areas the walks were knee deep or more in water and it was impossible to tell where the paths stopped and the rivers began, making it potentially very dangerous to try and walk around them."

Click here to continue reading John's blog.
Follow John on Instagram for the latest updates on the Meadow and College Gardens.

 

Christ Church Zoom Sessions for the Junior Members

Photo of Lord David Willetts, Felicity Buchan and Imran Shafi

We are all missing face-to-face meetings, and events, but the Association and the House has tried to keep some contact between the Junior Members and Alumni Members by using Zoom.
 
Partly as careers advice, but also to mark the 100th Anniversary of PPE at Oxford we have had a series of political Question and Answer sessions. These featured Felicity Buchan (1987, Law), one of our newest Members of Parliament, who represents Kensington; Lord (David) Willetts (1975, PPE), who now heads the Resolution Foundation; and Imran Shafi (2002, PPE) who is one of the Prime Minister’s Private Secretaries.

It is hoped to have a reception in London to mark the Centenary of PPE when we are able.

Photo of Jonny Searle and Captain Robin Bourne-Taylor

The Boat Club has also been using Zoom, with discussions, advice, and inspiration from two greats of Christ Church rowing, Jonny Searle MBE (1987, Biology) and Captain Robin Bourne-Taylor (2000, Engineering).
 
We thank all participants for their time and motivating talks. We all need a bit of encouragement at the moment!

 

College Life Blog: LGBTQ+ History Month at Christ Church

Photo of Louise CollinsonLouise Collinson, a second-year Biochemist, discusses Christ Church’s celebrations of  LGBTQ+ History Month:

"Despite being scattered around the world, I don’t doubt the power of our college community to come together in celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month. As the JCR’s LGBTQ+ officer, I’m so happy with what I and others have organised for this February.

I knew we were off to a great start when the College enthusiastically accepted our request to fly the Progress flag! It has become a tradition for most Oxford colleges to fly flags to celebrate Black History Month, as Christ Church did last October, and to display Pride flags in February and July. While we have previously flown the classic Pride rainbow flag, our new Progress flag will now be used to highlight solidarity with the trans community and LGBTQ+ people of colour, and also to represent an awareness of intersectionality within the queer community. Our Progress flag is now fluttering proudly in Peckwater Quad - it looks stunning flying in front of the Library!

As regards events, on February 11th, all members of Christ Church were invited to a virtual talk by Ross Brooks. ‘A Little Queer History Of Oxford’ covered exactly that, reflecting the work in Brooks’ Queeroxford.info project - and honing in on LGBTQ+ figures associated with Christ Church itself! The talk received a lot of interest from both students and staff, and I think the familiarity of talking about Oxford will be a great way to inspire LGBTQ+ people and allies alike to take an interest in queer history. As well as talks, I’m hoping to get the college community actively involved in other projects this month. For instance, the Arts representatives and I are working together to organise some projects we can encourage everyone to take part in - such as a collaborative photo collage to make our own rainbow Pride flag."

Click here to continue reading Louise's blog.

 

Ross Brooks: Oxford's Queer History

LGBT Flag at Peckwater QuadRoss Brooks (Oxford Brookes University) discusses Oxford’s queer history for LGBTQ+ History Month.

 

As part of the College’s programme of events for LGBTQ+ History Month this year, organised by the JCR’s LGBTQ+ officer Louise Collinson, it was a pleasure to discuss my Queer Oxford project which celebrates over 600 years of queer history in the city that Oscar Wilde called ‘the capital of romance.’

 

The project originated in 2006 as a printed city guide. It is now pursued across several platforms including a website (queeroxford.info), city walking tours (sadly suspended through the pandemic), public talks, exhibitions, on social media, and in the local newspapers. Working with Richard Bruce Parkinson, Oxford’s Professor of Egyptology and author of A Little Gay History: Desire and Diversity across the World (2013), and The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), I curated a new city trail to accompany the first queer-themed exhibition at the Ashmolean, No Offence: Exploring LGBTQ+ Histories, which ran through the autumn of 2018. These initiatives built on the huge success of Out in Oxford, an innovative LGBTQ+ trail of Oxford’s gardens, libraries, and museums curated by Beth Asbury. Elevating my project to an academic level for the first time, last year I published an article in the Journal of British Studies which explores changing sexual mores at Oxford during the 1930s.

