Before turning to writing I spent my years training to be a physicist. The lure of Einstein's theory of gravitation had interested me from as far back as my teenage years, and continued to hold me in a trance for a very long time.
Unfortunately, due to some manner of cosmic mis-timing, I was shunted into the field of quantum optics, and ended up researching the quantum behavior of objects known as optical solitons. There can be no doubt that quantum mechanics and its application to real-world technologies is a worthy pursuit. But for me it proved far too long on mathematical abstraction. More importantly, I never sensed the level of physical understanding that I thought I had enjoyed when studying the geometry of space-time as described by Einstein's extraordinarily satisfying theory of General Relativity.
Despite the sense that I wasn't enjoying my work the way I should have been, it still took me some years to face up to the fact that I really had taken the wrong road somewhere back there. Even after receiving a doctorate in Physics from the University of Queensland in 1993, and following an offer of a research fellowship that allowed for three years of paid study at the California Institute of Technology, I still thought something might come of my chosen path in physics.
Nothing did. But the period at Caltech allowed me to expand my interests into the biosciences. It also prepared me for the two years of thorough biological and physical research that was required to write "Ninth Day of Creation" [yes, it was a very difficult book to write!].
Rather than do science, I had decided I was better suited to writing about it. Besides, when I looked around, it seemed there weren't too many authors who could adequately handle hard science in the fictional setting.
I still think that's the case today.