Harry secured the enthusiastic advice of Alfred Maddock, a radiochemist by avocation and a walking encyclopaedia by nature, to steer the technical side.
I had met Alfred at a Radiation Chemistry Conference in Leeds in April of 1952, and was as impressed with his capacity then as I am forty-four years later.
Minze Stuiver is a geochemist who was at the forefront of geoscience research from the 1960s until his retirement in 1998.
He helped transform radiocarbon dating from a simple tool for archaeology and geology to a precise technique with applications in solar physics, oceanography, geochemistry, and carbon dynamics.
In the 1990s, in addition to continued work on radiocarbon calibration and solar variability, he began work on oxygen isotopes from Greenland ice cores together with Pieter Grootes.
Their sub-annual resolution stable isotopes measurements provided confirmation of the rapid nature of major climatic changes at the end of the last glaciation.
In many ways the era was analogous to today's computer explosion where fortune favours the young and the brave.
One may detect the deliberate use of the word 'build', and not 'operate' for, as we shall see, few had discovered the magic formula for making it work.
The next step of the two Wise Men was to recruit the 'Third Man': the graduate student who would toil away like a troglodyte in the basement to make it all happen.It promised to create an absolute chronology where speculation had been rife; it promised to vindicate imaginative theories and their champions; and it threatened the cherished beliefs of distinguished authorities which, through much repetition, had been endowed with gospel-like qualities.Generally speaking, it was the sounder and more confident heads in the community who sought grants to start the early Radiocarbon Laboratories.These were people who worked together and did things together.One of these was a particularly gifted fellow student called Richard West with whom the term brotherhood has taken on a lifelong meaning.It was in this firmament of hope compounded by confusion that rewarding careers began and lifelong friendships were forged.It was thus in early 1952 that Harry Godwin, who had recently formed the University Sub-Department of Quaternary Research in the Botany School, applied for a grant from the Nuffield Foundation of eight thousand pounds over five years to create the Cambridge Laboratory.However Minze chose to remain in the United States at the Geochrometric Laboratory at Yale University.There he developed high precision methods in radiocarbon that enabled him, along with Hans Suess, to verify De Vries’ “wiggly” nature of the atmospheric concentration of radiocarbon in the past from tree-rings.But this worm, even in his wildest dreams, could not begin to envisage that these beginnings would lead directly to arms control talks and a treaty with the Soviets in Moscow, or defending a .8 Billion energy budget before the United States Congress. The camaraderie was enormous - I was fortunate to belong to two cultures, the Quaternary Group under Harry Godwin in the Botany School and the Radiochemistry Group under Alfred Maddock in the Chemistry Department.We were nothing if not cosmopolitan: South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, America, Canada, Brazil, Argentina - we even had some fellow all the way from Yorkshire.