Hollywood has introduced us to many extraterrestrials, most of them hell-bent on either eating us or conquering and enslaving us. But, what will first contact really be like? What will they look like? What will they smell like? How will they talk and communicate with us? Will this contact be amicable or deadly? So many questions and none of them will be answered until that very first moment we discover that we are not alone in the cosmos. “Contact” depicts our first literal contact with an alien species.
Although I currently work as an electrical engineer, this is not where I began my studies. As a college student, I majored in Physics and Astronomy. I graduated with a BS in Physics, after my college dropped the astronomy program from its curriculum. When I realized that a four-year degree in Physics was not the most marketable degree to have, I went on to get a Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering. However, my engineering degree did not satisfy my thirst and desire to delve more into the study of the vast cosmos we live in. While I was growing up in a small town in upstate New York I lived for the National Geographic Specials that were not on often enough for my satisfaction. I was ecstatic when my parents got a subscription to the magazine. Since there was a dearth of science programs on TV in the sixties, I fed my hunger for science education by reading books and watching whatever science fiction programs we could get on our black and white television. TV offered a few programs that were on during the time I was allowed to watch it: Twilight Zone (Scared me.), Outer Limits (Scared me even more!), Lost in Space (Wanted to be part of the Robinson family.), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (Interesting, but every week it was a new monster trying to destroy the sub.), Land of the Giants (Didn’t get to watch this one too much.) and the one that blew them all away—Star Trek! (Ahhh!) The technology, the characters and the special effects mesmerized me. (Yes, special effects. Don’t laugh! Taken in the context of TV sci-fi programs in the sixties, Star Trek was a quantum leap above the rest.) I found myself particularly fascinated with Mr. Spock—the pure intellect, the cool, emotionless logic and the apparent mastery of everything having to do with science and math. Mr. Spock was my inspiration to pursue a career in the sciences. Star Trek, coupled with the fervor growing with the Apollo Space Program, and the goal of landing on the Moon by the end of the decade, fueled my desire to be out there exploring The Final Frontier. I wanted to be on the Starship Enterprise, and even though I was old enough to know better, I couldn’t help but look up at the night sky in hopes of seeing that amazing starship streak across the sky after being thrown back in time yet again! As time moves forward, as it always does, I grew up and realized that I probably wasn’t going to get into space and Scotty wasn’t going to beam me up. I did realize that I could participate in science, technology, and even the space program by pursuing my interests in astronomy and physics. So through a round- about way I did end up working on a project to measure the dust coming off a comet (CRAF – Comet Rendezvous and Asteroid Flyby), but due to NASA’s budget cuts the mission never launched. The next highlight of my career came when the same company won a contract to build laboratory balances for the International Space Station. Again, budget cuts coupled with a constantly changing space station design killed the project in midstream. Touching space, even indirectly, was not meant to be. It was about this time that I started to realize that art and engineering were not all that far apart. I began to notice and appreciate artwork and the amazing artists whose talents created these still-images of life, both factual and fanciful. I began to be more creative in my approach to my engineering projects, especially where it involved the end-user. I strived to make the designs useful, practical as well as appealing to the eye, which engaged the user even more. It was also about this time that I started work on my novel, ORBITAL MANEUVERS. My first formal creative effort in art was to develop the cover art for the book. Incorporating the theme of the book into an image was a challenge and after a few years I revised the cover artwork utilizing new tools and skills I had developed. Also as part of supporting the book and its companion website, I started a blog to discuss the latest developments in space technology and astronomy and created images to illustrate concepts and ideas in support of the articles I posted. Today I still work as an engineer during the day; but I have discovered that I have another job that waits for me once I get home—creating images that provide a peak into what might be out there in the cosmos, from exo-planets to extraterrestrials, for those who care to follow my posts. I look forward to retirement when I can work full time on my writing and artwork. View all posts by Ronald Davison