Genius Stifled By Populism?

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Fri May 04 2001 - 12:07:49 MDT

Where is the next Einstein?
Professor Lee Smolin, a visiting professor of physics at Imperial College in
London, agrees that young people find it difficult to explore fresh topics
because of the expectation that they will join a large collaborative effort.
"It's true that most of the really original work is done by individual
scientists," Smolin says. "But young people feel pressure to work on topics
that are popular because it will help their career. It's very pervasive. But
many have a strong character and do survive, although they maybe don't have as
prestigious a career as their peers. That's a terrible shame. It's hard to
imagine someone following the footsteps of people such as Roger Penrose, who
has done pretty much what he wanted to."
Smolin has noted an intriguing trend - some hard-up creative minds are relying
on private patronage from, for example, wealthy science-minded entrepreneurs.
It is a good match - entrepreneurs who have taken risks themselves have the
cash and inclination to encourage kindred spirits. An example is the Perimeter
Institute (PI), a C$100 million (43 million) theoretical physics institute
being set up near Toronto, funded by the Canadian businessman Mike Lazaridis.
The entrepreneur is recruiting physicists known for their daring ideas.

--J. R.

Useless hypotheses:
 consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
analog computing, cultural relativism

     Everything that can happen has already happened, not just once,
     but an infinite number of times, and will continue to do so forever.
     (Everything that can happen = more than anyone can imagine.)

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