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Hawking Searching For Africa's Einsteins

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the where-you-find-them dept.

Education 276

nuke-alwin writes "Stephen Hawking has traveled to South Africa in search of Africa's Einsteins. The project will create Africa's first post-graduate center for math and physics. The British government has unfortunately decided not to back the project, which is hoping to fight poverty by identifying the kind of talent that can create wealth." Neil Turok is deeply involved as well; he was recently named to head the Perimeter Institute in Canada, whose server we brought to its knees this morning.

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Wrong choice (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395214)

Africans don't have the brain capacity to be like Einstein.

Niel Turok (5, Funny)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395230)

Niel Turok was quoted as saying, "I'll also help defend the starving African children from rampaging dinosaurs, free of charge."

Einstein In The Hood (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395800)



found here [youtube.com]

At home in his crib chilling with his chick. I heard this in a conversation between a male and female hoodster this afternoon at lunch. I'd take a Russian or Chinese student at random over ANY U.S. educated student.

U.S.A. - Superpower - Truly a delusion

Is this old "news" they on slashsuck (0, Troll)

lennyhell (869433) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395244)

CmdrTaco, you suck ass. Also: Niggers Niggers Niggers.

Re:Is this old "news" they on slashsuck (-1, Troll)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395314)

I don't know how this got modded down considering the two insightful points he brought up.

Slashdot effect 2.0? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395270)

Neil Turok is deeply involved as well; he was recently named to head the Perimeter Institute in Canada, whose server we brought to its knees this morning.
Is this the Web 2.0 Slashdot Effect, which crashes servers twice?

Re:Slashdot effect 2.0? (-1, Offtopic)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395320)

Servers got knees? What's a server need knees for?

Oh, you mean server [wikipedia.org] . I thought you were talking about the computer. Silly me.

Brain drain, ver 0.1 (3, Insightful)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395296)

So, if these math geniuses get a degree there, whats to keep them from just moving out of country? Nothing? Honestly, if I were born in an absolutely impoverished country, and ended up being a genius and getting a graduate degree in mathematics, I'm sure I'd hop on the first chance at a big corporate job in some other country.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395398)

Because they're not tools. I know many Indian (real India) and Chinese nationals who plan to move back to their "impoverished" countries to work and play.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (4, Funny)

joeman3429 (1288786) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396516)

The more you know *rainbow star goes by*

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (4, Insightful)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395400)

that may be true, but i've notice that a lot of smart, wealthy successful people eventually "go home" in some sense, not always physically, of course. They may donate to local causes, invest, become involved in politics or advocacy. whatever they do, they probably would not have been able without opportunities like this.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (4, Insightful)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395706)

i've notice[d] that a lot of smart, wealthy successful people
And how many of those wealthy successful people were mathematicians and physicists? Smart, certainly. But wealthy?

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (5, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395406)

A lot of people who get big corporate jobs in wealthy countries send money back to where they came from, benefitting the local economy. Go to Moroccan villages and you can see loads of fancy houses being built by people currently working in France who plan on coming home and retiring early. Software engineers from India who have come to the U.S. after training in India have gone home after a few years and founded companies with the money they saved. Cities in Romania like Cluj enjoy higher standards of living than other parts of the country because, thanks to the good education and English-language skills, people work hard abroad and then come back to indulge themselves. The list goes on and on. If you train people in a poor country, many will go and never return. However, some will make something of themselves abroad with their education and come back, which is a win for the local economy.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (3, Insightful)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395810)

Not as much of a win as keeping them in-country the entire time. The countries still loose out overall. They're starting with college degrees already, and these people could help significantly by being engineers and such in their home countries.

Honestly, I don't begrudge them wanting better for themselves and their family if they send money home (would do the same myself), I'm just looking at it from a national perspective.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (5, Interesting)

Morris Thorpe (762715) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395494)

That's you - and many others I'm sure.

You don't know what it's like to grow up in an impoverished country. Hence you don't know what it's like to hurt for your country and to have a sense of duty to make it better.

Also, just because the talent is exported, people can still do great things to enable others to become great. You see this in soccer all the time. African talent is being exported to the top clubs in Europe but many players go back home to establish soccer academies, schools and the like.

