Archive for January 5, 2017

R.I.P. Dick Fong 

Posted in Uncategorized on January 5, 2017 by telescoper

Just a quick post to pass on the very sad news that physicist and cosmologist Dr Richard Fong  – known to all his friends and colleagues as Dick Fong – died yesterday, on 4th January 2017.

Dick’s scientific background was in theoretical physics but he played a major part in the late 1970s and early 1980s in setting up and developing a group in cosmology and extragalactic astronomy in the Physics Department at Durham University. Dick was self-effacing about his own research but he was clearly an expert talent-spotter, bringing such luminaries as Tom Shanks, Richard Ellis and Carlos Frenk to work there. This initiative was extremely successful and Durham is now, and has been for many years, one of the world’s leading centres for cosmology research. Dick retired about fifteen years ago, but kept in touch with developments in the field. He leaves quite a legacy.

My own clearest memory of Dick was that he was on the panel that interviewed me for a research fellowship in 1992, just before the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) split up and spawned PPARC and STFC. Dick led the questions after my talk which I struggled mightily to answer, at least partly because I couldn’t really work out what he was asking! He was always a bit cryptic when talking about physics. Despite this I was awarded the Advanced Fellowship, which really established my own academic career and led to my first faculty position.

As well as that  very personal reason for remembering Dick, there is another which I’m sure will be shared by those who knew him and worked with him: he was a kindly and charming man who was always generous and helpful to others. He will be greatly missed by his friends and family, to whom I send heartfelt condolences.

R I.P. Richard Fong (1936-2017)

Peter Coles and Ken Colyer

Posted in Biographical, Jazz with tags , , on January 5, 2017 by telescoper

My piece just before Christmas about Clem Avery prompted me to do a bit more searching on the internet for jazz-loving family friends and acquaintances. It didn’t take me long to find this (which I got from this website):


The photograph was taken at the Lambton Arms in Chester-le-Street sometime during the 1970s. The gentleman on the left playing cornet is none other than “The Guvnor”, Ken Colyer. Next to him, on trombone, is Peter Coles. No, not me, but my uncle Peter!

Here’s another photo of him, taken from the same website. This also dates back to the 1970s but this one shows him with “Mighty” Joe Young’s band playing at The Honeysuckle in Gateshead. Joe Young is on bass.