My name is Richard Underwood. I have had a varied and interesting life with many different types of employment, but in general it's true to say that I have not made the most of my university education and have wasted many of the opportunities that have come my way.
When I retired, and believing I still have thirty years ahead of me, I determined to spend at least ten years doing some of the research I had neglected to do earlier. As a consequence I am currently undertaking independent research using the facilities at the University of Manchester.
I am undertaking three different, but related, research projects. These three projects will involve me researching a wide range of subject, from the smallest to the largest of things. I am aware that, with age, physical strength dims somewhat, but I am also aware that, uniquely, new connections are still being made between the neurons in my brain. I intend to make full use of this remarkable fact, and to learn many other remarkable facts to keep it company.
The first project involved creating a definition of life. This has been completed and is awaiting peer review. There have been thousands of 'definitions of life', none of which has found universal approval, so my own research involved studying the various definitions of life, and then creating my own definition. I then tested that definition against things that had caused problems for the previous definitions. For example, I have compared my own definition against dead members of a species, mules, viruses, plasmids, viroids, prions, artificial cells, chimera, computer viruses, self replicating machines and von Neumann probes, crystals, and fire. This research project has been completed and is currently awaiting peer review prior to submission for publication.
My next research project involves studying particle physics and quantum mechanics, and comparing the attributes of the smallest of particles with the attributes contained in the definition of life from my first project.
My third and final research project will involve studying astrophysics and cosmology, and comparing the attributes of the cosmos with the attributes contained in the definition of life.