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Atomic Razor


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Software engineer, former telecoms strategy consultant, former mobile telecoms technical sales engineer, former mobile datacoms/Unix systems engineer, ex-physicist, aspiring novelist living in Kew Bridge, London.


I was born in Preston, Lancashire on 16 April 1968. I went to school there - St Anthony's RC Primary School, St Cuthbert Mayne RC High School (the same school as Nick Park) , Newman College - 13 years of Catholic education!, which, I think, goes to explain a great deal.

I studied physics at St Anne's College, University of Oxford (second in mods, upper second in finals; options: astrophysics, and the physics of atmospheres, oceans and planets), and then went to Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London where I started a PhD in astronomy (infrared and millimetre wave studies of low mass star formation). This involved the use of the Maximum Entropy Method (MEM) to analyse data from the Infra-Red Astronomical Satellite (IRAS). My supervisor wanted to use MEM to create higher resolution temperature maps of star formation regions. IRAS returned data in four wavelengths bands. This allows you to calculate the temperature by the application of the Rayleifg-Jeans law. Now. of course, you have to take into account the fact that the resolution is a function of wavelength. This isn't a problem for the vanilla data (you simply(!) smear out the high resolution (short wavelength) data to the same resolution as the long waveleghth data); there were standard tools to do this. However, it is a problem for MEMed data. In MEM, the resolution is a function of intensity. So, you can't use divide two MEMed images to find the temperature as you have no idea what the resolution of the MEMed images is. Of course, what you should do is MEM the temperature maps constructed from unMEMed data. But that was beyond the capability of the tools I was using. I know now that I should have written a program to do this from scratch, but at the time that didn't occur to me/was beyond my ability. I did get the chance to go to Hawaii (Hawai'i?) on an observing trip though. Mauna Kea is an amazing place with an incredible Martian-looking red landscape. It is quite soething to drive from the lush rain forest at sea level, through barren moorland as you get higher to the desolate, rocky, alien landscape towards the top. There was wasn't a metalled road all the way to the summit in those days (1990), which helped to keep the tourists away. I suspect that that issue is much more of a problem today.

As an academically orientated person who happens to find himself in a business environment, I've long been interested in the idea of doing an MBA. My feelings about an MBA oscillate wildly between profound excitement and fatalistic depression. My life coach was very keen on me doing an MBA. At the time (early 2002), I had only been at Siemens for a year and I felt that to start an MBA in autumn 2002 would make my CV look too bitty. Furthermore, I feared that an MBA would only lead to me ending up with another job similar to the one I had already had plus a large debt.

In the autumn of 2002, my attitude towards doing an MBA improved and I decided to to do the GMAT. I really enjoyed studying for it. As a multiple choice examination, it was right up by street. If only I could find a job that involved doing multiple choice exams all day - yes, a GMAT score. I took the test one Saturday in December 2002 and was pleased with my score (770). I scored higher on the verbal than the quantitative section. Had I known I was going to do well, I'd have done more revision for the quantitative section.


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