Once upon a time, i completed a thesis on gravitational wave detectors, and got a Ph.D. that culminated more than twelve years of my life devoted to physics. Normally, that would have been just the beginning of a researcher’s career, but sometimes life intervenes and, as was my case, the doctorate marks instead what seems its end. I shifted gears and began a professional career as a programmer, not an unheard of story. During more than eight years, i’ve had lots of fun discovering a new world, full of interesting people, with its own myths, heroes and battles. I’ve tried hard to learn and even give something back, and, until a few months ago i was pretty happy with the idea of going on that way for the foreseeable future.
But then a little miracle happened. Despite not being a pro anymore, i had tried to read every now and then about physics (many books, and things like Scientific American or Physics Today, you know the drill) and to keep current (at a not too technical level) in latest advancements in the field. Thus, when last year somebody told me that he was going to a popular physics lecture (by some unknown guy) at my hometown’s science museum, i gladly joined the expedition. Two surprises were awaiting my arrival to the lecture room.
First, the lecturer was no other than Noble Laureate Frank Wilczek, who gave a nice talk about Dirac’s equation, including reminiscences about the man himself (since he was Wilczek professor during some time). Not bad for an unknown lecturer. The second surprise also involved an unexpected encounter, this time with my Ph.D. advisor. I hadn’t seen him for more than seven years and, naturally, there were lots of news and gossip to exchange after the lecture. To make a long history short, as a result of that talk i joined the Catalan Institute for Space Studies, where Alberto leads the Spanish contribution to ESA’s Lisa Pathfinder project, a forerunner of the planned LISA gravitational wave detector.
Until this fall, my work at IEEC is centered on software development. But once our application enters the testing and validation phases, i’ll have time to work on physics again. The Institute being a primarily a scientific institution, the plan is to get involved in LISA at a scientific level. Let me say that again: i’ll work on physics again. Who said dreams never come true? At first, a nagging doubt clouded my mind every now and then, a little devil whispering “you’re too old, you missed that train,” but i remembered a quote by one of my favourite authors:
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
So i will try again. I’ll work hard to relearn what i once knew, and then more. To trod the old paths, only a little bit wiser. In the old times, the web was in its infancy (i remember using Mosaic, and drooling over Netscape 1.0), but now i have at my disposal an amazing amount of on-line information, and a way to share my forthcoming toils and discoveries. I know i would have loved this when i started learning physics. So this blog’s intent is to share the joy of discovering physics, and physics, instead of boring autobiographical notes, will be the theme of the forthcoming entries in this space.