Monday, 3 March 2014

Episode VI: The Return of The Scientist

After a long delay, and much thought I am back... and, unlike Luke returning to his aunt and uncle's place after a Storm Trooper raid, I have good news! More on that in a moment. First the question which I know is whirring around all your grey matter: Where have I been?

The more attentive followers may remember that some time ago I had a big decision to make, to stay in education or move out into the big wide world of taxes, suits and smug business men. You can read that post here. So I made that choice, and I chose the big wide world away from the comforts of student halls, body shots and drinks for a quid. What did I do you ask? Having discovered to my dismay, as have countless science graduates recently, that having a degree in a certain discipline, in no way means you can then go and work in that discipline I eventually took up a job as a 'Medical Sales Representative'. If you're wondering what that means, it means I sell prescription drugs to doctors. 

This 'dream job' that was sold to me came with a good starting salary, a company car and even a pension. Yet after one month of driving around to countless meetings, all of which selling the same dull products of which I have no interest in, I realised the gravity of the mistake I had made. I needed the lab back, I needed the experiments, I needed everything that I gave up when I chose not to pursue postgraduate education. I need a PhD I feel my mind screaming at me. 

So, back to that good news I mentioned at the start of this post: After months of trying to identify a project that I felt comfortable that I had a great interest in, writing out personal statements, CVs and desperately trying to get my old lecturers to submit references on time, I believe I am on the verge of being offered a place. I had the interview, big tick. My next step is to meet the company funding the project, which the interviewer (and hopefully future supervisor) told me would be a formality...

If all goes well, I'll stay around here to let you know what's going on, rant, empty my mind, and offer advice to anyone who wants it. 

Let's do this.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Science Films Are Awesome

Right now I'm half way through watching 'Sunshine' directed by Danny Boyle. I'm loving it, and it has inspired me to post about the great science films (I guess that includes Sci Fi as well). In all honestly, I've seen loads of sci fi films, who hasn't? I can't remember having seen too many 'science films'. One I can remember is 'Moon'. It's still a sci fi, but it's much more than that. It's probably too complicated and mind bending of a story to describe to anyone, however I would highly recommend it.

Another good one is 'A Beautiful Mind', very clever and doesn't take the elitist approach that could have quite easily been used, presents complex mathematics that can be understood by anyone with a basic grasp of maths, but without making you feel like it has been dumbed down for you. A very difficult thing to do.
Are there any films you would recommend? I'd love to see a great autobiographic of a scientist, I don't know if these exist, maybe they aren't of high enough interest to be a blockbuster. I can't help but feel a film about Einstein must be out there somewhere. Who knows, maybe we've hit on a niche here. There you go guys, get inspired and then happy film making!

Poster for 'Moon'

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Money or Love?

With a year left of my degree, I'm starting to have to face a difficult choice about what to go into after university. The dream is to get a PhD studentship. Easier said that done. In the likely event that does not happen I face a decision that many young science graduates will face. Suit or lab coat? From my course, approximately 50-60% of students go on to work in a lab, often analytical chemists, DNA experts etc. Around 30% find corporate jobs, working on the business side of the scientific industries. Inevitably the corporate jobs pay more, a lot more. Is it worth hanging up the lab coat for the money? I think I already know which was I will end up going... The love of science is a far better friend than money could ever be.

Would you rather be the suit or the lab rat?

Sunday, 5 August 2012

My New Favorite Website

I highly recommend everyone checking this website out sometime soon. I found the first version of it about a year ago, and spent a good hour going in and out (you'll understand what I mean when you click the link). I've just found out there's a new version with even more stuff on it. It's hard to explain why this website is so awesome, but it just is. For anyone who's just starting to work with scales and measurements such as nanometres, angstroms etc it really could be useful to help you get your head round it and put a bit of perspective to it. Maybe i'm making it sound a bit boring, but I promise you it really is a lot of fun!

London 2012: Inspiring a nation... and a scientist.

A less science related post than the usual intelligent, mind-blowing, interesting (OK, i'm going a bit over the top, but my blog, my rules) posts you avid readers (again, over the top I know). Firstly, if in the unlikely event any of Team GB's brilliant medal winners are reading (I hear Jess Ennis spends her free time doing titrations), congratulations to every single athlete. truly doing Britain proud. I'm quite a sporty guy, have done too many sports to count in my 20 years. You could call me a jack of all sports, master of none. All the sport talk going on right now took me back to my first visit to Kent for my course open day. When one of the 3rd years showing us round got to the 'any unrelated questions' part of the tour, no one said anything apart from me... 'What are the sports facilities like? How much is gym membership?' His reply? 'How should I know? I'm a physicist...' I almost punched that douche straight in his face. Obviously I wouldn't, i'm a lover not a fighter. I just really hate the idea that you can't be smart, a geek or even be interested in science and still be interested in sports. The notion that you can only do one or another really gets to me, and is completely untrue. Both Vitali and Wladamir Klitschko, who hold pretty much every heavyweight boxing belt right now, both have Ph.Ds for fuck sake. Anyone who ever tells you that if you take up science you'll always get picked last in sports are lying. Rant over. I watched every moment of the kayaking and canoe slalom this week and was enthralled. So much so, that as soon as I get back to uni i'm going to join the canoeing/kayaking club. 4 years ago Heather Stanning, who just won a gold medal in rowing a few days ago, had barely ever been in a boat before, let alone considered professional rowing and the thought that she could win an Olympic medal. 4 years from now in Rio, I will be in my boat, paddling for my country to bring you back a gold medal. You heard it here first.

Jess Ennis wins gold for Team GB

Thursday, 2 August 2012

No greater sight.

This image is not one I took using my own camera. I can only say I wish it was, and someday I will (I hope). Can there possibly be any more amazing sight on earth? Perhaps the polar ice caps? Or Ha Long Bay perhaps. All of these sights I want to see. Next year when I graduate I am planning on taking 8 weeks or so to travel and see a few of these sights and already my list of places/sights is a page long, when in reality I will only be able to fund a select few of these. Where could I go to see the most perfect sights on earth? Please comment with any ideas on things I should go and see.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The most beautiful picture ever taken....

Just a quick picture I wanted to share for anyone who has never seen it before. It's, in my opinion, the most amazing picture ever taken. It shows Tracey Caldwell Dyson looking down at the earth from 'The Cupola' in the International Space Station. I'm incredibly jealous of anyone who ever gets to see our fragile and complex planet from this vantage point.