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Cambridge History of Science – BOOK REVIEWS: CONSTANTIN ROMAN – “CONTINENTAL DRIFT – COLLIDING CONTINENTS, CONVERGING CULTURES”

January 29th, 2014 · No Comments · Books, Diaspora, International Media, OPINION, PEOPLE, quotations, Reviews

Prof> John D. Dewey, FRS,
(Universities of Oxford and California, Davis)

“Continental Drift” offered me a relaxing excellent read full of humour, humanity, wisdom and good science, way beyond the History of Science. This book is an Ode to the Joy of Freedom, of a kind celebrated in Enesco’s Rhapsodies, or the cosmic vision of Brancusi’s “Column of Infinity”: this is Constantin Roman’s “Ninth Symphony”. I trust the reader would share with me pleasures that have derived from reading ‘Continental Drift’.

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Şerban Veliciu: Recenzie – Deriva Continetală – Coliziunea Continentelor şi Convergenţa Culturilor”, sau – “Un Român în Derivă”

October 18th, 2013 · No Comments · Books, Diaspora, OPINION, PEOPLE, Reviews, Translations

Deriva Continetală – Coliziunea Continentelor şi Convergenţa Culturilor” “Un Român în Derivă” Dr. Ing. Şerban Veliciu Profesor la Universitatea din Bucureşti, Citind “Deriva Continentală” aflăm despre meandrele carierei lui Constantin Roman, cel care a reuşit să strălucească în domenii în care, la începuturi, nu promitea prea mult. Am fost amândoi colegi de an la Facultatea […]

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«COMPTES RENDUS D’OUVRAGES – BOOK REVIEWS – BOEKGESPREKINGEN». Geologica Belgica,

February 28th, 2013 · No Comments · Books, International Media, OPINION, quotations, Reviews

“Cambridge was almost like a mythical mistress, whose eroticism would excite my resolve against obstacles put in the way by sundry bureaucratic tormentors and moral dwarfs”.
This is an exhilarating book and I can fully subscribe to Professor J. F. Dewey’s view (Oxford), who wrote the Foreword of the book: “Continental Drift offered me a relaxing excellent read full of humour, wisdom and good science, way beyond the History of Science”.

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Ceausescu’s “Diplomats” in Britain (Extract from: “Defying the Idiocracy” – Cambridge Memoirs, 1969-1974)

June 29th, 2012 · No Comments · Books, Diary, Diaspora, PEOPLE, quotations, Uncategorized

The burly comrade came banging at the door. There was something terribly Romanian about his banging on my door: an Englishman would have rung once, perhaps twice and after a few moments, seeing that nobody answered he will have left. I had no need to find out who it was, in order not to open the door: the Comrade was banging solidly at my door… I thought:

– This was his visiting card, the physical muscle of the uneducated, the pressing need of the apparatchik, whose mission was, come what may, to bang at my door, regardless, until somebody would respond. He should be so lucky! But what if the door gave in, under his brute force, which he might have applied at Lubyanka? These modern doors were so flimsy…

I never felt so insecure. Still, I had enough courage to tiptoe upstairs and look down from a rooftop terrace, several floors above the door. It was early afternoon and hardly anybody about, who might put him off his rude behaviour:

– Not a very good PR, Comrade, doubtless this was a textbook behaviour aquired in Moscow, with very little currency in the West!

Eventually he left:

– God bless him! He gave up on me, for the time being!

I waited long enough to make certain he had left. I went straight to the Head Porter and related the story.

– Next time he comes, you should call the police!
– What a good idea! Why haven’t I thought of it?

It took time to absorb the new rights to which I was entitled, as a free citizen. It felt like an animal born in captivity, which lived in a cage, for most of its life and now that the cage door was open it did not understand the benefits of Freedom…

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Constantin ROMAN – Dérive continentale ou européen en dérive

July 27th, 2011 · No Comments · Books, Diary, Diaspora, International Media, PEOPLE, Reviews

Voici une lecture aussi passionnante que captivante, bien qu’elle ne soit pas, comme le suggère son titre, un récit scientifique*/. Son auteur, un dissident Roumain ayant fait ses études de géophysique à Bucarest pendant les années folles du régime immonde de Ceausescu, est quand même parvenu a s’en échapper, afin de participer à une conférence à l’Université de Newcastle, en Grande Bretagne. N’étant plus retourné en Roumanie qu’après la chute du régime communiste, il est resté néanmoins un patriote Roumain, actuellement Professeur honoris causa de l’Université de Bucarest, tout en gardant sa résidence, près de Glyndebourne, dans une partie “chic” de l’Angleterre. Selon son propre récit, Constantin Roman doit être l’un des jeunes cientifiques recevant l’un des meilleurs honoraires du monde . Une fois arrivé en Angleterre, muni seulement d’un billet de £5 dans sa poche, il a utilisé son expertise, son charme, les meilleurs contacts ainsi que l’appui de l”unversité de Newcastle

Keith RUNCORN, invited Constantin ROMAN to a NATO Conference on Palaeomagnetism

comme plateforme de lancement. En parvenant à entretenir les meilleurs contacts, notamment avec le Professeur Keith Runcorn, de la Royal Society, il parvint à obtenir une bourse de recherches au Collège de Peterhouse, à Cambridge. Cela lui a permis de faire sa thèse de doctorat sur la tectonique des Carpathes et de l’Asie centrale, en étudiant des données sismiques afin d’identifier les limites et le mouvement des plaques lithosphériques. Dans ce contexte, utilisant les zones de compression et d’extension, il a défini l’existence de deux plaques lithosphériques non-rigides, les “plaques tampon”, ou “buffer plates”, du Tibet et du Sinkiang, cantonnées respectivement entre les plaques lithosphériques rigides de l”Inde et de l’Eurasie. Au début des années 70 une pareille suggestion aurait été étiquetée pour le moins comme iconoclaste. Une fois son doctorat obtenu, sous la direction du professeur Sir Edward Bullard, Roman est devenu par la suite Conseiller International de l’industrie petrolière, ayant gagné, je suppose, des honoraires prodigieux. Cet ouvrage traite essentiellement, de la folie des dictatures et des bureaucraties mais aussi de la douce vie de doctorant-chercheur a Cambridge. Quand aux détails de la bureaucratie “kafkaiesque”, les autorités britanniques semblent aussi obstinées que leurs consoeurs roumaines

