I mentioned in a previous article about losing out on a studentship by 1 mark out of a thousand. If Sue hadn’t beaten me, I would have become more of an inorganic chemist. My third-year project was with these guys, and I had been accepted for a Ph.D. place subject to funding. I had worked closely with Vincent and he may have used some of my spectra or repeated them to get better quality ones. We had great fun. This was submitted the summer of my graduation and I had been working on this area.
The day the academic results came out I already knew my grade because I had been having discussions about Ph.D. places, so I was relaxed. I had gone to discuss something like half a dozen different projects around the UK and all of them, it seemed, were keen to have me. I had not heard of the place I ended up at and when I told my supervisor Prof. Clark, he told me to go for it because it was prestigious.
My life pivoted on that simple thing. I would have become an inorganic chemist / spectroscopist. Somewhat ironically, I did teach a course for Inorganic Chemistry nearly 20 years later.
It is impossible to say what would have happened had things been different. I probably would not have co-founded a laser company. I would not have met my ex-wife, nor perhaps this one. The trajectory would have been entirely different.
Was how this life has played out fated or was this chance?
Life can pivot on the tiniest of details and we think we are in charge….