Hats off to Hawking.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (5, Insightful)

edisrafeht (1199347) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395508)

Whether they go back home or not is not as important as providing the opportunity for these gifted individuals. They may still contribute something to the world, regardless of their location.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (5, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395598)

I personally know someone who attended a good college here in the states, got a job with MS back in the late 80s/early 90s, cashed out, and moved back to Africa to found a college.

Some people do genuinely have a feeling of responsibility.

That aside, it is an established fact that people living outside impoverished areas send a lot of money back home. In some countries, this is the primary source of foreign currency.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (2, Insightful)

nxsty (942984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395716)

Perhaps you'd feel some kind of loyalty to the country where you where born? If I where in that situation I'd probably try to do something to help the country rather than just leave.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (1, Insightful)

Nibbler999 (1101055) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395794)

Maybe in western countries, but in less advantaged places people have the opinion that their country has not done anything to help them so they owe it nothing.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (0, Flamebait)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395774)

So, if these math geniuses get a degree there, whats to keep them from just moving out of country? Nothing? Honestly, if I were born in an absolutely impoverished country, and ended up being a genius and getting a graduate degree in mathematics, I'm sure I'd hop on the first chance at a big corporate job in some other country.

I have an urge to make a comment about H-1B's, but I'll resist this time.
     

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (2, Insightful)

Cairnarvon (901868) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396030)

I'm sure the family you leave behind in said poverty would love you for it, too. Nobody grows up in a vacuum.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (2, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396080)

So, if these math geniuses get a degree there, whats to keep them from just moving out of country? Nothing? Honestly, if I were born in an absolutely impoverished country, and ended up being a genius and getting a graduate degree in mathematics, I'm sure I'd hop on the first chance at a big corporate job in some other country.
Would you? Perhaps for a while; a good many graduates from both first and third world countries fancy the idea of working abroad for a while. But not many people have the blood to permanently settle somewhere else.

Also remember that as a good scientist in the employ of a western corporation, you may make a decent income in "the west", but at home you'll live like a king. I know a few western expats who have trouble returning to their own wealthy countries for just that reason.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (2, Insightful)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396082)

Because -as hard as it may be to believe this for you- some people actually have an attachment to their birth country.

Why ? Because big corporate jobs are lonely, strange and unfulfilling. A wife and family in your birth country is what most prefer.

And some people have morals and see that as a chance to give back.

Or they get older and take a teaching position in their home country.

Lots of reasons.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (2, Insightful)

k33l0r (808028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396174)

Actually a lot of people living in poorer countries would like to help their own country. In fact a lot of the foreign students studying with me (here in Finland) ultimately wish to return to their home countries.

Just 'cause you're a selfish bastard, doesn't mean that everybody else is.

What's more, most of the big corps are eager to get to the up and coming markets of developing nations.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (1)

Missing_dc (1074809) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396420)

Your statement sounds like a lack of pride in your country and people.
The administrators of this program would do well to foster that pride and perhaps make a contributory stipulation where those who benefit from the schooling have to make a contribution to their country's wellbeing.

just my $.02

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (1)

ne0n (884282) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396550)

Why would you try to stop someone from leaving Africa to pursue of a better life?
I mean, wouldn't that be kind of a ripoff.. go to school, work hard to get out of the ghetto (or ghetto continent, in this case) and then be told by a first-world wanker that you can't leave?

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (5, Informative)

the brown guy (1235418) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396604)

I'd hop on the first chance at a big corporate job in some other country.
In my village in Northern India, more and more people are moving back to the village, after going to universities in Canada, the USA and England, and having become (relatively) rich. My dad is a first generation immigrant to Canada from India, and we are a middle class family, my dad drives a taxi (I know, stereotypical,) and my mom works in a bank. My dad just went back to India last month to build 4 3 story houses in our village, one for him (when he goes back) and 3 for his brothers and their families. A little money goes a long way in these impoverished regions, and not only does this stimulate the local economy with all the construction, but when I went there my dad paid for a year of broadband internet for the local school, and I am saving up for a dozen or so cheap desktop computers to bring there next time I go.
The point is that when people go back to the poor areas where they or their ancestors grew up, the feel a duty to improve the quality of life for the residents there.
The lucky few that get out, generally will try and make it easier for others to get out, and as time goes on the quality of life can only get better.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396638)

What is to prevent them from sitting around and doing nothing?
Some will get out and never look back. Some will go and work someplace else and send money back. Some will leave and work someplace else and then go back. Some will stay and become teachers or start there own companies.
The thing is that more educated people should make the whole world better. It will probably make some African nations better.
But as they say on Long Island. It can't hurt.