 

WH Auden photographed at Christ ChurchThe House can boast some eminent queer alumni. They include poets WH Auden and Edward James; politicians Harry Crookshank, Ian Harvey, and Philip Sassoon; and actors Peter Glenville and Emlyn Williams. Jan Morris was an undergraduate (as James Morris) between 1949 and 1951 but arrived in Oxford in 1936 to attend the Cathedral Choir School of Christ Church.

 

It was the College’s goodtime aesthetes—especially Harold Acton and Brian Howard—who were the force behind the extraordinary blossoming of a flamboyant queer culture at Oxford during the early 1920s. Although now best known through Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel Brideshead Revisited (1945), surviving sources convey a relatively detailed picture of the lived realities of Oxford’s ‘Brideshead’ era, often in no uncertain terms. For example, in his infamous autobiography Ruling Passions (1977), Tom Driberg, another of the College’s prominent gay alumni, described how he was picked up by a don in the gentleman’s toilet on Blue Boar Street.

 

Book cover of Little VictimsPhoto of Richard RumboldOxford’s ‘Brideshead’ era rapidly demised in a harsher cultural climate that held sway through the 1930s and beyond. One incident at Christ Church exemplifies the bleaker attitudes towards expressions of queerness at Oxford that began to prevail after Acton and his cohort of aesthetes moved on. It concerns Little Victims, a largely autobiographical novel published in 1933 by Christ Church undergraduate Richard Rumbold. The book is notable for being an early gay-themed publication of the Fortune Press, the London-based publishing house of Reginald Ashley Caton which was distinctive for publishing numerous novels with queer characters and tropes through the middle decades of the 20th century. Little Victims, however, found no favour with the authorities at Oxford, especially after it fell into the hands of the Bishop of Birmingham, Thomas Leighton Williams, who objected to Rumbold’s ‘foul and offensive’ book. Williams communicated his displeasure to Oxford’s Roman Catholic Chaplain, Ronald Knox, who subsequently refused Rumbold the sacrament without warning. The affair hit the national headlines and was a cause célèbre for a short time during June 1933. Little Victims was duly banned.

 

Book Cover of the Heart EntrappedA more recent event shows how an oppressive cultural climate continued to prevail at Oxford through the later decades of the 20th century and into the 21st, but also how sexual mores are now once again becoming more inclusive. Mike Soper lectured in agriculture at Christ Church and directed the university farm for thirty years. He played a leading role in the development of part-time agricultural education. In his private life, he enjoyed a long and happy relationship with another man for more than forty years, albeit without anyone—even his close family—knowing. He kept his sexuality secret for decades in fear of reprisals. This changed in 2007 when Soper, at the age of 93, became one of the country’s oldest authors by penning a gay romance, The Heart Entrapped, published by Athena Press. Soper had come out to the residents of his nursing home in Moulsford just two years earlier. His story was told by the Oxford Mail.

 

There remains much more to learn about Christ Church’s and more generally Oxford’s rich queer history, including about the history of the College’s queer alumnae whose arrival as undergraduates 40 years ago is currently being marked by a number of initiatives at Christ Church. Pioneering events such as those organised by Louise Collinson, and others, for LGBTQ+ History Month, and of which it was a privilege to be a part, provide opportunities to do just that. In turn, such events are themselves making Oxford’s and Christ Church’s queer history in ways that will inspire generations to come.

 

Women's 40th Online Celebrations

In continuing the theme of Women at the House, marking the 40th anniversary of the first women undergraduate members, we are delighted to introduce the second in a series of films on our alumnae. Like the first one, on Professor Judith Pallot, this film has been made for us by Kimberley Littlemore (1985) of Littlefox Communications. In it we welcome Ophelia Field’s reflections on both her time at the House and how it propelled her extraordinary later career.

The link to the short film on Ophelia Field can also be found on the Christ Church website.

Women 40th pin badgeWe would love to hear from all our alumnae about their experiences at the House, and aim to create a collage of photos, images and snippets, and an archive of written reminiscences, for everyone to enjoy at the September 2021 weekend. We cannot promise to return anything sent in so please only send copies to the Development Office at the address below, or digital copies to development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk

We will be thanking those who contribute by sending out a special 40th Anniversary lapel badge in return.

