Monday 08 June : Will Ashley, Southampton University
Title: 3D Printing - A micro industrial revolution
Synopsis: 3D printing or AM (Additive Manufacturing) has been touted as a new revolutionary way of production, that puts the power to manufacture bespoke items within the hands of the end-user. This talk will explore the current state of the technology and whether it can live up to the hype.
1 3/4 hours, 34 people
The history of printing first. Much in the way the invention og the
Guttenburg printing press around 1400 allowed a revolutin in
information technology, not that they called it that.
3D printing is supposedly a revolution in a new type of printing ,
as additive manufacturing. Prior to the 1400s there was a process
of printing whereby a scribe would copy from one book to the
next, mainly monks transcribing from one manuscript to
another. The information was designed by the church , much as the
3D products we use at the moment tend to be designed by
big companies. Johannas Guttenberg in about 1440 upset this
dominance of information controlled by the church.
The Guttenberg Bible is the most famous printing , printing the
text , 1286 pages in total, the rubication and illumination
was done by hand afterwards.
Graph of the presses and books per million inhabitants
as a logarythmic scale. The ability to print democratised the process
of diseminating information. This distribution of ideas, in turn,
enabled other types of revolutions. Thamas Paynes' Common Sense
basically some Americans getting rid of the dasterdly English.
As well as hte Guttenberg revolution, we need to look at another
type of revolution , the industrial revolution.
Pre-industrial revolution, the way we used to make stuff ,
raw material, cut or shaped it or we chipped away from a
block, to build what we wanted. Or we used to make stuff via metalurgy
going at it with hammer and tongs. The basic process of phase-change.
We're heating it , bending it, fashioning it to what we wanted.
A piture of a farrier, by Turner. What Turner is doing is
additive manufacture , layer by layer of paint to create his image.
Over the ages we have done additive manufacture .
The industrial revolution came along and we had the spinning jenny .
James Hargreaves in Oswelstry , Lancashire, named after his wife
and the wet weather there allowed cotton produced in America
to be turned into textiles. The beginning of the end of the agrarian
economy, now an urban industrial economy. To use a spinning
jenny it was necessary for a power source such as a water-wheel.
Then steam engines. James Watt solved a lot of the problems
of early engines that enabled a lot of power to become available.
Then mass manufacturing. An assembly line of 100 years ago,
the same technology to make the components, pressing wheels,
using metalurgy but doing it in repeat quantities.
You can have every colour as long as its black - Henry Ford.
Able to produce stuff but it was monotonous. No variation ,
maybe this is something that 3D printing or bespoke AM is
beginning to address. It is still a labour intensive process
but with H&S. The assembly was an additive process, usually
using subtractive manufacture to make the components, the
lathing, machining etc.
Subtractive manufacture is lathing, machining, CNC , or
cutting down bits of wood or sculpting. Additive is adding material
to othe rmaterial. In 3D printing it is adding small amounts of
material in a precise way . The advantage of additive over
subtractive . The Egyptians and a pyramid
which is an additive process, blocks piled on blocks.
The Eiffel Tower, he made steel and assembled the tower. Its
complex inside it , a lot of detail, a lot of material.
It weighs 7300 tons of steel . Consider making the Eiffel Tower
by a subtractive process, start with a block of steel and cut
into it. The weight of air alone in the tower is 6226 tons.
The wight of steel if starting from a block of steel is 39 million tons.
Adding stuff to make what you want makes sense in an efficiency
or materials sense. Consider another way to make an Eiffel Tower.
Go to Paris and lots of shops are selling little models of the tower.
They are produced by traditional manufacturing , probably molded
them, unlikely CNC machined. Do the mould and go from there.
We are loosing the granularity of detail like that. To mould something,
you need to separate the mould from your product and to be
efficient you want a mould you can reuse. In efficiency terms there
is no point in hving a one-time mould.
3D printing is quite old technology. Stereo lithography
in 1984 , uses UV light to solidify a liquid photo-polymer. It
reacts to laser UV light . Have a droppable platform, swipe
the photo-reactive polymer over like in screen-printing, the laser beam moves around
, causes a chemical reaction , a phase change or state change .
A pattern builds up , platform dropped slightly and repeat,
building up layer by layer.
That technology did not take off . Its all about phase change
or state change. Most AM involves such a change. Melt some solid
and then resolidify it. Things you cant 3D print is things like
brick, not easy to melt and reform. Things like metals or plastics, we
can add energy to change the state or phase and remould into
Comparison listing of the likes of Selective Laser Sintering
and Direct Metal Laser Sintering. Different materials ,
SLS is thermoplastics , powders , ceramic powders.
Direct Metal LS is more for metals . FDM fusion deposit
modelling is the type you can build yourself. Taking a
reformable thermoplastic , not thermoset like mains plugs.
Photopolymers, liquid resins , all the way to the likes of
Titanium alloys , Electon Beam Melting is more energy intensive
than lasers. We also have powder-bed and inkjet head 3D printing.
You probably have a 3D printer in your house but you don't
use it as a printer. Take a piece of paper, print it over and over
, layer on layer , you would be making an additive 3D printing.
Not designed for it and it would probably mess up as most
home printers tend to do. We can also do plaster, then usually
coat the surface to give a shell and some toughness.
Example of fusion layer deposit, base layer and then fine layers.
Printing a ballbearing race . Normally making a ballrace you
have your outer ring , inside ring, and the ball bearings between,
then shims to hold the balls. 3D printing it can do in one
process. In the same way that if 2 trees are growing next to
each other and grow round each other , as they grow,
as the year growth layers emerge they intertwine and
lock each othe rin place. Quite an important benefit.
This 3D ballrace is one assembly , but many parts,
and it won't come apart. But notice that at the end it still
needs a bit of finishing, with a scalpel shaving off flakes
to get the ball bearings going. So a bit like the Guttenberg Bible,
the embellishing and rubrication. That is entry level,
thermosplastic and a printer you can have on your desk.
One you can build yourself. At the other end , I don't own one
but if you have a million bucks you can buy one. Building
racing car parts, for formula 1 teams. They design the piece,
slice it into layers, called stereo-lithography and press a button.
Don't worry about the electricity bill, its an electron beam.
Spending a lot of energy doing it , at the end there is still
some finishing. Its not as smooth as from a mould .
The beauty of this process is it isa bespoke part. A F1 team
can take a 3D printer to Canada say and overnight they can
print a new part to put in their race car next day.
Apparently such manufacture is good in space. 3D does have
disadvantages. A Klein Bottle , an object with only one
surface. You can blow glass to produce but it will
take 1 hour. In fact solar panel powered 3D printer.
But consider a plastic drinks bottle , if you're waiting 1 hour to
print , its not time efficient. So plastic bottles are blow moulded.
Heat up a preform blank, place in a 2part mould with heat and air
and its over in about a minute. So 3D not a good idea
for mass manufacture. So how could it benefit say bottle manufacturers
or anyone else doing blow moulding. You can 3D print the injection
mould. Traditionally 7 days to build a complex multi-part aluminium
mould just for a bottle. Compared to 1day for ABS digital printing.
So reduced lead-time for manufacturers. I can make representative
parts, take them to investors , or design team or whoever
and see which one works. So an efficiency in prototyping but also
efficiency in design routes.
A friend of mine wiht a wax-casting business, using microwaves.
He prints the blanks , that then go in the lost-wax casting process.
Replace the wax with silver and make jewelry. They build their
own printer a Delta-Bok. Cad package image, then layered ,
then sent as CNC or G-code to the printer. Another one made
by SU engineering students in 2014, motors and belts, filament
deposit modelling. Heated in the head to the point of melting, if
ABS then about 260 deg C, squeezed throuhg a fine nozzle, told
when to squeeze and not squeeze it. As it emerges it solidifies,
its phase change. You don't need to be an engineering student to
build them . There is RepRap and open source way of printing
and building printers. The students got given Reprap kit
and told to improve it. The beauty of it is, that many of the
partsd on the printer are printed by a previous printer.
The 3Dup ? , another one. At SU I think we have about 16
3D printers. Can be used by anyone , in courses or research ,
and building the basic parts for new printers.
Something I use 3D printing for , I'm a ship scientist. A
hydroelastic of flexible barge, the backbone has been printed,
the barge bits printed. Looking at the scale modelling of
ship responses in waves. So we use them in ship science,
aero-space, printing battery modules , UAVs , a space probe,
scaffolds for growing human tissue for replacement body parts.
Where the bespoke nature of 3D printing comes into play.
We are humans and we are bespoke things. Replacing a hip-bone
or jaw bone , part of a skull , or rabits feet or whatever.
Giving a patient the correct shape , a one-off product. A lot
of the previous is plastics . Today is world ocean day, so
the ethics of printing plastics. You get microplastics in oceans
that accumulates in wildlife , the gyres and swirling rubbish islands.
Its also bad for you as it will get into you somehow.
The plastics photo-degrade or microbial decay in the ocean
and a big pollutiuon problem. We are starting to think about
this hierarchy. Use less , recycling at the other end.
PET bottles and a type of printer , the cartridges are about 25%
Creating a mobile phone is not possible to print yet because
of the multiple materials. Most 3D printers these days are
single material. You use plastic or you use metal , or resin or
powder. A next step may be multiple materials . Print plastic
then print glass, then print the circuitry inside a mibile phone,
a complete production line in one printer. A lot of circuit
boards are sort of 3D printed in an etch process. Speed
enhancement and scaling . We are printing faster and we
are now seeing people printing houses, like the one in
Holland, but that is taking a long time.
Anisotropy and Isotropy. An isotropic material is in multiple
directions , the same material , the same properties. An issue
with 3D printing, because we are doing it in layers is how
the layers are joined together. So perhaps strong in horizontal
plane directions but not so strong in the vertical sense.
Not a problem as a lot of things like glass reinforced fibre
, carbon are anisotropic materials and we can design around the
problem. It would be better the mor eisotropic we can get
the deposition. The electron-beam melting is getting to
about 99% isotropic , so perhaps better than a lot
of traditional metal forming processes.
Granularity. As well as things getting bigger , other applications
are getting smaller . The ability to do micro or nearly nano-technology
printing. The price is coming down , similar to bubble-jet printers , when the started , they were
very expensive. Now for 85GBP you can put one on your desk .
The price is dropping , especially for one material type of 3D printer.
However I don't have a metal printer , a million pounds or so.
How to we give people access to those sorts of metal printer.
Perhaps local printing shops , take your design and get it printed
locally. Its not a very efficient way of making stuff. Say Eiffel Tower
models , made in China and shipped over , transporting a lot of air.
However if I have the raw material here and made into something,
locally , then perhaps a better use of resources.
Imagination and creativity and consumer attitudes, we're not
there yet. New technology and only just starting to see wher e
we can go with it.
A 40,000 dollar printer. 1m volume of output, its called a polyjet.
A variety of materials you can use, plastic , rubber, the resolution is .6mm
across the whole of that 1m. And far better resolution if used
on a smaller scale output.
The benefits are its bespoke, print to fit people, its additive so material
efficiency , complexity of design, speeding up the design cycle,
you can build your own. I know children who hav ebuilt them.
A benefit of remote manufacturing, so make something where
there is no factory , is space or up Everest. A lot is open source,
you can download from the internet, a model. Go to Thingyverse ?
, download it . Environmental benefits, recycling of plastics, transportation
Drawbacks are mass-production is not there in terms of speed
at the moment, probably never. Going to the design stage , I
can at least speed up conventional mass production part
of the process. The materials ar egenerally mono at the moment.
The structural integrity, anisotropy , isotropy is improving .
An issue with IP, when the lawyers get involved. We're at an
early-adopter phase. The experimental and bodging and investigating
, wheras further down the years , then they'll be everwhere.
Security - printing guns . Environmental again, it is using
plastic and we are using energy.
I think it has the potential to revolutionise manufacture .
Societal attitudes, material integrity , and technical barriers
still to be overcome, in the same way as the Guttenberg press
taking 600 years to get where we are with 2D printing.
These days we all expect that we can print 2D, the 1400s
needed to break down societal attitudes.
Its a catalyst for creativity because its there, but we need to turn
our brains to thinking how we can better use this technology
in order to improve our lives.
Surely to speed things up you need more than 1 nozzle.?
In shipbuilding, go back 50 years , everything was hammered together.
Now go to Korea or Japan and you see robots doing the welding.
Efficiency, instead of having 1 robt , they tend to have 4 robots,
concurrently. The issue with 4 nozzles is you have to get the heat in there .
When I started and 2D printing , it was a printhead with a pixel array
printing a character at a time. I accept heat extraction could be
That flexible barge was printed on a 3-head printer. The idea was
you could have 3 different colours . It actually slowed the process
down as it only did one colour at a time. That large printer we saw
at the end had many heads in that. So it is happening.
In the likes of ink-jet printers there is often plastic cogs , but it
tends to be fibre reinforced plastic to take thge torque and wear , is there a way of adding chopped
strands at the point of injection, or some sort of reinforcement
in the process.?
There isa German company which is looking at differnt materials
in the plastics. I've been using some stuff from them that is very flexible.
He puts wood fibre within the matrix of the filament and gives it
a wood finish. Again its the layer thing that is the issue. A lot of
fine filaments , in all 3 directions adding reinforcements , a mesh
within the matrix is very good. But if we are doing it layer by
layer , how do you get that filament into the layer below ,
and get interlayer strength rather than in-layer strength.
Composites we tend to lay long fibres one direction and then
cross-wise in the next layer . To get long fibres out is hard to do.
They do have metal filaments .
