Fine Structure

Wilczek and His Natural Talent

I'm a big fan of Frank Wilczek, a winner of the 2004 Nobel prize in physics, as we've seen in the past (see his book on the physics behind his Nobel, and when I went to go see him speak), so naturally I'll link to an interview with him in the NY Times.

However, I can't help but think about the repercussions of looking at his clearly above average career as something that's normal in physics. It's a deterrent, I think, for all those students that aren't so completely brilliant that they do Nobel winning physics by 21. And it's not exactly uncommon to hear about these minds anymore. Is it a function of community density when we funnel all the supremely smart people towards math and science? What does it mean for "normal" people? Even somewhat above average intelligence? It seems like we, as a culture, would believe that the only people to contribute to science are those born with the natural talent, and that's making it very hard to recruit those above averagers into science.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/29/science/29conv.html ]

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