Mandy with Women 40th Scarf

40th Anniversary Silk Scarves

A reminder that our limited-edition 40th Anniversary silk scarf can be ordered through the new online shop. To visit the shop please click here. 

News from Alumni

Photo of Kate BinghamChrist Church and Covid-19 Vaccine

Kate Bingham (1983), former Head of the Vaccine Taskforce, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 earlier this year.

In this interview, Kate discussed finding a vaccine, getting caught in the political crossfire and whether the UK can be ‘world-beating’.

Click here to listen to the interview with Kate Bingham.

Photo of Sir John Gurdon and Dr Charles Lane

With reference to vaccines, Alumni and Friends might also be interested to know about the work of Dr. Charles Daniel Lane (1968) and Professor Sir John Bertrand Gurdon FRS FMedSci MAE (1952), The 2012 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine. They illustrated that living cells programmed with exogenous messenger RNA (mRNA, the nucleic acid used in metabolic processes in protein synthesis) can modify foreign proteins. Their discoveries were essential to probe the idea that mRNA therapeutics could revolutionize medicine including vaccine development and is considered to be one of the greatest scientific discoveries in the last 50 years. Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is one game-changing downstream application of their seminal experiments performed in the Zoology Department, here at the University of Oxford.

 

Christ Church Oxford Entrepreneurs Network Update 2021

Photo of Mike Ratcliffe and Cameron Turner

In the Michaelmas 2019 edition of CCM, we gave an update about how the Oxford Entrepreneurs of the Bay (OEB) in California had expanded into the Oxford Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) with Chapters across the U.S. in Boston, New York and Washington DC, plus plans for one in Los Angeles.  We’re pleased to be able to announce that our LA Chapter is now up and running as well as one in the UK.  This means that as at the end of 2020, we have six active Chapters. We have plans to expand to additional locales in 2021; if members are interested in joining a new chapter supporting the set-up of new chapters, please contact us. Our membership of Oxford alumni around the world has grown to over 2,000 which is pretty impressive for our short two year history. OEN is by Oxford alumni for Oxford alumni, so if you have had one term at Oxford you will be warmly welcomed to join us.
 
There has to be a good side to the COVID pandemic and, for OEN, it was that we had to go completely virtual. Our monthly Chapter get-togethers over beer and sandwiches had to stop and we had to rethink how to run remotely.  Our New York Chapter came up with the brilliant idea of a monthly entrepreneurial “Boot Camp” that would be open for anyone around our network and aimed at having experts on topics faced by entrepreneurs talk about issues and solutions. It has been a great success and runs monthly from 12.00 pm to 1.00 pm New York time allowing members from Europe and the US West Coast to participate.  It attracts well over 50 attendees. Some of the topics we have covered have been:

  • Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Pricing
  • Data Privacy
  • Cybersecurity
  • Tax
  • M&A
  • Competition

We still have Chapter specific events. These like the Boot Camp have had to go virtual and are open to the whole network and focus on getting entrepreneurs or topic experts to talk about their experiences related to setting up and running ventures.
 
We have now started to formalize the organization of OEN. We are planning to launch a formal mentoring program in 2021 linking OEN entrepreneurs to experts within our network to help support their ideas and help them with any questions.
 
In addition to our entrepreneurial network, we have launched our second venture fund. Our first, Oxford Angel Fund, was successfully closed off at $0.5 million.  We have now launched Oxford Angel Fund II with a goal of $3 to $4 million by April 2021 which we are rapidly approaching.  Oxford alumni start-ups are already pitching for funding through this new fund during its monthly events. Cameron is one of the leaders in managing Fund II, while Mike is managing the New England Chapter out of Boston.
 
If any House member would like to be part of the exciting venture, simply go to our website www.oxfordentrepreneurs.net where you can become a member and get on our mailing list. We already have members from all over the world, from Singapore to Germany, the UK and all across the U.S. All Oxford Alumni are welcome and from our website you can invest in Fund II, become an active member, help organize some of our presentations, or even be a presenter yourself.

 

Christ Church Entrepreneurs

OX1 IncubatorWith the success of the Oxford Entrepreneurs Network (OEN), as described by Mike and Cameron above, and two recent gifts to the House to help fund prizes for the OX1 Incubator; the Christ Church S.S. Chang Memorial Prize, and "The Byrne Award for Entrepreneurship", sponsored by the Rutland Foundation and Christ Church, (see e-Matters 23 October 2020, and 24 November 2020), there is an appetite at the House to start an Entrepreneurs Society.
 
