Discovering Particles

Meet the team: Andy Parker

What is it like being a scientist?
I very much enjoy being a scientist. There is a continuous stream of technical and intellectual challenges, which means that life is never dull, and periods of great excitement, like the first running of the LHC.

What inspired you to become a scientist?
I always wanted to know how things worked, and started off by taking things like clocks and radios apart. They rarely worked afterwards! Physics gave me a way to understand more and more about the workings of everything from galaxies to particles.

What is the best thing about being a scientist / your job?
For me it is the sense of being at the very forefront of what is known, and understanding things which have never been explained before.

If you could go back in time which scientist would you like to meet and what would you ask them?
I would ask these questions to Richard Feynman!

What do you do in your free time?
I like to make and mend things: flying toys, furniture, electronic gadgets.

What is the first science you remember doing?
I remember stretching wires until they broke in the physics lab at school, studying Hookes law.

What advice would you give a school child who is interested in science/How would you inspire a child/non-scientist to be interested in the work you do?
Be curious about everything around you, and don’t take explanations at face value. To inspire non-scientists, I appeal to the universal human urge to understand where we came from, and what our fate will be. Science now has a compelling narrative, which is grander and more dramatic than we ever imagined.

What’s the funniest/strangest/most surprising experience you have had in your career?
The most surprising was when I arrived at CERN for the first time as a student and walked into the Big European Bubble Chamber Hall. The chamber was the size of a house, and the floor thumped up and down like an earthquake as the piston moved.

What discovery or invention could you really not live without?
The transistor.

What do you think is the most important thing yet to be discovered/invented?
Faster than light travel.

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