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23rd APRIL 2014

A Message from the Director of the Archive Trust

To all visitors to this web site and to all its would-be users :

May I offer my apologies as the Director of the Trust for the long delay which there has been in the planned updating and improvement of these pages.

We have for some time had the following aims in view :

1.   Total re-construction of the site

2.   The completion of the Catalogue of recordings

3.   The uploading of an initial selection of the recordings.


The current position regarding the Recordings

As regards 3)  we had hoped by now to have uploaded at least a representative selection of the recordings made since 1999-2000.  This portion of the Archive is already mostly in digital form.  The audio recordings from 2007 onwards are completely backed up in multiple hard drives. So are all the all the Video recordings, the earliest of which date back to 1996.  The majority of the other recordings made from 1999 to 2006 are still on DVDs and CDs. The bulk of the older recordings – those made between 1972-73 and the late 1990s are still almost all in their original form in analog media (Video and audio cassettes ). Digitizing these, along with all the supporting documentation (about which there is more information below)  to make them available on line is one of the foremost longer-term aims of this project.   It should be obvious significant additional funding is require for this.  The Trust is a small charitable organization operating with very slender resources and having many other commitments to be met (for further explanation of these please see the section below on the aims and objects of the Archive Trust)

So we ask for the continued patience and understanding from would-be users of this site. We shall be doing all in our power in the coming months to turn it into an increasingly  useful resource for students and researchers.


Three Pledges for the Year 2014

In particular we make the following commitments 

As regards 2) above – the completion of the Catalogue : pending the complete reconstruction of the site ( plans for which are described below ) and while the pages of the site are still in their current form, using Word Press,  by the end of June 2014 to have in the Catalogue complete pages listing all the recordings dating back from the current date to the beginning of 2010

By the end of 2014 to have the Catalogue pages complete back to the beginning of the year 2000

To have all the Video recordings back to 1996 listed in the Catalogue and available for viewing via YouTube or Vimeo (subject to copyright clearance)


Interim Measures for the existing Site

These are all stopgap and interim steps which will be taken while the Catalogue pages and the other pages of the site are still in their existing Word Press Format. For so long as that remains the case,  the Catalogue will remain in the form of a bare chronology of the recordings. To simplify the layout of the pages and make them more useable, we shall also, while the site remains in its present form,  gradually move the catalogue pages running back to the beginning of 2000 (the pages we have pledged to have compleet by the end of the current year) from a one-page-a-month to a one-page-a-day format

As a further interim measure – pending the complete reconstruction of the site, which I turn to below, we shall also create separate sections of the Catalogue listing all the recordings held dealing with a number of specific topics.  These will also take the form for the time being of a bare chronological listing of those recordings back to the year 2000.  The first three sections to be created will be those listing recordings in the following subject areas

Category Theory and Topos Theory

General Relativity and Cosmology

Foundations of Quantum Theory and Quantum Gravity

We also pledge to have the catalogues for these sections back to the year 2000 completed before the end of the year and to have working links to all the recordings listed there (once again, subject to the proviso of copyright clearance)


Plans for The New Site

Turning to the plans for the reconstruction and radical improvement of the site, this is what we are aiming at :

The bare chronology of the recordings which forms the framework of the current – and at this point still radically incomplete – catalogue will eventually be completely replaced by a new catalogue which offers searchability of the recordings by multiple fields – notably speaker, title, topic, a range of suitable key words, and location, as well as continuing to offer a complete chronology of the recordings. The existing Word Press site will remain in operation at least until this new site and the new catalogue are complete and we have received user feedback.  As the new site is being developed, we shall aim to have the catalogue entries for each recording linked with the following information

1.   In the speaker field : A link to a complete listing of all other recordings in the Archive by the speaker in question, with further links to a bibliography of that speaker’s writings and where copyright clearance permits, links to any scanned or e-archived copies of articles by that speaker which the Archive holds.

Pending the development of the new site, bibliographies of speaker’s writings and links to items within these (again when copyright permits) will be added to the Section “Catalogue of the Archive by Speaker” within the existing Word Press Site.  This is clearly a massive task. Progress will be gradual.

2.  In the topic field : A link to the relevant section of the subject-catalogue and the appropriate subdivisions within each subject.

There will continue to be links from the entry for each recording to the speaker’s overheads, in the case of audio recordings, wherever the Archive holds copies of these, and to scanned copies of contemporaneous lecture notes, speaker’s handouts, and other supporting material, whenever this is held by the Archive.  In the case of the Videos, recent apps permit the embedding of the speaker’s overheads within the screen, synched to the portion of the recording where he or she made use of that particular overhead. Having overheads synchronised and embedded within the video recordings is our long-term aim. Although achieving that with an Archive of this size will be time-consuming. In the meantime they will be available, whenever the Archive holds them, via a separate link found with the entry for each recording in the existing catalogue. They will be uploaded as far as possible in tandem with the recordings dating back to the Year 2000 – see the commitment in Italics above.

We should like to thank especially our friends and collaborators at Great Bear Recording Studios, Bristol UK,  headed by Mr Adrian Finn. They are currently responsible for the technical support given to this project. In particular wewant to thank Mr George Palframan for all his work on the design of the  new web site which will permit the Archive to be searchable by the fields mentioned above and should immensely increase its value to students and researchers

Specimen Pages

Specimen Pages from the new catalogue, giving an impression of how the new site will appear, will be uploaded when they are ready – we hope within the coming 2-3 months.


For Further Information on these plans and developments see the Sections Progress Report for 2013-2014 and

Thanks to our Helpers and Volunteers

Message to be continued


About the Archive :

The Archive for Mathematical Sciences and Philosophy holds an extensive collection of audio and video recordings on subjects in mathematics, physics and philosophy, particularly the philosophy and foundations of mathematics and the exact sciences recorded since the early 1970s.

In May 2008 it became a Charitable Trust under English Law. Its Charity Registration Number is 1141862. Details of its Trustees can be seen on the Page headed “Trustees”

This web site is currently undergoing radical reconstruction and will shortly be available in a new form with a greatly improved content management system and with the catalogue of the recordings completed back to 1996-97 and  with all the video recordings since that date and around 10,000 of the audio recordings finally viewable on line.

Why such an Archive ?

Such a large-scale archive of Conferences, Seminars, Discussions, Interviews and other oral material supplies a rich additions to the published records of the Sciences. Often it can also supply corrections of perspective with respect to those records.

Such recordings allow historians of science and mathematics to form a better appreciation of the background to the emergence of new ideas;  and also of the complex pattern formed by “roads not taken” – ideas which for whatever reason were laid aside, or apparently subsumed in other developments.  Those ideas  may later re-emerge in ways yielding a new perspective on those developments.  Such a rich archive of primary oral source material naturally aids historical study of the Sciences and the conceptual and philosophical questions to which they give rise.  But the benefits from an increased recognition of this oral dimension are not only benefits for the historian.  One other important aim of the Archive is to preserve and make available material which serves as a model for best practice in the teaching and exposition of mathematical and scientific subjects.