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Brian J. Ford (born 1939 in Corshammarker, Wiltshiremarker ) is an independent research biologist, author, and lecturer, who publishes on scientific issues for the general public. He has also been a television personality for more than 40 years.


Ford attended Cardiff Universitymarker between 1959 and 1961, and left before graduating to set up his own multi-disciplinary laboratory.


Ford has campaigned on the mis-use of forensic data in courts and the misuse of dangerous germs , which have resulted in new laws being passed. Ford's current research interests include e-learning , for which he is based at the University of Leicestermarker.

Ford's other publications range from microbial research and elucidating newly threatening infections to examining scientists' dissatisfaction with their lot . Other areas of his interests are the invention of a space microscope commissioned by Brunel University, to be used by European Space Agency , safety of the water supply and the rising incidence of head lice and bed bugs , his discovery of new phenomena in blood coagulation , the of plants excretory mechanisms of plants and investigations of the 'ingenuity' of living cells that alter our understanding of the living cell. Ford's proposal for biohazard legislation led to supportive articles in 'Nature' and 'The Times' and has led to the introduction of worldwide biohazard controls .

He has written papers on the development of science, such as an essay on scientific illustration and an 18,000-word essay on scientific publishing in the eighteenth century . One of his best known discoveries is the original specimens of Antony van Leeuwenhoek. They were sent to the Royal Society of London in the seventeenth century and remained there until 1981 when Ford found the Leeeuwenhoek specimens hidden in the letters and he then submitted them to extensive microscopical examination using both old and new microscopes.

His scientific papers on the development of science are often remarkably detailed, notably an essay on scientific illustration [353380] and an extraordinary 18,000-word essay on scientific publishing in the eighteenth century [353381] which is the definitive source for academics.

Ford has been active in diplomacy and politics, travels extensively, and acts as a conference speaker and lecturer. He has also written for The Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard, also writing for journals including the British Medical Journal, Nature, and Scientific American. As a student he had a weekly science column on the South Wales Echo and has since contributed columns for the Mensa Magazine, Boz magazine, The Listener and The Guardian.

Ford has been a guest on the BBC's Round Britain Quiz where he partnered Lady Antonia Fraser, and Any Questions?, presented the radio shows Science Now, Where Are You Taking Us? and Kaleidoscope, and was a founder-member of Start the Week on BBC Radio Four with Esther Rantzen and Richard Baker .

Many of his programmes involve proffering unrehearsed answers to the public on scientific topics, as on the Cliff Michelmore series Whatever you think (BBC) and Science Hour with Clive Bull ( for LBC). On television he hosted a game show Computer Challenge and the documentary series Food for Thought in Britain and Jensheits das Kanals in Germany. His recent TV appearances include presenting The Man Behind the da Vinci Code and featuring in Weird Weapons of World War II, based on his two books about WW2 (see below).

In addition to scientific research and academic lectures, Ford lectures extensively to general audiences, in the form of one-man shows on current scientific issues. A long-time science newspaper and magazine columnist, Ford's books have been published in more than 100 editions in many countries.


Ford is a Fellow of Cardiff Universitymarker , Member of Gonville and Caius Collegemarker , University of Cambridgemarker, an Honorary member of Keynes College, University of Kentmarker, former Fellow at the Open Universitymarker and Visiting Professor at the University of Leicestermarker .

Ford is a Fellow of the Linnean Society, serving as a member of their council as their Zoological Secretary and is their honorary surveyor of scientific instruments. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Biology, a former member of their council and chairman of their history network. Ford edited the book Institute of Biology: The First Fifty Years which is devoted to the history of this Institute.

He is a Fellow of Cambridge Philosophical Society and has lectured to all the above mentioned bodies. In 2004 he was awarded a Fellowship by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and Art, NESTAmarker (London).

Ford is a Fellow of Cardiff Universitymarker and is the President of the Association of Past Students . Ford is also a Member of the university court.

Other positions

He was the first British President of the European Union of Science Journalists' Associations, founding Chairman of the Science and Technology Authors Committee at the Society of Authors, and the president of the Society for the Application of Research (SAR) in Cambridge. Ford has been a member of Mensa and was a director of British Mensa from 1993-1997, resigning a few months after being elected for a second term.. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society in the 1960s.


