Mr Chris Bonfield - Electrical Engineer

It is an honour and privilege to make a special page for these photos of Chris. He was a fastidious person who believed in doing a good job well; sometimes to the point of exhaustion. It is because of this trait that I was put to work with him in the Main Control Room by those (him) on the top floor. Little did he know that I was like that already but things in the world outside were not good and 'devotion to duty' works better with a happy mind. Chris passed on from this life some years ago.
Now hear this! Now hear this? Chris picks up the mic to make an announcement. Speakers are in the Magnet Hall, Injector Hall and Experimental Halls, so be careful what you say as you have no idea who might be listening.
Chris does some programming during a period when things are going well.

 

Passing an evening shift twiddling knobs and looking at a scope. No big deal, everybody does it. For some reason nothing stays put for very long so things need constant 'adjustment'. Then. later on, you have to put it back where is was before you started as whatever it is has moved again. Chasing your tail really.
Got it! Found the culprit. This power supply had tripped. Switch it back on; that should fix it. End of another seek and find session? An alarm wakes you from your contemplation and you have to find what brought it on. This the the 'machine game', which, every so often is played out in the Control Room. Work out what has gone wrong and put it right. Usual game played on shift, but not on a night shift please.
Paperwork and more paperwork. Read this, keep up to date with that. Read the logs, keep them up to date so the next shift will know what has been going on. You don't really want them ringing you up at 2am wanting to know what happened with the so and so during your shift. Chris was good at logs and you would not forget his signature on the bottom. Quite a flourish. Anything with his name at the bottom would be extremely detailed and, usually, very long.
Chris in the Captain's Chair where he belongs. Not sure what he is doing. There was a time when I knew what every button on every panel was for and did my fair share of knob twiddling. Many a time I picked up those phones on the desk. My name is on those logs as well as his. All in all a wonderful time in my life and a tremendous privilege to have shared many hours in the Nimrod Control Room with Mr Chris Bonfield.

A Little Story.

Every so often a thin aluminum foil was put in front of the copper target in a beam line and a few shots of protons were fired into it. This created aluminum isotopes in the foil. This foil was put in place and taken out by the 'Vac Shift'; two people who carried radiation monitors with them. They took the exposed foil to a secret room where there was a radiation counter. They wrote the number down and brought it to the control room. From this information the Beam Line Secondary Emission Chambers were calibrated.

A foil was exposed when Chris and I were on shift. When the Vac Shift came back with the number it was so far 'wrong' that I asked where was the foil and where was this room with the counter in it. Off I went to see what was what. The number I got on the counter was nothing like they said; it should have been a little lower in view of the longer time, but it wasn't. I rang Chris. "Something funny here" I said. I stayed and watched the numbers, something the Vac Shift did not do.

After a while I rang Chris again. "The numbers are getting bigger!" I said. We realised what was going on - the counter had been saturating, reading two counts as one. Now the radiation was reducing the counter was reading real numbers. After a while - about half an hour - the numbers started reducing. Real numbers! On the phone to Chris. Time so and so after the foil was exposed and the counter really reads whatever it was.

Three days later Chris produced a document about the decay of various isotopes of aluminum and how you have to wait until all the isotopes have decayed away except the last one, which has the longest half-life. All these years we had been trusting the numbers the Vac Shift gave us in calibrating the SEC chambers and how they were never right. Needless to say the document was very comprehensive with lots of time / decay graphs.

Chris showed his 'evidence' to the person in charge of the Radiation Division and he seemed to know nothing about the half-life decay of isotopes of aluminum and was quite upset that his position was being threatened.

The message from this seems to be don't trust anybody to do anything - they may not actually know what they are doing.

Another little story - take it as you please.
I was having one of my 'extra real' dreams. I was in a corridor of a building; the corridor was very wide and full of happy people - mostly men. There was a feeling of comradeship and I recognised it as a scientific lab. Off the corridor there seemed to be labs and offices. While, at first,I was just experiencing this I seemed to become more aware and, while I did not recognise any of the people, I wondered if Chris might be there so I asked some people going by if they knew him. One of them said "Yes, he's got an office down there" pointing down the corridor. Good I thought; I will go and find him. It was at that point I woke up. I felt so sad at leaving that happy place and returning to my solitary life on the earth. I so missed being there. One day, when I am done here, I may return and look for Chris in his office.

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