The society will promote entrepreneurship, and support student entrepreneurs at the House. We envisage events and talks in Oxford, London, and elsewhere; at least one dinner a year; support for individuals and teams who want to enter competitions; mentoring and careers advice. The idea is to develop it alongside the current Association’s Careers programme, as Tony Hart (1973), who is the Association’s Careers Rep., is already deeply involved with the Oxford entrepreneurial scene. In addition to OX 1, there is the All-Innovate Competition, and the Imagine IF! Programme of the Innovation Forum. The Oxford one is with a focus on Health and Life Sciences.
 
We are seeking the help of Alumni and Friends in three areas:

  1. Please email development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk with any ideas for the name of the new Society. If your name is chosen we will send you a suitable prize from the Christ Church cellars.
  2. If you are willing to give careers advice and mentor individuals or teams please sign up here: 
    https://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/alumni/mentoring-and-careers-0
  3. Should you be in a position to help the new Society financially please contact simon.offen@chch.ox.ac.uk

 
"My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long University education that I never had -- everyday I’m learning something new." Richard Branson.

 

Photo of Nick DaleNick Dale: Photographing Wildlife at Kicheche Bush Camp

Nick Dale (1987), wildlife photographer and winner of 2020 World Nature Photography Awards in the Animal Portrait category, shares with us his trip to Kicheche Bush Camp earlier this year:

 

 

Blue wildebeest silhouetted against sun on horizonI’ve just come back from 10 days at Kicheche Bush Camp with Paul Goldstein. It was meant to be a week-long Exodus trip, but when that was cancelled due to the new Covid restrictions, I booked privately with Paul, and I’m so glad I did! He is probably the best photographer-guide I’ve ever spent time with. He puts photography first, so although that may mean plenty of starts at 'Oh-my-God-iCheetah chasing Thomson gazelle among whistling thornst's-early', the advantage is that you’re pretty much guaranteed to be in the right spot at the right time in order to take pictures of the wildlife. Normally, game drives involve driving around until you see an animal, stopping to take a few pictures and then carrying on until you see the next one, but Paul ‘Feline’ Goldstein is obsessed with the big cats, so his version involves finding lions, leopards or cheetahs and simply sticking with them. Yes, that may involve a few hours’ waiting around watching them sleep, but he’s a great raconteur and mimic, so the time passes pretty quickly and very amusingly as he recounts endless funny stories, impressions of Richie Benaud et al and sketches from The Fast Show. The payoff is that you’re always with the cats when they finally get around to hunting. I saw one cheetah kill on this trip, and that means I’ve seen six with Paul in 16 days at Kicheche…!
 

Close-up of leopard lying on lichen-covered branchesKicheche is owned by Paul Goldstein and a couple of partners and consists of four camps in Kenya - three in the Masai Mara (Bush, Mara and Valley) and one in Laikipia. I spent a week at Kicheche Bush Camp in 2018, and I was so impressed with the leopard sightings and cheetah kills that I was desperate to go back. The camp is run by a lovely couple, Darren and Emma, and consists of a main area with two adjoining tents (with wifi coverage) plus various tents for the guests and staff. The guest accommodation is very comfortable, with proper beds, a sink with (cold!) running water and a bucket shower. The staff are all very friendly, and I had an excellent driver for the whole of my stay in Charles. The food is also excellent, which is no surprise given that Darren and Emma managed a restaurant in Mombasa a few years ago.
 

In terms of wildlife photography, I didn’t see Fig or any other leopards, which was a great shame as she had two very young cubs with her, but that was more than made up for by a spectacular cheetah kill by 'The Five Musketeers', followed by a noisy feeding right next to our jeep! The weather wasn’t great, being unseasonably cold and rainy most of the time, but we did have one misty sunrise when we were able to get some iconic shots of a Cape buffalo. Finally, on my last day, we were lucky enough to see a couple of European bee-eaters, and I got two good shots to finish off my trip before heading back to lockdown in London...

European bee-eater on tree stump tosses flyEuropean bee-eater takes off from tree stump

 

Dr Euan Angus Ashley: The Genome Odyssey

Book cover of The Genome OdysseyPhoto of Dr Euan AshleyCongratulations to Dr. Euan Angus Ashley (1999) on the publication of his new book The Genome Odyssey: Medical Mysteries and the Incredible Quest to Solve Them.

