(Guest Post) Neil Turok Responds to Posts on Perimeter Institute
Thank you for this opportunity to respond to your recent blog posting on Perimeter Institute and offer some clarifications. First, the comparisons of support for different institutions and programs presented in this posting mix total funding over time (including endowment contributions) with annual budgets and ignore substantial differences between their operations. For example, Perimeter Institute currently houses over 140 full-time trainees and researchers (from Masters students to senior faculty) whereas to my knowledge the Fields Institute has none.
The Lucky Few of Waterloo Part 2: Perimeter Institute Buys Culture
Efforts to understand the foundational issues of theoretical physics have been made by scientists over millennia. Human beings are naturally curious: we want to deeply understand nature.
With pioneering insights by Aristarchus and Archimedes, Copernicus and Kepler and, more recently, Dirac and Feynman, humans have made spectacular advances. The benefits of basic research investigations cascade into fundamental improvements for humans living on earth. Visionary investors, like the Duke of Braunschweig Charles William Ferdinand in the eighteenth century and Mike Lazaridis of today, have recognized the virtues of investing in basic research.
The Lucky Few of Waterloo: Does the Perimeter Institute deserve $50M Times Two
There is chatter (here is more) suggesting that the $50M from the Conservative federal government (over 5 years) and the additional $50M (also over 5 years) from the Ontario Liberal Government to the Perimeter Institute is based more on politics than on scientific merit. These funding announcements emerge just a few weeks after the news that Neil Turok, Director of the Perimeter Institute, joined the Science, Technology and Innovation Council which advises the government on science policy.