Saturday, 5 July 2014

Nigel Calder by his son

Today's Independent contains an appreciation of his father, one of those inestimable people who brought the understanding of science to millions, by travel editor Simon Calder. It is impossible to make sensible cuts to the piece in question ("An absent friend") so I hope that reporter and newspaper will forgive me for quoting it in full:

On the day I turned 15, my father sat down at the breakfast table, wished me happy birthday and said: "When I was 15, I hitch-hiked across Europe. What are you going to do?"

Nigel Calder loved the world. He wanted personally to go out and experience as much of it as possible, and he encouraged us five fortunate children to do the same. From mission control in Crawley, he and my mother, Liz, invited us to set off and explore, and do our best to enrich lives –including our own.

While as a father he unlocked the planet for us, as a science writer he sought to unravel the universe for everyone. The main purpose of many of his voyages was to meet scientists. He traced the frontiers they were exploring, then transmitted their discoveries to the world: from continental drift to climate and onwards to the furthest reaches of the cosmos.

In contrast, when I was 15, I hitched no further into orbit than North Wales. Yet it helped to open my eyes to the Earth's possibilities.

My father passed away peacefully last week, aged 82, surrounded by the continental drifters he nurtured so wisely and generously. He was a wonderful man and is now, sadly, an absent friend.

For Simon Calder's Q&A about enhanced airport security, see

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