Dr. Ashley led the team that was the first to analyze and interpret a complete human genome, and his book brings those medical breakthroughs to life through the real diagnostic journeys of his patients and the efforts of his fellow doctors and scientists as they hunt to prevent, predict, and beat disease.

After graduating with first class Honors in Physiology and Medicine from the University of Glasgow, Dr. Ashley completed his residency and PhD from Christ Church, before moving to Stanford University in the United States. At Stanford, he trained in cardiology and advanced heart failure, joining the faculty in 2006. In 2010, he led the team that carried out the first clinical interpretation of a human genome.
 
In The Genome Odyssey, Dr. Ashley describes that journey to interpret a complete human genome, how his team broke genome speed records to diagnose and treat a newborn baby girl whose heart stopped five times on the first day of her life, and how they found a boy with tumors growing inside his heart and traced the cause to a missing piece of his genome – among other fascinating patient stories.
 

Click here to order The Genome Odyssey.

 

The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy: An Annotated Translation of the Principia by Charles Leedham-Green

Photo of Charles Leedham-GreenBook Cover of Newton's PrincipiaNewton's Principia is perhaps the second most famous work of mathematics, after Euclid's Elements. Originally published in 1687, it gave the first systematic account of the fundamental concepts of dynamics, as well as three beautiful derivations of Newton's law of gravitation from Kepler's laws of planetary motion. As a book of great insight and ingenuity, it has raised our understanding of the power of mathematics more than any other work. This heavily annotated translation of the third and final edition (1726) of the Principia will enable any reader with a good understanding of elementary mathematics to easily grasp the meaning of the text, either from the translation itself or from the notes, and to appreciate some of its significance. All forward references are given to illuminate the structure and unity of the whole, and to clarify the parts. The mathematical prerequisites for understanding Newton's arguments are given in a brief appendix.

Professor Charles Leedham-Green (1964) is a Professor of Pure Mathematics, Queen Mary, University of London, retired. His research is in the area of group theory, where he published over 50 research articles and co-authored (with S. McKay) the definitive monograph The Structure of Groups of Prime Power Order (Oxford University Press, 2002).

Click here to visit Professor Charles Leedham-Green's blog associated with the translation of Newton's Principia.

The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Isaac Newton, translated and annotated by C.R. Leedham-Green, is to be published by Cambridge University Press on 4th March 2021. 

Click here to pre-order.

 

Tae-Yeoun Keum: Plato and the Mythic Tradition in Political Thought

Tae-Yeoun Keum (2016), former Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, discusses her new book Plato and the Mythic Tradition in Political Thought:

Book cover of Plato and the Mythic Tradition in Political ThoughtPhoto of Tae-Yeoun Keum"My first book, Plato and the Mythic Tradition in Political Thought, has just been released in the UK this past January by the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. It was written largely during my time as the Christopher Tower Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church (2016-2020). To be very specific, work on the book was split between the Bodleian Upper Reading Room, my set in Meadows 1, and the Dodgson Room on quiet weekends.
 
Plato has long been celebrated for making reasoned arguments on the foundation of philosophy. But his philosophical dialogues are also interspersed with myths like the Myth of Metals, the Allegory of the Cave, and the infamously inscrutable Myth of Er.
 
Plato and the Mythic Tradition in Political Thought examines the modern legacy of Plato’s myths. At different junctures in the history of the reception of Plato, his myths inspired some of his most significant readers to imitate them in their own writings, and to regard them as a vital touchstone for theoretical reflection on the relationship between myth, philosophy, and politics.
 
In reconstructing this alternative Platonic tradition, my book also opens up a broader conversation on the place of myth in political thinking. Myth, Plato and his successors tell us, is not merely irrational. Rather, it can help us access, talk about, and even reshape some of the most deeply ingrained parts of our worldviews."

Plato and the Mythic Tradition in Political Thought can be purchased on the Harvard University Press website, on Amazon.co.uk, or on bookshop.uk.

 

Book Cover of Competitive Intelligence 2.0 Competing in a Digital WorldMike Ratcliffe: Competing in a Digital World

In January, Mike Ratcliffe (1962) published his co-authored book with Professor Leonard Lane from the University of California, Irvine’s business school, on how information has and continues to change in a world increasingly impacted by Artificial Intelligence – Competitive Intelligence 2.0: Competing in a Digital World (Amazon, 2021). 
 

