Why I do what I do

This post was going to be an introduction to what is now my next post, but it got a bit long so decided it deserved to be on its own. Enjoy



When I was young my parents really tried to make sure my Birthday and Christmas presents had an educational value to them.  At various birthdays and Christmases I was given a Chemistry set, a Microscope, an Acorn Electron computer, Lego and a Radio Shack 200 in 1 electronics kit (That is what the photo above is).  I didn't complain. I loved Science and technology. My favourite T.V programmes were Tomorrows World and anything that had Johnny Ball in it. I was fascinated by everything around me and my favourite hobby was taking things apart.

The Chemistry set and Microscope had some initial interest but after mixing a few chemicals, writing down what colour they changed to, looking at a fruit fly and salt crystals a few times both were consigned to the cupboard and later given away, sent to a charity shop or Jumble sale.

But the Lego, Electronics kit and Acorn Electron were a different story. At different times in my childhood playing with these took up a lot of my spare time. Especially the Acorn Electron.  I subscribed to Electron User magazine and would spend hour after hour typing in the printed programs every month and then spend an equal amount of time or longer debugging these programs.  Saving and loading to cassette tape between sessions. There was no cloud storage, usb flash keys or hard drives.  A 3 1/2"  floppy disk drive came later. The performance and storage capacity was amazing.

I started learning assembly language, and was able to get the computer to do all sorts of things it wasn't really supposed to.  It would crash all the time but a quick re-boot fixed it. My dad thought I had broken it with my messing because he couldn't load a program from tape.  It turned out he was typing the command wrong.

I did actually break it later on.  I wanted to see if it would still work if I took some of the chips out of it.  Unfortunately I was doing this in my bedroom and heard my dad coming up the stairs so quickly re-assembled it badly.  It didn't work.

Thinking about these toys and experiences now it was clear that although I have always been fascinated by Science and enjoy finding out and learning about what is happening I was never going to be a Scientist.

I'm not motivated by discovering new things.  Discovering what  the tiniest particles in the universe are or how Bacteria or Viruses behave is amazing but its not for me.  I love an end product.

All the research and discoveries that now mean I can write an app for a computer that is connected to the internet but not sat on a desk fixed down by a cable,  can find its location anywhere on earth and has the processing power and battery life to run that app make me so happy. I am amazed by the science but I want to be the person writing the app at the end of the chain not the person discovering the materials and processes that make it possible.

That is one of the things that makes my job at the Science Museum so cool.  I do a job I love and am surrounded by the latest and historical science that other people have worked on and made the discoveries in.





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