Oral history of British science
Aderin-Pocock, Maggie (12 of 14). An Oral History of British Science
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Space Science and Engineering
2013-08-15, 2013-08-22, 2013-09-26, 2014-01-14, 2014-02-13, 2014-04-03
British Library, London
Aderin-Pocock, Maggie, 1968- (speaker, female)
Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)
Part 12: Comments on attractions for self of science’s tendency to be/be regarded as non-mainstream/eccentric/the pursuit of a minority. Discussion of tension between popularisation/communication of science, and this quality of science. Comments on own approach to communication of/popularisation of science, with focus on its achievements rather than its underlying mathematics. [2:41] Comments on television programmes ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and ‘The IT Crowd’, including dislike of tendency for science (especially physics) to be associated with particular, masculine figure of ‘the nerd’. [4:02] Comments on relations with father at time of move out of home, before third year of university; father’s view of self as vulnerable/in need of protection/shy. [6:37] Comments on development of relations with sister Grace, as adults. [8:20] Story of work setting up own satellite optical instrumentation group at Astrium, Portsmouth, from 2006, involving work on bid for development of European Space Agency [ESA] instrument ‘BBR’ [Broad Band Radiometer] (related story of being telephoned to by boss at Astrium during period in South Africa involving science communication work). Comments on tendency to seek information verbally, due to particular difficulties posed by dyslexia. [13:31] Comments on winning of bid for development of BBR by rival optical instrumentation group at SS, including effect on definition of own role at Astrium (related comments on expansion/development of science communication work, including appearances on ‘breakfast’ television). [15:54] Story of producing/directing/appearing in film ‘Space in the UK’, 2006/2007. Mentions own company SI. [21:04] Comments on status of/self-image of British space science in 2007; history of sudden end to British rocketry ambitions. [23:31] Comments on other work at Astrium, following failed BBR bid, including assessment of patents owned by SS (following acquisition of SS by Astrium), work on instrument for ESA’s ‘FLEX’ mission [Fluorescence Explorer] concerned with remote sensing of photosynthesis, in collaboration with Rutherford Appleton Laboratory [RAL], Oxfordshire. [28:17] Story of development of decisions made with husband concerning having of children. Detailed comments on relations between lifelong ambition of space travel and expectations of motherhood. Story of process of trying for children, in relation to deadline set by self. [31:47] Comments on effects on own health, especially allergic reactions, of pregnancy. Story of anxiety concerning need to tell employer (Astrium) about pregnancy; investigation of health problems during pregnancy; birth of daughter. [38:40] Story of receiving, very shortly after birth of daughter, an email invitation from BBC to present documentary on the Moon; mistakes made at hospital concerning investigation of own health following birth; period of time at home following birth, with impaired heath. [41:48] Comments on positive effect on self of prospect of BBC Moon documentary at this time, with related stories. Story of filming for BBC Moon documentary. [43:20] Continues story of filming BBC Moon documentary, including role of husband as carer for daughter during filming. [45:20] Comments on role of self as presenter rather than ‘expert’ in this BBC documentary [broadcast as ‘Do We Really Need The Moon’ [DWRNTM]; relations between self, husband, director and daughter during this filming. [48:56] Story of work on UK Government Department of Business, Innovation and Skills [BIS] funded project involving collaboration between scientists and BBC staff. Mentions coincident BBC commissioning of Brian Cox’s ‘Wonders of the Solar System’. [52:36] Story of engagement of media agent; involvement in (as presenter) second BBC documentary ‘In Orbit: How Satellites Rule Our World’ [HSROW]. [55:32] Story of development of media career, from HSROW to current role as presenter on re-launched ‘The Sky at Night’ [SAN] including previous work on Children’s BBC. [1:01:05] Comments on treatment of own ethnicity/gender in publicity surrounding own engagement as SAN presenter; challenges of meeting needs/wishes of SAN viewers; direction/briefing of self for work as presenter on SAN, including decisions made on own dress, contributions of presenters (including self) to script. [1:06:10] Detailed comments on reasons for/effect of having daughter present during presentations/talks/papers on science, with related stories. [1:10:39] Comments on experiences of/friendships made through National Childbirth Trust [NCT] meetings; view of others of own decision to take/have daughter with self while working.
Life story interview with space scientist and television presenter, Maggie Aderin-Pocock.