Re:Brain drain, ver 0.1 (1)

HungSoLow (809760) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396658)

Corporate job? You've lived a sheltered life.

I grew up near the poverty line, mind you nothing like the troubles many Africans face. I've done my undergrad and masters in EE, purely on academic scholarships and internships. I'm currently starting my doctorate and plan to stay in Canada for my academic life. I've been offered 60k, 75k, 80k high-tech positions etc.. by headhunters and I've turned them all down. Why? Because money doesn't drive me, because I know how meaningless it truly is. You would be surprised about people who are destitute, and how they view life. It *could* be because you've grown up with money around you your whole life, but I wouldn't want to presume your intentions. It is, however, the problem with many people making the same choices you propose.

and the take home lesson is? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395300)

Neil Turok is deeply involved as well; he was recently named to head the Perimeter Institute in Canada, whose server we brought to its knees this morning.


go in search of africa's einsteins, find africa's botlords?

And when they find one, the headline will be (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395304)

Hawking finds some African math guy [slashdot.org] .

Einstein didn't create much wealth (1)

melted (227442) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395322)

If he's looking to create wealth, he needs to be looking for an African Warren Buffet.

Re:Einstein didn't create much wealth (1)

SBacks (1286786) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395414)

Unfortunately, theoretical physics is not very practical and therefore does not create much wealth. Additionally, any students this program does identify will most likely leave the country as South Africa is not known for their research centers/universities. It seems like this is more of a way for bright students to escape an impoverished area rather than an actual benefit to the area itself.

Re:Einstein didn't create much wealth (4, Insightful)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395918)

Unfortunately, theoretical physics is not very practical and therefore does not create much wealth.
You are kidding, right?

I don't even know where to begin, but here are some counterexamples of theoretical physics being quite practical: nuclear fission reactors, fusion weapons, transistors/microchips, computers, internet, TVs, sattelites/GPS, cell phones and wireless comms, MRI and PET scans, electron microscopy, LASERs...

See, I think you are making the same mistake of underestimating theoretical physics as the Germans did in the 1930s...

Re:Einstein didn't create much wealth (2)

SBacks (1286786) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396160)

That's a very good point.

But, there's a bit of a leap when you go from laying down the theory to turning it into consumer products. And, that leap usually requires a large corporate/government R&D program with huge budgets and teams of people from a wide range of disciplines.

One or two "Einstein"s are not going to be able to take an idea from pure conceptualization all the way to an end product where the wealth return really happens. S Africa, unfortunately, doesn't have that large corporate or government infrastructure to achieve this.

Re:Einstein didn't create much wealth (1)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395486)

He's Hawking, identifying investment talent is not one of his skills.

The whole fighting poverty line is probably just marketing. It's a good thing to help potential brilliant scientists, but the economic payoff can often decades or centuries in the future and it will be reaped by whoever develops the technology that uses the science.

To fight poverty, you need to encourage business initiative [grameen-info.org] , which gives a much faster payoff.

Re:Einstein didn't create much wealth (2, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395620)

Some of us prize knowledgs and wisdom far more than money. Not everyone worships at the alter af mammon.

Re:Einstein didn't create much wealth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395792)

Complete with 4 spelling errors in two sentences. It's clear you don't worship at the "alter" of Collin's English Dictionary.

Re:Einstein didn't create much wealth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395646)

While Math, Science, and Engineering are important and should be bolstered, they don't drive business, but are rather the tools or business. Their money would be better spent on starting up entrepreneurial MBA programs.

I wish it were different (I have a MS in science), but lets be realistic. Hawking has blinders on and equates the world to his experience.