Ever since Gutenberg and his printing press in the mid-15th century, the volume of

published information has literally exploded. He created a revolution that moved information out of hand-copied manuscripts chained to the desks of monastery libraries and into the world of mass printing. Five hundred years later, the computer and the Internet have created a second revolution, moving the printed word into the world of digitization and e-information.

 

Commerce has always required accurate information. Spying and gaining key information on markets and competitors has been one of the oldest professions. For millennia it has been the tool of the rich and powerful to maintain control of their dominions. Around one hundred years ago the role of the industrial spy gradually began to be replaced by that of the consultant: the honest broker of commercial information and purveyor of “best-practices.” As the global economy emerged in the 20th century, codes of ethics and national laws evolved to protect trade secrets and encourage innovation. An increasingly complex competitive landscape gave birth to a specialized profession equipped to track and understand competitors, their strategies and their tactics … Competitive Intelligence (CI).

 

Photo of Mike RatcliffeInitially CI professionals used libraries, the telephone and industry conferences to gather value information on their clients’ competitors. However, with the advent of the Internet and its wealth of near real time information, the volume of potentially valuable competitive information exploded again. Luckily, ever since the creation of the commercial computer in the 1950s, work had begun on using this digital power to supplement the human brain through what was quickly dubbed Artificial Intelligence (AI). It would take some 50 years for computing power and digital storage to become powerful and cheap enough for AI to become a commercial reality. Today we can see examples of AI everywhere, from Google Maps, Facebook’s facial recognition technology, and Tesla’s autonomous driving tools to improved supply chain management or customer targeting by both small and large companies.

 

AI has also impacted the world of CI.  Pureplay companies living on the ‘Net’ can monitor the activity of their competitors in near real time through AI services, while major corporations can use AI-driven services to track multiple competitors simultaneously. As the CI manager of Dell told the authors “I used to track my top 10 competitors on a regular basis, now I can cover the top 100 on a daily basis.”

 

The book looks back at how the profession of spying has evolved into the professional world of CI and how AI is impacting, and will continue to impact, global competition. It specifically looks at the impact of disruptors thanks to novel technologies like AI and how they are creating a business world that is increasingly VUCA - volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. It explores some of the unexpected new corners of the information world that have been created by AI, like “Alt Data” for the financial world and software firms like Palantir that allow users to pull together multiple disparate multi-media data streams and analyze them in real time resulting in amazingly powerful tools to support clients like US law enforcement. It also looks at how, thanks to the Internet and AI, competition is truly global and that disruptors could just as easily emerge from China as from the US.

 

The book also points to a radical revolution that is now going on internally within the larger corporations who can afford to invest in AI. The old CI departments are becoming the new e-Knowledge Centers. External data feeds from multiple sources are being integrated in the Cloud alongside internal data bases. AI is providing corporate-wide teams on-line access to this growing wealth of global digital information whether in strategy, market analytics, sales or even talent. The second half of the 20th century saw computers drive best practices in internal operations and supply chains. The first half of the 21st century is now seeing AI driving companies to “out-know” their competitors and become “Intelligent Companies.”

Click here to order Competitive Intelligence 2.0: Competing in a Digital World

 

Photo of Jay StiefelJay Robert Stiefel: No Time to Waste

Historian Jay Robert Stiefel (1968) appeared on the talk "No Time to Waste: the History of the Library Company’s Clocks", where he discusses the horological collections of the Library Company of Philadelphia, which include two rare 17-century English longcase clocks and many early English books on clockmaking.

The talk was originally aired on 12 January 2021 and the recording may be viewed on YouTube.

 

 

50th Anniversary of Virginia's Present Constitution

Photo of Professor Dick HowardIn 2021, Virginians mark the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth’s present Constitution, which went into effect in 1971.  Professor A.E. Dick Howard (1958), the Warner-Booker Distinguished Professor of Law at University of Virginia School of Law, led the revision of the modern-day Constitution. It largely repudiated the white supremacy legacy of the 1902 state Constitution.

Professor Howard wrote a two-part series about the development of the 1971 Constitution for Richmond Times-Dispatch back in December 2020.
Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 of Professor Howard's articles.

