He published extensively on the history of science. In addition, Bernal was a political supporter of communism and wrote popular books on science and society.
Bernal was educated in England, first for one term at Stonyhurst College which he hated. Because of this he was moved to Bedford School at the age of thirteen. There, according to Goldsmith, for five years from to he found it "extremely unpleasant" and most of his fellow students "bored him" though his younger brother Kevin who was also there was "some consolation"  and Brown claims "he seemed to adjust easily to life" there. At Cambridge, Bernal read both mathematics and science for a Bachelor of Arts degree in , which he followed by another year of natural sciences.
He taught himself the theory of space groups , including the quaternion method; this became the mathematical basis of a lengthy paper on crystal structure for which he won a joint prize with Ronald G.
Norrish in his third year. Whilst at Cambridge, he also became known as "Sage", a nickname given to him about by a young woman working in Charles Kay Ogden 's Bookshop at the corner of Bridge Street.
In he determined the structure of graphite the Bernal stacking describes the registry of two graphite planes and also did work on the crystal structure of bronze. In , he was appointed as the first lecturer in Structural Crystallography at Cambridge, becoming the assistant director of the Cavendish Laboratory in Here he started applying his crystallographic techniques to organic molecules, starting with oestrin and sterol compounds including cholesterol in , forcing a radical change of thinking among sterol chemists.
He also worked on the structure of liquid water, showing the boomerang shape of its molecule It was in Bernal's research group where, following a year working with Tiny Powell at Oxford, Dorothy Hodgkin continued her early research career.
However, Bernal was refused fellowships at Emmanuel and Christ's and tenure by Ernest Rutherford , who disliked him,  and in , Bernal became Professor of Physics at Birkbeck College, University of London , a department which had been brought to the first rank by Patrick Blackett.
The same year he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. Aaron Klug worked on ribonuclease whilst Andrew Booth developed some of the earliest computers to help with the computation.
Rosalind Franklin joined from King's College and did pioneering work on viruses until her early death in His Guthrie lecture of concentrated on proteins as the basis of life, but it was Perutz, still at Cambridge, who picked up Linus Pauling 's leads.
In the early thirties Bernal had been arguing for peace, but the Spanish Civil War changed that. With the outbreak of World War II in , Bernal joined the Ministry of Home Security , where he brought in Solly Zuckerman to carry out the first proper analyses of the effects of enemy bombing and of explosions on animals and people.
Their subsequent analysis of the effects of bombs on Birmingham and Hull showed that city bombing produced little disruption and production was only affected by direct hits on factories. A supper of scientists in Soho generated a multi-author book Science in War produced in a month by Allen Lane , one of the guests, arguing that science should be applied in every part of the war effort.
He rescued Max Perutz from internment, getting him to perform experiments on ice related to Habbakuk in a meat store freezer below Smithfield Meat Market. After the disaster of the Dieppe raid , Bernal was determined that these mistakes not be repeated in Operation Overlord.
He demonstrated the advantages of an artificial harbour to the participants of the Quebec Conference in , as the only British scientist present.
At Bernal's memorial service, Zuckerman downplayed Bernal's part in the Normandy landings, saying he was not cleared for the highest levels of security. After assisting in the preparations for D-Day with work on the structure of the proposed landing sites and the bocage countryside beyond, Bernal landed, according to C.
He also assisted boats floundering on the rocks using his knowledge of the area but said: "I committed the frightful solecism of not knowing which was port and which side was starboard ".
His work The World, the Flesh and the Devil has been called "the most brilliant attempt at scientific prediction ever made" by Arthur C.
The second chapter explores radical changes to human bodies and intelligence and the third discusses the impact of these on society. In The Social Function of Science he argued that science was not an individual pursuit of abstract knowledge and that the support of research and development should be dramatically increased. Eugene Garfield , originator of the Science Citation Index , said "his idea of a centralized reprint center was in my thoughts when I first proposed the as yet nonexistent SCI in Science in Science in History is a monumental four-volume attempt to analyse the interaction between science and society.
The Origin of Life gives the current ideas from Oparin and Haldane onwards. Although raised as a Catholic in his childhood, Bernal became a socialist in Cambridge as a result of a long night arguing with a friend. He also became an atheist.
Paul's on the road to Damascus , goes some way to account for, but not excuse, Bernal's blind allegiance for the rest of his life, to the Soviet Union. Bernal became a prominent intellectual in political life, particularly in the s. He attended the famous meeting on the history of science , where he met the Soviets Nikolai Bukharin , and Boris Hessen who gave an influential Marxist account of the work of Isaac Newton.
This meeting fundamentally changed his world-view and he maintained sympathy for the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin. In , Bernal published The Social Function of Science , probably the earliest text on the sociology of science. After World War II, although Bernal had been involved in evaluating the effects of atomic attacks against the Soviet Union,  he supported the World Congress of Intellectuals for Peace organised in communist Poland in Afterwards, he wrote a letter to the New Statesman warning that the US was preparing "a war for complete world domination".
The following year the organisation changed its name to the World Peace Council. On 20 September , after his return from giving a speech strongly critical of western countries at a peace conference in Moscow, the Evening Star newspaper of Ipswich published an interview with Bernal in which he endorsed Soviet agriculture, the "proletarian science" of Trofim Lysenko.
Bernal and the whole British scientific left were damaged by his support for Lysenko's theory, even after many scientists abandoned their sympathy for the Soviet Union. Unlike some of his socialist colleagues, Bernal persisted in defending the Soviet position on Lysenko. He publicly refused to accept the gaping fissures that the dispute revealed between the study of natural science and dialectical materialism.
Throughout the s, Bernal maintained a faith in the Soviet Union as a vehicle for the creation of a socialist scientific utopia.
In he was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize. Bernal was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in He was also said [ by whom? The Bernal Building at the University of Limerick was named in his honour. Bernal had two children Mike, — and Egan, b. He married Sprague on 21 June , the day after having been awarded his BA degree. Bernal was 21, Sprague Sprague was described as an active socialist and their marriage as 'open' which they both lived up to 'with great gusto'.
In the early s he had a brief intimate relationship with chemist Dorothy Hodgkin , whose scientific research work he mentored. Their son Martin Bernal —  was a professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University and author of the controversial Afrocentric work Black Athena.
Bernal", though the two never married. Eileen is mentioned as his widow in He also had a child Jane, b.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from John Desmond Bernal. John Desmond Bernal . Nenagh , County Tipperary , Ireland. Bernal, J.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Scholar Robert Scholes calls this a "book of breathtaking scientific speculation" that "is probably the single most influential source of science fiction ideas.
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Modern Quarterly. A History of Physics before M. Quarterly Reviews of Biophysics. Symposia of the Society for Experimental Biology.
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Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. X-ray crystallography and the chemistry of the sterols. University of Cambridge. Bernal: the sage of science. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. A Dictionary of Irish Biography, 3rd Edition. Dublin: Gill and MacMillan.
J. D. Bernal
A Dictionary of Scientists. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bakerian Lecture. A , The London Gazette.
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Science 12 May Vol , no — The Times. Archived from the original on 21 June Retrieved 7 November Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds. St Martin's Griffin, New York. Retrieved 10 March Science Fiction: History, Science, Vision.
John Desmond Bernal
London: Oxford University Press. Biology: Decade by Decade. Infobase Publishing. Although a devout Catholic in his boyhood, he became an outspoken atheist, socialist, and sometime Communist Party member