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& the new Lucasian prof is

  1. Oct 20, 2009 #1
    & the new Lucasian prof is....

    this didn't very long at all:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/oct/20/stephen-hawking-michael-green-cambridge
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 20, 2009 #2

    arildno

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    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    Why should he be awarded a prestigious chair when he actually has done something important in the past??
    :confused:
     
  4. Oct 27, 2009 #3

    George Jones

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    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    I wish there were a physics or science general discussion into which I could place this.

    Michael Green is the new Lucasian Chair. At 63, Green is only four years younger than Hawking, so Green will be replaced in four years! Green is the only person to accept an offer of the Chair while in his sixties, and only one person accepted an offer while in his fifties (in 1739). The average age (excluding Green) at acceptance is 37 (Hawking's acceptance age).

    Why was the Chair offered to a 63-year-old? Possibilities:

    1) no suitable younger candidate;

    2) this appointment has been thought (possibly for years) a suitable reward for the first string revolution, but this had to wait until Hawking stepped down;

    3) combination of 1) and 2);

    4) other reasons.

    Comments? No string bashing. Also, note that it is the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics.

    I know a guy who applied to be (and was accepted as) Green's Ph.D student a few years before the first string revolution. Due to lack of funding, he decided not to go.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2009
  5. Oct 27, 2009 #4
    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    Um, it is the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics right? I feel like this is a dumb question, but Hawking and Green are both physicists; why hasn't the chair gone to the mathematicians? I would nominate Terrence Tao, but then again he's probably very happy with his current position, and anyway what do I know. Is it just a title, or do you have to actually do something with the title?
     
  6. Oct 27, 2009 #5

    cristo

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    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    I'd say it was a modification of your option 1): no suitable younger candidate who accepted the position.

    In Cambridge, (most) theoretical physicists are in the maths department. Most of the recent chairs have been theoretical physicists.
     
  7. Oct 27, 2009 #6

    Kurdt

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    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    I agree with Geroge's #1 option. It has been relatively lean the past few decades on the side of great advances in physics.
     
  8. Oct 27, 2009 #7

    arildno

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    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    I agree with qspeech.

    The Lucasian Chair has rotted ever since that darned physicist Newton cheated himself into it.
     
  9. Oct 27, 2009 #8

    George Jones

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    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    So, the Lucasian Chair was non-rotten only for the five years that Isaac Barrow held it, then? And Newton only did physics? :biggrin:
     
  10. Oct 27, 2009 #9

    arildno

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    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    Something like that. :smile:

    On the other hand, we might say that the Lucasian Chair has a VERY strong tradition in applied maths/theoretical physics.

    Of previous 17 chairholders, we have, in addition to Newton:
    Airy
    Babbage
    Stokes
    Larmor
    Dirac
    Lighthill
    Hawking

    So a string theorist is in very good company, applied-mathwise.
    http://www.lucasianchair.org/
     
  11. Oct 27, 2009 #10
    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    What would be the general answer to the question "has theoretical physics advanced last year ?" in say 1906 for instance ?
     
  12. Oct 27, 2009 #11

    Office_Shredder

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    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    Pretty sure Albert Einstein won a Nobel prize for something he did in 1905.
     
  13. Oct 27, 2009 #12

    Kurdt

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    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    I don't see the point you're making. Are you referring to the fact that it generally takes a few years for major advances to be worked through before they're fully accepted?
     
  14. Oct 27, 2009 #13
    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    He published five revolutionary papers in 1905, each of them pretty much deserving a Nobel on its own. Yet he was awarded in 1921 only and (I know we can all subtract, but jeeeez) that's 16 years later, and that is not for general relativity.
    Yes. There is tremendous and continuous progress in theoretical physics. The problem is more of a disconnect with experience. I am pretty sure whoever chose Green does not ignore those points, and I think choosing Green (whose appointment will be short) allows them neither to address those point nor to raise too much controversy in their "beyond the standard model" choice. For instance, Hawking's evaporation of black-holes and entropy is considered robust enough (just thermodynamics and quantum mechanics after all) not to raise any controversy.

    It is amusing to look at the table (which I just copied from wikipedia)
    1839 Joshua King
    1849 George Gabriel Stokes
    1903 Joseph Larmor
    1932 Paul Dirac
    1969 James Lighthill
    1979 Stephen Hawking
    2009 Michael Green
    We have shorter and longer terms. I chose to begin with Joshua King after reading about him (also on wikipedia)
    Of course this is no rule. There are also pretty important contributors with shorter terms, such as 2 years for George Biddell Airy, or a comparable 11 years for Charles Babbage.

    This being said, string theory is a very beautiful and important piece of mathematics, so I do not see much controversy.
     
  15. Oct 27, 2009 #14

    Kurdt

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    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    I won't disagree with you humanino but notice the context and the terms I use in my post.
     
  16. Oct 27, 2009 #15
    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    I'll take an example then : if Alain Connes (had been briton and) turns out to be right (that the geometry out there is really non-commutative), I think the position would be more appropriate for him for instance. I know that's a big if, especially since he's french ! Would Abhay Ashtekar being originally indian qualify better ?
     
  17. Oct 27, 2009 #16

    Kurdt

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    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    Like i say humanino I don't disagree with you. I was merely pointing out why the position may have been given to an older person. If you can think of a suitable younger person then please suggest them.
     
  18. Oct 27, 2009 #17
    Re: & the new Lucasian prof is....

    Although I will suggest more, I do not disagree with you either. I would have chosen George Jones.
     
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