From a little boy staring in wonder at the night sky to the head of Physics at the University, Dr Andrew Cole has never lost his curiosity about the mysteries held in space.
“I was inspired by the night sky and trying to understand why things were moving the way they were, why the moon did things in certain patterns.
“It was just after the Apollo program, and NASA had just launched the Voyager space craft so there were these incredible pictures of Jupiter and Saturn coming back,” Dr Cole said.
“I had some great teachers. No-one ever told me, ‘the math is too hard, that’s not practical.’ It was always an option.”
What gets you up in the morning to go to work?
“The really great people you get to work with.
“And the sense that on every given day, anything could happen. A breakthrough,” Dr Cole said.
“I don’t want to say it’s a calling, but it’s very much an obsession.”
What are some common misconceptions about working in physics?
“Doing astronomy, the most common misconception is that all I ever do is work at night.
“The other misconception is that things happen due to some genius who is working on their own and that’s absolutely not the way it works. It’s incredibly social and it’s incredibly team-based and collaborative.”
What would you say to young people interested in science and physics?
“They should just follow what they find interesting and be confident the skills they get out of that will serve them really well, in whatever career they choose.
“It can be really personally fulfilling to chase these
problems, it can be a really practical career, and it builds a lot of skills
that are necessary for navigating the world we live in today.”