Back from Paris. Not really sure how successful that was though!
Favourite Thing: My favourite thing is the feeling of doing something that no-one has ever done before! Then trying to tell other people what it means.
1997 – 2002: Trinity High School, Manchester.2002-2004: Loreto College. A-levels in Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
2004-2008: Physics with Astrophysics at the University of Manchester.
I worked in WH Smith for two years while at uni, mostly working on tills and replacing stock. It was really good fun though, suprisingly!
The University of Nottingham
I am currently in the 3rd year of a PhD, which I will finish early next year, and be able to call myself Dr. Steve!
Me and my work
I use light from a powerful laser to see if I can explain why the building blocks of life are the way that they are.
Some of the chemicals in your body can exist in two forms that are almost exactly the same, except that they are mirror images of each other, just like your hands are both hands but are also mirror images. In your body though, only one of the forms is found! I use lasers, and something called a synchrotron – basically a big particle accelerator that makes light – to recreate the conditions in space to see if light from stars can cause this. We could have light from stars to thank for life!
My Typical Day
My typical day is spent using lasers – half the time collecting data and the other half trying to work out why my experiment is not working.
There is not one routine for me – as I do some experiments in my lab in Nottingham, and some experiments at a lab in Paris.
In Nottingham, I usually get in at 8 am and make a nice cup of tea. I then go and check that the lab is okay and turn on the lasers. Then I can either spend the whole day trying to get the experiments to work by slightly changing where the lasers are going – it is very difficult because I have to get 2 lasers to overlap in a tiny little space of about 1mm! Once this is done, the easy happens. I leave the whole thing recording for at least an hour and go have have a well earned break!
In Paris, my days (and nights) are a lot more hectic! Here I am working at the synchrotron. This spins electrons round in big circles very fast – almost as fast as light moves in fact. When the electrons turn around corners the give off light, and we use this light to look at our chemicals! I only get 3 days to do my experiments here as demand is high for other people to do experiments. So I usually get only a few hours sleep every night whilst I work my socks off to get as much data as I can. If everything is working well this means lots of sitting around making sure everything is working well. If something is broken it means rushing around like a mad man trying to fix it as soon as I can!
What I'd do with the money
I would have a science fair for local schools with lots of different and interesting science exhibits to explore!
I would like to organise a science fair for local Nottingham schools. There would be demonstrations and hands on activities for people to explore different areas of science and how it can be related to every day objects that you know.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Fun, Friendly, Curious
Who is your favourite singer or band?
A tricky one, I like so much music. I would probably say Alexisonfire.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Playing my first gig with my band – in the same place Muse played their first gig – sticks out in my mind.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Wish number one would be that I could sing, because I am really bad. Wish number two would be to go to space. Wish number three would be a nice big house with a swimming pool and a library.
What did you want to be after you left school?
I wanted to be a vet for a long time.
Were you ever in trouble in at school?
Occassionally! My form was always in trouble for misbehaving, although that was usually not me. I got in trouble for drawing all over my school work a lot.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Probably teaching the first year university students in the lab has been the most rewarding. Getting my first scientific paper published in a journal so far was my personal highlight.