Meetings with remarkable people; Number One - Naomi Allen
Professor Naomi Allen is Chief Scientist in the UK Biobank. It is her work that has created the open access which makes this biobank more full of potential than all the others.
"as new papers appear every few days, researchers say the UKB remains a shining example of the power of curiosity unleashed. "It's the thing we always dreamed of," says one researcher.
Ni is one of the loveliest people I have ever met. It is wonderful to see that someone with such a bright sparkle still shining in her eyes can come through the competition in a university like Oxford, which is still utterly dominated by white middle class, middle aged or elderly men, and become a Chief Scientist.
"The last couple of years have been the happiest I have known," she tells me.
Oxford has just been judged the top university in the world again by one organisation, though I am not sure on what criteria they make such judgments.
The place is still heavily prejudiced against black and ethnic minorities, working class people and women.
"As a woman, you have to be tougher, more assertive, you have to think out your strategies for success very carefully," says Ni.
Professor Allen is still remarkably modest. As she describes her job, opening up scientific research to even the smallest group across the planet, you might think she is a glorified admin officer. "I am not one of the lead researchers," she says. I did not argue. A couple of years ago I congratulated her on making Professor. "I am only assistant professor," she replied.
When you are as talented as she is you don't need to boast.
The big job has come at a convenient time for Ni. Her children are now into the teenage years and can get themselves to school and are able to be much more self directing.
With such a very busy life Ni finds it hard to switch off and get some sleep. She has tried one of the many mindfulness apps out there and managed to follow it, at least for a while.
I suggested she might do better with my Deeper Mindfulness. We chatted about Chaos Theory and David Bohm's "Wholeness and the implicate order." I told her about the intense out-of-body experiences that are typical of students whose kundalini is awakened. She finds even imagining light flowing into the body via the mindfulness app problematic. It does not fit into her scientific world view.
Why would she want to change a world view which is enabling her to lead a revolution in science which will enable a totally personalized medical practice based on your genetic make up coming about within the next ten years?
Such strange things only happen to those who are ready for that kind of awakening. I told her how I woke one night with Shostakovic's fifth symphony exploding in my head, knowing I had to start learning the violin. (One of my more mundane experiences.)
I will send her Baba Muktananda's picture. Like Joseph Chiltern Pierce, author of Magical Child, the Crack in the Cosmic Egg and The Bond of Power, she can dump it in the cyber bin. When the time is right, however, if the time gets to be right for her that is, those eyes will do their work, and her world will change, just as it did with JCP, but hopefully not as disturbingly. The world might be the poorer if she dropped her work and family and went off to an ashram as Chiltern Pierce did. Who can be sure?
Baba Muktananda was once shown the inside of an atomic reactor by scientific devotees. "Yes", he said, "that is the blue light of consciousness. It is always with me."