Re:Einstein didn't create much wealth (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395760)

So, then you'll have a country full of managers without anyone around to actually make products?

South Africa has enough problems of its own without trying to imitate America in the current race to the bottom.

You need both engineers and business people, or you have nothing.

Re:Einstein didn't create much wealth (1)

Singularitarian2048 (1068276) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395944)

Considering the fundamental role Einstein played in the eventual invention of nuclear reactors, and his role as one of the pioneers of Quantum Mechanics, couldn't you argue that Einstein was one of the greatest wealth creators of all time?

Re:Einstein didn't create much wealth (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396144)

I was going to point out something like that too, but you beat me to it. Still, I'll point out another angle:

It's true: Einstein didn't make much money for himself. In fact, the statue of him in Washington DC looks like a homeless man.

But "didn't create wealth?" I'd say that in the bigger picture, he did create wealth -- even under the narrow economic definition, "wealth = money." His theories have advanced technology and helped society to create a great deal more wealth: GPS for instance has obvious economic benefits, and depends on General Relativity (since the satellites orbit higher in Earth's gravitational well, the clocks at the heart of GPS run at different speeds. No Einstein, no General Relativity, no GPS.) I'm sure this isn't the only example, but it's the first to spring to mind.

Of course, you can also make the point that there is more to wealth than money. Artistic works represent cultural wealth, for instance; so does science. But others have made that point, so I won't spend more time on it.

That said, I'm not discounting your point: Great ideas that come from African geniuses will surely enrich the world, but they will most enrich those nations with the money to turn those ideas into profitable products. Even if the discoverer collects some sort of royalties, it will simply make him individually wealthy; it will not create industry in Africa.

But Hawking's search is still a good thing. It may not do much in the immediate term for Africa, but it's still good for humanity, and so, eventually, for Africa.

Remind me again... (2, Insightful)

Facetious (710885) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395326)

Where did Einstein do his post-graduate work?

Einstein is over-rated (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395338)

Stephen Hawking has traveled to South Africa in search of Africa's Einsteins.


Good look to him. Perhaps he will find some Einstein from the white European settlers, but if he is looking amongst the blacks and negros, he's shit out of luck. Jenkem, rape, HIV, murders are about the only thing these creatures excel in.

This seems like another one of those stupid liberal program that exists to boost negro's self esteem. It is not enough to have 'magical negros' in TV and cinema, we also have to reduce the educational standards to accomodate these beasts.

Visit The Truth About Africa [niggermania.ws] if you want to read more about Negros and truly understand them.

Re:Einstein is over-rated (1)

Monkey (16966) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395444)

I had to look Jenkem [wikipedia.org] up. God damn!

Re:Einstein is over-rated (4, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395730)

Race has nothing to do with it. Look at yourself; dumb as a box of rocks.

Put any kid of any race (say, your kid) in a third world country with little food, no medical care, and have unlearned people raise him, and don't send him to school, and he'll be just like the native Africans.

Take one of those African kids and raise him in an enlightened industrial society and he'll excel as much as anyone. It isn't about self esteem, it's about quality of life.

As to your own stupidity, racism is a tool of the rich to keep everyone else at each others' throats so they won't notice who's really using and abusing them, tool.

Re:Einstein is over-rated (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395948)

If race is irrelevant how do you explain the obvious widespread advanced technological achievements of certain races vs others who, if left untouched, would most likely still be living as primitives for the next thousand centuries? You can't blame the natural evolution of the people of any continent on "social conditions". The greatest determining factor in the course of any civilization/society is the intellect of its inhabitants.

Re:Einstein is over-rated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396536)

So. What's your excuse sir? Not to mention that Africa became a war torn cesspool of a continent after European intervention. But you keep up with your unfounded hatred while the rest of us get on with our lives. Sucks to be you.

Re:Einstein is over-rated (2, Interesting)

speculatrix (678524) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396582)

rising to the bait, there are fundamental problems to Africa, the two key ones are corruption in the governments and the continuous fighting within and between countries (for resources and between tribes). The D.R. Congo should be one of the richest countries in the world with its unequalled wealth of mineral resources, but years of corruption, greed and fighting have ensured its ability to exploit those resources are minimal.

another key problem is that foreign governments have caused major problems. for example, when Belgium controlled one part of Africa they deemed it unncessary to have much if any higher education, so there are very few universities, and thus people's education plateaus.

