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Dr. Andrzej Zimniak

My adventure with science

I feel as writing a motivation letter concerning the practised profession. Anyway, this is my home page and let me speculate here little bit less scientificly, at least in appendix, after doing formal presentation elswhere. Let's tell the story in chronological order.

When I started to think about science? Rather not in the age of eight, because in those days I dreamd of becoming an engine-driver; I was trurly impressed by hughe locomotives belching clouds of steam and smoke (ancient times - who remembers today these dirty machines?). But a year or two later, when mother declared my that I for sure will never take part in an expedition looking for living dinosaurs, I bursted into a flood of tears. After a laps of next year I've got for a gift a big box containing a set named "Young Chemist", which consisted of few reagents (I remember till now the species called "methyl blue"), some glass-tubes and an alcohol-burner. I persistently mixed the liquds in different proportions, added powdered chemicals, heated the mash and on the end always checked with lackmus strips. Mother teached me never to look into the nozzle (after years one colonel told me the same about the muzzle of a pistol) - and thanks to them I survived. Going back to the experiments - I hated to wash up, and it stayed with me until now (my main excuse is that Fleming discovered penicillin because of unwashed glass).

At school I was not extremally excited by chemistry, but later I discovered that the interest of pupils mainly depends on the ability of the teacher. Hence, I more liked sports, biology, geography and painting - yes, I was fairly good in drawing and painting and I even considered to take the course in the Academy of Fine Arts. I could not to take up my mind till the moment, in which our physicist asked: who is going to take the examination in physics? I spontaneously raised my hand and I was doomed. In couple of months I started my education at the Warsaw Technical University, in the Department of Chemistry.

I never was sorry for my choice. Chemistry has something what I couldn't find anywhere else: it gaves anwers for questiones about basic phenomenons occuring in the world. Mathematics and physics appeared to my rather dehumanized and abstract, whereas chemistry was everywhere around - living things created complex homeostates of reacting molecules, food consisted of organic polymers and minerals, Earth and the whole Universe were built of chemical particles, which could join and part giving new, but predictable kinds. Was this not fascinating and promissing? Promissing, because searching for the principles of life one could once try to answer more general questiones about manner and kind, or - meaning and purpose (at those times I still was idealistic, but this ailment becomes milder with age).

Studying and later working in research I came to the conclusion, that summarizing and generalizing is at least equally interesting as "analytical" work on details. This was one of the reasons of the flirt with literature - one of the others was, that I never was distressed by writing.

It sounds like a paradox, but chemistry is for me helpful in writing literature. At least I know, what I'm writing about. Some classical scholars started their education at such high stages of culture, that they seem to be little too far from the earth-level. Of course there are exceptions! I know few of them.

Both science and literature are creative activities - one can make something new, something not existing or not known till now. And just this is most impressive, at least for me.



Written: 2000, corrected 2004, updated 2007.