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Mata
post Mar 13 2010, 10:08 AM
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Today I met and had a chat with a guy who worked at Bletchley Park during WWII. He was one of the small team who built the first ever computers. Those computers were essential in decyphering the messages of the Nazis and their allies. I think it's safe to say that he literally was one of the people who saved the world. He wasn't out there with a gun, but his contribution saved millions of lives and helped turn the tide in our favour. I'm actually feeling incredibly emotional about having met him, because people like him are real heroes to me, and I feel very honoured to have been able to thank him for everything that he has done.

On a different side of things, I met William Gibson a few years ago. This is the author that I wrote my PhD thesis about and who is creditted with inventing (or certainly popularising) the word 'cyberspace'. His novel Neuromancer influenced the way that people thought about technology to an enormous degree and shaped the way that computers have developed. He's one of the most important authors of the 20th century. He's also very tall, and a nice guy!

A friend of mine met Neil Armstrong (of moon landing fame) yesterday. He's understandably very excited about that.

Who are your heroes? Have you ever met them?


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Mata
post Mar 15 2010, 10:18 AM
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He sounds like a brilliant guy. There's something about a good teacher that always sticks with you, but it's amazing to hear of that kind of bravery.

A good teacher changes your life. There was one from back when I was 9 or 10 who I think saw I was a bit odd but knew that it was okay. He encouraged me to be silly, but also to work hard. His good humour showed me that growing up didn't necessarily mean growing old. That was Mr Roberts, and I think that a lot of kids from that school have fond memories of him.

Another was a woman called Gaynor. She was the art assistant at the same school. While most people were painting still life, I was making paper sculptures inspired by the Italian Futurist movement. She encouraged me to be myself.

During my degree I went through a very rough time emotionally but one of the lecturers would always make time to sit and talk with me about my studies, supporting me and making sure I was okay. He looked over my work and made sure I stayed on the right track when he wasn't even taking me for a class at the time. Phil Cardew went well above and beyond what was called for, but he did it happily and I'll remember his kindness.

I'm not sure if that kind of thing counts as being a hero, but they were people who made a special effort for me and who influenced my view of the world for the better, or helped me through difficult times. Everyday heroes whose openness to the challenges of the world makes life better for the people around them.


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