If it could be printed so at the joins there are bubbles.
I assume the problem is that the lower layer has cooled down
a bit , before the next layer is going on?
There isa gradient of heat with fusion deposition, it will adhere but not as completely
as we would want . With metal sintering , ther e is enough energy there to
disrupt the base layer and then get some isotropy.
If you look at the layering under a microscope , can you see
there is a weakness there. ?
Not sure. I now if I print dog-bone tensile test samples , print
them in one direction and get a Young's Modulus measur e
of its rigidity. Like ABS about 2.4Gpascals. If I print orthogonally
and the same test then I will see about 30% of that value.
I cant see it but I know by testing.
Does the imagery used, always come from a CAD/CAM package.?
Is there other ways to input it?
2 major ways, yes design using CAD or CAM software.
Computers definitely helped us design intracacies.
The other way is scan . Take the Xbox Kinect , the thing that sits
on the display and scans where you are playing tennis etc. Use one
of those and scan a 3D object, then transform it into a model
that you can print. We do that and are developing ways of
scanning objects. Especially true in things like surgery.
To get someone's bone shape , you scan what was ther e
, put the 2 bits together if broken, and you have a bespoke
file to print. So design aspect and the reverse engineering.
So fairly expensive before you can start?
The cameras are so cheap these days. We did one project
where you step into a net of cameras , 3 or 4 dollars, plug
into a pc. Takes one photo of you , different layers,
and press print.
Can you use the auto-stitching software , using just 1 camera
, move it around just by hand, not precise camera positioning. ?
Yes, I think its called 123Catch. I used it recently reverse
engineering the hull of the Herga Osaka ? , a thousand photos from a
friends boat . Or done with the Costa Concordia as well.
Enough photos , stick it in a pc , and output a physical object.
Its used a lot in archaeology. A TV program recently, they were
i n Rome , they'd scanned the caves under the houses ,
scanned the streets and you could "fly" through the streets and caves.?
When geologists scan below the ground , you can build layered
models and you have something solid . If you want to digitally
archive a building , you can by taking numerous photos and build
up the model in 3D and print out in 3D.
Why does it always seem to be that the final operation is the
fettling process? Going back to the old metyal casting days.
I cant see why it has to be there?
It doesn't have to be there al lthe time. On the titanium example ,
the finish is very rough . It has structural integrity but it
is very rough. For ABS plastics , my flexible barge,
in order to have it ready to go in the water I had to finish
it off by another phase change , I stuck it in a fume cupboard
, heated up acetone , which dissolves ABS and smoothed
the finish over.
So its purely due to the coarseness of the stepping?
The coarseness of the resolution . The printer I built at home
has a better resolution than the ones you can buy
It seems excusable in traditional casting , say iron in sand molds,
and you have the blow holes , you have to cut away those
nasty extraneous bits, fair enough.?
The printer, the big one at the end, the smaller versions of those
have 85 micron resolution.
As you use stepper motors in 3D printers and I know there is a drive
process called microstepping , you can get very small steps. But then
the timescale goes up , so having to offset one against the other?
This is the art of it . You want speed, it really is like watching paint
dry. Especially you print out a file and it takes 13 hours ,
say 4 of them in a week. You know that sometime you will
come back and the printer will have messed up somewhere
into its 13 hours. Sitting there 13 hours is the most boring thing
in the world?
What is the failure rate , you set the thing going , and the
nozzle gets blocked or something goes wrong?
I think about 15 percent on these plastic ones. Whats the failure rate
on your home inkjet printer. After so many print runs it just packs up
or a piece of paper gets stuck.
Is that the sort of failure where the process just stops or is it
potential imperfections that would weaken the output?
The filament is coming off a reel , the way its been rolled on it can
upset , loop over and get itself in a knot and then not the strength
to pull through. Gets slightly blocked and misses one layer is another
failure mechanism. Or it hasn't quite set because you haven't got the
height right , skips , wheels off and then not have a base to print on.
Gravity is our friend in simple 3D printing because you need the lower
building block for the upper ones to stick to. Certain designs
cannot be done. If I wanted to print this room then I'd need
support material so that gravity does not create a bowed roof.
There isa thought process that goes into designing stuff.
Simple printers don't like square corners. Better having round edges,
especially over a length. With a 600 GBP printer you are
pushing the envelope to print an object 15 x 20 cm with corners.
Its a thermal process, from liquid to solid. We have the same issue in
casting, gradients of heat across it, building in thermal stress and
often get warping. To counter this you control the environment
and reduce that gradient.
Has anyone tried 3D printing in space, with no gravity impact,
They are doing that. I think there is one on MIR. I think in the last
week they've printed a rocket. For weather balloons, printed a ball
with instruments inside , measuring stuff, falls back to Earth
and is protected by the cage. I imagine the failure rate in space
going up a bit, perhaps 85% failure. Anyone seen the 3D pens , the
Doodlers, they seem to be a magic anti-gravity process to me.
There has been foam pens for years, a foam emerges and sets,
used in fabric design.?
Have you tried chocolate at all?
Yes. It works, we do quite a lot of chocolate printing.
Is there a half-way house between plastic filaments and sintered metal
processing. Perhaps sintered metal in a filament with some sort of bonding
that is suitably temperature sensitive , so you could go through the 3D
print process , then go through another process that rids the
bonding matrix and then the final sintered metal process to get metal
components that way?
The electron beam process is powder. There is a process where it
is a wire filament that is melted.
But not at the plastics melting temperatures?
No its 5 or 600 rather 2 or 300 degrees. Its all about the melting
point. 263.5 deg C is my favourite temp for ABS, just from
experience. Titanium is a lot more , so much mor eenergy.
I think there will always be that energy trade off.
2 or 3 times you said just press print. Do CAD packages come
with a mechanism in there for creating layers and then send
to 3D printer? Presumably you need drivers supplied by the maker s
of the printers?
Different CAD companies have different formats of programs
so Rhinoceros or Rhino, Autocad, solidworks, all different
final formats. However all of them have the ability to
make the mesh. You have a 3D object , turn that into polymesh,
so triangles or squares or polyhedra joined at nodes , so beginning to map out the shape . So X,Y,Z position coordinates. You then need
anothe rpiece of software ,generally, called slicing software, turned
into a text file, machine instructions to the motors to go X,Y,
print/not-print, then move up the Z axis and do the next layer.
This G-code is the same code as used in CNC machines when you're
cutting away bits. One benefit of subtractive manufacturing ,
someone has come up with that conversion, spacial coordinates
to machine instruction.
Does the slicing software come wiht say Autocad or do you
have to buy it separately?
I think Solidworks now you can press Print and it will
give the Gcode. It tends to be more granular than the way I
design stuff, my way I have more control over parameters ,
in how it gets printed. I think Google Sketchup ? will do it
A house was built by 3D printer?
I think it may still being built. Much the same printer, a few
bars and motors , if the frame is big enough you can print
Is there temperatur eimplications of this as the previous layer would
have been done long ago?
Yes , but I think they've factored that in, to minimise that.
The difficulty of producing bricks. So crystaline materials
like clays . With the destruction of historic monuments ,
talk of scanning the monuments and then recreating them.
There you need a material that more closely resembles the stone
When I said 3D printing invented in 1984 , I was lying.
Invented much further back. Invented in what became the New World
and also Africa. Navaho sand sculpture, and the African version.
A magnifying glass , wiht the sun, melting sand and turn
the sand ibto a ceramic , something solid. Been doing it a long
time. We do consider Navaho sand sculpture as 3D printing
, additive manufacture, the state change, putting energy in ,
and layer by layer. More recently a powder process and printing
of ceramics . Rather than squeezing filament through , depositing
ceramic powder and building up. Ink -jet printing ,
could be considered a ceramic process, particles layer by layer .
Id does need a finishing curing process. Powder printing is a big
thing , bringing with it a whole new batch of problems. How to
get powder through a nozzle at the right speed , fluidity and how
to join together at the end.
That would apply if you were trying to recreate a stone statue?
to feel and look like stone?
Some of the better 3D printers are ceramic printers, producing brittle
objects . Handling them and they break a lot quicker just from
If you were trying to reproduce an ancient building , thats been
destroyed but had been scanned . For fine detail , it would need to
be a printing process?
I cant seea problem with that. Digital records of 3D objects, rooms
, buildings we can store then reproduce in the future if necessary.
Where is the nearest walk-in shop for 3D printing, I've not come
across one ?
I think there is one in Portsmouth, I've not been to it.
I know in Southampton , Martins Rubber company , before 3D
printing was in the news, but much the same sort of process ,
for generating one-off rubber structures for seals, glands and gaitors . ?
I think the idea of a walk-in 3D printshop is a better way
of using 3D printers, rather than us all owning one at home.
I think the ASDA one is a ceramic figarine printer. I
do own a non-working 2D printer and if I want some printing done
I go to a 2D printshop .
Do you have to supply the material to a 3D printshop?
No , just the design
There are Maker places that have these sort of facilities. In the USA
a lot of public libraries have them. Maybe for 5 years now. Here there
is just 2 libraries in all UK ?
Not libraries over here but schools have taken off and places of work.
Again a societal issue, how we organise and utilise the technology.
My lodger has 3 at their place of work so the engineers , can
see a 3D object is that is difficult to interpret from diagrams. ?
Yes ability to rapid protype , visualisation is one brain function
but actually holding something . I find thinking in 3D can be quite
hard. Dealing with vectors I tend to move my arms around, but
produce something I can hold and turn it round and it adds to
the faculty to visualise .
The Basingstoke scicaf had a talk about the Phillae probe
landing on a comet . The speaker had 3D printed the comet
from their data and passed it round and you could see the
Contour mapping as well, print that 3D surface.
You mentioned lost-wax blanks. I can see it useful in casting
printing blanks for cooling channels , not actually making the product. ?
One of the research projects in the engineering department of the
uni is battery technology. I helped people make the moulds
for batteries . I like 3D printing but you choose the tool
most appropriate for an application. A lot of these standard
processes like lost-wax, injection-moulding, blow-moulding, work
so why change them. It just adds a little bit to them.
So its use will be for creativity and R&D rather than manufacture,
such as hip-replacement is a one-off each time ?
Both creativity and small run manufacture . If I want to build
10 things then 3D makes sense compared to the expense of getting
dies cast and machines tooled-up. It will help production .
When we design ships its useful to have models , because
we do make mistakes , we designers are only human. I build
and test models of ships to see how they react in waves .
When you're building your ships are you testing only parts of
the ship or is it a cheap way of producing a lot of them , the
same shape. ?
I'm using the ability to granularly control the properties of
things like Youngs modulus or flexural rigidity by the
print heigh etc. I can change properties of vibration, the natural
vibrations is what I'm scale-modelling mainly. Scaling from the
big to the small , we relax certain parameters , non-dimensional
parameters in order to model something. THat is modeling the frequencies of
natural vibrations that I know will scale up to a proper ship.
By controlling the materials I use I can make those responsive scale
Monday 13 July 2015 , microbiologist Dr Tim Mason, Portsmouth University: Edward Jenner and the Smallpox virus, from the earliest Egyptian records to its eradication (almost).
34 people, 1.5 hours
2 biographies tonight. Jenner and also the biography of a virus.
Edward Jenner , born in Berkely Glocestershire in 1749 died 1823.
And the variola virus , the causal agent of smallpox. 260 nm across
, as viruses go that is big. About 10 times the size of polio virus.
If you had been infected by this virus then about 1 in 3 chance
of dying. The mortality rate varied. On the skin of a victim, what is
giving the disease its name, each scar on his skin is a pock
and relatively small. To distinguish it from the great pox, syphilis.
Why did it come into existence and why did it end.
Between 64,000 BC and 14,000 BC is the start. It jumped the
species barrier , originally infecting another animal. The first idea
was it started in cows as the cowpox , as similar . Perhaps horses
was thought and the horse pox. We would not know because the horse pox
went extinct without any intervention from man. Or the camel
pox but that virus can only infect camels.
Only recent science has told us that it came from gerbils,
known as a tattera-pox. How did it get to us. Gerbils cross
infecting each other and along the way a new virus evolved.
Periodically humans and rodents living in close proximity ,
the virus will infect a human. Its not likely to do well as not
used to infecting humans . But once in a rare while such a variant
will succeed. That one human might pass it on to another, but
may not succeed. But its then only got to undergo a small genetic
mutation and it perhaps it can keep going within humans.
Not exceptional for viruses. So we still have the gerbil pox
infecting gerbils and the smallpox now infecting humans.
That start was some time after 64,000 BC. The geneticists
looking at the disimilarity between modern gerbil pox and
smallpox they can work out an approximate date for when
the two of them separated. Where , must involve a
big human population so the most likely , so likely
Mesopotamia , the fertile crescent or the Indus valley
in Pakistan . Smallpox is one of those diseases that you can get
once and only once and then you're immune for life just
like the classic diseases of children, mumps , measles rubella,
before the vacination was possible against them.
All the adults were immune as they had had the diseases, only
children susceptible, and the children sustained them.
Same with smallpox. The big difference is your immune for life
, if you survive. In a stable population , where the disease is
circulating , all the adults have had the disease and only the
children who are susceptible.
For the virus to sustain itself then it requires a lot of children otherwise
it would just die out. Measles didn't exist in Greenland until
1958 when a boat docked there. One person with measles
went on shore , measles re-appeared there, as there was not enough
population to sustain outbreaks.
We need something like in excess of 100,000 immune adults
, because in a year they will produce 20,000 children.
That will be enough to keep the smallpox virus going.
