Arcadian Functor

occasional meanderings in physics' brave new world

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Location: New Zealand

Marni D. Sheppeard

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


FQXi rigged lottery grant winners announced here. Most of the names are well known, and not in any real need of funds. Who would have guessed. Two token women, only one of them a physicist, working on a theory that no longer agrees very well with observational data. So much for a careful analysis of the proposals.


Anonymous bob said...

Well, ... in my case it will employ someone who is otherwise quite unemployable in the current regime. While I have lots of quantum information money, this cannot be used to support Jamie Vicary, who will start on my FQXi grant.

- bob

August 06, 2008 12:22 AM  
Anonymous bob said...

But you are right that having a somewhat known name/institution helps in a `disproportional' manner in any sort of grant competition, not only FQXi -I've seen both sides of that coin. There's not much one can do about that except for trying hard to get at the other site (took me ten years post PhD), ... or being damn lucky.

August 06, 2008 1:26 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

There ought to be more women in that list. Nice to see Paul Davies, Garrett Lisi and Starkmann get some funding. One can guess that being well-known or mainstream is a prerequisite to getting FQXi recognition.

August 06, 2008 5:59 AM  
Blogger Kea said...

I'm glad to hear that Vicary will be getting support, Bob. And of course your own research is very interesting.

August 06, 2008 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Tony Smith said...

Every "winner" on the FQXi list had an institutional affiliation, so I guess it is a de facto disqualification to be an outsider.

Even Garrett Lisi, who I had thought was unaffiliated, is listed with affiliation "Theiss Research".

Looking at Theiss Research on the web, I saw:
"... through Theiss Research, scientists are able to apply for funding to many private foundations, governmental agencies, or any other funding bodies. If a grant is awarded, Theiss Research takes on the grant administration and provides the scientists with a fully virtual infrastructure
Theiss Research is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit research organization, founded by Jurgen Theiss in San Diego, California, USA in January 2006
The scientists below are affiliated with Theiss Research, which is managing their current grants and is providing them with a virtual infrastructure to carry out their research.
A. Garrett Lisi ...
Michael Reisenberger ...
Jurgen Theiss ...".

So, it looks to me as though Jurgen Theiss was hunting grants (he got NSF award 0550658 in the amount of $195,037 for 2006-2009),
decided that since he knew how to work the grant process he might as well hunt grants for others, so he effectively has become a grant lobbyist.

He seems to be successful, because both of the other two Theiss Scientists,
Garrett Lisi
Michael Reisenberger,
won FQXi awards for 2008
in the amounts of
$77,222 and $55,918 respectively.

It seems (by skimming the list, I could be a bit mistaken) that the only institutions to win more than one 2008 FQXi grant were:

UC Berkeley - 3
Oxford University - 2
Theiss Research - 2
Tufts University - 2

Since Theiss Research got FQXi 2008 awards for 2/3 of its staff (of 3) scientists,
it seems to me that it is a very effective lobbyist.

Tony Smith

August 06, 2008 8:54 AM  
Blogger Kea said...

Interesting, Tony. From the way the final round application was worded, it would be difficult, but not impossible, to apply without institution support.

(I was supported by the University of Canterbury).

August 06, 2008 8:58 AM  
Blogger kneemo said...

I was pleasantly suprised to see Tevian Dray's proposal "Using Octonionic Cayley Spinors to Describe Fundamental Particles" in the list. I've been wondering what Dray and Manogue have been up to since the eigenvalue problem papers.

August 06, 2008 9:22 AM  

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