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Dick Sillito - 80!
I have known Dick and valued his company for almost as long as I have been in Scotland - i.e. since 1971 - though surprisingly we have kept this on a friendship basis and have rarely risked anything in anger on the physics front!
However, the Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Physics Departments did come seriously together in the 1980s in the rather glamorous (some would say notorious!) subject of the 'all-optical-computer'. Since the early, pioneering days wiser councils prevailed, in which Dick played a key role, and we now talk about 'optics in computing' or the 'optoelectronic computer'. Dick was very much a guiding light from the applied optics side at Edinburgh and played an important part in establishing the Scottish Collaborative Initiative in Optoelectronic Sciences (SCIOS).
It became quite clear at this time that the two major players in the UK in the subject of optoelectronics were the Scottish consortium and Southampton, and the question was, could the UK run to two IRCs in optoelectronics? The answer, I'm afraid, was a pretty clear NO from Bill Mitchell, but he did give us quite a hefty and magnanimous 'second prize' of nearly one million pounds.
I was not directly involved in SCIOS, but I did play a part in the early drafting of the Scottish proposal (and more to the point, sorting out the financial aspects) and one of my clear memories is of the wise and calming council that came from Dick whenever he was present at our sometimes extremely tough and acrimonious meetings. On one occasion at St Andrews, I remember, I led an indignant protest straight out of the meeting and onto the Eden golf course! Needless to say, I have since been taken severely to task for walking out too soon - sadly, Dick was not present on that occasion or I am quite sure the walkout would not have happened.
Very best wishes on your 80th birthday, Dick. I was 65 the other day, so I know what it is like!
With best wishes,
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