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former chartered engineer and principal research officer at British Maritime Technology and Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering

My interest in science grew from innate curiosity and a Christmas present, The Wonder Book of Tell Me Why. And so to my classroom as a 12-year-old – upon being told that space is a vacuum, I asked: ‘Why, then, is the sun burning?’ The response, as I recall, was: ‘Now there’s a good question.’

Upon not getting into university, I turned to the Newtonian world of mechanical/marine engineering, becoming a chartered engineer in the process and staying in research and development for my entire working life. It was great fun.

But the story does not end there. I have a son with a first-class honours degree in chemistry and a doctorate in organometalics, who is now working as a senior consultant – advising organisations like Pfizer on the use of computers, for research relating to the discovery of new life-saving drugs. Who could ask for anything more?