8th February 1957. Smell the Ozone?

Lightning strikes create ozone in the atmosphere and many people are convinced they can detect ozone at the seaside. As late as 1939 Blackpool was still boasting as having, ‘the healthiest ozone in Britain’.(1) 

Today a Friday in the Oxford Times in 1957 appeared an article from Dr. Gordon Miller Bourne Dobson relating to his home laboratory at Watch Hill, Shotover near Oxford.(2)

Dobson said that the sun comes through layers of ozone in the Stratosphere, and becomes very strongly coloured and measurements can be made by detecting the colour variation before and after its passage through the zone.(3)

In 1930s more precise instruments showed that carbon and ozone played a part in the radiation balance of the earth and concluded more solar heat is being retained in atmosphere which could be due to opacity resulting from carbon dioxide.

One instrument designed by Dobson was the Spectrophotometer which is a Spectroscope with Prisms which separated into its component parts light radiation.

In WWII Dobson did work on high flying planes and precence of ozone in pressurised cabins: one part in 1 million can be tolerated, 10 parts can cause headaches. Dobson was later involved in the creation of Ozone Commission Stations around the world.



1870s advert.

(1) (QI Sept. 4 2013. Daily Telegraph. Oldfield and Mitchinson).

(2) A further article appeared 19.5.1995 under the head ‘Professor Ozone and his Garden Shed’. Later the universities were to become centres of research.

(3) Ozone O3 is an allotrope of oxygen and can oxidise most metals (apart from gold, platinum and iridium).


Ultra-Violet Light (UVL) breaks down O2 (diatomic oxygen gas) into O+O which join another radical O to become O2+O to become Ozone (O3.Triatomic), (more powerful than O2).

O3  is highly unstable at high concentrations, breaking down when it collides with another ozone molecule

This decays to diatomic oxygen O2 having a half life of half a hour in atmospheric conditions: eg 2 (O)3 >3 (O)2.

There is a catalytic destruction of O3 by radicals of halogens, chlorine and bromine, caused by Anthropogenic Pollution (man-made).

Ozone is constantly being created and destroyed, while O2 is constantly being produced by Photosynthesis.

The Ozone Layer was first measured in the 1920s by Dobson (25.2.1889-11.3.1976). He was Oxford’s first Reader in Meteorology. By the 1980s a hole in the layer was observed over the Antarctic.

Ref: atm.ox.ac.uk/user/barnett/ozone.

Ref: Oxford Times. Friday, February 8th, 1957.

Ref: Can Carbon Dioxide influence Climate? By GS Callendar.

Ref: victorianfanguide.tumbir/Pic Image for 1870s Ad.

Ref: chemwiki.ucdavis,edu/depletion-of-ozone-layer.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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