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What is your opinion on John C. Mather

  1. Jan 16, 2012 #1
    he is suppose to be one of the top astrophysicist in the world..

    John-C-Mather.jpg


    was lead researcher on COPE... and is now going to be the lead researcher in the james webb telescope

    is he really the top dog.... or not
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 16, 2012 #2

    marcus

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    I admire and respect the guy. I don't feel comfortable with your term "top dog".
    Science at that level can be collegial.
    A successful project may be a team effort of a bunch of creative talented selfmotiveated people. It doesn't have to follow a military model of taking orders from the Great Leader.

    Of course people have egos. especially theorists. Some theoretical physicist might be a prima donna. I've heard of that. But this guy is a OBSERVATIONAL cosmologist. I doubt you get very far in that world---where teamwork is so important---without someone leading who knows how to deal with people in a collegial "primus inter pares" (first among equals) way.

    I could be wrong, but my hunch is that "top dog" is the wrong term to apply here.
     
  4. Jan 16, 2012 #3

    marcus

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    Here is his 8 page autobiography he wrote in 2006 around the time of the Nobel.
    http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2006/mather-autobio.html
    It's interesting. I think it gives a good sense of what the guy is like. though I've no direct contact with him and am only guessing. Largely rural and small town background. Born 1946.
    He describes his childhood, family, school experiences, grad school, career, remembering many friends. Sounds like a modest sociable guy, who gets along well with people, with driving passion for hands-on science and finding out stuff.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012
  5. Jan 21, 2012 #4

    Chronos

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    He has some unorthodox ideas, but, so do all great thinkers.
     
  6. Apr 22, 2012 #5
    im often told he is one of the top astrophysicist in the world

    but does he rival neil degrese tyson
     
  7. Apr 22, 2012 #6

    phinds

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    What is your point in trying to get him labeled in some way?
     
  8. Apr 22, 2012 #7

    Nabeshin

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    Tyson does not do significant research in astrophysics. To be sure, he has been author on a number of papers:
    http://www.haydenplanetarium.org/tyson/curriculum-vitae#research

    But this is nothing near a world class astrophysicist's track record. He has published only three papers in the last fourteen years, and none of his earlier work is too terribly influential.

    That's not meant to be a knock against him, just that he is primarily the directory of an astronomy museum and a public outreach figure. The time commitments simply make this incompatible with being a full-time researcher.
     
  9. Apr 22, 2012 #8

    Chronos

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    Tyson has admitted as much in some of his interviews. He misses the research thing, but, the demands on his time as an outreach figure simply rule it out. He is certainly an important ambassador for science in his current capacity and has undoubtably inspired many future astrophysicists. Carl Sagan did much the same with 'Cosmos', as well as Isaac Asimov's popularizations through science fiction novels. Both were fine scientists who found a calling outside academia. I don't think we are any the worse for those contributions.
     
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