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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Work on Big Questions Yields Big Bucks
17 March 2004 (All day)
Physicist, philosopher, and antiapartheid activist George Ellis has won this year's Templeton Prize. At $1.4 million, the award is the biggest annual prize a person can win. It is intended to advance humanity's "spiritual information."
The 64-year-old Ellis is a professor in the mathematics department of the University of Cape Town in South Africa. His work spans many areas of physics and philosophy, including general relativity, cosmology, and epistemology. His research includes such theologically interesting topics as whether the laws of physics had to be fine-tuned by a creator in order for the universe to be able to support life.
"He's one of those people who's very broad and very fair," says Lee Smolin, a physicist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario. "The thing he's done that's influenced me the most is his work about what you can deduce about the universe from what you can see."
Ellis's Quaker beliefs strongly influence his sense of social commitment, which led him to criticize the injustices of the apartheid South African government--and which drive him to donate half of the prize money to charitable causes. They also frame his scientific interests. "The philosophy of science has to go its own way, but faith leads to other philosophical questions," says Ellis. "Physics itself can not answer why the laws of physics are the way they are."