Your recent survey named 10 delegates to the 'Geotechnical Hall of Fame'- all very merited and interest ing , but do we rea l ly want to fo l low in the footsteps of our friends across the pond by creating such ratings? I see from the February issue of GE (page 34) that more of this is to come on the BGS website.
Commenting as one who has dual UK and US citizenship, the US syndrome for ratings results from the super-competitive urges of its population. This is all very laudable and productive in its place, but taken to ludicrous extremes. In my old town we had a vote for the 'best' dentist, liquor store, dry cleaners, pizza parlour, and such like! Some pretty ludicrous US habits have jumped our way (eg majorettes - Alastair Cooke's bete noire), and I'd like to do my bit towards putting the brakes on.
By all means let us have (as promised in February GE ) 'published biographies of leading personalities from the British geotechnical world, descriptions of projects of major geotechnical significance, and explanations of key discoveries from the science of soil mechanics', but please let us st ay away f rom this ratings business .
John Dunnicliff, geotechnical instrumentation consultant Devon
Paul Wheeler, editor, replies:
As you correctly point out, the long term aim of the hall of fame section on the new BGS website is to include biographies, project descriptions of major geotechnical significance and key discoveries from the science of soil mechanics.
The survey referred to has been placed on the website purely as a means to prime the section.
I undertook this survey in preparation for a short presentation at the BGS's 50th annual general meeting in June last year. My intention in doing so was to acknowledge those who had influenced and shaped the British geotechnical community during its first five decades, not to produce a ranking. Unfortunately in the subsequent recirculation of the information this subtlety has been lost. I find myself in the invidious position of being responsible for the offending ranking, but wishing to endorse your comments.