Howard Burton was a freshly-minted physics PhD from the University of Waterloo when a random job query resulted in a strange—albeit fateful—meeting with Research-in-Motion founder and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis. Mike had a crazy idea: he wanted to fund a state-of-the-art science research facility and bring in the most innovative scientists from around the world. Its mission? ToHoward Burton was a freshly-minted physics PhD from the University of Waterloo when a random job query resulted in a strange—albeit fateful—meeting with Research-in-Motion founder and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis. Mike had a crazy idea: he wanted to fund a state-of-the-art science research facility and bring in the most innovative scientists from around the world. Its mission? To study and probe the most complex, intriguing and fundamental problems of science. Mike was ready to commit $100 million of his own money to get it started. But that wasn’t his only crazy idea. He wanted Howard to run it. First Principles is part-biography and part lively rumination on the world—and the world of science in particular—by the engaging physicist and former director of the prestigious Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario. Since its founding in 1999, the Institute has received more than $125 million in government grants, not including the eye-popping sum of $150 million that Mike Lazaridis has donated from his own personal fortune....
|Title||:||First Principles: The Crazy Business of Doing Serious Science|
|Number of Pages||:||288 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
First Principles: The Crazy Business of Doing Serious Science Reviews
Very illuminating. Like myself (with only an honours bachelors degree in Physics), Burton found out there were no Physics jobs in Canada (even for a PhD). He was offered a programming job on Wall Street while I was offered a programming job in Northern Electric (at least it was in Canada)Burton - not wanting to spend his life programming on Wall Street took "evasive action" and wound up with an interview with Mike Lazaridis of Blackberry. The interview between Burton and Lazaridis - I found very interesting. Burton went the entire interview completely unaware of what the heck Mike was talking about. The upshot was Burton wound up as first director of the Perimeter Institute for theoretical physics. Must be nice to have earned enough cash to float a project of that size. This was only the first of many such projects. Great read.
Oh Howard, false humility is the most annoying form of conceit.Ostensibly, this book is about how Perimeter Institute got started, and how Howard, as its first director, played a role in that. Of course, he also got fired for writing it, so there you go.Having seen him in action at many a lecture, I'm fairly sure that my personal opinion of him is affecting how much I enjoyed the book.Primary value of which was hearing about the founding of PI (though through a very thick filter of ego), and confirming my previous characterization of the author.
The best part of First Principles was when Burton started wrote about the lack of funding for fundamental science research, and the lack of interest in math and science that exists in our society. I wish he elaborated more on this. In the end, a little too much time was spent on details like PI's building. Interesting story though, because it helps to understand how rapidly Waterloo is changing, all because of Mike Lazaridis, and Jim Balsillie, and the hundreds of millions of dollars they are plowing into Waterloo's institutions.
Total bias: I'm a local nerd, so I really enjoyed reading this story about my hometown and a venue I've interacted with so often. Burton's story telling helped illuminate some of the journey that I hadn't known about, and added richness to the parts I did. It was also surprising to learn about a tiny fraction of the controversy around his departure from the institute, as I hadn't heard much about it before. Well written and highly interesting if you're into educational institution design or Waterloo.