Re:Einstein is over-rated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395972)

YHBT. YHL. HAND.

Whoosh... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396642)

racism is a tool of the rich to keep everyone else at each others' throats so they won't notice who's really using and abusing them
OMG... racism is a conspiracy by the rich to get us to hate each other?

I just *knew* the Jews had to be behind this!

Re:Einstein is over-rated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396702)

Race has nothing to do with it. Look at yourself; dumb as a box of rocks.
sounds like the pot calling the kettle black. But then people on /. aren't that smart overall, they just think they are...

Re:Einstein is over-rated (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396276)

Like 'Monkey,' I had to look up this 'Jenkem' stuff. It is apparently a hoax which has been debunked. See Monkey's link.

No reply to the rest of your post.

Re:Einstein is over-rated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396322)

It is apparently a hoax which has been debunked.
Keep telling yourself it's a hoax. Otherwise, you'd have to question whether they really deserve to be called "human".

"It's a hoax! We're all equal! Race doesn't matter! Please, don't rape my white daughter! We're all equal, brother!"

Re:Einstein is over-rated (1)

joeman3429 (1288786) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396662)

I don't want you to rape my daughter either.

Watson (2, Insightful)

philspear (1142299) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395360)

Turok and Hawking hope that Aimss students will help to overturn the negative stereotypes of Africa that were recently given expression by James Watson, the co-discoverer of DNA.

Not to go off on a tangent, but I wouldn't call Watson the "co-discovererer of DNA," for two reasons.

1. My understanding of research history was that DNA was discovered long before, and also long before was identified as the genetic material.
2. He likely didn't even co-discover the STRUCTURE of DNA so much as steal credit for that from Rosalind Franklin and Raymond Gosling.

The purpose? (4, Interesting)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395366)

If the purpose is to somehow stimulate the local economy, I think it would make more sense to help build and expand the underlying infrastructure that would eventually lead to the desire to have top math/science experts in the region. Otherwise they will most likely just move somewhere where they're actually wanted and can be sufficiently compensated. Is there a need for physics experts when the region is severely lacking in agriculture?

Re:The purpose? (2, Interesting)

magarity (164372) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395448)

Exactly - they need civil engineers and agriculturalists, not physicists. Sounds like this project is a symptom of 'when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail'-itis though the principals do have good intentions and it probably will help some individuals move up and out.

Re:The purpose? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395512)

Yes, because we all know that they NEVER use physics in the engineering disciplines.

Re:The purpose? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395838)

Yes, 150 year old physics. Certainly no one needs to worry about 11 dimensional strings when building a fucking toilet. Use your noodle.

Re:The purpose? (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396324)

Physics PhD's do research. Civil engineers use physics in calculations to design infrastructure. Which activity is more needed in impoverished countries? Thanks for trying to be sarcastic.

Re:The purpose? (1)

theJavaMan (539177) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395528)

I think the purpose of this is to move real talent from horrid conditions to somewhere where they can achieve their full potential. Theoretical physics does not help the local economy. It helps the whole of human race.

With thugs like Mugabe and nuts like Mbeki (0, Troll)

swb (14022) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395650)

...all the physics in the universe won't help them.

A major dose of population control is necessary as well, as a lot of Africa's civil unrest and political instability can be traced to overpopulation. Tribal lands get subdivided until they can't be subdivided anymore, and landless youth head to the cities where they are unemployed and easily pressed into whatever militia the local revolutionary, tribal rival or kleptocratic government is organizing today.

Building infrastructure, handing out OLPCs, curing malaria, etc. isn't going to help.

Re:With thugs like Mugabe and nuts like Mbeki (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395718)

Just don't tell them about condoms. You'll piss off the Catholic Church and the Bush administrations.

Re:With thugs like Mugabe and nuts like Mbeki (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396406)

A major dose of population control is necessary as well, as a lot of Africa's civil unrest and political instability can be traced to overpopulation.
what shit. What they need is a major dose of gun control and for western nations to stop propping up the murderous "leaders" of the region with guns, guns and more guns. The African continent is deliberately being kept unstable so western nations can plunder its resources.

