Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, 2nd February 2014
Rather kindly, I was asked to give the after dinner talk last night at the Gonville and Caius College Natural Sciences Society annual black-tie dinner. (I call the place "Bongville", on account of the number of bells that chime every quarter hour.) I hope I entertained a bit and managed to explain a little how academic study can be turned into entrepreneurship. The biggest chord I seemed to strike was something I believe deeply: that you excel when you cross-breed your talent. Take what you have learned here, and apply it there.
I'm the first to admit I'm not a great speaker. It was fun, though, and I'm fairly certain I'm the first person to pull an atomic timepiece out of their sporran in public. (People always wonder what you keep in there.)
I was totally upstaged, however, by Alan Fersht, Master of the College; pioneer of protein analysis; DNA sequencing and cloning; multidimensional nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. And lifelong horologist. He took me, Style Director Sarah and a handful of undergraduates to his chambers, where he has what must be the most extensive collection of Knibb clocks in private hands.
Joseph Knibb was a clockmaker active not long after Christiaan Huygens devised the pendulum, and one of the first to take advantage of it. JK probably invented both the tic-tac and anchor escapements, too. But I feel that he did something more profound. He turned timepieces into objects of grace and beauty, like no other before him.
Seeing "Knibb Londini Fecit" engraved on every movement was an absolute delight.