Ford's first television appearances included playing boogie piano on "Donald Peers Presents", from Cardiffmarker, Walesmarker. Also in the show was the first appearance of Thomas Woodward, latterly known as Tom Jones.

Ford is a popular celebrity speaker on cruise ships including the Cunard Line ship RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 and for Seabourn Cruise Line has spoken aboard the Seabourn Spirit. He is a guest of P&O Cruises on vessels such as MV Aurora and the Arcadia ; for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines on the Black Watch and Braemar ; aboard the Regatta on Oceania Cruises, and for Celebrity Cruises among many others. His presentations are dynamic and largely extemporized.

One characteristic manifestation of Ford's iconoclastic streak is displayed in the title of one of his books, which he intentionally gave the longest and most complex title in English-language publishing history: Nonscience and the Pseudotransmogrificationalific Egocentrified Reorientational Proclivities Inherently Intracorporated In Expertistical Cerebrointellectualised Redeploymentation with Special Reference to Quasi-Notional Fashionistic Normativity, The Indoctrinationalistic Methodological Modalities and Scalar Socio-Economic Promulgationary Improvementalisationalism Predelineated Positotaxically Toward Individualistified Mass-Acceptance Gratificationalistic Securipermanentalisationary Professionism, or How To Rule The World, London: Wolfe Publishing (ISBN 0-7234-0449-6). The point of the sesquipedalian title was to poke fun at those who conceal their lack of real expertise by using long and complicated words, whilst making the serious point that more people are fooled by these so-called experts than really should be. The book is commonly referred to simply as Nonscience, which is itself a play on nonsense.

Also worthy of note is that Ford has also been a rock & roll keyboards player. He played with guitarist Dave Edmunds and has occasionally performed in recent years. Ford has been active in the diplomatic and political world and is a trained marksman. He can pilot aeroplanes, ski and scuba-dive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

Authors describing Ford

  • Stewart Williams, describes Ford in his early days as a rhythm and blues pianist. Report is illustrated by a photograph by John Couch. Reported in "Days and nights of hot jazz in Cardiff", South Wales Echo, November 11, 1977.

  • Kenneth Williams discusses Ford's views on place names in his diary book Back Drops .

  • Germaine Greer quotes Ford's view on sexuality, the famous 'jam squirting a in a donut' concept, from his book Patterns of Sex. Uses the quote also as a chapter heading. Reported in "Better no sex than bad sex", The Sunday Times Review, p 33, January 13, 1984.

  • Brian Aldiss describes the effects of Ford lecturing on an audience of other authors in Bury my heart at WH Smith's.

  • David Parry-Jones discusses Brian J. Ford on his early television programs, with a photograph, in Action Replay.

  • Professor Philippe Boutibonnes expands on Ford's important research on the Leeuwenhoek microscopes.

  • Sir Colin Spedding discusses Ford's views on the mechanisms of innovation.




  • German secret weapons, blueprint for Mars, ISBN 0-345-24989-5. USA, Ballantine Books, 1977. ISBN 0-356-03034-2. UK, Macdonald, 1970.

  • Allied Secret Weapons: the War of Science; Weapons Book #19, ISBN 0-345-02097-9 . USA Ballantine Books, 1970. ISBN 0-356-03746-0, UK, Macdonald, 1970.

  • Microbiology and food, ISBN 0-9501665-0-2 (hardback), UK, Catering Times, 1971. ISBN 0-9501665-1-0 (paperback). UK, Northwood, 1970.

  • German secret weapons, blueprint for Mars, ISBN 0-356-03034-2. Australia, South Africa, & New Zealand, Macdonald.

  • Allied Secret Weapons Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, Macdonald, 1971. ISBN 0-356-03746-0.

  • Nonscience . . . or how to rule the world, ISBN 0-7234-0449-6. UK, Wolfe, 1971.

  • New edition: German secret weapons, blueprint for Mars, ISBN 0-345-09758-0. USA, Ballantine Books, 1972. ISBN 0-345-09758-0, UK, Pan Books, 1972.