Re:The purpose? (3, Insightful)

PikachuMolester2007 (1058780) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395766)

Not quite sure why people assume all of the Africa is starving or lacks critical infrastructure. Take a look at the pictures on the wikipedia entry for Johannesburg, for comparison sake. There are definitely places in Africa where physicists, engineers and scientists of all types can, and are, earning a decent living.

Re:The purpose? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395988)

Interesting that you use Johannesburg [wikipedia.org] as an example of great place in Africa. It just so happens to be in South Africa, which until the mid '90s, was run by whites.

Fast-forward to present day, where things are not so rosy. From the Wikipedia link above:

Thousands of poor, mostly black, people, who had been forbidden to live in the city proper, moved into the city from surrounding black townships like Soweto. Many immigrants from economically beleaguered and war torn African nations flooded into South Africa, with Johannesburg the most Northerly major city and therein a logical choice. Crime levels rose, and especially the rate of violent crime. Many buildings were abandoned by landlords, especially in high-density areas, such as Hillbrow. Many corporations and institutions, including the stock exchange, moved their headquarters away from the city centre, to suburbs like Sandton. By the late 1990s, Johannesburg was rated as one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

I leave the obvious conclusion as an exercise for the reader.

Re:The purpose? (1)

azaris (699901) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396058)

Not quite sure why people assume all of the Africa is starving or lacks critical infrastructure. Take a look at the pictures on the wikipedia entry for Johannesburg, for comparison sake.

Would that be the "most dangerous city in the world with respect to street crime" [reuters.com] Johannesburg? Hardly a place where international researchers would flock to live and work in.

I've also heard Internet connections are plentiful and inexpensive in Mogadishu [bbc.co.uk] , but I wouldn't start a research center there.

Pandering... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395382)

Pandering to the blacks. This is Hawking's appology for being white.

Re:Pandering... (1)

CyberData4 (1247268) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395506)

If he were looking in China, no one would bat an eyelash. But because it's Africa it's suddenly pandering?

Re:Pandering... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395872)

Not to troll or anything, but China has a rich history of innovation and a rather large and obvious talent pools. When we're talking about Sub-Saharan Africa, we're talking about a place that never invented the wheel. Somalia didn't have a written language until the 1970s.

Conditions through out the continent were so abysmal that Africans crossed fences and landmines to put up with Apartheid rather than be "free" in their own countries...until they bitched and bitched and bitched for "democracy" in South Africa.

South Africa and Rhodesia have now gone from countries with major infrastructure and agricultural output to cesspools where the average woman can be expected to be raped 2.5x in her life, and over a quarter of the population has HIV.

But hey, they have democracy!

Subsaharan Africa is not a has-been, its a never-was. The cradle of humanity, and all it has to show for itself is dung huts and STDs.

China has its problems, but at least it can accomplish things on its own. Gun powder, rocketry, etc. They were there first.

Intelligence in Africa? WTF? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395430)

Has Steven lost his mind now too? Nothing there but a bunch of uncivilized jungle bunnies that barely even deserve to use the worlds resources.

Their only value is as an expendable physical labor source.

Re:Intelligence in Africa? WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396194)

Go Team!

Of course they won't fund it (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395478)

If Hawking wants to get money for this sort of thing, he needs to make it into a reality show and get a TV network on board. Some ideas:

Africa's Next Top Physicist. Every week, contestants will be tasked with solving a major problem in physics. Their efforts will be judged by a panel led by Hawking, using Tyra Banks as a body double. The loser will be eliminated from the competition and thrown into the African savanna, where he will be eaten by a lion.

African Idol: Physics edition. Auditions will be held in various tribal areas throughout Africa. Hilarity will ensue as the ever-caustic Hawking mocks contestants' failures to adequately explain string theory. Losers will be thrown into the African savanna, where they will be eaten by lions.

Deriving With the Physicists. Contestants will be paired up with professional physicists and tasked to derive the Unified Field Theory. Each week, progress will be gaged by a panel of judges. Losers will be thrown into the African savanna, where the lions, fully sated from contestants from the earlier shows, will ignore them. They will then be shot by poachers.

