Joshaniel Cooper

Favourite Thing: Discover things that nobody else in the world knows, and make cool things.



City of Bristol College (2001-2003), Warwick University (2003-2007), University of Cambridge (2007-2011)


MPhys and PhD in Physics

Work History:

McDonalds (yup), University of Warwick, Institute Laue Langevin (in Grenoble, France), Cavensidh Laboratory (university of Cambridge), ISIS neutron source

Current Job:

Postdoctoral researcher at the ISIS neutron source


Science and Technology Facilities Council

Me and my work

I use a variety of particle accelerators to look at thin magnets and superconductors

The particle accelerators I use produce neutrons or x-rays ( see for details on how to make neutrons or for to see how x-rays are made). They are big (very) expensive machines, so there are only a few in the world and the experiments I do have to be carefully planned to make the most of them. An experiment will normall last between 3 and 6 days, running 24 hours a day so I work with other people in a team to use all of the time.


We call them large scale facilities, and you can see why:


Diamond x-ray source


ISIS neutron source (there is a particle accelerator hidden under the grass)


Inside the Diamond building


Alot of work goes into preparing for the experiment and even more goes into looking at the data we have taken afterwards. So for an experiment which has taken maybe 5 days I will have worked for several weeks on it before we even start and usually need several months after to work out what the results mean!

One of the best bits is that because I am using radiation which could be dangerous if I was exposed to it, we have big red buttons to make it stop:


My Typical Day

Anything from planning the next experiment, running my experiment at a large scale facility or looking at the data from an experiment I have finished

What I'd do with the money

Use it in a local school to help make sure that they can do more practicals

Science isn’t about learning things in books, it is about real world things and unless science lessons have practicals then it is hard to realise how important it can be for normal life. Science practicals can be expensive to run for a whole class, and so schools can cut down on them to save money. I want to help make science more fun and relate to the real world more

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

scientist, visionary, fool

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Sigur Ros

What's your favourite food?

Fresh pasta

What is the most fun thing you've done?


What did you want to be after you left school?

I could never decide on one thing

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Only a little bit

What was your favourite subject at school?


What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Made a machine which was sensitive enough to show the waves of heat coming off my hand

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

I always wanted to know how things worked and why, science was the best way to find out

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

A paragliding instructor

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

Tell us a joke.

Einstein, Newton and Pascal are playing a game of hide and seek. It is Einstein’s turn to seek so he starts counting and the other two run off. When Einstein opens his eyes he sees Newton right in front of him standing in the middle of a square which has been drawn on the ground. Einstein says “Newton, what are you doing? I have found you!”. Newton replies “Ahh, but no! You have found one Newton per meter square. You have found Pascal!”

Other stuff

Work photos:

Diamond from the air


ISIS from the air




Inside the diamond accelerator (with a distorted lens)




Most of the large scale facilities are inside warehouses




The inside of one of the experiment chambers (this one is for detecting beta radiation)



These guys are in charge of running three different particle accelerators!