SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: Theories of everything

Students and their teachers at Worthing College rightly earn our admiration for achieving great, improving results, especially in physics and mathematics. Stephen Hawking would have approved.

Sir Peter Bottomley
Sir Peter Bottomley

I had a tenuous indirect link through the former MP for Cambridge, the Reverend Henry Lucas, who was elected in the Short and the Long Parliaments of 1640, before being excluded by Pride’s Purge in 1648.

When Lucas died he left £100 a year for the Lucasian professorship of Mathematics.

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Isaac Newton held the post for 33 years; Hawking for 30 before having to retire aged 67.

He also left money for alms-houses for poor old men.

Oddly, an Act of Parliament had to be passed in 1923 to provide for the admission of married couples.

I was one of the last trustees before the assets were passed to a neighbouring housing charity.

Stephen Hawking famously said that the view of our earth planet from space shows its unity rather than its divisions.

When I was a Cambridge undergraduate the cleverest people included the geophysicist Dan McKenzie who a few years after we were at school together wrote the first paper on how plate tectonics worked, and Martin Rees who with Stephen Hawking helped to resolve the question as to whether the universe was steady state or the result of a big bang.

The benefactors of many of our colleges, schools and universities merit commemoration.

This Friday I shall attend a dinner at Trinity College, Cambridge, with many researchers whose early work was supported by charitable giving.

Public funding matters; it should not exclude private giving.

We wait for confirmation of parliamentary boundaries, taking account of changes in local populations and reducing the future number of MPs from 650 to 600.

The only change for the Worthing seats is very minor, mirroring a local government ward alteration.

From space it will look the same.

My theory of everything is that there is not one.

Each of us can do all we can to work with others, across the spectrum to reduce disadvantage and to increase well-being.


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