Highlights — 26 July 2017 — by Rowland A. Parks
From SJC valedictorian to physicist: The odyssey  of Sydney Taegar (Part 2)

Dr. Taegar expressed his view that, “science is an expression of truth and beauty. It is a manifestation of our humanity, just like art is a manifestation of humanity.” “So for me, science is one facet of our humanity,” he said. He went on to explain that technical breakthroughs in science require imagination.

“Earlier you said that you were not in science right now, break down for me what you mean by that,” I prodded.

“When I finished my PhD, I was on the verge of coming home to Belize. What I wanted to do was come and work with UB. I had established a relationship with Fermi Lab, because I had a lot of contacts there,” Dr. Taegar replied.

At this point Evan X Hyde, who had walked into his office about 5 minutes before and was greeted by Dr. Taegar, who told him, “you look good!” said to him, ‘Yu pa no mi wan agree to that.”

“Sure, he mi wah agree,” Dr. Taegar shot back.

“If I da mi yu pa, I mi wah tell yu no,” Hyde replied.

Dr. Taegar then told Hyde, “I read your piece in the Amandala about the diaspora about living in Belize and going to Spanish Caye. And I was the same way, I never waan left Belize and stay da the US. People always say, ‘you wah end up staying da the US’ and for years I said dat no wah happen. So I never became a US citizen. I became a US citizen in 2013, after years of resisting and resisting.”

Hyde asked him if there was a level of security clearance involved in the type of work he does.

“No, as I explained, I was in basic, pure research,” Dr. Taegar answered. “No defense connection or whatever. Nothing like that, it’s too far in the future, to be connected to anything like that.” Taegar replied.

“Besides the basic science that you do, my romanticized view of it, you are contributing to the edifice of science over centuries. There is some practical side effects of this kind of research. To do that kind of work, you have to push the technology to be able to do these measurements. That is a side effect of the actual science. For example, super conducting magnets, that technology has been really pushed to the level it is today, because it was needed for the accelerator to push these particles,” Dr. Taegar pointed out.

Dr. Taegar went on to cite an example of the World Wide Web that was developed at CERN, which allowed for the connection of computers to hyperlink.
Hyde said the aspect of computers that he doesn’t understand is the GPS system, which can explain geographical location and direction.

Around 2000, Dr. Taegar, still pursuing the idea that he could return home, came to Belize and held discussions with education officials, who were interested in attracting PhD holders back to Belize. He said that several persons were at the UCB (University College of Belize) meeting. He described the meetings as positive.

Dr. Taegar referred to one Belizean physicist named Lionel Gordon, whom he later met. Gordon is a theorist of general relativity, but now he is working in industry.

“So what do you do in industry as a physicist”, I asked Dr. Taegar.

“Physicists are highly recruited in all industries, independent of your particular background, quantitative analyst, finance, a lot of physicists go into finance, mathematical modeling, and so on.” he said.

The work that I do today has nothing to do with my PhD,” Dr. Taegar explained. “I work in optical networking, research and development. I work for Nokia. Nokia is Finnish.”

“What we do is networks. We design and build the equipment and the infrastructure for networks.

We concentrate on the core, networks that connect cities together and continents, and it’s all fiber optics”, Dr. Taegar said.

“So, even the BTL that we have here would be a customer of your company”, I asked.

“But they are not,” Dr. Taegar said.

Dr. Taegar went on to explain that he works with a team which designs and outlines the specifications for the hardware and software that designers build.

“Most people when they think about networks think about it from the end user, the cell phone, the computer. That is what you call the edge of the network. The technology there is access and edge. There is wireless, you have microwave antennas. All of those signals eventually go to the central office. There is the edge technology, there is the switching technology and there is the transport technology that takes the signal from one point to another over long distances through fiber optics transmission, at the lowest possible costs,” Dr. Taegar said.

“The fiber optics transmission — what kind of speed are you talking about for that, is it faster than the speed of light?” I asked.
“It is the speed of light in glass. Light travels 186,000 miles per second in a vacuum. In glass, when it’s not a vacuum-like travel, it travels a little slower, depending on the index or refraction. It travels about 2/3 that speed in glass. It’s fast enough, that when you make a call from here to China, you don’t really hear delay. The only time you hear a delay is when there is a satellite link. If you bounce that signal up to a satellite then you can hear a delay,” Dr. Taegar explained.

Dr. Taegar said that he did not get to answer the question that Mr. Hyde had asked about cyber security. “There is some element of cyber security in what we do,” he said.

“When you think about a network, you have the physical layer. So this is the light traveling through the fiber or the radio waves traveling through air. That is the physical channel that information is going to go through. The light is that physical channel. Then on top of that, you have another layer that is called layer 1 or layer 2, where now you start to have actual services like phone calls, using that physical channel. Then on top of that, you have layer 3, which is the use of applications that are using those services. That is an application that is sitting on top channel that is sitting on top of a server. At each layer there is some kind of security. The kind of security that he [Mr. Hyde] is thinking of is at the application level. That is where most of the breaches occur, in terms of breaking into networks,” Dr. Taegar explained.

He said that even in fiber networking now, “we are building in encryption in that physical layer. That is just starting to happen now.”

“We as colonial subjects, black people etc., it is difficult for our children to grasp that our minds as creations of nature are the equivalent of the minds of the people who rule the world,” Hyde commented.

“I took Sean [Taegar] to a trade union annual general meeting. Why? I could say to them, these are waterfront guys, I can say to them that his guy here, his brother is a physicist and his grandfather was a waterfront worker. So there were no opportunities for your grandfather to utilize what was going on in his head. Automatically he had to be a frustrated person, because it is the same mind that he has his grandfather had. So the education system is destroying a lot of people,” Hyde went on to remark to Taegar.

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