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OU on the BBC: Personal Passions - Horology: Dick Stephen

Updated Friday, 24th June 2005

Dick Stephen has been making things since he was a child. He still has a wooden hand mirror that he made for his sister when he was just 6 years old, some of the many instruments that he made including violins and a harpsichord and, of course, many clocks. Here he talks about his passion for horology

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Dick Stephen Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team

Profile Dr Stephen studied physics at Oxford University and did a PhD in theoretical physics. He then moved over to studying biology and has spent most of his career working on the application of physics to biology. He is now retired from Department of Physiology in the medical school at the University of Leicester where he was Senior Lecturer and consultant in physiological measurement for nearly twenty years.

Throughout his career, Dr Stephen sought to applied his knowledge of physics to the study of human biology. He studied the acoustics of procidic heart valves and developed ways of monitoring heart valves by listening the sounds that they make. He was interested in acoustics and made a study of the way that little insects called bush crickets detect sound. This turned out to have an application for the study of human hearing. Elderly people often have difficulty extracting information from the sounds that they hear not because they are going senile but because they find it difficult to discriminate between different sounds. Dick Stephen designed an instrument to help people like this, measuring their ability for hearing what people are saying - auditory discrimination.

David Thompson Clock Gallery at the British Museum

Also the Horological Student’s Room
Bloomsbury, London WC1 0207-636-1555

The British Horological Institute
Upton Hall, Upton,
NG23 5TE

Clockmaker’s Company Library
Guildhall Library
London EC2P 2EJ

The Antiquarian Horological Society
New House
High Street
Sussex TN5 7AL

The Science Museum
Exhibition Road
London SE1

The Royal Greenwich Observatory
Course in Antique Clock Restoration c/o The Administrator, West Dean College, West Dean, Chichester
Sussex PO18 0QZ

Books And Other Literature
Dava Sobel (Fourth Estate 1995)

Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World
G. Baillie (Robert Hale)

The History of Clocks and Watches
Eric Bruton




First broadcast: Thursday 8 Oct 1998 on BBC TWO

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