So what was I doing at the stock exchange? Wasn't I supposed to be doing cosmology?

Of course, like most people who have worked in the field, I would have liked to continue working in cosmology and getting paid for it. In retrospect, it's amazing that I survived as long as I did, since I had several unlucky breaks which led to quite a bit of debt. They also resulted in a rather non-linear career, so my chances of returning to the field, at least within the context of a paid position, are probably quite small. There are advantages outside of academia as well, of course, such as a secure, well paid, permanent job at a relatively young age. I was lucky enough to have one which is interesting and allowed me to learn a lot while working under very good conditions with nice colleagues (and is also somewhere I enjoy living). After a few days more than 20 years at the stock exchange, I took voluntary early retirement at the end of 2020.

At the stock exchange I worked not on the financial side of things (though it is not uncommon for physicists to do so), but rather as a systems analyst and database administrator, working with Rdb and VMS.

I also have a nice collection of VAX and ALPHA (and, hopefully, soon some x86; I bypassed Itanium) machines at home. Thus, my research environment is still intact (I always used VMS; if the institute I was at didn't use VMS (anymore), I used my own machines) and thus it made sense to keep my web pages online. I switched off the last VAXen in 2011. At the moment, the cluster is Alpha only, but I hope to transition to x86 soon.

I've also had the misfortune to get cancer, more specifically highly malignant, diffuse, large-cell, non-Hodgkin, B-cell lymphoma, stage IV. Fortunately, it can be treated with chemotherapy and after a few months in hospital altogether I have now completely recovered. Who knows what would have happened had I been on a soft-money research position when ill, perhaps in a country where it would have been difficult or impossible to stay if not working. That cancer returned almost 4 years later (in 2008), but a different, more aggressive chemotherapy and an autologous stem-cell transplant got rid of it. I've also survived prostate cancer.

Now that cancer and other distractions are hopefully gone for good, I'm looking forward to doing even more research in cosmology (which I have kept up as a hobby) with the extra time from early retirement, though I won't use all my extra time for that. At least I don't hav to worry much about getting money for expenses, getting the next job, or any of the other distractions one has in academia. Since I have a fast internet connection, the only thing missing is daily face-to-face interaction with colleagues. Hopefully that can be remedied at some point.

If you have any questions about what I'm up to or what my plans for the future are, send me an email.

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last modified on Monday, March 01, 2021 at 09:06:35 PM by helbig@astro.mNuOlStPiAvMa!