MASKS, GALAXIES AND TIME, David Forsyth describes in vivid detail the events
and restrictions of his wartime childhood and early years.
Then contrasts with
today some aspects of running a home (heating, clothes washing, etc), a child’s
life (rationed chocolate, fewer toys, but greater freedom), and public dress
He pictures the impact
on his life of his father’s return home after six years of war, with tales of
his own childhood and extraordinary war experiences (England and Africa), and
his invaluable guidance on attitudes and thinking, by both example and advice.
'Time and the
Universe’ puts into perspective a retirement study of the Universe, Solar
System, geology and evolution — a lifelong desire — appreciating the value of
factual knowledge after a broad education (History and Medicine at Oxford) and
a practical medical career (RAF and GP).
Finally, he applies
this rational approach to satisfactorily conclude years of rumination on
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The Cover (Back, Spine
World War II had been raging for just over two years when David
Forsyth was born in Kenilworth. Following a distinguished
academic career in several disciplines he became a medical officer in
the RAF after which a GP in Worcester, then in Oxford, where he was also a
police surgeon. Decades of keen interest in a range of subjects including
botany and geology — but especially the nature of time,
the solar system and the universe — resulted in the
decision to collate and record his passions and wartime memories in this book. Dr Forsyth lives in Thornford, near Sherborne, where he enjoys a very active retirement.
GAS MASKS, GALAXIES AND TIME is divided into five parts
CONTRAST AND CHANGE – THEN AND NOW
AFTER THE WAR
REFLECTIONS ON RELIGION
From the opening INTRODUCTION to Gas Masks, Galaxies And Time by David Forsyth:
"This is not an autobiography. It is a collection of reminiscences and
the thoughts that follow them. After chance recounting of stories from
the past I have often been met with the encouraging remark: “You should
write that down, or it will be forgotten!” So in the end I felt
constrained to do just that.
Detailing how I remember life in the War (from my
own perspective), and the years immediately after it, led to thinking
about how things have changed since then. The contrasts simply had to
be made and emphasized. [A point of interest: when I recently swapped
memories with my cousin, with whom I lived and shared my childhood
throughout the War, she found that she gave prominence to memories that
were different from mine, and suggested that perhaps boys and girls
viewed events from different angles.]
When I was nearly six my father returned from the War, and for the
first time became a part of daily life. I explain the impact this had
on what had been a rather narrow and settled experience up to that
time. It occasioned a blossoming of thought and a new awareness of so
much that existed. My horizons were opened wide.
Rightly shielded from it for so many years the
recent War now became a fascinating and exciting reality. As any boy
would do I eagerly devoured knowledge about guns, tanks, ships and
’planes and the roles of the three Services.
This awakened desire ‘to know’, and to know in
detail, has been with me ever since: not just the headlines and
sub-headings, but also the substance.
All my subsequent studies and career have brought home to me the
importance of factual knowledge, and of the reasoning both to discover
it and to evaluate and make use of it. My studies were a deep and broad
education: a Major Open Scholarship in Modern History to Merton College
Oxford; three Degrees in Modern History, Medicine and Surgery at
Oxford; and a Diploma in Obstetrics. My career was as a Medical Officer
in the RAF for six years, and then as a GP—first, in Worcester, then in
Oxford, where I was also a Police Surgeon.
After retirement I satisfied a life-long desire to learn
about everything around me, delving into Geology, Botany, Evolution,
and the latest information about the substance, history and future of
the Solar System and the whole Universe.
Hence my book on ‘Time’ to put it all into perspective.
So finally a reasoned approach to religion in general, the
gradual crystallizing of my thoughts after much consideration over the
Part Four TIME Contents
1 EARLY TIMING DEVICES EARLIEST TIMING DEVICES SUNDIAL WATER CLOCKS MECHANICAL CLOCKS TURRET CLOCKS FREE-STANDING CLOCKS ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK FURTHER CLOCK DEVELOPMENTS PORTABLE CLOCKS PENDULUM CLOCK MINUTE AND SECOND HANDS GRANDFATHER CLOCKS
2 TELLING THE TIME AT SEA
— THE DETERMINATION OF LONGITUDE LATITUDE LONGITUDE ‘CELESTIAL CLOCK’ LONGITUDE ACT 1714 NAVIGATION TABLES THE SEXTANT HARRISON’S CHRONOMETER TIME BALLS
3 FROM LOCAL TIME to
GREENWICH MEAN TIME to
STANDARD TIME LOCAL TIME MEAN / CLOCK TIME GREENWICH TIME GREENWICH TIME SERVICE ELECTRIC TIME SIGNALS RADIO TIME SIGNALS LEGAL TIME STANDARD TIME TIME ZONES PRIME MERIDIAN CIVIL DAY
4 REVOLUTIONARY CLOCK IMPROVEMENTS SHORTT PENDULUM CLOCK QUARTZ CLOCK ATOMIC CLOCK TIME SIGNALS DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME
5 SLOWING OF EARTH’S ROTATION
