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Tim Horbury - solar guides


Hi, my name's Tim Horbury:


Where do you work?
I work in London, at Imperial College. Imperial College is next to Hyde Park, and when I visited for the first time, the park looked nice in the Sun while I had my lunch. So I decided that was the place for me. I also worked at Queen Mary College, in the East End of London, for a while, not such a pretty location. I like London, it's a great city to work and live in.


Image fo the famous Albert Memorial in Hyde ParkHere is the famous Albert Memorial in Hyde Park

(credit: S. Merritt)


How did you end up doing studying the solar wind?
I've always wanted to do science. I can't remember a time when I didn't want to.


I've always been interested in space and astronomy, so I decided to do that, and ended up studying the solar wind. A lot of the decisions I've made along the way weren't really decisions, they were just guesses or luck. Apart from aiming towards doing physics, everything else has been fairly random, and I've been very lucky that it's all worked out. What amazed me when I got to university though, was that almost everyone else didn't even have an idea of what career they wanted to do at all! Most people seem to muddle along, and find something interesting to do. So, if there's a message here, it's not to worry if you don't know what to do, because hardly anyone else knows either.


What do you like about your job?
Well, in lots of ways it's a dream job. The research bit of it is great, and I love it. In fact, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I think I'd still keep doing the research, although I'd probably take more holidays too!


Painting of Nantucket by Charles Wysocki...and what do you dislike?
Of course, there are bad things too. Like any job, there are boring things to do (I hate writing reports, for example - but doesn't everyone?) and there are also things I actively dislike, like paperwork, but thankfully there isn't much of that. It's a nice, relaxed lifestyle, the people are really nice, if a little odd sometimes, and a bonus is that I get paid to travel to places I'd never go otherwise. I've been to America (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, Baltimore, Nantucket - you might have to look up that one), France, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, The Netherlands, and probably a few other places I've forgotten. So, if you like travelling, it's a good job to have!


Above is a painting of Nantucket by Charles Wysocki. Nantucket is an island off the Cape Cod coast.


What do you do outside work?
My wife and I recently bought a little house in South London, so I lead a very domesticated life, cooking, washing up and ironing. Oh, and putting off doing the gardening. We also do all the standard things that most people do: watching films, shopping, eating, that sort of thing. Pretty ordinary really.


Image from the computer game, Perfect DarkI should probably say something at this point about how I climb mountains in my spare time, and run a club in Ibiza, but I don't: playing my Nintendo is about as adventurous as I get! I just got to the second secret level in Star Wars: Rogue Squardon, but I can't find the alien in Perfect Dark?


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