The fertile crescent had such a population. An image of an
early victim, probably with variola minor , which is a less serious
condition. Ramsees V, 1157 BC , when he was unwrapped
from his mumifications. The scar marks on the skull are
very similar to smallpox. Back then in 1970s we didn't have the
sensitive DNA technology to analyse and they found no biochemical
suggestion of smallpox. These days it would be possible but the
Egyptions to want us digging about in his skull.
The disease spreads and reaches India about first century BC.
A couple of more centuries before it gets into written documents.
In the Hindu faith there is Shitalla Mata ?, the goddess of sores
and pustules. In Japan , the equivalent , wearing a gown
showing pustules in the fabric design. Reaching China about
first century AD. Sometime between AD 400 and AD1600
the virus becomes a much more serious disease , more likely
to kill. Whichever variant it was , by the 7C it had reached the
Mediterranean. The crusaders , supposedly going off to
Palestine , returned with smallpox. It didn't come straight back, a couple
of centuries for it to establish itself in Europe.
The Spanish go off to the Americas and smallpox gets established there 15C
and 16C. By that time near enough global coverage.
It could be the fight back started as early as 10C China. not
very convincing, probably 5 centuries later.
An infection gave long lasting immunity. If you got the disease , you
won't gt it again. They also noticed that some cases were quite mild.
So the possibility existed that if you found someone who had the
mild form of the disease, take one of their pustules, and give
that to someone who had not had the disease before. And protecting
them from the more serious infection. There is some doubt
as to who and when that set of actions happened. Wherever
this was done , then it was found that people could be immunised.
The idea spread. We do know that knoledge had reached
Turkey in 17C. Also proactised in the Balkans. Old woman comes
with a nutshell , full of the matter of the best sort of smallpox.
The sort less likely to kill you. She asks what veins to have you opened.
She rips open the offered vein with a large needle . She puts
into the vein as much venom as can lie on the head of her needle.
Then binds up the wound. Not , an old woman doing this , not an
educated physician, who would have been there in 17C Turkey.
Very much folk-medicine , the same woman who would have been
Clearly westerners were travelling to Turkey at that time , returning,
and reporting their observations. They reported to the Royal Society,
then the world centre of scientifc excellence, but did nothing.
Despite this, I believe Charles I and his family , and 7 of 10
of his immediate descendents died of smallpox.
A disease of economic importance , they should have taken
notice. It needed a publicist , and she was Lady Mary Worth? Monague,
she had had smallpox in her youth and significantly scarred.
She was a very determined woman. Wife of the ambassador
to the Ottoman Empire. When she went to Constantinople
and observed this technique , in 1717, she wanted this
technique to benefit her children and had her son innoculated (the
term used at the time).
By the time she returned to London she also had a young daughter.
With much publicity and many attending physicians she has
her daughter innoculated. This gets the message out and Caroline
Ausbach? future wife of George II, has her 2 daughters
variolated, another label for the procedure. She was not as
convinced of the safety as Lady Mary. Before subjecting her
daughters to this , she has the procedure demonstrated on
inmates of Newgate Gaol. Big adults may be able to fight off the
disease so she next gets poor waifs from the poor-house
subjected. They too survived. After such confirmations of the procedure,
her 2 daughters are duly protected. Great publicity and the
technique catches on. Mrs Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer,
say "I vow, since innoculation began , there is no such thing as a plain
woman, one must be a bit particular, or one may escape in the crowd".
Women are no longer tending to be pock-marked and so less
This technique does have a disadvantage. It uses the variola virus ,
it is the smallpox virus, albeit less vigorous. 2% of those variolated
get seriously ill and might even die of smallpox. Also they can
pass it on to others and they would risk illness and death.
Nevertheless it does catch on. No longer a folk medicine.
Preparation lasted 6 weeks. He was bled to ascertain whether his
blood was fine, purged until emaciated and feeble, low input diet,
and dosed with drink to sweeten the blood. He was then removed to the
innoculation stables and haltered up with others with the disease.
This was done to Edward Jenner as a young man, he'd personal
experience of it.
Edward Jenner was born into favorable circumstances, Berkley, Gloc.
His parents died when he was 5 and sent off to school. No good
at Greek or Latin so the main careers of an inteligent gentleman
were rulled out, university and church. He was apprenticed
to the local surgeon, John Ludlow at the age of 13.
1770 he goes to London to study anatomy under John Hunter
of Huntarian Museum, London. The man of the time for anatomy.
He hated London and wanted to return to Gloc. He could have
gone to Australia with Capt Cook, or to India and with the corruption
of the time returning very wealthy. But he turned those opportunities
down and returned to Glocs. To the Chantry in 1772, he practised
general medicine, an apothecary, bleeding , midwifery and surgery.
If he'd been more educated and a physician, he'd have been less hands on of
people suffering . He was a man of curiosity, observing nature .
Fascinated by earthworms and published a text on them. Darwin was
to do the same 100 years later. In his garden he grew raspberries
for one puzzling experiment. He tried putting human blood from the
bleeding, on the raspberries to see if they grew better. But no
beneficial effect noticed. What hedgehogs did during the winter
and recognised hibernation and weight loss over winter.
Awarded fellowship of the RS for observation of the female cuckoo,
turfing other eggs out of the nest.
Where did vaccination come from. It had been well known and
documented from about 1750. So 30 years after innoculation
using the smallpox virus. It had been noted that milkmaids
, as a result of milking cows with a similar disease cowpox,
caused by a virus called vaccinia . They became immune to the
cowpox but also to the smallpox variola virus.
The ship Inn at Alveston not far from Jenner's house used to have
regular medical society meetings in the backroom.
In 1772 someone came along and talked about it,
with Jenner in the audience and he did nothing.
Someone else who did hear about it was Benjamin Jesty,
Dorset farmer. Marched his wife and 2 sons over to a cow
with cowpox and vaccinated the 3 of them . It went perfectly well
for the sons but his wife's arm went septic and nearly died.
So his neighbours pilloried him rotten. He kept a low profile
after that. (If you go to the Welcome Gallery in London there is a
pic of him, on the library wall).
The authorities were aware of this alternative technique of
vaccination, but sceptical. They're view was innoculation , using the
variola virus seems to work, why change it. In 1796 , Jenner
many years after first hearing, starts to take an interest.
Collects evidence that cowpox really does protect against
smallpox. He locates a Sarah Nelms , with a cowpox lession
on her hand, infected from Blossom the cow.
He needs a volunteer for the first vaccination. He has a son
but does not use him. James Phips , the butcher's son,
a later pic of him being vaccinated from Sarah Nelms.
Waits a few weeks and tries to give him smallpox, unsuccessfully,
so the technique works. Jenner wants to tell the world about this, and
did not want any money. One of many ideas in his working life
but never wanted to patent anything. He tells Joseph banks of the
RS and he refused to publish as only 1 observation. Get a few
more observations. He does but instead of returning to the RS, publishes
it himself a year later.
"An inquiry into the causes and effects of Variola... ". Despite
its dry title , it had been translated into all major European languages
and the technique was widely used. Jenner becomes a national
hero but also a benefactor for the poor. He does not want the technique
to be able to the wealthy . At the bottom of his garden there is what
he called the Temple of Vaccinia, where the poor would queue up
and be vaccinated free of charge. Parliament was so pleased
they awarded him 10,000 GBP.
Just as today, then not everyone had a favourable view of what might
happen if you were vaccinated.
Cartoon of one tabloid-like impression of a monstrous result.
Honours arrived globally. In 1805 awarded the freedom of London.
From the Indies 7,383 GBP in gratitude. In earlier times
the probability of you coming back from the Indies, was smaller,
than after Jenner's technique was widely used.
1807 Jenner got anothe r20,000, a huge amount then. It would be
interesting to know , of the 2 techniques that Jenner developed , if
he had patented, how much would he have made.
Money seemed to come in his direction. But he did not get entry
into the Royal College of Surgeons because no Greek or Latin but
did get Doctor of medicine from Oxford.
Byron writing in Don juan,1819, "the smallpox has gone out
of late, perhaps it may be followed by the great".
Today smallpox is out but no sign that the greatpox is on the
way out. Future queen, Princess Victoria , aged 10 weeks, in 1819, duly vaccinated.
Very rarely did Jenner leave Berkely. He described himself as the
vaccine clerk to the world. He spent a fortune on postage with people
in the colonies. He was the first person to find a pleisiosaur fossil.
Continued studying bird migration, up to his time some people
thought birds swam to the bottom of muddy ponds , to
survive the winter. 25 Jan 1823 he had a stroke and soon died.
A statue erected to him in Traffalgar Square , the panel on the
side saying just one word, Jenner. Nothing more needed to be added.
Only there for 4 years , moved to Kensington Gardens,
deciding that Jenner was not the right sort of person for the square.
Punch comment - "I saved you many millions of spots and now you
grudge one spot for me".
Early 19C there were 2 rival camps. The vaccinators using Jenners
new technique and the innoculators using the original
smallpox virus. The fact there was continuation of small smallpox
epidemics , similar to hooping cough in 1976.
Both in high demand, bu tthe old technique became illegal
in 1840. They did not want people spreading the smallpox virus
around. Vaccination became compulsory in 1853, predictably,
the backlash. The Anti-Vaccination League was founded
in 1869, saying it was dangerous and it didn't work.
Some things don't change.
By 1898 things had settled down , vaccination is no longer
compulsory. Arm to arm vaccination , which was used for much
of the 19C , where someone who'd just been vaccinated, scrape some
off and give to the next person, and repeated. That was pretty
effective for protection agsainst smallpox but unfortunately
if someone in the chain had syphylis , then you got syphilis
and immunity to smallpox. An improvement when they started
bulk vaccination and bulk production of the vaccine in calves.
The virus of 1898 is exactly the same as the one used today.
But cowpox has gone and we don't know when it went.
Sometime between 1796 and 1856 , it got lost. In 1856,
the authorities in NY wrote to us in the UK, saying
could you send us some vaccinia to protect against smallpox ,
we sent them a sample and it wasn't what Jenner originally
started with. Perhaps it was a horsepox. Perhaps geneticists
might be able to tell us what it was. Watch this space.
We have a wonderful agent that protects people against smallpox
but we've not a clue what it is. Whatever we were using, achieved
From 1900 to 1950 virtually eliminated from developed countries.
We stopped vaccinating in 1971. If the risks outweigh the
benefits then cease. For every million people vaccinated,
about 2 will die , 60 will suffer serious side-effects. So what
is the chance I'll get smallpox , and is that greater or less than
that. So by 1971 , if you were going out to a country where smallpox
was endemic then you'd be vaccinated. Not necessary if stating
in the UK. Don't vaccinate if you don't have to.
1959 , elimination of this virus is in sight. 12th World Health
Assembly, to fight smallpox. The 2 driving forces behind it
were Vicor Sadarnov ? of USSR and Fred Soper of USA.
At the same time Sadarnov was involved with Russia's germ
warfare programme. 1967 there was still 15million cases a year.
2m deaths. S America, India and Africa.
While a disease was still over there, it might always come back.
Mass-production of vaccine and its distribution to millions.
The simplest application was used, a bifurcated needle ,
with a little drop of vaccine in, scratched on the skin in
one direction , then at right angles, and in it goes.
In the final years S America last case was in 1971, India 1975.
And similar to the eradication of Polio, Ethiopia and Somalia ,
remained a problem. Ali Mau Marlin ? 1977, the last person
to have smallpox. Wherever he came in contact with other
people then rigorous control measures.
3 years later the WHO , with no further cases of the disease,
declared may 1980, smallpox is dead.
Sort of. 1983 S Africa destroyed her supplies. Soviet Union
and USA , neither wished to destroy them , saying they would keep
them locked and safe. China claime dto have destroyed
theirs, but scepticism reigns. Smallpox is not causing infections ,
but its still there, but in refrigerators of the 2 world powers.
The whole time its there , ther's always the risk it might get out.
The WHO can't agree to destroy it, that is the world we live in
A: You need the person who makes the discovery, then a person
who needs to bring that discovery to the stage of doing something
with it. Same way that Alexander Flemming may have discovered
penicillin but he wasn't able to do anything with it. It took the
combination of different expertise, to purify it and get to sufficient
People who were brave enough to test it on their children or other
people's children. I'd love to know what Mrs Jenner had to
say about it.
Q: when did the phleaming open of veins move over to something
less babaric, in the way of jus ta scratch from a needle?
The pic of Sarah Nealms having the cowpox taken from her,
it looked as though Jenner was simply scratching the surface.
How that developed through the 19C I don't know.
The active component, the quantity of "on a head of a needle"
stayed constant though? I'd have thought administered direct to a vein
was more efficient and would require less active component?
If you're administering this vaccine in a developing country
then you have the risk of sepsis as in the Jesty case. So
always the compromise of giving the virus a route in , but
not doing extra damage. The minimum amount of damage but allow
the virus to enter.
I missed the difference between innoculation and vaccination?
The first observations about getting smallpox once , you
were immune. That was called variolation because it used the
variola virus and was also called innoculation, those two are the
same. Then along comes Jesty and Jenner, and they use cowpox
which is vaccinia virus, from the latin vacca for a cow.
It was Pasteur who said in recognition of Jenner's contribution
to health science, that all innoculations to protect people in the future
, should all be called vaccinations, not jus tthe one using vaccinia
to protect against smallpox.
Originally vaccination was just for smallpox.
Today innoculation and vaccination are the same but in 1880
they meant two quite different things and 2 rival camps.
You mentioned horse-pox had gone extinct. How do we know
it existed, genetic or documented evidence?
