The Azimuth Project
James Lovelock

James E. Lovelock (born 1919) is an independent scientist who lives and works in Devon, England.

From his slightly outdated home page:

He graduated as a chemist from Manchester University in 1941 and in 1948 received a Ph.D. degree in medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 1959 he received the D.Sc. degree in biophysics from London University. After graduating from Manchester he started employment with the Medical Research Council at the National Institute for Medical Research in London.

In 1954 he was awarded the Rockefeller Travelling Fellowship in Medicine and chose to spend it at Harvard University Medical School in Boston. In 1958 he visited Yale University for a similar period. He resigned from the National Institute in London in 1961 to take up full time employment as Professor of Chemistry at Baylor University College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, where he remained until 1964. During his stay in Texas he collaborated with colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California on Lunar and Planetary Research.

Since 1964 he has conducted an independent practice in science, although continuing honorary academic associations (…)

James Lovelock is the author of more than 200 scientific papers, distributed almost equally among topics in Medicine, Biology, Instrument and Atmospheric Science and Geophysiology. He has applied for more than 40 patents, mostly for detectors for use in chemical analysis.

One of these, the electron capture detector (ECD), was important in the development of environmental awareness. It confirmed the ubiquitous distribution of pesticide residues and other halogen bearing chemicals. (…) More recently it was responsible for the discovery of the global distribution of nitrous oxide and of the chlorofluorocarbons, both of which are important in the stratospheric chemistry of ozone. Some of his inventions were adopted by NASA in their programme of planetary exploration. He was awarded by NASA three Certificates of Recognition for these.

He is the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis (now Gaia Theory) (…)

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974 and in 1975 received the Tswett Medal for Chromatography. (… etc. etc.) He has received honorary Doctorates in Science (…). He was made a C.B.E. in 1990, and in 2003 a Companion of Honour by Her Majesty the Queen.

James Lovelock’s first interest is the Life Sciences, originally as Medical Research but more recently in Geophysiology, the systems science of the Earth. His second interest that of instrument design and development, has often interacted with the first to their mutual benefit.

He has been since 1994 an Honorary Visiting Fellow of Green College, University of Oxford.

More from the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine:

James Lovelock has, by his own admission, been variously described as ‘the mad scientist’ (by his schoolmates); ‘not a scientist, merely an inventor who makes amateur equipment in his garage’ (by a scientist); and anti-Darwinian (by another scientist). As a child he almost poisoned a fellow six-year-old with deadly nightshade berries; at grammar school he refused to do homework or Saturday sports; he may have devised the microwave oven (primarily for reviving frozen animals but handy for cooking his lunch); and he was invited by NASA to join the first lunar mission.

(…) He touched upon diseases such as scrub typhus, tuberculosis and the common cold; he invented the argon detector (for use with gas chromatography) and ionization and ultrasonic anemometers; and he pioneered the production of plastic surfaces that prevented blood from clotting (ten years before artery replacements became a clinical reality). And his thoroughly practical bent led him to invent special wax pencils for writing on wet glassware. During a year at Harvard on a Rockefeller travelling fellowship he immersed himself in lipoproteins, and hit upon selling his blood to boost the family finances. (…)

category: people