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“One cool thing about lockdown is that the world has learnt to act all together – the first time ever! ”

Mark Yates – Engineer and Physicist
Dear me,

Dear me,

Well hello! I’m writing to you from the middle of the COVID crisis in 2020 from my home on a hill in Ashendon.

It’s a strange time as smiles have been replaced by masks which makes it look like people aren’t very friendly – which they are – you just need to talk to them and wave!

Millions of people have lost their jobs during this pandemic or have had their jobs ‘paused’ or Furloughed (it’s just like pressing pause on the TV…and hopefully they can start working again or find another job when we are out of lockdown). I am on one of the really lucky ones who are still working – in fact I am working harder now trying to solve problems than I was before we had the crisis! But that’s what happens at a time like this – people need Scientists and Engineers even more to fix things or find clever ways of getting out of a problem.

But it is so important to remember that the best ideas and solutions to a problem tend to be the simplest. And the simplest ones are the most effective – Look at lockdown where the most important things than anyone can do to stop Covid 19 is to wash their hands and stay indoors! Even little kids can do that. Some grandparents are finding it a bit difficult to stay home so we have to keep reminding them why!

You remember building those engineering projects out of lego and Meccano – well my job involves making much bigger things that are really cool! Lockdown has made us slow down quite a bit and enjoy the countryside. I love going out at night and seeing the night sky – the weather has been so good that we can see lots of cool stuff almost every night.

Talking of planets – one cool thing about lockdown is that the world has learnt to act all together – the first time ever! We are all looking to protect humanity and not just our own countries. Borders and languages don’t matter to Covid 19 - it doesn’t care, it just wants to spread. We have had to cancel holidays, school trips and sports events (even rugby and football matches on TV!) to protect everyone. The world has acted as one! So amazing when you think about it!

If we can act as one to fight Covid 19 then perhaps we can now have the belief that we can all act as one against Climate Change? With no one flying or driving much we have been able to reduce air emissions – so it can be done! We just need to believe.

Also – its important to remember that when you think that things are bad, they are never really that bad. Its just a problem that doesn’t have a solution yet…. That’s your job! Remember that the future isn’t certain. Tomorrow may not be like today – but it will be ok. You will still have friends, family and you just need to find other ways to do and have fun.

Working from home at the moment is ok, but we need to make sure that the amazing machines that we have created are checked and maintained so that they continue to work well and safely. The only real difficulty I’ve had is not being able to stand at a whiteboard or piece of paper and design things with other people – when we try and do this online it isn’t the same and takes much longer and is really tiring. Remember – if you work hard, can work with people and love solving problems then you are never going to be out of work. Whatever you end up doing just be good at it!

One last thing to think about – life on Planet Earth is fragile and perhaps the biggest solution to the problem of humanity surviving in the future is to live in space and on Mars and other places, not just the Earth. Now that’s a cool problem for scientists and engineers to solve!