Jose Eliel Camargo Molina
Masters from Uppsala University and Simón Bolivar University and PH.D from Würzburg University
Favourite thing to do in my job: Getting ideas for my research through discussions with scientists from different areas
I'm a theoretical physicist working on the intersection of particle physics and cosmology. I love to make things, such as music, beer or electronics experiments.
I’m originally from Venezuela but have lived in Europe since 2008.
I work on testing new particle theories by checking whether they predict that our universe would have collapsed.
I’m currently a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College. After you finish your Ph.D., if you plan to stay in Academia and eventually become a lecturer/professor, you have to do a couple of “postdocs”. They are 2-3 year positions where you are an independent researcher and are supposed to build a profile that allows you to get a more permanent job. At the moment, the average sits around 3 such postdocs before you get a permanent position. This is my second one.
My research has to do with proposing and testing new particle theories that aim to address the shortcomings of the Standard Model, an outstandingly successful theory but still incomplete.
Lately, I’ve focused on using the fact that some theories predict that the universe could experience “vacuum decay”, where a bubble filled with a universe with different physical laws can appear and engulf everything. If a theory makes such a prediction, it can be a way of falsifying it, because after all, we are here.
I collaborate with researchers from all over the world, which is a typical aspect of particle physics today. I do a lot of programming, but also a lot of reading and calculating with pen and paper.
My Typical Day
I come to the office, where depending on the day I can spend the day learning something new, writing results onto an article, discussing ideas with other people, or trying to make computer code work.
I think it is hard to describe a typical day. If I’m not abroad at a conference or working with collaborators in other universities, then I usually come to the office. While I don’t always arrive at the same time, I usually stay at least 8 hours there.
Depending on the current state of my different projects, I might read and learn about something, check out the articles that came out that day on “the arxiv” (a repository of pre-prints), work on computer code for doing calculations and analyses for my research, or just have discussions with collaborators around our ideas and current results.
There are always talks and seminars I can attend, which I usually do if I find them interesting. They can be very inspiring even when not directly related to my area of research, and sometimes can be a lot of fun!
Sometimes I work a bit on my Art & Science collaboration projects, where it is even harder to describe what a typical day is.
Outside of work, I usually wind down by reading something outside of physics, playing a bit of guitar or video games or meeting/skyping with friends. An unfortunate downside of an academic career is that you end up with friends scattered around the world, and you have to put considerable effort to keep contact and connections.
What I'd do with the prize money
I'd organize an event for London creatives to meet Theoretical physicists.
With the prize money, I think I could organize a neat event for bringing together London “creatives” and theoretical physicists. By creatives, I mean people working on creative industries like art, design, tech startups or anything where creativity and innovation has a central role. I think both communities share a passion for the same thing, which is to use the knowledge about what we love to create and explore the unknown.
The event would be more of a meetup than a conference but would have aspects from both. I think this will create connections that can be fruitful for both worlds, as just having the chance to have a burger and a couple of beers can be the spark of fantastic collaborations.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Open, curious and absorbed
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
A brief history of time
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
A scientist or a musician or a philosopher ... I did not really know. It's a hard question!!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
of course! You weren't?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Anything that would contribute in a long-lasting way to our understanding of the world
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
Is beer food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
In my life? It is hard to choose something. Last week? playing vintage video games with friends.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To be able to work on things I find fascinating, Health for me and the people I love and three more wishes.
Tell us a joke.
What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?