  • New edition: Allied secret weapons, the war of science, ISBN 0-345-09758-1. UK, Pan Books, 1972.

  • The optical microscope manual, past and present uses and techniques, ISBN 0-7153-5862-6. UK, David & Charles, 1973. ISBN 0-8448-0157-7. USA, Crane Russak, 1973.

  • The earth watchers, ISBN 0-856-32020-X. UK, Leslie Frewin, 1973.
  • The revealing lens, mankind and the microscope, ISBN 0-245-51016-8. UK, George Harrap, 1973.

  • Microbe power, tomorrow's revolution, ISBN 0-356-08384-5. UK, Macdonald and Jane's, 1976. ISBN 0-8128-1936-5. USA, Stein and Day, 1976. ISBN 0-345-25892-4. USA, Ballantine Books, 1977.

  • Microbe power, tomorrow's revolution, ISBN 0-8128-6006-3. USA, Scarborough Books, 1978.

  • Patterns of sex, the mating urge and our sexual future, ISBN 0-354-04375-7. UK, Macdonald and Janes, 1979. ISBN 0-312-59811-4. USA, St Martin's Press, 1980.

  • The Cult of the expert (hardback) ISBN 0-241-10476-9, (paperback) 0552122491. UK, Transworld, 1982.

  • 101 questions about science, ISBN 0-241-10992-2. UK, Hamish Hamilton, 1983.

  • 101 more questions about science, ISBN 0-241-11246-X. UK, Hamish Hamilton, 1984.

  • Compute, how, where, why ... do you really need to? ISBN 0-241-11490-X. UK, Hamish Hamilton, 1985.

  • Lensman microscope project manual. UK, Science of Cambridge, 1989.

  • The human body, ISBN 1-85561-013-2. UK, Belitha Books, 1990. ISBN 1-85561-040-X. USA, Belitha, 1990.

  • The Leeuwenhoek legacy, ISBN 0-948737-10-7. UK, Biopress, 1991. ISBN 1-85083-016-9. UK, Farrand Press, 1991.

  • Microbe power, tomorrow's revolution. USA, Madison Books, 1992.

  • My first encyclopedia of science, ISBN 0-86272-944-0. UK, Kingfisher Books, 1993.

  • The new Guinness book of records quiz book, ISBN 0-85112-635-9. UK, Guinness Publishing, 1994.

  • Microbe power, tomorrow's revolution, ISBN 0-8128-6006-3. USA, Scarborough Books, 1994

  • BSE the facts, ISBN 0-552-14530-0. UK, Transworld, 1996.

  • Genes, the fight for life, ISBN 0-304-35019-2. UK, Cassells, 1999. ISBN 0-304-35019-2. USA, Sterling Publications, 1999.

  • Sensitive souls, senses and communication in plants, animals and microbes, ISBN 0-316-63956-7. UK, Little, Brown, 1999.

  • Secret language of life, how animals and plants feel and communicate, ISBN 0-88064-254-8. USA, Fromm International, 2000.

  • Using the digital microscope, ISBN 0-9543595-0-X. UK, Rothay House, 2002.

As co-author

  • The recovery, removal, and reconstruction of human skeletal remains, some new techniques, chapter in Field manual for museums. Paris, UNESCOmarker, 1970.

  • Récuperation, enlèvement et reconstitution des ossements, chapter in Musées et recherches sur le terrain. Paris, UNESCOmarker, 1970.

  • Brian J Ford explains why he considers Cardiff the most unappreciated city in the world, chapter in The Cardiff book, ISBN 0-900807-05-9. Barry: Stewart Williams Publishers, 1973.

  • Discharge to the environment of viruses in wastewater, sludges and aerosols, chapter with JS Slade in Viral pollution of the environment, ed: G Berg, ISBN 0-8493-6245-8. Boca Raton, CRC Press, 1983.

  • Sexually transmitted diseases, chapter in Sex and Your health ed J Bevan, ISBN 0-85533-571-8. London, Mitchell Beazley, 1985.

