OR HOW I LEARNT I COULD DO MATHS
My first degree was a B.Sc (Honours) in Applied Physics, with my honours thesis being an investigation into the hidden variable theory of quantum mechanics. I had proposed a number of ideas for my final year thesis - all of which were vetoed. So I wound up doing Quantum Mechanics research instead of building a rocket. In hindsight, this probably did my maths no end of good anyway. Quantum Mechanics is far harder than Rocket Science.
Figure 1: The planet Mars
This was then followed by an M.Sc in Remote Sensing, Image Processing and Applications, where I specialised in Planetary Physics. I found looking at fields from space about as interesting as watching wet paint dry (very Zen), but looking at the surface of other planets was far more interesting, especially Mars. It was the research I did on Martian surface analysis, that led to my involvement in the space field after I completed the M.Sc.
Figure 2: The Sun
I then decided that in my spare time, I would do a Ph.D in Astrophysics, specialising in Stellar Magnetohydrodynamics - this was certainly quite a mathematical challenge, but then I like mathematical challenges. The part time Ph.D kept me off the streets I guess, and let me stretch my computers with something more taxing than running a word processor or Quake, however, it became harder and harder to carry on whilst trying to run a company, and tend to a sick partner, so in the end, I had to curtail the Ph.D., much to my frustration.
When I wasn't building and launching rockets, dismantling household appliances or immersing myself in the home computers of the early 80's, I attended high school at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf (A Welsh Language Comprehensive School) in Llandaf, Cardiff. Subjects were taught through the medium of the Welsh Language. Some of the teachers (a few in the Maths department), seemed to think that I wouldn't get far in life, so the 2 1/2 degrees above are testimony to their stunning lack of judgement ! The 2 1/2 degrees are also testimony to how much other teachers at the school believed in me, and to them (especially the Physics department), I owe a great debt of gratitude.
Did I learn anything at school ? Yes, plenty, but probably the most valuable things I learnt, were the importance of failure, and how it can strengthen one, and how to make better rocket propellants.