New blog, same obsession with science

As you have almost certainly just read in my last blog post on OpenOptics, I am leaving Cranfield University for as-of-yet unknown future places. I was aware some months back that my contract was coming to an end so I have already started looking/applying for post-Doc positions but these will take time to hear back from, so I will have a few months free time on my hands that I don’t plan on wasting and as of now(ish) I am working on two new projects.

BAM

BAM teaseYou know that lego Brewster angle microscope I made a while back? Well it turns out that there might be a market for a very cheap BAM based on that design. A couple of months ago I was contacted by a company that has now agreed to take me on as a consultant to design and build a BAM that is around 1/10 the price of the existing commercial products! Firstly, I am incredibly flattered that my work/designs were good enough to attract commercial attention, and secondly it’s very gratifying to work on commercialising one of my designs.

While this is a commercial contract, I have a lot of freedom over the way the project is run and what approach we take towards open-ness. The owner of the company I am working with is a big supporter of promoting science and education and agrees with me that open-ness about research is vital to any proto-scientists wanting to known how research is run. So we have agreed that (within reason) I can talk about the development of this system on this blog and hopefully give you some insight into how we are going about commercialising my BAM.

This project will only be short term (I’m only contracted to design and build a prototype) and it will be an excellent stop-gap while I look for a suitable post-Doc positions. Besides, it’s not everyday you get given a budget and a lab and told to “make it work” 🙂

Fibre optics e-book

During the middle of last year, I approached my immediate boss about possibly writing a book together. My pitch was that rather than write a traditional textbook, we could produce one that was more focused on the teaching aspects of interactive e-books. Essentially, I want to write a text-book that has games in it. Thankfully my boss is pretty progressive and agreed that it was a good idea and offered to write a few of the chapters, providing I would then write the remainder and produce all the animations. Since then, the project has kind of stagnated at the bottom of my to-do list – there have always been more important things (ie. grants…) to be getting on with. However, what with having some free time on my hands, that has changed and I can now give some time to getting a few draft chapters and animations together.

During my time at Mediwatch and during my PhD, I made quite a few flash animated images for presentations to help communicate my work – often to an audience that had never heard of most of the techniques I was using. More recently, I’ve upgraded to make them with HTML5 and I can’t wait to see how I can improve them even further with some interactive-ness. As I make some of the animations I’ll be posting them up here for comment (below is a very quickly knocked up example).

So for the next few months, these things should keep me pretty busy and stop me from just continuously clicking ‘refresh’ on my mail client in the hope of getting a reply from post-Doc job applications. More importantly, as I explained a bit above, these projects will allow me to keep talking about my work and sharing it with the wider community via this new blog ‘The Errant Scientist’. The idea is that this will be a permanent feature, independent of where I am working – what content appears is of course, really up to the stipulations of who I am working for, but where possible I will try to maintain the openness I love to read from others.

For now, the update cycle on the blog will be Wednesdays (same as OpenOptics) with a few extra bits when they fit. I have also copied a number of my archived articles from OpenOptics to here so that all of my stuff is together.

What with maintaing the blog, running a new project, writing a book, submitting a few papers and applying for jobs – I should be pretty busy!

*clicks refresh*

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