This is speculation. When you think of the economic importance
of a horse . Then vetinary practise was important and
documentary evidence of where and when the virus struck, the numbers,
Do we know for sure it was different from cowpox?
Different pox viruses have different host specificiies. The original
gerbil pox would have infected gerbils and probably other small
rodents. There might be occassions where a stable boy got a lession
from a horsepox. I have no problem with the fact that virus did exist.
But the biologist in me wants to know why did it die out.
At teh time it did die iout, there was a huge number of horses,
but no answer to that. It could be that it had jumped the
species barrier to horses , but not very good at it and so died out.
On the terrorism front, no doubt the smallpox virus has been
completely defined as far as RNA, DNA sequences. That means your
terrorist could rebuild it.?
They could. What I'm not sure of is how sophisticated our
terrorists have become. I think if you asked that in 20 years time,
I think you'd have a justified concern.
Rather than to break into the securely locked last remaining repositories of this virus , would it be easier to assemble it from scratch.?
In the disintegrating Soviet Union ,the situation was different,
hopefully now Russia is more stable and under better control.
For the human genome you can go to a few select libraries and there
on the shelf is volume upon volume of that sequencing. I take it,
the equivalent sequencing of smallpox is not in the public domain.?
I don't know if it has been sequenced and if so whether publically
The solution is to make know the genome of the cowpox virus ?
That virus or the version we are using to immunise people.
To depower the terrorist option.
You said some smallpox stores had been destroyed . Apart from
the obvious germ warfare reason, is there any obvious reason why
not to destroy it all?
The counter argument to that. A while back , we had the necessary
skills , and if we really wanted to we could make it ourselves.
I would have had no qualms. Its not like destroing the last panda.
You cannot easily recreate a giant panda. You can relatively
easily recreate a smallpox virus. The need to preserve, I
don't find particularly great.
You mentioned the Hunterian museum and all those massive
flagons of weird and wonderful items. Does the formalin
in there destroy any DNA of any samples of the original pox?
Formalin is a pretty verocious aldehyde and will react with
about any natural amine groups etc.
It doesn't matter that you've reacted it , what you need to
be able to do is look at the end product is and work out what
it was before it had been reacted upon.
The formalin would knock out any living thing, hence its
Render non-functional isn't the same as rendering it so defunct
that you cannot determine what a sequence might have been.
The number of destroyed cross-links wouyld probably make the
exercise impossible. Formalin , after years, would destroy
practically all , bu tthe structure.
Ramasees had his DNA preserved , but they used natron as a
preservative via dehydration?
We're taliking about having the entire sequence intact. If you 're
just doing a diagnostic thing, you'd only need some small sequence.
What about the great pox, syphilis, will we eliminate it also?
Syphilis can lie dormant in somebody, for a long period of
time. Can be 20 years before it comes back out again.
But its incredibly sensitive to penicilin. So if we can get to where
the disease is a significant problem , we could probably eliminate
without too much difficulty. As soon as there is a sympom ,we
can treat it , end of problem. As it is such a simple problem to
resolve, there is bnot the same pressure to eliminate.
The next campaign is to eliminate polio. We did have it on the
run about 5 to 10 years ago, present in 2 countries . But
you cannot resolve the microbiology while wars rage and unstable
political situation in north Africa and the middle east.
How is the vaccine produced, is it synthesised, smallpox?
A calf having its underbelly shaved and all the lessions scraped
off for the vaccine. I believe that process is still used but we
may have moved over to growing in cell culture. Cells of young
calves , to grow in the lab, and so obtain the vaccine in-vitro.
We last vaccinated in significant quantities in 1970 , the
virus effectively became extinct in 1980. So how sophisticated
is the technology of vaccine production, in developing
countries in 1980. If you asked me, if smallpox was to
suddenly return , then I'm sure we have the techniques to
grow it in glass bottles. But in 1970s we were probably
still turning calves upside down.
The vaccine packets with the bifurcated needle enclosed, had
as part of the label, "dried material", so not living material,
administered ina dead state?
Freeze dried. Your using an adjective that we can't use to
describe viruses. You used the word dead.
There were 5 properties of living things, respiration, nutrition,
growth , excretion and reproduction. Viruses do none of
those unless it s provided with an animal or a plant cell as
a host. Its not dead, it has all the potential for doing its
stuff , even though its been freeze dried.
Could it come back by mutation again?
More significantly , there are all sorts of viruses out there,
smallpox is just one.
eg MERS , middle eastern respiratory syndrome, and it seems
not to spread easily amongst humans. It was though to live
in animals and only seldom affected people. There are huge
numbers of viruses out there , all having the potential to
cross the species barrier. So can occur wherever humans are in
close contact with animals. The next probably won't be smallpox
but some other.
They cross the species barrier quite easily. The americans in 1976
spent millions on protecting people against swine-flu.
Fearing a repeat of the 1918 epidemic. More people killed by
t5he flu in 1918 than killed in the first world war.
Its a bit more predictable , constantly monitored by the
world authorities . Get to march or april and they've
decided which may be the challenging ones for the next
autumn , make the vaccines . I hope all those here, old enough,
go along for their flu-jab.
Some viruses , like the MERS, just appear from nowhere,
cause for concern.
SIV to HIV was another species jump?
The potential is there. It isn't predictable .
Monday 10 August 2015, Prof David Kingdon, Southampton University, The Sanity of Madness: An insight into psychosis for the layman.
29 people, 1.5 hours
About 30 years ago , we decided we'd write a book about the
sanity of madness, understanding madness. We had a reveiwer
who saw the title and said it would not go down well in America.
In the USA, the idea that madness was something that could be
understood went back to RD Lang days.
He was a psychiatrist , a sort
of anti-psychiatrist. Very popular in the 60s/70s.
But he was not popular in the way he was thinking about madness.
He worked in the Royal Victoria hospitlal near here, in his
early career. A lot of the things we think of as mad, may have some
sanity with them.
I'd like to start with a little test to see what your levels of madness
or psychosis are.
Do you feel others are against you?
Do you think others are influencing your mind?
Do you think people talk about you?
Do you think you can comunicate with animals?
What are your scores on those.
Do you feel that one of your workmates, or boss, or a friend has
got it in for you. Do you ever feel that TV advertising is
influencing you. Have you thought your friends may be gossiping
behind your back. If you have a pet, can you tell what its thinking.
This survey came from the eminent prof Sir Robin Murray , obe,
probably the leading psychosis researcher in the world.
Just that a lot of the things that we think of as being very strange
, crazy, have a lot of relationships to things that aren't so crazy.
A feeling that people have it in for you , can be a perfectly
normal feeling , sometimes its right. Sometimes its wrong and when
its wrong , thats when we are starting to think about psychosis.
Having your mind influenced - thats what advertisers are trying to do
all the time. People gossiping about you - I don't know whats
going on down stairs but I imagine there can be a lot of gossiping going
on. Again normal perceptions. We've got a cat , I don't think
it thinks but my other half does. Its a very strange cat , what's it
doing , what its thinking.
Rather than cut and dried , sanity or madness, its clear there isa lot
of in-betweenness. We used to diagnose psychosis on the basis that
people were halucinating or had delusions. Delusions being false
unshakeable ideas out of cultural context. Halucinations - hearing
voices, seeing things that aren't there, essentially. Even that is difficult.
I was with someone today , sitting in a room together and there
was a noise outside . He was quite sure that noise had said you're
useless. I didn't hear that, I just heard a noise. His mind ,
very critical of himself, thats how he heard it. Same sound but
different perception of it. What about cultural context with
delusions. A delusion is something that other people aren't sharing.
Other people don't agree with, that's how you're testing reality.
What about alien abductions. 2 to 3 million Americans believe
in alien abduction. Its not an uncommon belief. Is that a culturally
appropriate belief or is it a delusion. Again its about context
and where you're coming from.
Some statements, this one from Ian Paisely in northern Ireland
" I denounce you anti-christ, I refuse you as enemy , as anti-christ ,
with all your false doctrines" That seems to go beyond religion
but clearly religion is important in relation to this as well.
A lot of beliefs we think of as religious . I work in a psychiatric
unit and someone was sure that he created the world, that was
his belief. Certainly a religious context there but it did not fit
with that particular context. Were they deluded or just wrong.
They're clearly wrong but were they deluded.
Or Mystic Meg, sorts of belief that go outside normal thought
are actually normal thought, they ar ein newspapers all the time.
How do you distinguish between Mystic Meg and her belief
in the future and someone else saying they believe they can influence
the future . Some people feel very strongly in that, how do you
If you think of non-scientific phenomena , there are lots of beliefs
out there, thinking about them as evidence based, though tranference, say. Do you believe thoughts can be transfered from one person
to another. What about twins , twins on either side of the Atlantic
, one breaks his leg and the other gets a twinge and convinced they
can feel it. A lot stories around like that, how certain are we that
they are wrong. Not very scientific but very common in society.
Predicting future events, a remarkably common belief.
Ghosts ,superstitions, reincarnation , horoscopes , the devil ,
beliefs in god are very common. Its a differnt type of thought from the
one we usually have from thinking about particle physics and the like.
For a long time psychiatrists were thinking that there is a categorical
difference between sanity and insanity . Eithe ryou're mad or you're
not. Artists have never though thtat way. Every man and woman has
a dash of madness , Emerson. Insanity a perfectly rational
response to an insane world , RD Lang. There is no genius free
from some tincture of madness - Senicar of the ancient Greeks.
1 out of every 4 Americans is suffering from mental illness .
Think of your 3 best friends, if they're ok , then its you.
Something wrong with stats there perhaps. Mental health problems
are remarkably common. Psychosis is quite common.
Many years thought of as a category. Crickelin? who first
talked of dementia precox , early dementia, thought of it as a
discrete disease process in which something was going wrong with
the brain. Gert Sneider ? later on, talked about disconuity.
Karl Yaspers ? a philosopher wiht a lot of work on understanding
delusions , general pyschopathology, has framed thoughts
of a lot of psychological phenomena described delusion as
simply unintelligible. There's been this either or. You assess
somebody , either psychotic or they're not.
How do we decide, one or the other. Do normal people
have psychotic symptoms. And how do you decide that someone
has psychotic symptoms. A group in london, Louis Johns?
Jim Van Oss ? they looked at the range of phenomena that
were experienced by psychotic patients and non psychotic people.
They were finding that a lot of the psychotic-like symptoms .
eg you walk into a room , the room goes quiet , what do
you think. Could they be talking about you , a common belief.
What about voices. I have, I was sitting watching TV when about
17 or 18 , Match of the Day and I heard my mother shout
"David" but she wasn't there, not even in the house. A strange
phenomena at the time , what we call a hypnoponic? hallucination ,
just as you are going off to sleep. This phenomenon is quite common.
When you get down to what would be rated by psychiatrists
as delusion or halucination , then you are talking about something
more persistent , more distressing, then you are getting to
about 4% of the population. People we would be offering treatment
to , then we are down to 1 to 2%. The level of diabetes in the
population. The 2000 survey of psychiatric morbidity , they
used a psychosis screening questionaire , out in hte community,
how many people had psychotic symptoms and what were the
things related to it. A problem with this survey. What is the best way
to find out if somebody had psychosis or paranoia. Do you think
its to knock on their door and ask them how they're feeling.
The people who worry about people talking about them would
not have answered the door in the first place. So an underestimate
of numbers. Neverless it did produce people , some would
be seen by mental health services , some treated with medication .
They did find what was more likely for someone to have psychotic
symptoms , as they were taking a lot of other info at the same time.
A bit to do with IQ, a bit to do with education, living in cities
is not a good thing - get out of cities if you want to remain sane,
why is not clear and only a partial effect. Cannabis, cocaine and
amphetamine dependence , as they are chemicals that directly
affect the brain and can certainly cause paranoia and halucinations
in a small number of people. Many people use drugs without getting
psychosis . Probably why we've seen an increase in male psychosis
over the past 20 or 30 years. Life events are important, trauma,
anxiety, people who have moved to different
countries. Minor psychotic symptoms in the population are
related to a series of variables but then so is psychosis.
So some sort of continuum. Thats what the argument has been about over
the last 20/30 years. Are we talking about a brain disease , a
physical illness like diabetes ie you have diabetes or not .
We now think its more like blood-pressure, high or low
and where the threshold is, can varry.
A lot of medical disorders we think of as on a continuum now.
We're getting used to that idea. Obesity, diabetes , anaemia ,
hypertension, where do you draw the line. Thats what we're
saying with psychosis as well. Where on that dimension do we
say you're sane or you're not. Why does it matter.
There are a small group of people that we regularly work with who
have very distressing , disturbing, unpleasant symptoms at
some point in their life. The idea that these will last throughout
someone's life is not the case, a lot of people can make a full
recovery. There are other people , in the spectrum , they
move in and out , may have some distress by it . The rest of
us , occassionally , may get a bit suspicious, not a big problem,
we cope with it and move on.
What isn't psychosis . The idea of Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde is clearly
not the case now. The sort of creature , that turns overnight
into some horrendous character , then back to normal the next
day. The idea of split personality , jerking from one personality
to another . The association with agression , people with psychosis
ar emore likely to be the subject of agression rather than be
agressive. Hopelessness , a lot of treatments helpful. Hoplessness
unfortunately becomes a fulfilling prophecy. When people
feel hopeless and have psychosis, makes things worse.
The social misfit . The sort of symptoms we talk about with
psychosis now , yes halucinations. People can have very positive
"voices" , comforting. They might be someone like a grandmother
who was comforting and positive. They also might have voices
that are very critical and be very negative.
