Arcadian Functor

occasional meanderings in physics' brave new world

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Location: New Zealand

Marni D. Sheppeard

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Institute

Ben Webster asks us where and how we would build a new research institute. As previously mentioned, I would build a centre for pure Category Theory and its applications in everything from physics and computer science to neuroscience and linguistics. John Armstrong has already signed up for an NZ based institute. The first question is, urban or rural? Come on. This is the 21st century, so let's choose somewhere pleasant to live, where time off from the office can be spent on a variety of outdoor activities. Kaikoura is the place. Lonely Hapuku hut is only a few hours walk from potential institute sites in the lower Hapuku valley. There is access to a large area of scenic mountain hiking. One could take an easy walk up the Mt Fyffe road in the morning and then enjoy whale watching in the afternoon. If tired of swimming with the seals, or skiing, or wine tasting, one could always turn to a geological tour. The so called Kaikoura orogeny, beginning about 25 million years ago, is the uplifting process that forms the Southern Alps. This institute would be cheap to build, since Kaikoura is sparsely populated. It is easily accessible by road and rail from Christchurch, three hours away.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Kea for the beautiful pictures and a nice idea. In order to get the money you might have to get into the dirty world of big business by writing a best-seller, making a discovery and then cashing in on it by giving after-dinner speeches explaining your work to millionaires, or invent something that everyone wants to buy. Alternatively, maybe you can come up with a proposal for successful popular weekly TV science programme.

Maybe the best thing to do is to get together (by email if necessary) with other category theory researchers and do something jointly, such as co-author a popular book on the subject with others researchers, then invest the profits in building the research institute.

June 26, 2008 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I can just add something else, if I was a mathematician faced with the task of working on category theory when the distractions of climbing and swimming with seals beckoned from outside the window, I'd be tempted to spend all the daylight hours outside, and would only get down to work after dark when I'd probably be tired.

So maybe a better place for the research institute would be on top of the glacier, where it would be less tempting to remain outdoors for long periods.

June 26, 2008 11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(I hasten to add that I'm not a mathematician, and am not saying that category theory is boring compared to outdoor activities. I'm sure that real mathematicians who know the subject have enthusiasm and motivation for it, and would therefore have professional self-discipline to get work done.)

June 26, 2008 11:47 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

I'd be tempted to spend all the daylight hours outside ... so maybe a better place for the research institute would be on top of the glacier.

Which glacier? There are several thousand in the South Island. Nice idea, but helicopter only access for supplies would be expensive. How about the south west fjords? You would be kept indoors by the high rainfall, measured in metres per year. And it is much colder, so you would only feel like swimming with the dolphins in midsummer.

June 27, 2008 10:55 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Looks great to me, and we wouldn't need a lot of dough to get started. The discoveries have already been made, but writing a bestseller and making millions does sound like fun.

June 28, 2008 7:41 AM  

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