Looking back, my career path was not determined by some grand plan, but rather by the beauty of the light from an argon ion laser in our Applied Physics Department. It wasn’t the science that the laser was bought for, Raman spectroscopy, or an understanding of how the laser would change the world, that drew me.
At the time I was soon to graduate with a physics degree – the first in my family history to get a science degree – and was interviewing with a local branch of IBM where my love of mathematics might give me an edge and where I might find stimulating work in Northern Ireland. But fate intervened and I was seduced by the light, by the pure intense green beam, and lasers became my thing. Mentioning lasers also gave some sort of defense against the many enquiries from caring relatives on when was I going to get a real job.