Or putting the cool back into physics
I was terrified of student parties during my undergraduate years. Not that I was ever that unsociable. But the outcome of the chat-up line was inevitable:
‘You look cute. So what subject do you read?’
‘Uh. OK’ (wanders off to find another drink)
My career took me from undergraduate physics into working my way up from summer vacation work, through sales, marketing, strategy and ultimately being an MD at a couple of Oxford Instruments’ businesses. Selling cryostats and superconducting magnets in Germany for a few years was great, but it was the sports car and expat salary that were attractive to others, not the condensed matter physics and cryogenics.
I then founded Qi3 which spends its time helping people commercialise sensing and instrumentation technology in a variety of industry sectors. I now invest through Qi3 Accelerator in early stage technology ventures. So my life has always revolved around the deeply unfashionable fields of physics and engineering.
And now, after years of being shunned at parties, I’m suddenly cool. And it’s all down to Brian Cox and the Large Hadron Collider.
Well even if it’s fashionable now, I’ve always been excited by physics. It has a unique potential to inspire, to explain the wonders of the universe and encourage methods of rigorous analysis. In my commercial world, it has the potential to generate mind-blowing market opportunities and transform society. I’m proud to have been trained as a physicist and in awe of many of the physicists I’ve had the privilege to work with.
I’ve been invited to a party this evening. I think I’ll go.