Survivor: Africa. Contestants will spend the entire show dealing with extreme heat, drought, and the ever-present threat of starvation and disease while trying to scrape up enough money to attend school while keeping his family fed and not dying from malaria. The one who can manage to survive long enough to attend a post-graduate physics program wins.

mod parent up! (1)

fmobus (831767) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395708)

Funny with a realistic and sad twist. Brillant post. Thread over, you may all go home.

Re:Of course they won't fund it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395952)

"The one who can manage to survive long enough to attend a post-graduate physics program wins."

And if none do, then the season ends early? Or is the rest of the season to be filled up with Tyra Banks dancing?

Re:Of course they won't fund it (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396308)

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Re:Of course they won't fund it (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396414)

If Hawking wants to get money for this sort of thing, he needs to make it into a reality show and get a TV network on board. Some ideas:

The really sad thing is that it would work. O.k. remove the feeding them to the lions if they do wrong. I think it was a Saturday night live where they were just offering bags of food to those that got it right. Well, offer a years supply of food for those that win the chemistry, math, physics, or what ever other subjects that you want them to compete in. I don't know how much "the years supply of food" would cost, but a first world cable station should be able to afford it and just let the locals compete.

The really bizarre thing is that companies could use this as a brain drain lure. The top winners get to have a US min wage job for a year!

Who's smarter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395544)

He's actually looking for more Hawkings to pass his legacy onto, not Einsteins.

Good luck... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395566)

Start with the mountain gorillas - at least they aren't shooting each other and won't shoot the seeker.

Why Hawking will fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395614)

If finding a genius in relatively educated, developed, Western nations is like finding a needle in a haystack, then finding one in Africa is hopeless [wikipedia.org] .

No more Einstein's (3, Interesting)

sweetser (148397) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395668)

There was one Einstein, there will not be another, ever. Nor will there be another Newton, Maxwell, Bohr, Dirac, Feynman, Weinberg, or Hawking. Very accomplished folks, but all over the place with their personalities, like how they would be in a bar (a topless bar if it was Feynman).

I support the project, not the marketing of the project.

I hope he finds them soon (1)

seanonymous (964897) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395688)

So that I, for one, can welcome our African Einsteinien overlords.

Re:I hope he finds them soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396472)

So that I, for one, can welcome our African Einsteinien overlords.
I wouldn't. He'll use the intelligence to murder, rape, steal, and spread AIDS without getting caught.

no post-grad center on the whole continent? (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395700)

That's the most stunning part. I would never have guessed that Africa was so backward that it didn't have so much as one math or physics post grad center in the whole dang continent. While there isn't anything like the LHC or Fermilab, seems there has to be more to Africa than the headline suggests.

Re:no post-grad center on the whole continent? (4, Informative)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396066)

If TFA (which I haven't read) suggested that there's no post-grad physics or math department in Africa, it's wrong. I have personally visited several physics departments in various African countries that had Ph.D programs. For example, here's a math program [uonbi.ac.ke] and here's a physics one. [uct.ac.za]

Small Pool of Healthy (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395726)

I doubt he will find much because it is such an undernourished and politically unstable place on the whole. You likely need a large population of relatively healthy people in order to produce sufficient geniuses. Poorly-fed brains with too few toys are not likely to end up at the top. Einstein traced his thought process back to a compass that his dad gave him.

If only say 10 percent of Africa's population fits that bill, then you'd get about 10% of the hits compared to a similar population of mostly middle-class countries. This is not being racist, but merely observing the health of Africa's population as it is.
     

Well, there goes my eugenics grant (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395778)

Thanks a lot you crippled bastard!

Africa and its genetic diversity (5, Interesting)

crazybit (918023) | more than 6 years ago | (#23395802)

New studies show there is more genetic diversity between humans in Africa:

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1288178 [nih.gov]
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050310103042.htm [sciencedaily.com]
http://www.science.psu.edu/alert/Tishkoff1-1999.htm [psu.edu]

It might be easier to find a genius among very different subjects, than finding one in a group where everybody is similar.

