My Background


Greetings intrepid listener! Thank you for visiting my 'about me' page.  I hope you are enjoying my podcast series, 'The Rational View'. Since you're here I'll tell you a bit about myself.  My name is Dr. Alan Scott, namesake to the original Green Lantern. I grew up on the Scott Brothers' apple farm in the tiny village of Olinda, near Leamington Ontario where I was taught the value of an honest day's work in the orchards.  I determined at that time that it would be worthwhile exploring the big world and so I left the farm for University. I earned a BSc in Physics from the University of Guelph, Ontario. While there, I served as president of the College of Physical and Engineering Sciences student council.  I got my first non-farm job as a laboratory research assistant under Prof. Ross Hallett working on small angle light scattering and neutron scattering experiments. I ran experiments at the McMaster nuclear reactor, and had a brief stint supporting research at the Chalk River reactor. I spent a summer in a small dark equipment closet in the basement of the University building a highly sensitive photon counting detector. Funny story, at the end of the summer we found out that the closet I was working in was located just behind the beam dump for a small proton accelerator that was operating in a nearby lab. The radiation safety officer suggested that the radiation levels I had been exposed to were 'probably nothing to worry about', but it should not be used to house undergraduate experiments anymore. :-/

I was also a member of the varsity curling squad for which I was awarded the President's Trophy for combined academics/athletics achievement. Several years later, I graduated with a PhD in Laboratory Astrophysics from University of Waterloo under Professor Walt Duley. I studied the properties of interstellar dust analogs that I created by firing a big ultraviolet laser into a sealed chamber filled with hydrogen gas and a stick of graphite.  I did this on a shoestring budget using hand-me-down equipment from my predecessor, Canadian astronaut Steve Maclean.  This system included some old mercury vacuum pumps that I had the pleasure of disassembling and cleaning out with paper towels. The cool part is I got to blow things up with a big laser. Also we played a lot of beer golf on the University's 9-hole course (shhh).  Somehow I survived and I was awarded the WB Pearson award in Physics for my thesis work. 

After this period of academic freedom I turned to the 'dark side' and entered the Canadian space industry working on the development of optical remote sensing instruments for scientific satellite experiments. I have been active in this field ever since, enjoying the opportunity to work with an amazingly broad range of cutting edge technology. Along the way I've had a chance to work with some amazing scientists including Professor Emeritus Gordon Shepherd from York University, who pioneered a method of measuring upper atmosphere winds from space.  During this collaboration I was appointed as an adjunct professor at York University's Center for Research in Earth and Space Sciences. I've led several space technology development studies for the Canadian Space Agency. I've worked with Prof. Mike Dixon of University of Guelph developing LED-based hydroponic plant growth systems for future remote habitats on the moon and Mars, and we showed that it should be economically feasible to use this technology in remote Northern communities to provide food security and jobs and cut down on transporting 'fresh' food from the south. I built an astronomical research instrument for the ever insightful Prof. Roberto Abraham of University of Toronto. I've had the pleasure to collaborate for many years with NRC principal researcher Dr. Pavel Cheben, who is a world leader in photonic waveguide technologies. I currently work for COM DEV/Honeywell as an 'Engineering Fellow' in optical technologies, developing laser communications systems for satellites. I've had the opportunity, over the years, to also work with a number of extremely talented undergrad and graduate students who are an under-appreciated resource in the research community. The team of people that I've worked with at CAL, EMS, and COM DEV are exceedingly bright and innovative and have taught me a great deal about building cutting edge space instruments. We've designed and built autonomous star trackers that have orbited the sun. We developed the fine guidance sensor for the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch soon. We developed a fluorescence imager that can measure proteins in a drop of astronaut blood on the international space station. We are supporting the Canadian astronomy community to develop a 1-metre ultraviolet space observatory. I've traveled to conferences all over the world and met some truly remarkable people.

During this time I have also been involved in the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Ottawa chapter.  I served as the Ted Bean Telescope Loan Librarian for over a decade, and also as Counselor, VP, and President.  I was awarded a service award in 2016 by the Ottawa Center.

As for my family, I have two wonderful teenage children, Clare and Will, a supportive and intelligent wife, Sarah, and a young kindergarten troublemaker, Rigel who is responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic. After entering JK, he would often be heard wishing that he could stay home all day wif mommy and daddy... Now his wish has come true, and I apologize sincerely for his role in this challenging situation.

I have also watched with dismay as nations of the world have dithered with space exploration, and the institutions of democracy have eroded. I've witnessed a troubling decline in Western standards of living, and the inexorable build-up of anti-intellectual fervor alongside the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Society seems to have lost its way, and doesn't know who to trust. And yet there is hope.  I feel like I have developed a clear picture of many of the problems facing us, and I feel like I have answers that can help. I've wasted a lot of time making futile comments on social media platforms to people who are just not willing to listen.  I started this podcast because I'd like to share these ideas with the world and hopefully involve the moderate majority in a civil discussion of the important issues. 

Anyways, thanks for listening to me ramble, and I hope you continue to enjoy my podcasts! Please send me your comments, like and share my podcasts.

Best Regards,

Al Scott

P.S. for those of you from more southerly latitudes, curling is an Olympic sport which is played on a sheet of ice wherein the players throw rocks at painted houses, while sweeping and yelling with gusto. This is typically followed by a social gathering wherein it is customary for the winning team to buy a round of beverages for the losing team.

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