B.Sc., Ph.D., PGD CCI, FRAS, MBCS
Image © Wellcome Sanger Institute/Genome Research Limited
I have professional expertise in mathematics, astronomy, computing and genomics. I take a delight in learning about new developments in all areas of science and technology. I bring the rigour and discipline of the scientific method to all aspects of my work.
I have been writing scientific software for almost 40 years. I have developed major projects in a number of languages including FORTRAN, C, Perl and Java.
I am an experienced database architect and administrator, specialising in MySQL and PostgreSQL.
I work well in a team, contributing insights and developing new ideas. I also enjoy the challenge of setting my own goals, and I possess the self-motivation to reach those goals.
I can explain complex ideas effectively to audiences ranging from school-children to university professors. I enjoy creating and presenting talks, seminars and training courses. I am also at ease in more formal situations such as courtrooms and live interviews which demand a considered yet immediate response as a professional scientist.
1974-1981: Upholland Grammar School (now called Winstanley College)
1981-1984: University College London, B.Sc. (Honours) Mathematics and Astronomy
1984-1987: University of Liverpool, Ph.D. in applied mathematics, for research on satellite dynamics
2003-2006: The Open University, Postgraduate Diploma in Computing for Commerce and Industry
I manage more than 300 MySQL and PostgreSQL databases which store the scientific data which are generated, analysed and shared with the world by the Sanger Institute. Together, they represent three-quarters of the scientific database capacity at the Institute.
I have provided consultancy and software development services to several publishers of annual calendars and books aimed at the amateur astronomy community. I specialise in creating diagrams and charts showing the positions and appearance of the stars, Sun, Moon and planets using the same rigorous mathematical principles that underpin The Astronomical Almanac and other professional almanacs. My software generates files in the industry-standard Encapsulated Postscript format which can be directly embedded into publications using page layout software such as Adobe InDesign.
A+A->0, Journal of Physics A, 27, L663
The Royal Astronomical Society was founded in 1820 as the Astronomical Society of London. It was awarded a royal charter by William IV in 1831. It is a learned society whose purpose is to encourage and promote astronomy, geophysics and related sciences. It currently has more than 3,500 members, mostly in universities, observatories and other research institutes.
The European Astronomical Society was founded in 1990 to promote and advance astronomy in Europe. As an independent body, it is able to act on matters that need to be handled at a European level on behalf of the European astronomical community. In its endeavours, it collaborates with affiliated national astronomical societies and also with pan-European research organisations and networks.
The American Astronomical Society was founded in 1899. It is the major organisation of professional astronomers in North America. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity's scientific understanding of the universe.
The International Astronomical Union was founded in 1919 to promote international cooperation in astronomy and related sciences. It has more than 12,000 members worldwide, drawn from all nations where astronomy is studied. It organises scientific meetings, sets standards, approves nomenclature of astronomical objects, and supports education and public outreach activities.
The work of the IAU is organised into Divisions, Commissions and Working Groups. I am currently a member of:
The Society for the History of Astronomy was founded in 2002 to promote an academic, educational and popular interest in the history of the science of astronomy and related subjects. It encourages new research into the history of astronomy, especially amateur research at the local level.
The British Computer Society, the Chartered Institute for IT, supports individuals and organisations working in all areas of information technology in the United Kingdom. It sets standards, encourages continuing professional development, and represents IT practitioners. It was founded in 1957.
No, I don't repair spacecraft.
Celestial mechanics is the branch of astronomy which studies the orbital motions of the planets, their moons, and other objects in the Solar System such as asteroids and comets. It has a long history. Kepler, Copernicus and Newton were early celestial mechanicians. It reached its zenith in the 19th century, when the celestial mechanicians John Couch Adams and Urbain Leverrier predicted the existence of a previously unknown planet based purely on its effect on the motion of Uranus. As a result of their work, the planet Neptune was discovered in 1846. The subject became less popular among astronomers with the rise of astrophysics and cosmology in the early 20th century, but it gained a new lease of life during the Space Race of the 1950s and 1960s, and it remains a highly relevant branch of astronomy today.
People who study celestial mechanics are known as celestial mechanicians. My Ph.D. and subsequent research on the dynamics of planetary satellites falls within the remit of celestial mechanics, so I am a celestial mechanician (part-time).
I'm not the only David Harper with a personal web site.
I have a namesake who is a realtor (estate agent) in Florida, and another who is a presenter at BBC Wales. They own the domains davidharper.com and davidharper.org respectively. The davidharper.net domain isn't currently in use, but it's owned by a company that specialises in selling domains. The company is asking many hundreds of dollars for the domain. They turned down my offer to buy it at a more reasonable price, and I'm not going to pay almost a thousand dollars to that kind of company.
So I needed to find an alternative personal domain name that would be distinctive and memorable. I considered doctordavidharper.com but decided that it was too pretentious. Then I checked to see whether theotherdavidharper.com had been claimed, and discovered that it was available along with the dot-net and dot-org versions. That's why this web site is theotherdavidharper.com.
Maybe I should have T-shirts printed.