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Thread: Will the Next Einstein Come from Africa?

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    Question Will the Next Einstein Come from Africa?

    Will the next Einstein come from Africa? If Neil Turok gets his wish the answer will be a resounding yes. When he's not pondering the origin of the universe, Turok is setting up mathematical science institutes across Africa. Ivan Semeniuk caught up with him at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada to find out how Turok plans to change not only who does physics, but how physics is done

    NEIL Turok may not be a visitor from another dimension, but he could certainly play one on TV. With an other-worldly energy, he evinces the gentle curiosity of an outsider accustomed to crossing barriers. When he walks into a room, the dust of three continents trails behind him.

    Turok is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist whose journey has taken him from his South African homeland to some of the world's most renowned scientific institutions, including Fermilab, Princeton and Cambridge. Now, at 50, Turok finds himself in starting anew once again, taking the reins of what may be the most ambitious intellectual experiment on Earth.

    Like Turok, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics seems strangely out of place in Waterloo, Ontario, a university town 90 minutes' drive from cosmopolitan Toronto. Unlike other institutions of this type, Perimeter is not in an alluring geographic location, is not under the umbrella of a major university, and does not benefit from a rich history of former faculty with the pedigree of an Einstein or a Dirac. Nevertheless, it has attracted some of the biggest names and brightest newcomers in physics today. And now it has Turok, who took over last month as executive director.

    "It's quite surreal to find a place like this in a small town," Turok tells me when I meet him at Perimeter during his first week on the job. The location is not accidental. Waterloo is home to Research in Motion, the high-tech company behind the Blackberry. The company's charismatic founder, Mike Lazaridis, was pondering what to do with $100 million of his personal fortune when he made a wonderfully eccentric decision to create a world-class facility for theoretical physics, one not beholden to a larger institution and therefore flexible enough to take intellectual risks. The original donation has since been augmented by personal and public funds. Not since the Medici hired Galileo has there been anything quite like it.

    All of this suits Turok who, like Lazaridis, is no stranger to going against the grain. As a scientist he is best known, along with collaborator Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University, for conceiving the "ekpyrotic universe", which re-imagines the big bang as a collision between two branes - constructs of string theory - in a higher-dimensional space. According to the theory, the collisions occur again and again, producing a cyclic universe.

    More prosaically, Turok challenged the global development status quo by creating the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS). Located in a converted hotel in Cape Town, AIMS recruits students from across Africa for an intensive nine-month mathematics course. Students are taught by top international lecturers, and by the end are qualified for advanced programmes abroad.

    At first, Turok says, the project generated widespread scepticism. Critics didn't think that students would rise above the remedial level. Now the project has been recognised by the African Union, and this year earned Turok a $100,000 TED, at the Technology Entertainment and Design conference.

    TED prizewinners are asked to make a wish before the resourceful TED community; Turok's wish was for the next Einstein to come out of Africa. The AIMS experience provided him with a glimpse of a vast talent pool of gifted mathematicians, physicists and engineers around the globe who need only the right opportunity to flourish and contribute. "This field is entirely driven by brilliant individuals," says Turok. "We need to catch these people."

    The idea that Africa should be seen not as a perpetually despondent continent, but as the largest single repository of untapped human potential in the world, is a vision that owes much to Turok's parents. Both were anti-apartheid activists and members of the African National Congress when Turok was growing up in Johannesburg in the 1960s. After falling foul of the government, the family was forced to flee South Africa with their three children, including Neil, the youngest. During the long exile, Turok grew increasingly fascinated with maths and physics, which he taught at a remote mission school in the tiny nation of Lesotho before heading to Cambridge for university.
    Africa is the biggest repository of untapped potential in the world

    His experiences with the young African students left a deep impression on him. "It was amazing to see how the light bulbs went on for these children in a village with no electricity or running water, and no career options," he recalls.