 

Professor Emeritus A D Buckingham CBE, FRS (1930  2021)
Honorary Fellow of Pembroke College Cambridge

Photo of Professor Emeritus A D David Buckingham CBE, FRSWe are saddened to report the death of Professor Emeritus A David Buckingham CBE, FRS. Professor David Dunmur (1959) has kindly provided us with his recollections of David:
 

"The House has learnt with great sadness of the death of Professor Emeritus A David Buckingham CBE, FRS, aged 91, after a long illness. Having completed his PhD at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, David Buckingham joined Christ Church in 1955 as one of two lecturers appointed in chemistry: David was responsible for the teaching of physical chemistry, while his colleague Paul Kent looked after organic chemistry and biochemistry. The two young and enthusiastic new members of the Senior Common Room soon made an impact, and were known affectionately as “The County Pair”. One of David’s enthusiasms was cricket, perhaps because he was an Australian by birth, and he was a talented player for a number of first class teams, including Cambridge.

David Buckingham became a University Lecturer in the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory in 1958, and in Christ Church he was made Junior Censor in 1963 until he departed to become the first Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at Bristol in 1965. He is remembered at The House as an energetic, exciting and inspiring tutor with a towering talent and enthusiasm for science, and a charming personality. After moving on from Oxford, he came back regularly for celebrations and events, and he was an enduring and devoted friend of Christ Church. He and Jill were married in the Cathedral in 1965.

In 1969, David returned to Cambridge to become Professor of Theoretical Chemistry. The scientific achievements of David Buckingham are substantial and he received many honours and distinctions. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1975, and awarded its Hughes Medal in 1996. He was a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and a Member of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science. From 1987 to 1990, David Buckingham was President of the Faraday Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He was a Foreign Associate of the US Academy of Sciences, and a Foreign Member of both the American Academy of Arts and Science and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The scientific legacy of David in terms of his publications and research is huge and is reviewed in other places: it will be a source of inspiration for many future scientists. David enjoyed the conviviality of Christ Church’s Senior Common Room, where Wystan Auden was a longstanding member. An after dinner conversation between David and Wystan resulted in the loan of a book to Auden, and in due course in October 1963 he delivered his poem “On reading a Child’s Guide to Modern Physics” dedicated to A D Buckingham Esq. David’s enthusiasm for science had been immortalised in poetry. He will be much missed."

 

Other News

Ava Gardner on the cover of Modern Screen magazine, January 1952Ava Gardner: A Question?

If any Old Member has any evidence of Ava Gardner attending a Christ Church Commemoration Ball in the 1950’s please would you contact the Development and Alumni Office at development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk?

There is a rumour that she did and we would like to try to prove it.

Thank you!

 

30th Anniversary of Oxford Student Newspaper

Banner of Oxford Student Newspaper

The Oxford Student Newspaper celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year and the current students are putting together some content for a 30 years edition. They are looking for former team members to contribute to the special edition. The deadline for inclusion in the special edition was 19 February, but they would love to hear from any former members at any time. If you would like to contribute to this special edition, please email editor@oxfordstudent.com.

 

Poem for the Fortnight

Walking by the Banks
By Professor David Parker (1974)

A mosaic of maple leaves  
Carpets the ground,  
Softly fallen, gently browned,  
In the November woods 
I am found 
Amongst the majesty of my trees.    

 

Fast flows the river of my youth  
Circling around this ancient City, 
Filled with water, cold and aloof 
Heading to a sea of certainty.  

 

Crossing the bridge of centuries past  
The cobbled streets lie hushed, 
Silent couples no longer walk fast 
Spring gone from their step,  
In single file  
Let me pass.  

 

Clouds gather as the wind veers 
Time to head back for tea,  
Feel on my face Nature’s tears 
Washing away all uncertainty.

 

All members of the House are welcome to submit poetry. If you would like your poetry considered for feedback from the judges of our poetry competition, then please send your poems to development.office@chch.ox.ac.ukA poem will be selected every fortnight from St Frideswide's Well and the poet will receive feedback via email. Poems will also be featured on our website.

Alumni Photography

We encourage all alumni and friends to submit photographs to us inspired by the poems featured on our Alumni Poetry Page. Poems and photographs will be collected together in the coming months and will eventually form an online exhibition celebrating alumni creative work. 

To submit your photograph please: