Was pondering what to write for a ‘blog’ as this is a new experience for me, but not too daunting as I can spout gibberish with the best of them, then as I rolled the word ‘blog’ around what passes for a mind in these pandemically panicked times, I rearranged it into ‘log b’ and then into logb which is ‘log to the base ‘b’’, which is of course mathematics, which is not something to interest the average reader, but anyone who is reading this will be far from average, so I shall persevere. The mention of mathematics brought to the surface the memory of having seen on the news that Professor Sir Roger Penrose had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics, half to him and the other half shared between a pair of German physicists, Andrea M Ghez and Reinhard Genzel. Incidentally, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry was also shared, in this case between two women, Jennifer Doudna and Emanuelle Charpentier, so a very good year for female scientists! Now you might be wondering why I consider this information either relevant or bloggable, and amazingly there is a connection (don’t complain or I’ll put more maths equations into the stream of semi-demi-hemi-consciousness).
In 1982 I went to Oxford to make a portrait of Roger Penrose, then the Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics, which he remained until 1999 when he was made Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics. I was impressed by his work and his close association with Stephen Hawking. More recently in 2018, I decided it would be interesting to follow up some of the people that I had photographed in earlier epochs, and my overture to Professor Penrose was met with agreement. I had to travel to the University of Nottingham where he was undertaking the role of Visiting Professor, following which he would be flying off to San Francisco for the ceremonial opening of the Transbay Transit Centre, a $2.2bn building, which has the exterior covered in Penrose Tiling (see Penrose Tiling and also Transbay Transit Center Penrose Enclosure ). This was the only way that I could fit a portrait session into the school summer holiday.