Proposal for a TV Programme


The Catt Question

Sir Michael Pepper Pepper FRS  

Ivor Catt,



12apr99. [This copy printed 15apr99]

Second copy sent 29feb00

Community Programme Unit,

P O Box 5045

London W12 7TS


Dear Sir/Madam,

Proposal for a programme.

Power versus Scholarship in Cambridge


A recent Sunday Times magazine section article discussed the way the old Establishment still controlled society. Of the four or five seats of political and social power cited, the Master of Trinity was one. The theme was repeated in a Ch4 programme at 7.30pm on Sunday 11apr99, probably by the same journalist.


I gained a State Scholarship from a comprehensive school (the first, Holyhead), and then studied Engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge. In due course, after 20 years in R&D in Britain and the U.S.A., I made major advances in electromagnetic theory. After running into trouble with the appropriate Learned Society, the I.E.E., they however finally published a seminal article on my discoveries in "History of Electrical Engineering" HEE/26, 10july98 entitled "A difficulty in electromagnetic theory", see my website. I had also written to the Master of my alma mater, Trinity College Cambridge, which boasts that it is the most scientific college, Newton's, and repeatedly tells me that it wants money from me to maintain its position of scientific primacy [However, see Footnote added 16apr99.]. I protested in writing to the then Master, Atiyah, (then President of the Royal Society), who I later discovered should have had expertise in electromagnetic theory. Never replying to me for a period of five years, he did initially instruct his main expert on the subject, Pepper FRS, to comment. Pepper made a fool of himself, showing technical incompetence. You can read his response on my website in my book "The Catt Anomaly"

Pepper on "The Catt Anomaly"

The Catt Question

The basic problem, the subject of the proposed Ch4 programme, is that the political power of Trinity, which Trinity prizes above all else, is incompatible with admitting failure of competence in a primary area of science, electromagnetic theory. Thus, Trinity (and Cambridge University) resorts more and more to covering up its Achilles Heel; the fact that it does not command scientific advance. The desire for political power and influence makes Trinity unable to communicate on scientific advance if there is a risk that outsiders (as I, although a graduate of the college and periodically dining at Trinity High Table, have become,) have gained an advance on the home grown and nurtured Fellow of Trinity, for instance Pepper FRS. Trinity has to decide whether it is a seat of power, or a seat of learning. It is clear that it cannot be both.

The problem extends beyond Trinity. When Broers was scheduled to become Vice Chancellor of the whole University of Cambridge, and was already Master of Churchill College, allegedly the other major scientific college in Cambridge, I wrote to him about the problem of Trinity and also the University Engineering Department (which both Broers and I attended) falling behind in primary science, of which my advances were an example. He also put power above science. He has never, over a number of years, responded to me in any way.

The present Master of Trinity, Sen, is an economist, so has purely administrative responsibility in this matter. He also has defaulted; failing to instruct his chief experts, Pepper et al., to keep up with the art of electromagnetic theory and to communicate with me and with McEwan, Reader in Electromagnetism, whose response to the Catt Anomaly contradicts that of Pepper.

Howie FRS, Head of the Cavendish, should have been instructed by Broers to keep up with electromagnetic theory when Broers was Master of Churchill and Howie was one of his most senior staff there. Howie, like the rest of these charlatans, keeps his head down.

Howie, Head of the Cavendish, should have instructed Pepper FRS, a member of his staff, to resolve the contradiction between Pepper's view of the Catt Anomaly and that of McEwan Reader in Electromagnetism. [15apr99. Howie happens to agree with McEwan, from another university, but will not admit to us or to Pepper, who works for him, that he and Pepper disagree on basic fundamentals.] It is intolerable that these guys continue to draw salary and reputation while leaving their scientific fences unmended and decaying.

Luca Turin, a biophysics lecturer in UCL, has much skill in electromagnetic theory. You can cross check with him as to the veracity of what I am writing, and as to the viability of a TV programme on the clash between power and scholarship in Trinity Cambridge and also in the whole of Cambridge University, as demonstrated by the irresponsible behaviour by the then Master of Trinity and by the new Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University.

There was a prime time Horizon programme of one hour on Luca's new theory on the sense of smell in humans - the technical mechanisms involved in smell. So he is familiar with the TV medium.

You can also check with my co-author Dr. D S Walton.

I can give numerous other expert sources who will comment.

Yours sincerely,

Ivor Catt

cc Master of Trinity;

cc Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University;

cc Howie FRS;

cc Pepper FRS.


Footnote added 16apr99.

From the TV programme on power in England. Ch4 programme at 7.30pm on Sunday 11apr99

"The Establishment"

with Nick Danziger

Trinity, One of the most successful and enduring pillars of the Establishment.

"The Masters of Trinity, one of the most prestigious academic positions.

"Trinity is the largest, richest and most powerful college in Oxbridge. It is the role of the Master to keep the college running smoothly, but also to maintain its status and position in the world."

Interviewer; ". A little change is good. No change is better."

Atiyah, Master; "Yes. Colleges like this are essentially conservative institutions. When I was a young man I was very enthusiastic for rapid change. I still am to some extent. But if you make very rapid change you make mistakes. Institutions have a lot of built in resistance to change. . . . A network of contacts .".


16apr99 Dear Ivor

Thanks for the email - it was interesting to read your idea. I will place your details on our database which is regularly reviewed by our production team - someone will be in touch if we wish to follow up your idea.

Regards Julian Jones BBC 

Later developments.

Analysis State of Play Political Analysis

Carver Mead Mead May04

Letter to the Editor, Electronics World,

published August 2004, p57;


Letter to those responsible for electromagnetic theory.

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