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Harold Hopkins

 
Born on 6th December 1918, the son of a bakery worker in Leicester, Harold Horace Hopkins became a renowned British physicist. 
He obtained one of only two scholarships to attend the Gateway Grammar School. He joined the Communist Party at an early age.
 
Having read physics and maths at University College, Leicester, he graduated in 1939 with a first. He began a PhD in nuclear physics but due to the war went to work instead for a local firm Hobson where he was introduced to optical design, which would eventually form the basis of a PhD thesis in 1945.
 
Hopkins left the Party when the cold war began, probably to avoid being barred from doing scientific work, although his politics remained strongly leftist throughout. 
 
The next decades saw him emerge as one of the foremost authorities in the field of optics and a remarkable teacher. Many of his inventions are in daily use, including zoom lenses, fibre-optics and endoscopes. He was twice nominated for a Nobel Prize. 
 
Hopkins died on 22nd October 1994; on 12 June 2009 the Hopkins Building was officially opened by his son, Kelvin Hopkins, the left Labour MP for Luton North.