Saturday, April 28, 2012

Science and family

Last Saturday I helped out a science fair at my son's school called Science Rocks. It was a fantastic event and I thoroughly enjoyed it and it's clear that it entertained, educated and inspired all who attended. So much so, that I spent my Sunday afternoon searching  a nearby park (Dawsholm Park) for insects with my son and friends who were all fired up as entomologists.

I had the pleasure of giving planetarium shows using Glasgow University's inflatable Starlab planetarium. I was ably assisted by son who operated its controls - no mean feat for a 7 year old surrounded by people, lots of noise and in the dark.

I'd like to share something with you which has been bouncing around in my mind this last week. Almost 50 years ago, a young woman came over from Iran. She spoke very little English but was determined to spend a few years in the UK to further her career in nuclear physics. She not only ended up with a PhD, but also found a husband, settled in Bearsden, Glasgow and secured a research job working on Glasgow University's linear accelerator. When she became pregnant she was forced to stop working around radiation and went on early maternity leave to have her baby. That baby was me. (Yes, the radiation exposure probably does answer a lot of your questions about me.)

Unfortunately, the concept of maternity leave was not well established back then, especially in the very male-dominated profession of academic science and so my mother was not able to resume her scientific career, but she did, after much perseverance, manage to return to work at Glasgow University in computing. Although disappointed in this, she was a fantastic and devoted mother and gave my sister and I the best start in life one could wish for. I know she was pleased that my sister and I went on to have careers in science and engineering and particularly that my sister was able to have two children without much detriment to her career.

My mother died a year and a day before the science fair, and that has been on my mind quite a bit this week. But I'm absolutely sure she would've loved it and been delighted to see such a great science fair being run by a group of mothers, with a little help from a few dads.

1 comment:

  1. I think you'll find that it is specifically geology that rocks.