Fixed beliefs, at least at that moment, but they can change and vary
over time , paranoia being classical. Reference - that people or TV
is talking about you . Grandiose beliefs, bizarre beliefs of
all sorts. Sometimes those are related to physical phenomenon ,
somebody who believed a man came and pressed on his chest
every noght. He was trying to get to sleep, getting anxious and over
breathing. If you overbreathe it feels like your chest is
over-expanded and he felt someone was pressing him there. Talking with him
about it , clearly no hands there, we could work through what
was happening there. Sometimes those sorts of beliefs can relate
to anxiety symptoms. Cartoon with the line "well, doctor, if there's
nothing wrong with me, then I'll be getting back to Jupiter"
People can present very well but can have beliefs
which can be disfunctional. Is this a disfunctional belief - well its
an odd belief, a strange belief. Jupiter rather then mars or the moon.
Often it has some significance to the person. You track the strange
belief back and you begin to see why that person has gone down
that route. Thats what a lot of therapy is about now.
So positive symptoms, but also negative symptoms. Poor
motivation, social withdrawal, emotional blunting people not
expressing things effectively, limited speech lacking content or
poverty of speech, oppression, anxiety, obsessionality, eating
disorders. All these things can be part of psychotic brainworking.
Then how do we classify it all. DSM5 has entertained lots
of us psychiatrists. Scored 1.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon recently.
Costs a lot of money . There is a free classification system that the
WHO operate that costs nothing, available on the web.
But the American Psychiatric Association makes most of its
money out of that book. So they have to revise it every so often
and gradually expanded the number of categories.
Last time it was slimmed down slightly.
This was something we did for New Scientist. The devisor of
DSM4 commenting on upcoming DSM5 said it was useless,
over-expansive, not much use, don't buy it. A significant
controversy around classification. The basic concepts , like
psychosis , ar eones that we psychiatrists are much more comfortable
with. We're not saying that voices and delusions always mean psychosis.
Because they can occur in othe rcircumstances. With sleep deprivation ,
with drugs, with physical illnesses also delirium .
Alcohol withdrawal you can see where these sorts of beliefs develop.
The hostages in Lebanon give some good descriptions of how they
were halucinating , hearing voices sometimes finding that
comforting. And they felt paranoid as well which is the natural
state where people are against you. So there is the issue of the
normal state, the normal way of responding and what is out
of context. Trans - states , trauma is quite important in
the context of hearing voices. Voices can often relate back to
traumatic events and be set off very readily. People vcan
take drugs, stop taking them , but have those sorts of experiences
etched on the brain and be reproduced very readily.
And some can go continuously. Communication is important, if you're
isolated that makes it more likely you don't test out these
beliefs and check out whether other people are aware of them or not.
How do we help people understand the experiences they are getting.
For people with psychosis , these experiences can be an important part
of that. So we have some symptoms, but perhaps the key thing
is disabling and distressing. If you're hearing voices and you're
happy with it . You might be a medium or in a spiritual
church - fine , if its positive for you. If its causing you distress,
if its disabling , paranoia and ideas of reference . If you feel that
people will talk about you when you go out , you
don't go out. You don't meet people, it limits your life.
So people have these issues , then its disabling, then its distressing.
Generally this is a negotiated process with the individual.
With unusual exceptions, where its interfering with other people's
lives. That survey came up with about 0.4% of the population ,
almost certainly a bit higher than that and worth going on to look
into that. How common is it in a lifetime - about 1%. It costs
billions of pounds , partly because these problems tend to affect
people in their teens and 20s and so interfere with their life
for a long time. Working lives, relationships. Used to be 1 male
to 1 female. More males now, possibly because of drugs
issues. Either males are more prone to psychosis with drugs or
other reasons. Age of onset commonest in age 16 to 35 , can
happen later in life and woment tend to present later.
Cause , I think, is now better understood. What is clear its a series
of different factors. The belief since Kritelin? that psychosis
was a brain disorder. Its not clear cut, like if you have a brain
tumour or an aneurism in the brain. You cant point to a particular
area of the brain. Possibly the temporal lobes are important.
The size of the brain being affected , shrinkage perhaps.
Not clear, its not an individual thing. It doesn't mean we won't
find something at some stage , that leads to a vulnerability , in
relation to the brain. We're vulnerable in all sorts of ways. Every
body gets stressed but people react differently to stresses.
There is a family genetic component to reactio nto stress.
In relation to personality. I don't think that is due to environment
totally , but certainly genetic factors. If you're stressed and you're
more introverted you may become more introverted . If an extrovert
is stressed it may exacerbate your extrovertion.
May be related to more inward looking personality types. It is
suggested there are brain changes that we'll be able to identify,
due to developement. Around teenage /20s its most likely to
develop psychosis . There are a number of studies which use twins
to see who develops psychosis of a pair of twins and who doesn't.
Twins separated at birth. That is a rare phenomenon, twins you
usually try to keep together. The idea was that you then control
for tyhe environment . What is the genetics and what is to do
with the environment. A problem is that a lot of these studies was
done in Scandinavia. There isa tradition there, that families who have
twins , the aunt or sister or family member will look after one of
the twins and raise it. So the family environment is not that
different. The distinctions thought to be due to genetics may
be more complicated than that. So unclear how much genetics
is important in this. A number of genes have been foind , but
most are common in the general population as well as those
with psychosis. A lot of these findings have not been replicated.
We definitely know there is a family issue but its possibly more
to do with personality . Families get concerned about this, whether
they're passing these things on. Some people may develop
a lack of trust , be more suspicious. Othe rpeople may get
depressed, other drink too much. Some get anxious , we have our
own way of responding to stress. How we manage that is the
focus these days. Neurologically , its not clear. It was thought
it was something to do with receptors because we know that the
drugs that are helpful to this condition all focus on dopamine.
But dopamine is part of the stress pathway. So can we go further than
having a medication that dampens down stress. It does that but
is it more than that. It doesn't mean that as we have medication that
dampens down stress , there is something wrong with our way
of managing stress.
Psychological factors. Where a lot of the work is going now.
Personality may make you more vulnerable. Externalising bias
is the idea that people would be more likely to think that things are
to do with things happening outside them , than inside them.
If they hear something , they are more likely to assume
its coming from outside them, rather than in their mind.
You can see how voices might develop like that.
The idea of jumping to conclusions. Thinking of delusional belief.
That is about jumping to conclusion . You see something , hear something,
you think , is that to do with me , is it god that talking to me .
It maybe someone taking a bit of evidence and jumping to a
conclusion. There are psychological tests , which suggest that
people who are more likely to develop psychosis , need less
evidence to come to a conclusion.
One such test is red and blue balls , placed one after
another in a jar . They ask someone which is the
commonest ball, red or blue. Most people will take 5 or 6
balls before making up their mind. People with psychosis ,
asa group, in a generality , stereotyping in many ways are mor e
likely to come to an early conclusion. That may mean they
are more likely to disregard evidence , or look at evidence
properly or maybe they just get fed up with tests very
early. You have to be very careful about psychological tests .
Taking the role of the other. The idea that someone with psychosis may
have difficulty thinking how other people think, and putting
themselves in that position.
Issues around underlying beliefs and worries . being prone
to worry may make you more likely to develop psychosis
and the treatment that would be effective.
Social factors. Being born in an urban environment, stressful life
events, something about poverty. It was though t that social class
was not relevant and that people just drifted down , where they
stopped work and drift down social class . Certainly not that
clear now. Issue about moving country. Obviously stressful
in its own right but intersetingly, its second generation
people , from Afro-Caribbean groups , have a real problem with this.
How much of that is simply from the way people are treated .
Treated in a very negative way , a racist way, maybe you're
more likely to develop a thinking that people are against you.
Almost certainly more complex than that.
The use of drugs. Cannabis has become a big problem, the strong
cannabis skunk cannabanoisds seem to be more likely to
cause halucinations . People get bad halucinations and paranoid
with it and a bad experience at the same time, seems to be more likely.
The research shoes that for a small number of individuals , this is
an issue, so one that we need to be working with.
So we're looking at a combination of factors, biological, psychological,
social, with stressors, significant other person and amplified
by a number of factors within society. Particularly the way people
react , when they hear terms like psychosis , schizophrenia.
I'm delighted so many of you have come today as its often a term
that gets people running to the hills rather than trying to think
about what it means and how important it can be to individuals
and their lives.
There are issues about the terms. We're trying to move away from
using schizophrenia now. I've used the term psychosis
much more in this talk, because its probably more acceptable.
Problems with it , the term psycho for instance. Problems with
the media and the use of these terms.
For instance bonkers Bruno, headline in the Sun a few
years ago. There was such a reactio nto that , that they changed
the headline the same day. Its spawned a lot of work on trying
to destigmatise these terms.
A patient who had a photographer working with her.
For her it was a taboo subject. Recounting - one day I was in a taxi
, the taxi driver said Whats wrong with you. I said I've got
schizophrenia . He said , no you haven't , please
tell me you haven't got that. So I don't talk about it.
They might take it the wrong way. The reaction to the reaction,
she was getting , meant she was not talking about it.
That reinforces paranoia , reinforces the stress. We aim to destigmatise
these terms . The categorical issue has been the important one.
That people with psychosis are very different to you and me.
A lot of us get thoughts that are not different sometimes but
fortunatelty we are not that distressed by them.
A series of ways of working with this. How to use these findings ,
to work with people. Medication, psychological treatment ,
social treatments. We've moved away the large mental hospitals
like Knowle the local one. It still has a small secure unit there
but has been replaced by general hospital units. Houses where
people live, voluntary care support , day-care .
Working with people on the ideas and beliefs they have.
This is why I like the job I do. We can have these discussions
, try to understand what they're reality is.
Individual psychological treatments used to be contra-indicated.
Its now gone completely the other way. To Cognitive Behavioural
Therapy , thoughts,behavious,feelings, with people with psychosis.
Its been a quiet revolution, based on the idea of a continuum, you
can help people move down it. Begin to shift their ideas ,
their beliefs, in the direction more towards what most of us
would share. Getting the treatments available is more difficult
and the treatments tend to be about reasoning. Workshops
for long periods onvthat. The voices and thoughts, why
do people believe, where do those beliefs come from.
Why do they hide away, why are they poorly motivated,
why don't they get involved. A lot is involved with formulating
a way of understsanding how they got into that situation
in the first place.
Then worry. We've just finished a trial in Southampton and Oxford.
A guy in Oxford was convinced that worry was an important part
of paranoia. Why would worry be an important part about
feeling people were against you. If you believe the government is
out to get you, its a worrying thing to be happening.
You will spend a lot of time worrying about it. What will I do about it,
where will I go with this.
How are you spending your life, spending all your time thinking.
How about doing it for half an hour a day. People went with this ,
thinking about problem solving and other routes. There are therapies
and ways we found to be quite effective and reduced the intensity
of these beliefs and distress.
From 2016 we will be offering people , merging with psychotherapy.
Just like cancer treatment , having targets now. Should be getting
treatment within a certain time. Resources going into it,from next april, that at least
half the people experiencing the first episode and go up from that
in succeeding years. A NICE approved care-package.
Psychological treatment , gfamily work, good general healthcare.
A sad thing is that people with significant mental health problems
also have significant physical problems. Steve Brown a psychiatrist
in Southampton , found about 1988 , that people with significant
mental health problems were at least twice likely to die earlier
than the rest of the population. Various reasons for that , but is
something that has more of a focus on.
Perhaps you can go away and think about thoughts that may
confuse you , we all have them, its not a problem.
You can cope with them.
I've heard the phrase used - mass psychosis, is that a real thing?
Occurs with cults and groups, the USA for instance, and trafgedies
associated with htem. Its a group of people with beliefs in common ,
is it about indoctrination . Its probably not what we would be dealing with for individuals. Sometimes you see couiples who develop
beliefs that both seem quite out of context. Usually where one is
particularly unwell and the other comes alongside , supporting
and colluding withthe belief and then developing the belief
themself. Fortunately the mass movement version of this is very
rare. I don't think we see any around St Denys or anywhere else.
There seems to be a 60s,70s,80s phenomenon. Its not something
get involved with , until after the event. There are lots of groups around who
have beliefs , to you or i, may seem very strange. Actually
a lot of religions have beliefs , which looked at objectively,
are difficult to justify. On the other hand, as a group of
people, they believe in it . We may look back at our own beliefs
, in 20 or 50 years time , and wonder why we believed
the sort of things we bwlieve now. Some technological
phenomena, if we looked into the future, we'd think was quite crazy.
Its not something that impinges on my duties as a psychiatrist.
You said there seems to be some correlation with general health
and also people in cities . These things could be correlated with
the amount of exercise we take. Has any look been taken
into the benefits of exercise, for people who have problems. ?
Its called body psychotherapies. They've been developed recently,
particularly for negative symptoms , poor motivation .
There's a chap called Stephy Prevy ? in East London , someone
who comes up with bright but extreme lateral-thinking ideas.
One was paying people to take their medication, which seemed
to most of us, to be a very strange thing to do. But he demonstrated
it could be effective. He has also done work on body psychotherapy,
which has been about dance,pilates , those sorts of interventions.
The first study they did get benefit, the second had problems
in getting people motivated to do this. Exercise is good because it
gets people out o f the house , often a social activity , even
if its just walking a dog. Some of it is the effect of extra
socialisation. Certainly in terms of physical health , it is important,
psychologically no evidence it can work generally.
You touched on lack of engagement. Can you enlarge upon how someone
can engage with someone who lacks engagement.?
