Saturday, May 2, 2009

An Astronomer with a Sense of Humor

A humorous letter to the editor in today's Financial Times, "Buy me a massive telescope or pay the consequences":

From Dr Charles Beichman

Sir, “Give me a billion dollars for my accelerator or I’ll kill your economy.” These words should strike terror into the hearts of bureaucrats everywhere. And the next time they hear them, those responsible for funding big science should immediately just hand over the money.

As your article (“Of couples and copulas,” April 25) on David Li[1] describes, the flood of theoretical physicists, aka the “quants”, coming into Wall Street after the cancellation of the SuperConducting Super Collider (SSC) created the financial weapons of mass destruction whose power to annihilate wealth is now obvious.

With the loss of trillions of dollars throughout the world economy, how much safer we all would have been if Congress had just paid the ransom over a decade ago and kept all those physicists safe in their laboratory at the Waxahachie, Texas, site of the SSC. So, please, listen carefully when I say that we have one or two major space telescopes that need funding. Otherwise I might consider moving to Wall Street.

Charles Beichman,
Executive Director,
Nasa ExoPlanet Science Institute,
California Institute Of Technology, US

The image above, of David Li's Gaussian copula function, comes from the Wired article by Felix Salmon linked to in the footnote below.

[1]Creator of the Gaussian copula default function ("the formula that killed Wall Street").


NiteSkyGirl said...

HILLARIOUS !!!!!!!!!!!!!

DaveinHackensack said...

Glad you liked it. Coincidentally, the school sports teams here in Hackensack are called the Comets.