Wednesday, April 26, 2017

How I wish I’d become a scientist—Tricia McGill.

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Back in the days when I was ready to leave primary school in London and move on to high school we had to sit for what was called the 11 plus. My primary school still exists I am pleased to say as I loved that little school. We called it Conewood Street, but it is known as St John’s Highbury Vale CE Primary School. I look at it on the internet and am transported back there where I can still smell the chalk as the teacher wrote on the black board. I sometimes can’t remember what I did last Saturday but can still vividly recall my first day at that school as if it took place a mere few years ago.

 I have no idea what the entrance exam is called these days as the school system is much more complicated. I guess I must have done well in the 11 plus exam as my mother was given a choice of the high schools I was eligible to apply for. (My father had passed away earlier that year so this is why the decision was left to her) Her first choice was Lady Owen’s, so off we went for the initial interview with the headmistress. It’s worth taking a look here:


There is quite a history attached to that school I was blissfully unaware of back then. I guess my senses were alert to the knowledge that this school was not right for me, as the curriculum concentrated more on Science, Physics and Maths, all subjects I detested. Needless to say I flunked the interview so was not accepted. I often ponder how different my life would have been if I went through my secondary education there instead of the second choice which was Barnsbury Secondary Modern all-girls school in Islington (Which doesn’t exist anymore) I’ve searched the internet so if anyone out there knows how, or if, this school was disbanded I would love to hear from you.

I was happy in my choice as there I excelled at my two favorite subjects, which were art and English. My art teacher seemed to take a liking to me and my budding skills so therefore I loved her. I was never too fond of the rules of grammar or Shakespeare (who was idolised by our English teacher) in those days, but absolutely revelled in writing the essays and what we called compositions back than, which were simply short, short stories about life in general. My sisters and brothers would tell me how clever I was and how interesting my stories were. Sadly they never went as far as preserving any of them so my early efforts at penmanship have been lost in the sands of time.

Now, you are asking, what has all this to do with science and the fact that in the last part of my life I am regretting not opting for the sciences? Don’t get me wrong, I have few regrets about my life choices. But you can blame all this sudden interest in science and physics on Professor Brian Cox OBE who is currently on our TV explaining all about the universe, its beginning and expected end, in a fascinating programme called Stargazing Live:

If you haven’t heard of him, and I doubt that, as Prof. Cox is a British particle physicist at the University of Manchester and Royal Society Professor for Public Engagement in Science. He is best known to the public as the presenter of a number of science programs for the BBC, boosting the popularity of astronomy, physics and exploration. He is one of the world’s foremost communicators of all things scientific, possessing an incredible ability to make highly complex matters entertaining and easy to understand, even by ignoramuses like me. Apart from all that he is a very likeable man and very approachable. He has brought about this sudden resurgence in me to regret losing interest in science all those years ago. He just makes it all so plausible and easily understood. All things die eventually of course and it is inevitable that our earth won’t be around forever, so that is why we must find another planet to inhabit within the next 3.5 billion years, which is when the sun will be so hot it will finally have evaporated all Earth’s water. Don’t take my word for it, just have a look at what Brian has to say.


Considering my non-knowledge of the universe and the galaxies I wonder how I had the audacity to write a Sci-Fi Fantasy (cover featured at the top of this post) but as writers we are prone to use our imaginations and go off on flights of fancy. Also, considering what I have recently learnt about the planets and the likelihood of there being a far off planet on the other side of the universe that just might be inhabitable by us earth people, I am rather proud of the fact that my story sounds plausible. The only fact that I sort of fell down on was how long it would take to reach this far planet and how many years might have passed by the time a spaceship went there and returned.

I love Sci-Fi movies and my all-time favorite is probably Interstellar (might be because it features Matthew McConaughey) because it comes closest to what I imagine space-travel may really be like in the future. My list of other favorites is endless but to name a few: Terminator, The Matrix (never did really get the hang of it but loved it nonetheless) Inception, Star Trek, Star Wars, Avatar, and how can I leave out E.T., one of the greatest movies ever. Way back in the 50s I saw my first Sci-Fi which some of you may recall—The Day the Earth Stood Still. Without modern technology and cinematography to help it, that movie convinced me that there really were aliens out there who might one day come visiting.


Which brings me to my theory—we were created by an alien force a long, long time ago, and they have been keeping an eye on us to see how we progress, or how long it will take us to completely annihilate ourselves. They have visited on and off forever and left behind a few pointers for us to ponder over. Just take a look at how many wonders of this world that we have no true explanation for. Okay, far-fetched, you say. But we all have our theories, and that’s mine—what’s yours? 

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