I can go further, and lack of insight. People have clear beliefs,
that are not the beliefs that you have. They don't seem to relate
to the problems they have. They have difficulties , voices or paranoia
and those beliefs can seem difficult to engage with. The person
thinks you're dealing with the wrong problem, and feels that
you should be dealing with the issues around him.
The key thing is to identify something that you can get alongside
them with. Worst thing is to get into an argument, starting to
challenge the beliefs, telling them that they're wrong.
Look at what motivates them, what do they want to achieve.
I worked for a few years in an intensive psychiatric care unit.
Everyone who came there , did not want to be there.
How do we manage to form some sort of alliance, a working
relationship. You almost always found, there was something they
wanted out of life and often you were with the team that could
help with that. Sometimes it was just I wanted to be out of
hospital. Almost always possible to agree with someone who
wanted to be out of hospital. We don't want them in hospital, we
want them out , living normal lives. So our goal is the same
thing, what are the steps along the way to achieve that.
Perhaps we have to agree on certain issues such as its important
when you do go out with a nurse ,say, you don't do a runner .
When you're with them , stay with them, do something constructive
and then come back . We do it in a step form.
Or I want to be off medication , many with psychosis , do not
believe they're ill, so they don't see why they must take medication.
So compromise around that, working out , want to get out, want a
girlfriend, want to go home , how will we help you do that.
I know at the moment you do not agree that medication will
be helpful to you , but when on it , they can see less stress ,
more interactive . And you're into a discussion there.
Most people we work with have come to an acceptance that the
treatments we offer , are reasonable. But you often go through a phase
where that is not the case. Then its a matter of making sure they
don't get into complications, work alongside with them. So we
have outreach teams and others particularly trained for
thos eproblems. What is insight, what does it mean. People hav e
thought of it in 3 ways. First it means believing you are ill.
Psychosis means , I disagree with you that the government are
after you , but I am talking to you. You believe they
are ill , but they don't . 2 other areas . The belief that is what is
happening to them , is a problem, the feeling sand beliefs .
Some will say the fact that I keep hearing things "I'm useless" is a
problem , so at least we've agreed on that, se if we can do
something about that, whatever we call it. The third is co-operation
in terms of some sort of treatment or intervention.
We do have people who are ill, don't accept they are ill , but
will accept a treatment. So working with insight at different
levels and engage . Its a fascinating thing and we all lack
insight in all sorts of different ways.
I ended up in a Connecticut hospital once , I was talking about these
sorts of treatments and I don't think they've got this aspect in some parts
of the US yet. They decided we were not dealing with people who
were really ill . So they took me along to someone who was
catatonic, not talking at all. Talking treatments, you think, require at least
some sor tof interaction. Although he was said to be catatonic, sitting down
next to him . On the TV was a basketball match. I've never worked out
what a foul was in basketball as they look as they're fouling
each other all the time. So this is what I asked him. We didn't have a
huge conversation but we did manage to find something
where we could begin to talk together. When you get that bridge,
then you can start to move forwards. Then eventually work on the
issues the person has. Its not always the same common goal, its
they're goal and you have to work with that.
Sometimes I have to say, I cannot agree to that at the moment,
but most of these things in the longer term, you can.
You said there was various ways to encourage people to take
medication. How do you engage people who do not beleive
they're unwell, and involve them in the complexities of CBT which requires an all
round effort in the person concerned?
The studies we have done, involving the likes of CBT, is very
much where we go to the person. If you expect them to come along
and see you in an outpatient clinic , on a regular basis , your lucky
and it sometimes happens. But often , with the studies involving
people with more difficult problems. A study we are doing at the
moment, with people on the most effective medication possible ,
called chloxapine and yet they're still getting symptoms.
We found with that group, yes they may come to a clinic because they
often come to a clinic for bloodtests and the like. Sometimes
you have to go out to their homes , sit with them, talk
in a befriending manner as an approach, Supplements CBT.
We end up talking about basketball for instance , allows us to
develop a conversationb , work with that, and gradually
deal withthe significant issues . That can be slow to start with .
I'm not saying everybody who offers CBT , is offering that sort
of intervention . But that is the new standard coming in, that's what
will be expected, something that is interactivce, assertive ,
drawing people in. Its more convenient if they come to see us
on za regular basis. To engage, is often go to them, see them,
meet them. I've done sessions in parked cars . In LA
that is a different matter . A supervisor came up to me afterwards
, that I'd have to change my speech, but in principle
of being able to draw people in . I've worked with a Doug Turkington?
and we worked in Bassetlaw. There was someone I thought was really
right for this approach , but he was taciturn and not involved.
Doug , the first 2 or 3 times , the patient walked out. Fourth
time he stayed ,and sat there and Doug managed to engage him .
Engage him in the conversation, whatever its about, was the
start. Sometimes it needs persitance to get involvement, can
take a few months or even a year or two.
Is it expensive?
We have a hospital system, where the real expense is in-patient
care. And particularly long-term patient care and secure
care. That is much more expensive . The cost to society of people
not being able to function in the most effective way in their
lives , is huge. We're trying to bring the money forward, as at
the moment its all in the wrong place. Keeping people where
they are rather than stoping them getting there in the first place.
Needs one relatively expensive , trained clinical psychologist
and anurse therapist , over 20 hour sessions. Thats not a huge
investment bu t the long term results can be very effective.
Think of the situation where you're working with a family
as well. The ? trial was 6 sessions , 6 one hour sessions and at
the end of that, there were benefits. We did another like that
of family sessions , with again a lot of benefits down
the line. Often you were sharing the explanation of what you were
doing with the family , when the person would allow that.
Sometimes they'd only allow a portion of that to be given.
Often you can negotiate around , what its possible to dicuss.
It does not have to be expensive but the costs are enormous .
As mental health professionals we get a bit narked when
we look at the cost of some of the drugs out there, and for less
long term outcomes. Even if it did cost a lot then the benefitrs
are such , that we should be doing it.
A friend of my sister recently had a psychotic episode, what is it?
When someone is distressed and disabled by these sorts of things.
Usually they develop beliefs, often paranoid but not always,
beliefs that people are against them. Often the beliefs are about
other people , suspiciousness, lack of trust , people or
government is against them. They might get say a letter from the
taxman and they read things into that which goes beyond
what the letter actually says. Sometimes they've had experiences
i nthe past that make them prone to be suspicious. When they
get something through, like a letter, they jump to a conclusion
that this means that. That begins to spiral because they talk
to people about it, people look at them as if they're crazy .
They get more worried, more distant , the beliefs spiral .
Someone I knew, he was living in a rough area and the police
had come to interview him a couple of times , because there
had been a homicide in the area, it happens. He took that
fisrst leap, they're targetting me. We think he was up to something
dodgey anyway, so something going on that made him particularly
prone to believe that. He told his father , his father became concerned
that this was going beyond normality , told the doctor . Doctor
decides this is an acute psychotic episode, we need a second opinion, we
need to get a
psychiatrist , social worker. This is a big guy, he'll be upset
when we go around, perhaps we need the police as well.
Those turn up and it spirals very quickly, goes into hospital,
and is convinced the police are after him. The police interview him,
they take me to hospital, I lok out of the window and what do
i See - police cars. What happens is that you're selective in these
circumstances. Things that confirm your belief is what you spot.
We review what led up to this, go back, what was the evidence
for that. Sometimes personal experience is useful in this.
When I was a medical student , I got interviewed by the police
twice for murders as well. These sorts of things do happen,
I've not been in prison, I'm still here (or I got away with it- no,no).
Something that began as a small problem, began to spiral
and spiral and get out of control. The psychotic episode
was affecting him, and affecting others in that they became concerned
as well. That sort of situation is very treatable now , medication
can help, talking can help. What is a bit more of a problem
is the long term. How do you help the person re-integrate
into society, back to work, back to relationships again.
Often getting the motivation going again.
People hear voices or they have delusions , do they actually
get cured, where they no longer hear the voices or no longer
have the delusions or halucinations or do they still have them
but not affect their life. Somehow adapt to reality as we
would call it, they still have the voices but it no longer disturbs
Yest to both. Some people learn ways to adapting to the voices
they're hearing, the work out ways of coping , understanding, they
can work out whats a voice and whats not a voice and that helps htem
. Certainly stress tends to make them worse, or if you get angry
with them . So just being able to get the tone down and we
talk , things like mindfulness now, allowing it to wash over
you. Don't fight it, accept it, let it happen. It doesn't mean anything.
What is being said is not true, its not accurate , maybe you can
just let it go. Some can go with that, some have a real struggle
with it. Sometimes its coping, thats what people manage with,
focusing on and working wiht the good voice. Often, over time, the
voices become less ?, over the years rather than over the months.
Some adapt to the voices and cope with it well. With beliefs
, some people will look back , a year or two later , and ask
them how are you feeling about the moon now. Last year
I was absolutely convinced it was falling in on me, a real problem.
Look at it, why is the moon staying up there. You're a scientific
community and you know why the moon stays up there .
Throw things up in the air and they come down , space ships
go up there and they come down, why shouldn't the moon come
down. A sort of logic to it. Then looking back it it , its quite
amusing now that I thought that. It doesn't trouble me
now but it did at the time. Some beliefs , they will look back
and say I'm sure the government are styill after me, they're not
doing it now, they've given up , they're targeting othe rpeople
now, its not me. That may shift . The important thing is the
distress is less , life interference is less , coping better with it.
Some people can cope with their voices, others would like to be rid
of it, but they're getting on with hteir life.
I was reading an article today about treatment processes, CBT and
mindfulness but 1 seemed a bit off-the-wall to me. Have you
had any dealings with horse-riding as therapy. It seems to have a lot
of foundation to it? Associated with something like empathy, an
interaction with another living entity, although not a human.
Certainly the exercise aspect may be important. There is a serious
point about pets and pet therapies which have not had huge evaluation.
One of the key things is the interaction you develop with someone.
If that relationjship is with an animal , some sor tof emotional
support from an animal, that in itself can be therapeutic.
So petting dogs into hospitals and cats and dogs in rehab units.
Sometimes you can relate to a cat or a dog but relating to
a erson can seem more threatening. That can then be a bridge
to other processes. I don't know the scientific basis but its
certainly something thats been explored.
Early intervention teams often have ways of trying to work
with people , that go beyond sitting and talking to people -
art therapies , dance therapy. We've had research but its
been very focused and there are a lot of these sorts of interventions
that have a small effect , but are important for certain
individuals. We are trying to develop a much better data framework
for what we do so we can look at the different interventions and
what works for who. How much , how long, and with what longer
term effect. I think its important for medicine generally
that we have a big-data approach to data, but its very important
for long term conditions. Conditions like psychosis can last a long
time. We use 16 to 20 sessions of CBT , why 16 to 20, thats
what the studies did, practical, we could fund that. But is that
what we need , perhaps we need booster treatments later on.
Finding studes for that is difficult. Maybe a combination
of say cat-therapy would work for some people very well
, if they chose that. But at the moment we don't have the
data , and trying to get more data in place.
Is part of the background problem that big-pharma
wants to fund studies into drug regimes .?
I think big-pharma have given up on psychiatry more or less.
A period 90s to 2000s when we had chlozapine , which was different
to the other antipsychotics , big pharma got in there to develop
a safer chlozapine without side effects, putting in a lot
of money but really we've come to the end of the run. We have
different drugs that have different side effect profiles , useful.
Some are less sedative , some more stimulating , a variety
but really not much further. Psychological treatments are being funded
by government mainly.
The need to reintegrate, especially as they are often young. There was
an employment scenario in a TV ad recently where somebody ,
was being interviewed about their mental health issue. If people
cant be integrated , it intensifies and is self perpetuating .
Are employers understanding about this and approachable
about this. ?
Variies from employer to employer. There is the Time for Change
campaign which is going on , a national one. Trying to get
people to change their views and attitudes, including employers.
There is also employment schemes , individual placement
support schemes which help people get back into employment.
They are good evidence bvased. What we had before was
sheltered workshops , where people were prepared to go back
into work. Whats become clearer, the best way to get back
into work , is to get back into work and be supported there.
Can you find employers who will take people , you can , but its
not as easy as it should be. There is still alot of stigma about
mental health in the workplace. To get back into work, should
they be honest about their background. We near enough all say,
probably not. Start off, getting to know the person, then once they
know you, then later say things if you need to.
The prejudice about having psychosis or schizophrenia, depression
is a bit better now, people are more familiar with it.
Even so disclosing a mental health problem can be a barrier.
A lot of people develop illness when they atre in employment.
So trying to keep them in employment is also important.
Once they've lost a job, its much more difficult to get back in
again. So see what you can do about keeping them in ,but without
overburdening them. A balance there to get right.
If work has been a key component in their illness then perhaps they
do need to change. It often needs rethinking your life
when you've been through these episodes, back on track,
but get the support to do that is what we try to do, but not always
Are there any schemes to recognise problems in work where
someone may have distinctly antisocial behaviour traits
about them. ? Supporting the people who are going to work
with him , accommodate those others adequately , understand
what the limitations are, because sometimes their ? are self evident.
One case in mind. We had a very bright guy in our intellectual
area of developement , also a public area with customers,
a very large organisation . We shared a lot of common areas.
This guy was a real wacko sometimes. He'd run around, wore
shorts , often soiled himself but he had a brilliant mind.
Nobody ever gave us any idea what his condition was, how
to help and accommodate him , what were no go areas.
2 or 3 years to come to some sort of rapore. It was difficult to
come to terms with in a high pressure work environment. ?
I hope it was a work environment which had an occupational
There was but it could have been a brick wall as nothing
was coming down. Running scared of confidentiality. ?
