The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Disappointing MacArthur awards
Tom Smith

Once again, not a single libertarian west coast blogger on the list. (via instapundit.)

More to the point, does the list strike anybody else as very heavy on science populizers and do-goody project promoters? I liked it better when it was hard core scientists, like Jon Kleinberg, or that kid who decoded the Maya glyph-thingies. I know it's yer typical left-liberal foundation, but it seems like they should have a few honest to god geniuses who discovered something the rest of us can't even understand. The astrophysicist of gender, for example. Is she really a genius, or just a workwomanlike astrophysicist who happens to be female?

OK I hereby approve of the astronomer. Thank you instapundit visitor. In fact, I think I might even have had dinner with her or some of her colleagues at least, since the junior UCLA astronomers were kind enough to let me tag along to some dinners and ask stupid questions about black holes, when I was visiting UCLA law school a number of years ago. I eventually got kicked out for not being an astronomer by a senior astronomer, but it was fun while it lasted. I watched the NOVA about this lady's work and it did seem extremely cool. She seems to have figured out how to show exactly where and what the black hole at the center of the Milky Way is about by tracking the orbital motions of the stars at the center of the galaxy.

http://rightcoast.typepad.com/rightcoast/2008/09/disappointing-m.html

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Comments

The sculptor's really pretty good - I saw one of her pieces in Birmingham last winter and liked it. I blogged about it (with a picture) today.

Posted by: Michael Tinkler | Sep 25, 2008 2:11:23 PM

The sculptor's really pretty good - I saw one of her pieces in Birmingham last winter and liked it. I blogged about it (with a picture) today.

Posted by: Michael Tinkler | Sep 25, 2008 2:11:51 PM

From this year's list, Alexei Kitaev is a really hard-core scientist - to the degree that most of his work is really hard to explain in popular language.

Posted by: Adrian | Sep 25, 2008 2:21:05 PM

As to the Astronomer you mentioned, Andrea Ghez really deserves it. Go and click on the link at:

http://www.macfound.org/site/c.lkLXJ8MQKrH/b.4537259/

Astronomy, even more than many other sciences, lives and dies on its instrumentation. Andrea Ghez has transformed views of how stars formed, by providing the means to find out that multiple star systems are *far* more common than we had thought. Her work on galactic black holes may change how we think galaxies were formed, next. Or, she may find something completely unexpected.

Regards,

Tom Billings

Posted by: Tom Billings | Sep 25, 2008 2:43:12 PM

Read the article by Atul Gawande on the work of the ICU physician. No, he didn't discover some miracle drug. No, he didn't invent a new surgical procedure. All he did was come up with a simple mechanism - checklists - that dramatically increased survival rates, decreased hospitalization time, and decreased costs for ICU care.

I'll take that anytime.

Posted by: Mike | Sep 25, 2008 4:41:20 PM

"The astrophysicist of gender, for example. Is she really a genius, or just a workwomanlike astrophysicist who happens to be female?"

*snort* It's not like those are rare, you know.

Posted by: Angie Schultz | Sep 25, 2008 5:07:47 PM

What's so brilliant about observing that soil is mankind's greatest resource? Water and oxygen aren't exactly unimportant, and if you're looking at what has made mankind the dominant life form, wouldn't you have to say intelligence had something to do with it?

Actually, trying to argue which of all the indispensable elements in the web of life seems like a pointless exercise. I hope he's got more in his quiver than that concept, 'cause it sounds like New Age Hippie nonsense.

Posted by: AST | Sep 25, 2008 8:34:32 PM

Angie: "vote for me 'coz I got tits" is nothing more than tokenism.

Posted by: DensityDuck | Sep 26, 2008 7:31:41 AM

"vote for me 'coz I got tits" is nothing more than tokenism.

Correct. And your point would be...?

Posted by: Angie Schultz | Sep 27, 2008 1:12:01 AM

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Posted by: Townsend | Aug 28, 2009 8:10:23 AM