Hawking is a genius

An African Einstein would move out of Africa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23395956)

The smartest people in Africa, leave Africa :)

This is to build wealth in Africa? (2, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396038)

Look, I'm all for helping Africa get great colleges and postgrad institutions. It's a good thing, and certainly can't hurt. But if these people think that a postgrad center for math and physics is going to help pump great wealth into Africa, I'm afraid they'll be dissapointed. They'd be better off building business and engineering institutes. People like Patrice Motsepe [forbes.com] will do far more to bring wealth to Africa than someone like Hawking.

Black Holes Create Wealth? How? (-1, Flamebait)

MOBE2001 (263700) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396068)

OK. Name one thing that Stephen Hawking has invented that created any wealth other than the sales of his books and related articles.

Isn't Stephen Hawking the guy who, like Carl Sagan, David Deutsch, Kip Thorne and many others, believes [hawking.org.uk] that Einstein's GR does not forbid time travel? Yep. It remains that nothing can move in spacetime by definition. Surprise! This is the reason that Sir Karl Popper (or falsification fame) compared spacetime to "Einstein's block universe in which nothing ever happens". It is also the reason that Robert Geroch wrote the following in his book "Relativity from A to B":

There is no dynamics within space-time itself: nothing ever moves therein; nothing happens; nothing changes. [...] In particular, one does not think of particles as "moving through" space-time, or as "following along" their world-lines. Rather, particles are just "in" space-time, once and for all, and the world-line represents, all at once the complete life history of the particle.

Isn't it Hawking's job to understand and know these things? Read Nasty Little Truth About Spacetime Physics [rebelscience.org] to learn the truth about spacetime physics and time travel crackpots. It is time we stopped putting fallible humans on a pedestal and turn them into the superior gods that they are not.

Re:Black Holes Create Wealth? How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396454)

I don't know what you're bitching about. The guy's creating a school in Africa to better their education and improve their quality of life. Whatever you said doesn't have any relevance.

Re:Black Holes Create Wealth? How? (1)

MagdJTK (1275470) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396562)

OK. Name one thing that Stephen Hawking has invented that created any wealth other than the sales of his books and related articles.

Because wealth creation is the only important thing in the world right? I guess that's why people love Bill Gates and hate that stupid Mother Teresa.

Re:Black Holes Create Wealth? How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396590)

For the impoverished, wealth creation is absolutely the most important thing in the world.

Re:Black Holes Create Wealth? How? (1)

Zorque (894011) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396704)

... what?

Nice idea but not going to make any real change. (2, Insightful)

kiatoa (66945) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396086)

It is kind of like trying to cure a broken leg with antibiotics. You might need the antibiotics but you'd really better get a splint on there first.

I.e. start by identifying the **real** root cause and work on that.

African First Post!!! (1)

BlindSpot (512363) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396256)

My browser width meant the first line happened to break after "Africa's first post-", leading me ever-so-briefly to ponder "What's so special about African first posts?"

African Einsteins? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396380)

lol, good luck with that.

Noble cause but will fail due to IQ distribution (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396720)

For such intelligent people being involved with this, they sure do *not* have a grasp of basic statistical analysis and the well-documented distribution of IQ scores between demographic population groups.

If we assume the "Einstein-level IQ" they're looking for is around 160 (with any arguments about Einstein's scientific credibility aside for the moment):

Using Excel's NORMDIST function properly, this means that out of a population of 100,000 blacks and 100,000 whites:

3.35424599 people from the white group will have an IQ greater than or equal to 160

0.00093792910105250400 people from the black group will have an IQ greater than or equal to 160 (essentially meaning that out of even 100,000 black people, you are not likely to find one with an IQ that high).

If I increase the population size to 922,011,000 (population of Africa), then there are 8.6478 people with an IQ of at least 160.

So I have to ask, seriously, what do they hope to accomplish here? This isn't going to work the way they hope, just like every single other egalitarian dream that has been cooked up from decades past.

BTW, I got my standard deviation and averages from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_intelligence [wikipedia.org]

The only problem with this calculation is that the average and SD for American blacks is a good bit higher than the ones for African blacks, so you can guess what that means for these calculations!
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