There are some employment schemes , if you were going into
employment but this isa guy in employment. Occupational
Health depts vary a great deal in their psychiatric knowledge
and expertise. You want to maximise the clear benefit that
he has. Whether through a management and occupational
health process , planning and working with that individual ,
how his behaviour is affecting others , is the sort of thing
we would be looking at. Is it a mental health problem he has .
It was never explained , perhaps Asperger's or autism.
He was on a diet of coke and crisps , but he wouldn't through
any of them away , so surrounded by coke cans and crisp
packets. No one dared dispose of them as he would go potty. ?
It does sound like he was autistic. There are ways of managing
and helping in that situation. They are well developed .
You don't need to break confidentiality as you can see that
behaviour. In the area of occupational health there has been
movement concerning up-skilling , a lot of this is important
in terms of productivity. Mental health problems are huge
in productivity terms. People off with depression , anxiety,
functioning less effectively when at work. All these are as important
as physical problems . A lot of back-ache is psychological ,
not that its not a pain in someone's back , but the background
is often that they are getiing stressed , and tens, functioning
less well and becoming distressed by it.
We try and get across that mental health issues are quite
pervasive, but alsoi treatable.
Monday 14 September 2015, Prof Joerg Fliege, Southampton University, :Finding optimal flight plans for satellites and other spacecraft.
25 people, 1.5 hr
It turns out its hard to find an optimum flightpath. Typical designs
these days are formation flight planning where more than one space
craft move in a synchronised motion around the Earth, to
observe a particular point on the surface, a disaster area or high
political interest, 24 hrs a day with different satellites. Different
directions, speeds and orbits. Or interplanetary missions, such
as the Cassini mission, which used various manoeuvres
around the sun, to borrow enough energy from it and other planets .
video animation of the complex path
The probe set off for Saturn in 1997, it is basically a big fuel
tanker, about 6 tons, 3.1 tons is fuel, rest is sensors and lander.
That amount of fuel is not enough to reach Saturn, directly.
So optimise fuel use, using gravity assist manoevres, borrow energy
from Venus and Earth, converted to speed. The rocket fuel is
hydrozine , highly toxic, highly flammable and boils at 90
deg C. You need marshmallow suits to handle hydrazine , people
have died from liver failure due to a drop of it on their
skin a couple of weeks earlier.
About 6 months to reach Venus . Requiring exact height above
a planet and approach angle to achieve the desired speed gain.
Reach Venus in 1998 and gain 25,000 kph, just for waiting
half a year for the right occassion to fly around Venus .
A nice trick, a trick that works twice is called methodology.
So use it again 1 year later around Mars, Venus again and a
higher distance, 600 Km instead of 300 km before,
this time approaching from the nightside. 24,000 kph more speed.
Then a third time around the Earth, using a safety distance
of 1,200 km , for various reasons , partly for political
reasons . So 22 months and getting back to the start near enough.
Doing that , we save 68 tons of rocket fuel. You don't want to take
68 tons of highly toxic stuff up to low Earth orbit and 1kg
of hydrozine costs about 3000 GBP. So saving all that by
choosing the right flight parameters and a very complex path
around the planets, optimising everything.
Then off to Jupiter and another nudge to go to Saturn.
You don't want to be too fast or you would whoosh past
Saturn. You need just enough speed to get caught into
the gravitational field of Saturn to do a science
mission. On to Jupiter october 1999 , not too close because of the
radio emissions. And then finally Saturn about 30,000 kph.
Trading off time for speed, or speed for the amount of instruments
You need to find parameters for the distance from the earth, distanc e
from the sun , target, height velocity , mass of the spacecraft.
These numbers change all the time, each rocket firing and the mass
of the craft reduces. They are all coupled in an interesting way.
The simplest to look at are the Goddard Equations of 1919.
You have a rocket and want to reach a maximum height, how do
you steer, how much throttle so as to reach maximum height.
A couple of equations the first derivative of h heaght, the
velocity and a couple of other factors which don't look very nice.
You can spend a couple of years solving that equation, its
hard. Thats the easiest equation. Once you are in low Earth
orbit and want to go to Mars , the equations look harder.
Trignometric terms etc, interesting starting conditions for
no rhyme or reason. If you are cruising at 60 to 80km above
the earth, below low orbit, and your motor is about to
explode , so you decouple the motor and try to get away
as quick as possible. You hope to land glider fashion.
You have to then solve this immense equation - quickly.
You do that off-line at home, load the solution into your on-board
computer and hope for the best, that it all works well.
This is pretty nasty, the stuff we are doing. The solutions
are not very intuitive. Say you are over Germany at 60km
and want to land quickly with gliding motion only, no rocket
then the optimum solution is not intuitive , because you go
higher first, then down, then up . You have to go higher to
burn speed and then land at near zero speed at about Hull.
This non-intuitive stuff happens all the time. We stare at
the computer screen and it just does not look right.
A couple of examples people are working on right now.
The Grand Tour , the Jovian tour, the Jovian inner
system . Some moons are more interesting than others.
There might be geological features, volcanoes, recent
earthquakes, signs of life perhaps. Committees of scientists
give various scores to the various targets. We are then supposed
to find the right trajectory through the Jovian system where
everything is moving around each other. So you can pass
close to all those features and get the highest success scores.
Not just a control problem , of having to fly between different
moons but also have to maximise these scores.
Typically the trajectories look crazy. A couple of hundred
revolutions around just one . You can imagine this as the job
of a travelling salesman, from one city to the next, scoring as many
sales as possible with 10^269 different cities .
2025 is the European Jovian space mission , 2020 launch date.
Its not always clear there is one unique solution, that would be great.
Always a spread of optimisation solutions.
Mission to Apophis trajectory, 4.8km wide asteroid.
Will be near earth in 2038 and will most certainly not fly through
a certain keyhole in space, so it will not crash with Earth
in 2065. Less than 1 in 100 million chance of something bad,
is the current estimate. 1 in 100 million chance that several
billion people die is interesting enough for hte big space agencies
to investigate. On paper there are plans to send a mission to
Apophis . Depending on what day of the year of launch between
2015 and 2013 or so, and time to reach Apophis
ther eare various fuel demands plotted in a 2D space.
So good fuel economy mission if launch one day and 100 day
mission, or anothe rlaunch day and 250 day length etc.
Mission parameters that are hard to compare. Turn the
graphic around a bit , then minimised mission time and
fuel demand , bow shaped tracks in the plot.
If you want to try some of this maths at home one is GTOC,
Global Trajectory Optimisation Competition, the Americas Cup
of rocket science. If you enter the competition you have 1 month
to solve the problem.
A problem from 2 years ago, the grand asteroid tour.
1,400 asteroids and you have to visit as many of them as possible
withion a mission time of 10 years. The spaceship is given,
so unable to fiddle with the amount of fuel, can't fiddle with
the motor parameters, a launch window of 2 weeks .
So the problem is like visiting as many cities as you can in your
car, but these cities are moving around the solar system .
Just 3 months ago we participated i nthe recent problem.
34 teams from around the world particiupated, 19 didn't
finish because the problem was just too hard.
Space is hard. You might want to look at the GTOC database
whewre you can see what other people have come up with
as solutions for particular problems. There included is the
optimum solution for the cassini mission and a few more less
optimum, a couple of years longer, or cost a couple of billion
How in maths do we attempt this problem . Basically 3 big
strategies , some inputs , some derivatives, some constraints .
1/ optimise and discretise? , to minimise the function for one
variable it occurs whenthe slope is 0 , derivative of f(x) is 0.
It is posssible to generalise to the complicated case involving
height, velocity , mass exhaust rate etc for the direction vecteor of
our spacecraft. This has been extended over 50 years to
a general rocket equation . You extend the algorithm for the
equation f'(x) =0, Newton's method perhaps. Throw it onto your
compute rand hope for the best. There are a few sets of code around
that start to do that. You get to errors of the order 10^-8 , 7 to 8
correct digits from your computer, for velocity , height etc.
Unfortunately this method only works when you have some
idea what the optimal solution looks like. If you have a completely
new mission set, no one has considered before , you will have a hard
time using this trick.
2/ Implicit or black-box approach. Everything happens in the
plane of the ecliptic. So billiard balls ona plane, we always
stay in the plane with our craft as well. S o one dimension
less . It really simplifies life. Or we have a rocket engine
that has just 1 level of thrust, on or off, no gas pedal to play with.
Or just one deep space manoevre, say travelling from earth
to mars , in the middle you switch everything off and cruise along.
Simplifies it all a lot. Al lthe corresponding functions are then
pre-defined by the parameters that you have. If you do it right
you only have to solve a problem in dimension 20, only
20D space. The alternative is to work in 10^269 dimentional
space. Bung it in a computer and hope for the best.
You get a big black box of a lot of nasty code , 50,000 lines
of Fortran. You fiddle here and it moves someone over there.
No one really understands what is going on with this code.
You can plug numbers in and get numbers out and you will
miss optimal trajectories. The fuel-optimal trajectory
in the sun-earth-mars plane. The optimal solution wobbles ,
it goes out of the plane and goes in a gain. Something you
completely miss if you assume everyting is nice 2D.
Its difficult because for all times we have to compute lots of numbers ,
its location, its direction, right rocket thrust, all varying over
time and so an infinite set of numbers. So we chop the time
axis into tiny pieces, not try to find a f(t) for rocket thrust,
we just need to find a histogram, then every couple of seconds,
adopt a discrete regime of how we steer the engine around.
Reducing intervals, then the histograms more and more resemble
a continous function. We can pull tricks from Euclidean geometry
and simplify it more.
Only consider a finite number of unknowns. The resulting
bar graph is a problem studied for decades now. High performance
software for that exists. Throw it into your computer and a reasonable
chance that it works. Disadvantege is you still get a billion
different numbers to deal with in stead of 20 that we had in the
medium approach. You need high performance computing .
A feasable approach. You only get 4 digits of accuracy here,
errpor of about 10^-4 , not good enough for good quality
trajectories. If you whizz around the solar system,
sun earth distance in millions of km , lets approach Venus
at an altitude of 300km , you need to crank out as many
digits as possible , because an easy error makes you 0km
So we mix and match everything together as much as possible
start with (only) 20 dimensional space, switch to a high
fidelity model leading to more accurate solutions.
Home in on an approach that gives you 8 correct digits,
when you've identified a reasonably close solutuion.
Lots of areas of involvement in different disciplines
to come together. Applied mathematics, computer science,
pure maths, physics , engineering , all need to work
together to pull this off.
We've been involved with developing a toolbox for ESA,
for solving generic trajectory optimisation programs of the
implicit form low dimensional. One of my PhD students
found a better solution for the "Americas Cup" problem
competition. There are various special purpose code,
in this community , some open source , some you get when
you ask nicely , some you don't get. Many are written
for special purposes like these competitions. But very limited
for general use, so perhaps not where research should be
going. ESA,JAXA, NASA and Chinese all have their
in-house codes that we will never really see without
the relevant security clearance. Newest one is the WARP
code , developed by myself and colleagues. Took the
various lessons learnt in exercises and is now adopted
by ESA as in-house working code for trajectory
optimisation and some other things.
The future , a Jupiter mission zipping around its moons in 2020
or June 2022, 6 or 7 years transfer time and a year for
actual science and mapping, JUICE jupiter icy moon explorer.
The graphic of a smooth trajectory around Ganymede is
made up, its not optimal. Zoom in would show kinks and not
optimised, so we still need to work on it , as I speak here.
The other hot topic is low thrust rocket engines, solar sails
perpendicular to the Sun and the sunlight pressure moves
you away. Ion drives very fuel efficient as are sails as no
fuel at all. But not much bang for your buck. Rocket engines
produce at least 100,000 Newtons , ion drives perhaps 1/2 a Newton
at most 1 Nt. So pushing stuff very slowly but continuosly.
Rocket engines work for a minute or 2 then its over.
With 2Kg you can run a ion drive for 2 weeks and low
cost. Mission times increase by roughly a factor of 10
and if you want to move from slightly elliptical
to a farther out orbit, there are hundreds of orbits t get there.
8,000 earth orbits to move from initial to final circular orbit
taking weeks. No use for manned spaceflight. If hardened
enough to pass the Van Allen belts then fine for unmanned
Trajectories for Earth aircraft are also important. We recently
worked with Bremen Munich , adapting the code for aircraft
movement in such a way that noise pollution at the
ground is minimised. Living in St Denys you know
wher ethe airport is. Living around Heathrow , you know
where that airport is. So optimising for the least number of
people being woken up. Difficult to adapt as physics of the
atmosphere comes in and how the noise propogates.
In space its simpler as no atmosphere.
I'm asked what impact has my research had on the real world
and I reply, hopefully none. I hope everything flies smoothly .
The Rosetta mission trajectory video. Very strange triangular
approach. A triangle is the polyhedron with the smallest number
of edges. 67P does not exert any gravitational pull. Wherever
you point your space craft and thrust your engine, thats the
direction you fly. You cannot move in a circle unless you
fire your motor continuous. All perpendicular to the
dust cloud , as you don't want to get into the cloud. We lost the
craft for a day as it pointed its antenna away from the earth.
Eliptical parking orbit at 80Km, then down to 20km and the
observational orbit for a couple of months.
Lander insertion initially outwards and then gliding in
again. Then release , to hit the right spot of the comet.
And the orbiter returns to its parking orbit.
The first time I saw that, I thought that does not look right.
For the mission parameters that was trhe right thing to do.
Optimal under the assumptions made originally and the
assumptions were more or less correct.
