Wednesday, May 04, 2005

U.S. Universities Presented with Outstanding Opportunity

My good friend and frequent collaborator Sean Carroll has been denied tenure at Chicago. Sean and I spoke about this for a while on Friday, shortly after he'd found out, and he has just posted about it on his blog, Preposterous Universe.

I can't do real justice here to the respect I have for Sean as a scientist, independent of our friendship. He is a formidable intellect, a deep-thinking cosmologist and particle physicist, and one of the most socially responsible members of our field that I know. Sean has made important and well-recognized contributions to theoretical cosmology, while popularizing the subject through his fantastic public lectures, organizing tremendous conferences and mentoring outrageous numbers of postdocs, graduate students and undergraduates. Our collaborations have been some of the high points of my career both from an intellectual and a purely fun viewpoint. And I haven't even mentioned his wonderful G.R. textbook.

As Sean says himself, this is a sad situation for him. However, everyone within the field realizes that there's going to be a fascinating feeding frenzy as many excellent places fight over him. He's going to end up somewhere great, and wherever that is, they will be lucky to have him. I know we're going to continue to write good papers together; only the institutional affiliation will change.

Sean says blogging will be a lower priority for a while. I understand this, as I'm sure we all do. However, I think it's worth encouraging him to continue to post quite regularly. Just because Chicago has chosen to lose a world-class young cosmologist doesn't mean we should lose one of our most eloquent and prolific commentators on science and society.
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