Why this profession?When did you realize this is what you wanted to do?
Strangely enough, it was because of my military service! I had to choose between doing the regular “boot” camp or finding a laboratory in a foreign country to work with (so-called scientific cooperation). Since I did not want at all to be a ‘soldier’, I finally succeeded to find a job as a researcher in New Mexico, to work in the Solar Observatory of Sunspot, a small village on top of the Sacramento Peak. And that’s how all the whole story started and I enjoyed it a lot, so I definitely wanted to continue in that field.
What’s the best part about what you do?
Interacting with many people of different fields, with different points of view. Traveling to places with beautiful skies. Transferring knowledge to students, amateurs, curious people! The fun of trying to solve puzzles!
What’s the worst part about what you do?
The competitive spirit which at some level is absurd and counter productive. The pressure to quickly publish lots of paper even if you don’t have much to say…
If I want to do what you do, what do I have to do?
Basically, the regular way is to do higher studies in physics and astrophysics and then do a PhD in a laboratory of astrophysics. But there are many other ways to enter this world, for example through instrumentation, signal processing fields which are important to understand how astronomical instruments are actually working.
A funny incident you recall.
Not funny at the beginning but this is a typical fear that lots of researchers have had in their career I guess: turning on the computer and for some reasons, it does not want to boot and says something like ‘system failure’. At this point you think that you have lost all your data, all your notes, all your work! Very scary, until you call the system manager of the lab that tells you he will be able to retrieve your hard disk: what a relief, you’re good for a morning panic!
What’s your typical day like?
Arriving at work not to early around 9:30. Checking mails, drinking morning coffee with colleagues. Probably some morning meeting with one of the groups of the lab (instrumentation, science), or attending the weekly scientific seminar given by invited people from other labs all around the world (very important!). Then back to ‘usual’ work: analyzing data taken from telescopes, making theoretical calculations for new astronomical/instrumental contexts, informal team meetings around specific subjects, writing papers to be published in refereed astronomical journals, writing observing proposals to get observing time… all of this periodically cut by intense discussions around the coffee machine!
If not a astronomer then what would you have been?
Definitely working in music or cinema! Sound editor for films or something like this would have been a pretty good deal!
Hobbies / Passionate about?
Music and Cinema, obviously! (I play guitar, bass, and a little bit of trumpet.)
What do you think is cool?
Enjoying life with friends, playing music on stage, traveling and see beautiful scenery, …
What’s not cool?
A place without music in the air
Were you named after anyone?
Don’t think so, no.
Do you still have your tonsils?
I do! (at least I think I do…)
Would you bungee jump or sky dive?
I once jumped off a bridge on a kind of bungee but I don’t think I’ll do that again now! 😉
Blue or Black?
What do you fist notice about people?
If they are smiling or not
If you were a crayon –what colour would you be?
Football (the European one I mean, not the American one!)
Scary movies or cartoons?
Cartoons, no hesitation!
What book are you reading right now?
It’s a french book called ‘Doggy Bag’ (french indeed…). It is using for its structure and characters the codes of television serials (there are six “seasons” of “doggy bag”, meaning six books). It’s really funny, and cruel at the same time. By Philippe Djian.
Music or Movies?
Both, as much as possible!
Do you have a ‘Ripley’s believe it or not’ talent?
What the hell is a Ripley’s talent?
Coffee, tea or Juice?
Coffee addict since I started to work in research…
If you were not a human being, which animal would you be? Why?
A bird I guess, to experience the happiness of free flying. Did never really think of this question, though.
Brains or Brawn?
Given my amount of muscles, I’d say brains!
Education or experience?
Education and experience!
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