Cooling is an issue with spacecraft. Rotating them so that one side is
not heated preferentially. The insides look like a house heating system
but cooling system. Heatpipes are useful as no power required.
When was the 3-body problem first possible to solve?
Numerically the first approximations came after Legrange.
Early 20C , I'd guess by a Russian mathematician using log-tables.
Can you go out of the plane of the ecliptic by gravitational
robbing, not limited to 10 or 20 degrees off say ?
No, given enough time you can go anywhere.
So we are robbing Jupiter each time?
If you send a billion craft around Venus for a billion years
then Venus would slow down noticably, yes.
I'm aware that the earthquake that preceeded the Boxing Day
tsunami affected the Earth rotation speed and so affected the
GPS system. Having to add another leapsecond
in beyond the usual leapseconds. Did it allso affect other satellites ?
I'm not aware of it affecting other systems, GPS is extreme precision
of timing. Higher up communications satellites are not
In comparison to ion-drives what is the propulsive force available
to the solar sail system?
Very similar, of the order .1 to 1 Newton or so. Requiring something
like a tennis-court size sail. In the Earth-Mars orbits where there
is enough solar force available.
Is there a system for countering any asteroids that are coming
towards Earth. Painting them on one side or such, can we calculate
that effect with any degree of certainty. To optimise that, or
is it too small . ?
You would need to know a lot about the geometry of the asteroid
and they come in all kinds of shapes. If you have a given peanut
shaped asteroid you can get a fairly precise idea of the
force over the years. They're not necessarily homogeneous
, pieces of rubble or compacted stone. without knowing that, all
efforts are probably futile.
Are tumbling orbits predictable over a year say, as long
as any constituent parts don't move?
Yes , a couple of years or a decade is no problem.
On that scale you can assume point mass basically. 10
or 15 years is doable and then you have all kinds of effects
from Jupiter and maybe Saturn.
The parking orbit of the Rosetta Mission, is that stable
without any engine input?
No, you regularly need to correct or the elipse
grows bigger and bigger, with little bursts . Its not really an
orbit , its segments of a polygonal structure , every few days.
A very reliable engine system required , for 1000 or so firings?
I've never heard of engine failure.
Star-tracker failed once, mistaking dust for a star, completely
realigned the craft. So the craft lost track of Earth , realised
something was wrong and shut itself down for 24 hours.
So Rosetta moved away about 400km , booted up
automatically , startracker found the right star ,
realigned to craft to Earth, said Hello, and back to normal.
That wa sa Friday evening , not a nice time, took till
Sunday night to resolve this.
How much of that the trajectory to the comet was suck-it-and-see?
Get so far from it and then chang ea parameter or 2. ?
The trajectory was continually reoptimised as soon as data
The sling-shot could be slightly off?
Yes, and you never know how big the dust cloud will be,
and so where to avoid. Dust would scratch the camera lenses at least.
That triangular structure was irrelevant to whether the
comet was a perfectly spherical body or totally asymetric shape?
Yes. That animation was not to scale. If you are more than
15km from the asteroid then you are outside any gravity field
How much co-operation is there between countries and universities
. Does it take a lot of work getting people to work with
Partly a money question . On the scientific side people work
well together. On the engineering side it depends on the
political climate of the day. eg NASA does not like much that ESA
has good relationships with the Russians at present.
Russia is happy to talk to ESA because they have tons
of ICBM missiles around which you can retrofit so they
will go into orbit instead. They are cheap and many such missions
fly from Kazakstan, its a money question.
The orbit optimised for Rosetta , was that NASA or ESA?
A European mission , all the calculations, no input
from anybody else. Preliminay calculations were done by NASA
but funding got pulled and taken over by ESA and the
trajectories used were done in Europe only.
Is that ESTAC ? doing most of this?
What is your margin of error. You say you get 8 correct numbers
, how many do you really need and how much wriggle room
do you have on them?
All engineers will tell you we need as much accuracy as possible.
If you get something on the first run that is correct to .5%
or so , then they have something to work with.
There is tooing and froing, can you save another 2 or 300 Kg
so we can have one more camera system on board etc.
You start with 1% and preliminary workable
solutions with 6 figure accuracy, 8 would be better.
Something may throw a spanner in the works so there is always
some back-up fuel onboard. As in the Rosetta, loss of it for 1 day,
Rosetta just moved in a straight line for 400km and we needed
fuel to bring it back. So you can over-optimise , if everything goes
right then we need this amount of fuel, no you don't do that.
When planning these slingshots around moons, how accurately do you
know the positions of moon and the craft, and relative distance
between them, presumably some guesswork in there.?
All large celestial bodies I can give you to 12 digits of accuracy
for the next 100 years , no problem. After that time accuracy breaks
down fairly quickly. People think in terms of keyholes through
which the craft has to fit at a particular time, and that is
about the size of 20 to 50km. If it passes through it, you
can always re-optimise and make course corrections afterwards.
So 600km to venus +/-20km , thats alright.
It looks a big margin of errorr 20km , here on the ground
but if you are moving at 25000 kmph, 20km is not much.
Do you know the position of moons to that acuracy?
You don't, so you have to be careful of not over-optimising
again. You have a relatively large margin of error there.
May sound like astrology this. The tides on Earth are principly
due to the moon and Sun. In the worst case, for alignment of the
inner planets, could it be as much as 10% of the moon+sun effect?
Milankovitch cycles , related to planetary alignments and sort
of ice-age time scales , I just wondered on the shorter timescales
This happens over very long time scales and over long time
scales, all bets are off. I don't have a proof that the Solar
system is stable for 2 billion years.
The main disturbance effects would be resonance effects
and they are not predictable?
Exactly , not over those sort of timescales, the maths does not hold up.
For missions up to 20 or 30 years, everything is fine, we know where
the planets are supposed to be , but it breaks down fairly
quickly after that.
Do you get involved with calculating orbits for exo-planets,
where there is little data?
I don't do that. You need a good idea of the path of their sun
and without that its probably more guess-work than anything else.
Huge error bars so somewhere between science and guesswork.
I'm sceptical when I see headlines of a new earthlike planet
being found. Earthlike can mean anything even a factor of 10 different.
How do spacecraft know where they are, how do they align themselves?
They have a number of cameras pointing in different directions ,
which are used to track particular stars which oscillate in the
light they emit. After a couple of hours obberving a star system
they know which star , another over there with that frequency,
and a third , so I'm here. That calculation can be done onboard
or sent to Earth where its processed with higher precision.
A bit like GPS, needing 3 cameras, 3 startrackers not pointing
at the sun.
The oscillations is due to binary systems? The twinkling of stars
observed from Earth is due to the atmosphere?
Alpha-Sephide have some processes within them that make
them dim over a period of a couple of hours or days.
The inability to calculate beyond a few decades. How far out
are you after say 50 years in your judgement of where Jupiter
would be for example?
For the bigger celestial bodies I think we've nailed the theory and
prediction down , 12 to 24 digits of accuracy for the next 100
years. For a spacecraft whizzing in between , using its own motor
all bets are off after 20 years. We only know where a craft is
after 20 years because we knew where it was after 18 years.
So for the likes of voyager its continually recalculated?
You never mentioned chaos theory in these calculations, do
you get chaotic behaviour?
We try not to.
If you sent something out, with slightly changed initial parameters
would you get indeterminate , chaos induced, variations?
Not for the first couple of rotations around the sun , or for the first
couple of years. If you let the spacecraft propogate without
further fuel expenditure you would get chatic movenent
after a couple of years.
You avoud that by continuously reoptimising, and fuel use
to keep the craft on track.
For past missions , do you ever determine where they may end up,
or does no one care, after its sellby date?
Yes. The Voyager missions are on their way out of the solar
Are those influenced by gravity ?
They're going straight ahead and will leave the gravitational
zone of the Sun in a couple of thousand years. There is nothing
in the way. Voyager 2 still has a kind of working plutonium
reactor on board , so its still alive , sends messages to the
deep space network every couple of weeks.
For a million years hence, could you say where it would be?
No . There is a cone of uncertainty that gets larger
and larger, maybe a couple of degrees, encompassing a few
solar systems wide.
With the voyagers, are they accelerating or decelerating , relative
to our Sun?
They should be slightly accelerating due to solar pressure,
perhaps a couple of km difference over decades, really not much.
They are also "outgassing". The plutonium is still hot ,
so there is infra-red radiation coming out of the craft. From our
veiw the reactor is on the left side and so being pushed
towards the right a bit. You only notice it after 20 years,
because its not rotating. Those are the only forces acting on
it so its really only gliding along. Acceleration is practically 0.
The trajectory cant be changed on the Voyager?
I think they've run out of fuel.
Do you get involved with space debris at all, trying
to calculate big lumps of it.?
You need to ask my colleague Juan Lewis ? of the faculty of
engineering. Space debris is a gnarrly problem as hard
to predict as its also influenced by the atmosphere. So the
sun heats the atmosphere due to a hard to predict event,
like solar flares. The atmosphere automatically expands ,
can be hundreds of miles, just a couple of molecules
per cc , but with these speeds it matters. So all orbits
of all low lying objects including debris is immediately
affected and impossible to forecast that.
The last event was the Russian craft that didn't get into orbit
, a science mission with an Indian satellite on board.
It was clear it would crash somewhere sometime but incredibly
hard to put some numbers on it, more than a couple
of days accuracy. Only 3 days before the crash event can
you say something like in 56.5 hours error bound is 30 minutes,
otherwise impossible. THese craft are tumbling so no
particular front facing the atmosphere. Hard to see how much
friction ther eis , how dense the atmosphere is , matter of
continuously monitoring the junk and hope for the best.
Is the space-elevator concept just pie in the sky or is there
some foundation to it?
I'm not a material scientist. If we get the unobtainium material
In the theoretical mission to mars, you will have to slow down
, how do you do slowing down if you're using gravity to speed
you up. ?
By using the same manoevre backwards. If you come up from
behind a planet, you speed up , do it the other way round and
you slow down. Takes a while to get your head around it.
For a planet there is no front or back?
From behind I meean the planet is moving counter-clockwise
and you move up behind it in the travelling direction,
you speed up.
Its orbital momentum you're stealing not gravitation as such.
To go out of the plane of the ecliptic , what is the mechanism there?
Push a bit out of the ecliptic , with the rocket engine,
then you do the corresponding gravitation manoevtre
, in one direction you get a speed up .
You cant do it purely by interaction with a planet?
No , you need a bit of engine thrust to get out of the ecliptic initially.
It still seems odd to me that , assuming the inner planets are near enough in the one plane, it could be optimal to go out of it?
Its non-intuitive. When I first saw the equations I thought that
can't be right.
You push out of the ecliptic and you fall into it again and you
get more speed than you've spent.
Is it due to the Earth being in the ecliptic and the others are out
of it by a small amount?
No that's not really the effect.
Was there ever any of these effects that were not predicted .
They sent out craft and then suddenly found there was some reactive
force or some effect that wasn't determined in advance?
They spent a few years before fathoming the push-to-the-right of Voyager. There are also 1 or 2 craft using the Earth fly-by
gravitational manoevre and got more than they bargained for,
beyond the usual error range , and no one really knows what
is going on.
How do you do verification of your calculations ahead of a mission,
a completely independent piece of software?
You have different simulations and if they all more-or-less say the
same withion their boundaries of error then people will
What is the computer power on something like the Rosetta craft,
compared to an ordinary laptop say. ?
On Rosetta its an 8bit machine , like in your own computer
of early 1990s and a couple of gigabytes of memory for pics to
be taken . So a low-key thing. A 30 year delay , from being designed and built and then
final useage . You can't upgrade,
you don't want upgrades. You need hardware that is hardened against
radiation, which means a biggish engine, nicely encased ,
lots of lead, relatively slow , low power available so you
cannot have a high-power laptop up there.
What sort of language does it use?
There is not a proper operating system up there. A language
programmed in hardware , runs as an interpretor. The language
was developed specifically for hardware-specific missions where the
software just does housekeeping for the hardware.
No file systems there , no point and click, no interpretor , all
very bare boned. Its not a Unix or Windows system , the interpretor
just waits for the next command to come in , via the radio
dish , command loaded into memory , decides what to do with it
save or execute or ignore. Usually involves accessing some pre-programmed
routine that is in hardware already on the system.
Is the radio date sent encoded or just plain .?
Its encoded with corresponding error-codes. To send data you
need access to the deep space network and US military so
encription is not necessary. REquiring several gigawatt power into
space , pointing the antenna in the right direction .
What limits the return data rate?
The power available and the size of the antenna on the craft, just
1 to 4Kbit per minute or so, very 1990s.
I was surprised to hear that for the Mars rovers they sent a new
operating system up and reloaded it. When I do that on my
pc it makes me nervous?
More likely just sending new subroutines up there , after a lot
of testing at home, I hope. All spacecraft have an identical twin here
on Earth and test everything. Whenever something breaks on the
spacecraft in space, they also break it on Earth on the twin.
The cassini mission had an issue, had the Hygens probe that
dropped to Titan and land with a parachute, take pics
etc , beam up to Cassini and then relay to here. Cassini
has 2 antenna , one down to Titan and one to Earth but the
communication routines were not properly verified.
They tested the routines up-there , after Cassini had left
moon orbit and it didn't work. A couple of people in Darmstadt
wrote about 8000 lines of code to fix the bug. They had years of time
to do it as only the start of the mission. Only half the
data could be sent though from Titan because of the goof-up.
It was the Doppler Shift of the radio frequency around Titan
that they had not taken into account.