Favourite Thing: In the direct line of work, digging into an interesting problem on our system and discovering some brilliantly simple cause. More indirectly, I love to travel and working in science gives lots of opportunities to attend conferences in interesting places around the world.
Henry Box School,1994-2001. Durham University, 2001-2005. Open University 2007-2010
BSc from the Open University
Polyhedron Software, Codemasters
Data storage for the Large Hadron Collider
Me and my work
I look after the data produced by the Large Hadron Collider, which is one of the world’s largest physics experiments.
It’s easy to lose track of the true size of the amounts of data we deal with every day of our lives. If you use computers or smartphones, you’ve probably heard of ‘megs’ and ‘gigs’, when talking about storage, connection speeds, and so on.
The fundamental unit of data is a ‘byte’, which (traditionally) was the amount of data needed to store a single character.
‘Meg’ is short for ‘megabyte’, which is a million bytes. ‘Gig’ is short for ‘gigabyte’, which is a billion bytes. Even a megabyte is quite a lot of data, if you tried to write out one megabyte of characters with a pen and paper it would take you about 12 days. A song is about 10 megabytes, a DVD movie is about 3 gigabytes.
My job is to look after much, much more data than that. A terabyte is 1000 gigabytes, and that’s about the amount of data that can be stored on a desktop computer.
A petabyte is 1000 times bigger than that. My job is to look after more than 20 petabytes of data produced by the Large Hadron Collider, keep it safe, and make sure that any time a physicist is interested in any part of it, they can get it.
My Typical Day
Lots of meetings and tapping away at my computer, sadly.
What I'd do with the money
Help the Engineering Education Scheme students I’m working with fund a really cool project.
I’m working with a group of students on a scheme designed to give year 12 students practice working on real engineering projects. Our group is designing a new display to go in our visitor’s centre, and I’d use the money to help fund a bigger and better project.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Most listened to at the moment are Of Monsters and Men, Placebo, and a bunch of movie and game soundtracks.
What's your favourite food?
Nan bread, pizza or sushi. Not all at once…
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Driving a single-seat racing car around Silverstone Circuit.
What did you want to be after you left school?
I didn’t know. I studied physics because it seemed to be the thing to do, but I spent a long time figuring out what to do with it.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
A few times, but not often.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Probably the astronomy parts of my physics degree. Space is cool.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Gained control of a robot army.
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
Honestly? I ended up working in science almost by accident. I’ve worked in the computer games industry and as a support guy at a small software company. I wanted a change, and here I am!
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
A storage guy somewhere else probably. If you working with computers, you need to store data, whether you are Instagram, Google or a scientific project like the LHC.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Lifetime’s supply of pizza that didn’t make me fat, a trip into space, and 20 more wishes.
Tell us a joke.
My robot army (plus our tape robot which they are climbing over)