  • Las Enfermedades de Transmisión Sexual y Otras que las Imitan, chapter in El Sexo y la Salud ed J Bevan, ISBN 84-320-4570-5. Barcelona, Editorial Planeta, 1985.

  • Exploring South Wales, chapter in Walking in Britain, ed J. Hillaby, ISBN 0-00-412272-0. London: William Collins, 1988.

  • Sexually transmissible diseases and their mimics, chapter in Sex and Your health, ed J Bevan. London, Mandarin Books, 1990.

  • Witnessing the birth of the microscope, photoessay in Millennium yearbook of science and the future, ISBN 0-85229-703-3. Chicago, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2000.

  • Eighteenth-century scientific publishing, chapter in Scientific books, libraries and collectors, ISBN 1-85928-233-4. London, Thornton & Tully, 2000.

  • Scientific Illustration, chapter in vol 4 of The Cambridge history of science, ed R Porter ISBN 0-521-57243-6. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001.

  • Hidden secrets in the Royal Society archive, chapter 3 in Biological collections and biodiversity, eds BS Rushton, P Hackney and CR Tyrie, ISBN 1-84103-005-8. Otley, Westbury Academic and Scientific Publishing, 2001.

  • Trouble on the hoof, disease outbreaks in Europe, chapter in 2002 book of the year, ISBN 0-85229-812-9. Chicago, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2002.

  • Human behaviour and the changing pattern of disease, chapter in The changing face of disease, implications for society, ISBN 0-415-32280-4. London and Boca Raton, CRC Press, 2004.

As editor

  • Science Diary, annually 1967-1974. London, Charles Letts.

  • The Institute of Biology, the first fifty years (hardback) ISBN 0-900490-37-3. London, Institute of Biology, 2000.
  • GM crops, the scientists speak, by Sir Sam Edwards , Professor Malcolm Grant, Mr Colin Merritt, Sir John Marsh, Professor Joe N Perry, Professor Mike Gasson, Sir Brian Heap (hardback) ISBN 0-9543595-2-6. Cambridge, Rothay House, 2003.

  • The second mouse gets the cheese, proverbs and their uses by Sir Colin Spedding (hardback) ISBN 0-9543595-4-2. Cambridge, Rothay House, 2005.


  1. GRO Register of Births: JUN 1939 5a 88 CHIPPENHAM - Brian J. Ford
  2. Laboratory News p 20, July 8 1991
  3. Laboratory News p 16, January 12, 2006
  4. Times Higher Education Supplement p 2, November 18 2005
  5. The Microscope vol 52:3/4 pp 135-144 2004
  6. The Microscope vol 51:4 pp 209-220 2003
  7. New Scientist vol 145 p 11, March 18 1995
  8. 'Merely going through the seaside motions', The Guardian p 23, August 17 1991
  9. 'Pediculus, bug with a lousy image', Sunday Times, November 14 1971
  10. InFocus magazine pp 6-14, September 3 2006
  11. Clinical Laboratory International vol 30(5) pp 12-13, September 2006
  12. Journal of Biological Education vol 20(4) pp 251-254 1986
  13. Biologist magazine vol 53(4) pp 221-224
  14. 'The revealing lens', published by Harrap, pp 201-202
  15. 'Call for law to control laboratory poisons', The Times, September 17 1971
  16. Chapter 24 'Scientific Illustration', Cambridge History of Science (ed: Roy Porter) vol 4 The Eighteenth Century, Cambridge University Press, 2001
  17. 'Eighteenth Century Publishing', chapter for Scientific Books, Libraries and Collections, published by Thornton and Tully
  18. Biology History vol 5(3), December 1992
  19. The Microscope vol 43(2) pp 47-57
  20. Spektrum der Wissenschaft pp 68-71, June 1998
  21. McCrone Research Institute (McRI) - Chicago, IL
  22. The Royal Literary Fund
  23. University of Leicester - Leicester Professor elected at Cambridge
  24. Institute of Biology: The First Fifty Years, Institute of Biology, ISBN 0-900490-37-3
  25. "Mensa Elections", p.4, Mensa Magazine October 1993
  26. "Musical Chairs", p.4, Mensa Magazine March 1998

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