— ACCELERATION OF MOON EARTH SLOWING FORMATION OF MOON INTERACTION WITH EARTH LATE HEAVY BOMBARDMENT PROGRESSIVE SLOWING OF EARTH AND MOON MOON TIDALLY LOCKED TIME SIGNAL/SOLAR DAY COORDINATION
6 TIME AND THE UNIVERSE SPACE-TIME ELECTROMAGNETIC WAVES MONITORING ASTRONOMER HUBBLE EXPANSION OF UNIVERSE ACCELERATION AGE DISTANCES LIGHT YEARS CONTENT OF UNIVERSE GALAXY SHAPES PRE-BIG BANG BIG BANG SUB-ATOMIC PARTICLES FORMED INFLATION COOLING ELEMENT FORMATION AND RECOMBINATION FUSION EARLY GALAXIES SMALLER STARS-DEATH MORE ELEMENTS FORMED CARBON AND LIFE MEDIUM STARS — DEATH-ELEMENTS MASSIVE STARS — REST OF ELEMENTS SPECTROSCOPY — ELEMENTS SPECTROSCOPY — STAR AGE BLACK HOLE
7 TIME — DATING OF THE EARTH RADIOMETRY: HALF-LIFE ROCK ALTERATION — TECTONIC PLATES RADIOACTIVE CLOCKS RESET ISOTOPES RELATIVE DATING ROCK STRATA FOSSIL RECORD DATING DEAD ORGANIC TISSUE — CARBON DATING DENDROLOGY
8 LIFE ON EARTH DEFINITION OF LIFE CHEMISTRY OF LIFE EARTH — A CRUCIBLE OF LIFE ORBIT SUITABLE WATER MOON — A CATALYST FOR LIFE? MASS LIFE EXTINCTION THREAT
9 THE DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE — AND TIME LAST STARS END OF UNIVERSE REASONS FOR INEVITABLE DEMISE ENTROPY PROGRESSIVE DISORDER UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
David Forsyth comments:
"TIME was the first part of the book to be written; this provided a
framework to which everything could be related. My brother suggested that it
might also be useful to others. So TIME was privately printed and
circulated. It is in plain English with no formulae. It met with great
acclaim. Gasmasks, Galaxies & Time is the new, expanded edition."
READERS' COMMENTS Readers' Comments on TIME:
“…has been read from beginning to end with great
interest. It puts such items as ‘Black Holes’ which we are constantly hearing
about in their proper context and makes sense of them. There are individual
treatments of items like Longitude… but no overall treatment like yours,
as far as I know.” “I read it straight through and it is eminently
readable. As a non-scientist I was not tied up with any difficult words.” Dr. J.R.L. Highfield Former History Tutor, Merton College,
“I think that your book is very good and should be
part of general knowledge and education – especially physics. I think I now understand most of the problems using
watches, navigation tables and sextants. It became more and more interesting
when you came up to Greenwich Time and Atomic Clocks used today…I must admit
that I never thought about using time and watches or clocks to estimate or
measure the position of a ship at sea…” “Carbon dating was known to me, but I had never heard
of Dendrology, Rock Strata and the many isotopes and their decay to be used in
dating.” Dr. Utz P. Merten Former President of the World Association
of Societies of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and also of the World
“We are both most impressed. Your book is just what is
needed and should be part of education.” Dr. M. Hawkins (Chemistry, and Company
Finance) and his wife.
“We are both very impressed. It should be published
and be used in education.” Former Prof. J.K. White (Engineering,
King's College, London) Wife, former Headmistress, suggested: that there should be pictures. The author: They have been included in this
“I understand the fascination that led you to write
this and agree it is an interesting book to dip into.” Steve Adams (Head of Science, Shrewsbury
“I am enormously impressed by this. I wonder what is
coming from you next. When are you completing the Magnum Opus?” Dr. Mary Faquharson (Former Consultant
Chest Physician, London) Author: her query has now been answered!
“A most interesting publication…A most erudite
exposition…full of admiration for the amount of research you carried out.” C.C. Saunby (Solicitor) and his wife
Reader comment (on the book as
“I have read all of them (the five parts) with great
interest. They are all exceedingly well written in excellent English and most
“They are a gripping reading – should interest readers
in Kenilworth and Coventry. I compared my own memories of 3+ years of age with
yours and found them fascinating. I compared them with my own memory of the
Wembley Exhibition of 1924, and my surprise at sleeping in one bed with my
elder brother, head to toe and toe to head, on a short visit to an hotel in
Lyndhurst with a potty under the bed. The aspects of wartime are all precise,
and especially interesting because of your juxtaposition to Coventry. The
changes in heating are also precise as are the extreme cold in the house
outside the sitting room, the changes to coal and gas, the coal bucket and the
gas stoves, and clothes washing and the spring cleaning.” Dr, J.R.L. Highfield (Former History
Tutor, Merton College, Oxford)
Reader Comment on Part Five (RELIGION)
“I was very impressed by your paper – as was Joanna.
You managed to reflect what I guess a lot of people must think – however it is
one thing to have thoughts and yet another to get them down onto paper in such
a succinct way.”
Former Prof. J.K. White (Engineering,
King's College, London)
A brief clip of the author describing his interest and pleasure in writing GASMASKS, GALAXIES AND TIME