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Four decades ago – A Romanian in Britain (A Story from the Home Office website)

April 23rd, 2011 · No Comments · Books, Diary, Diaspora, PEOPLE, Reviews

My greatest trouble in England arose from my refusal to give up my Romanian nationality. In retrospect this may seem bizarre, especially that I was menaced on a number of fronts: by Securitate operatives masquerading as diplomats keen to end my flouting of socialist order and drag me back to Romania; by a prospective mother-in-law who refused to allow her daughter to marry me unless I accepted British citizenship; and by officials of the British Home Office who assumed that my desire to retain what I saw as my unalienable right of birth, my nationality, might stem from communist loyalties.

Afterwards Lord Goodman decided to champion my cause, writing to the head of the Home Office that I was a

“man of impeccable character clearly determined to belong here and make a significant contribution to our national life.””

In retrospect I hope that I discharged myself honourably of Goodman‘s expectations as I gave generously my expertise in discovering oil and gas for Britain and batting for Britain abroad on the cultural and scientific front, especially in my native country – Romania

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Churchill College, Cambridge, Romanian Poetry with George Steiner

April 14th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Diary, Diaspora, International Media, OPINION, PEOPLE, Poetry, quotations, Translations

NOTE: for those readers who either do not know or do not want to know and especially for those who escaped Romania, this is to say how nearly impossible it was to cross the Iron Curtain during Ceausescu’s hellish dictatorship: many people risked their lives and paid the heavy price of exile – others who had no faith in any change for the better after Ceausescu’s fall, have joined the exodus and millions of uprooted who seek work and settled in other countries – Millions of them!! Romania’s 23 million-population would decrease even faster should it not be for the influx of Chinese workers and the high birthrate of the Roma ethnic minority. Such is the inheritance of five decades of Communism!

extract from:
www.constantinroman.com/continentaldrift
(there is a free Romanian translation downloadable in pdf (ask for link – large memory needed ) , because even 17 years after the fall of communism, in 1989, although these memoirs were published in England and in the USA, its translation cannot be published in Bucharest: it was turned down by Liicianu of “Humanitas”, by Patapievici’s “Romanian Institute” (Formerly the Fundatia Culturala Romana) and by Romanian editors with claims of being “aristocrats of the intellect” (boierii mintii) – read “leaders of opinion”.

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A History of Geophysics At Cambridge, England – Book Review

September 9th, 2010 · No Comments · Books, OPINION, PEOPLE, Reviews

Last but not least I am bound to be nostalgic about that last chapter in Carol’s book which I witnessed at “Mad Rise” as the last PhD student of Sir Edward Bullard. Teddy, a successor of Sir Gerald’s, remained the last towering Head o the Department of Geophysics before it was diluted with Geology and Mineralogy to become the current Department of Earth Sciences. Teddy was always unconventional and enthusiastic about new ideas and steeled my resolve in querying the infallibility of Plate Tectonics dictum, such as the “rigidity” of lihospheric Plates in Persia, Tibet and Sinkiang – hence the birth, at Mad Rise, during the early 1970s, of the revolutionary concept of “non-rigid plates”, or “Buffer Plates”: four decades on this new concept gained international acceptance from an otherwise a very conservative and sometimes begrudging profession. Such iconoclastic exercise was not without its dangers in the ruthless rat race of the late 1960s – early 1970s and the chaps from Mad Rise know it too well. Carol Williams apologizes to her contemporaries for leaving out some of their seminal contribution and one must be forgiving and accept her plea in good faith, given the fact that one is compensated by huge helpings about some greats. Even Molly Wisdom is not forgotten: here the larger-than-life persona who, for twenty four years was a Departmental secretary, is afforded not less than seven entries, only to be dispatched variously as a “part-time typist”, a “former opera singer” (with a “shrill voice”…), “chairing” the Common Room table during coffee breaks… It seems as if Molly’s shrewd judgment of human frailties was too close for comfort to some who considered the Department as their sole preserve.
Dan P. Mckenzie, another of Bullard’s students, has generously produced the Preface, the Postface, his raft of scientific papers, reminiscences, his youthful portrait, and more, leaving poor Sir Isaac Newton with the consolation prize of “second best”.

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Romanian Science (I) – Romania’s First-ever Plate Tectonics Model born in Cambridge

July 4th, 2010 · No Comments · Books, Diaspora, International Media, PEOPLE, Reviews

ROMANIA’S FIRST-EVER PLATE TECTONICS MODEL WAS BORN IN CAMBRIDGE – THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN “NATURE” (LONDON)

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Out of Ceausescu’s Hell: a Romanian at Cambridge

February 25th, 2010 · No Comments · Books, Diaspora, PEOPLE

In 1968, the Romanian geophysicist Constantin Roman defied Communist restrictions and travelled to England on a NATO travel grant. Under Ceausescu’s dictatorship, obtaining a passport was short of a miracle and in the first chapter we are let into the secret of how this was made possible.
I must confess I admired your inventiveness, perseverance and tenacity with which you focused on your goals, the courage you displayed in approaching influential people, without prior introduction, the manner in which you presented logical arguments in obtaining what you were about to achieve

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