    Turok's parents eventually returned to South Africa where his father remains a member of Parliament. It was his father who encouraged Neil to create AIMS.
    More:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/...om-africa.html

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    If the next Einstein comes from Africa he will probably be an Afrikaner refugee. It is a waste of time to set-up science centers across Africa. We already send Africans to universities in the West & haven't developed an Einstein yet. And some of the greatest geniuses produced by the West were not college educated, like Benjamin Franklin & Thomas Edison. Bill Gates was a college dropout. So not having a firstclass university system is no excuse for not producing an Einstein.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Æmeric View Post
    If the next Einstein comes from Africa he will probably be an Afrikaner refugee. It is a waste of time to set-up science centers across Africa. We already send Africans to universities in the West & haven't developed an Einstein yet. And some of the greatest geniuses produced by the West were not college educated, like Benjamin Franklin & Thomas Edison. Bill Gates was a college dropout. So not having a firstclass university system is no excuse for not producing an Einstein.
    Actually, I did meet an African-American astrophysicist and while he was inpressing other young scientists, I had no idea what he was talking about. I am not going to underestimate anyone. I don't care if they develop great mathematical geniuses. In fact mathematics information sharing might be a great way to communicate as there are no social aspects. Coarse assumptions are for fools. as a group they fail, but that does not mean there are not africans who can be great mathematicians. The Germans were taller and stronger than the Romans but the Romans regularly beat the hell out of us because of their military science and ability to work well together.

    I dont want to be around them, because I want to keep going in my direction, culturally, societally and racially. if they can develop an Einstein, more power to them.

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    Will the Next Einstein Come from Africa?

    "The only way to get smarter is to play a smarter opponent."

    _________________

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    I can't say I agree with what he has done. He has made it that much easier for Africans to travel abroad to study. He is providing a gateway for them into the educated West.
    I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

    - Bilbo Baggins

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    Silly people, Neil Turok is not black! i repeat Neil Turok is not black! so stop being scared

    http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/gr/a...ers/turok.html

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    AIMS recruits students from across Africa for an intensive nine-month mathematics course. Students are taught by top international lecturers, and by the end are qualified for advanced programmes abroad.
    But the people he's helping are!
    I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

    - Bilbo Baggins

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anfang View Post
    Actually, I did meet an African-American astrophysicist and while he was inpressing other young scientists, I had no idea what he was talking about. I am not going to underestimate anyone. I don't care if they develop great mathematical geniuses. In fact mathematics information sharing might be a great way to communicate as there are no social aspects.
    What would you estimate his Europid content to be? In any case there are always exceptions to the rule. But the article was about sub-Saharan Africans in Africa. Africa has still not produced an Einstein. I mentioned this at another forum, intelligence has never really been that important from a survival standpoint in Africa. Being physically stronger has. The highland area of Equatorial Africa offered an easy living to the natives as far as food supply & climate was concerned. On the contrary Europeans & some Asians had to combat a more inhospitable enviroment & in order to survive they needed to use their intellect as well as physical ability. Can you imagine a group of Africans surviving on thier own in a climate like Northwest Europe's during the Little Ice Age?

    Some might say the African race has produced Einsteins such as Booker T. Washington:

    B.T. Washington was of course a Mulatto & he was overrated. His main claim to fame was founding the Tuskegee Institute, the leading Negro college of it's time but it did not produce an Einstein.

    George Washington Carver:

    He found a zillion uses for the peanut, though he did not invent peanut butter as widely reported. He was famous as an inventor but I'm not sure what he invented.

    W.E.B. DuBois:

    Lawyer & civil rights leader (and communist), also a Mulatto or Quadroon.

    All of these are Black-Americans who were held up to myself & other impressionable schoolkids in the 70s as examples of what Blacks could accomplish if not for discrimination.

    Of course there are more modern examples:

    Barack Obama, the multiracial messiah. Also a Mulatto (someone find me a fullblooded African as an example of outstanding intellect ). Am I the only one who has noticed that he has kept a relatively low profile since winning the election 3-weeks ago. And downplaying expectations - he ran as the messiah but can understand why he's expected to perform miracles. He looks as though he wants to reassemble the Clinton administration & continue the Bush policies. He ran on change but wants to keep things the same. Another person-of-color who will be overrated by left-winged historians.
    Last edited by Æmeric; Thursday, November 27th, 2008 at 02:54 AM. Reason: Spelling.

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    Member krispilot's Avatar
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    What about these two guys......

    Quote Originally Posted by Æmeric View Post
    (someone find me a fullblooded African as an example of outstanding intellect )..





    is it intellect, or the stupidity of the followers.....

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    Poor guy seems like he is deeply invested in this project of his. Hope he doesn't fall into deep despair after realizing that education isn't the element that is responsible for geniuses.

    People with these kinds of egalitarian worldviews usually have no trouble accepting diversity of various kinds within other species, but humans alone start out as a tabula rasa.

    Einstein had an IQ of 160. Which is a rarity even for western european populations. Subsaharan IQ is like mid 60s, finding an Einstein is almost a statistical impossibility.

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