The real answer to the question “Am I famous?” is no but see how easy it is for me to delude myself into the answer YES and I will explain it to you so you can be equally deluded too.
I have had the dubious pleasure of being a synchrotron station scientist. In fact I was the station scientist on one of the most over subscribed and successful small molecule stations in the world. I took over the role from Simon Teat (see previous blog about what I think of him). Not long after starting as a station scientist I went to a BCA conference. This is like a conference for crystallographers but predominately feels like an exhibitors says what event. But I digress a quiz was passed out for fun and on that quiz was name three famous crystallographers. Believe it or not Simon Teat came top, yes top above Bragg and Crowfot-Hodgins - WFT yes WFT. He even beat down on old Billbo Clegins. This should have been my first clue to the infamous nature of being a station scientist - it wasn’t I was not that quick to grasp it.
For some reason I can not remember why, but I stopped writing this blog post. It is now 18 months later since I wrote the paragraph above. I'm not entirely certain if I can be bothered to finish it. But for you dear reader I will try. I will try my very, very, very hardest. And well my lunch is for 26 more minutes so during that time I will attempt to clean up the random notes I left myself. Thank GOD this post will appear in the past?
So I start with Bruker?
I’m not entirely certain why I start with Bruker but apparently I do. I guess this related to the fact that my first sort of major experience at the SRS was the replacement of the old SMART 1K thing with the NEW and SHINY stupidly big think. This was then removed and replaced by the much, much better and smaller thing. The details as I hope you can tell are not really very important. In fact the thing that is important is that on this install we had on one day five Bruker representatives and also Marcus (he is/was a salesman). That is a lot of people for this kind of thing but it does sort to show you what the power of a synchrotron has in regards big business, product placement and repetition. Then when you carry that over by association well that is a lot of fame and power that I held as well? As an interesting aside the new facility in the south got Rigaku rather than Bruker. It was a big change and other than their software being pants they are now getting the blame for a lot of the failings of the station as well. So it is a double edged sward that one.
I loved going to conferences. I loved meeting all those people but secretly I also dreaded it. I mean I would see four different people in a group of users nearly every day for half a year. This meant that I met a lot of people. They associated me with the synchrotron and its greatness and I became great. I guess a bit like jock in the football throwing running jumping game. But the downside was that well to be honest I did not have a clue who 75% of these people were? I mean the repeat offenders such as the Scottish group - that is like the Scottish play but for erm crystallographers (well actually they are the only ones I liked) I knew their names and had a laugh with them but many others I would smile and bow but that was it really.
It is an interesting thing, this kind of fame. You yourself are famous but not for being you but for the job you do and the possible access to things others do not have? I guess it is like being an actor. People see you as your character and not you and in analogy people saw me as the station and not me?
Don’t get me wrong….
For God’s sake, please do not think for a second I did not love this fame and love of my adoring groupies. IT WAS GREAT. And the best bit because your station had all this pull then all the manufacturers of stuff that could go on there also wanted to ply you with drinks. Plus the users so grateful that you awoke at 03:14 in the morning to fix their problem would buy you a drink and well there was lots of free drinks on offer. Often you got free drinks because people came to chat to you and then the manufacturer could grab them also. Often it was really heartfelt.
It was really, really, really good.
So I think YES I was famous for those reasons above outlined so clear in my random, rambling rantings. I also think the true measure of fame is how quickly it leaves you or how quickly if you try to cache-in on it you find it evaporating from view? Well the answer is very to both……And I think that means I was the most famous but for the shortest time.
One last thing I did it with 1 minute of lunch time to spare.....