Volume 95, Issue 89

Thursday, March 21, 2002
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It's official: London 'all mixed up'

Malaise at Dalhousie University

Meningitis death causes fear

Colleges get funding to play 'tradesies'

Critics dismiss immigration study

Physics lecture: 'pretty geeky'

Engineers plan future pumping poop

Labatt's - making dreams come true

News Briefs

Physics lecture: 'pretty geeky'

By Tait Simpson
Gazette Staff

With all the intellectual minds in the university community competing for time, one clear way to ensure your voice is heard is to put up $100 million of your own money to back your cause.

That is exactly what Mike Lazaridis did when he founded the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, the topic of Tuesday's annual Nerenberg Lecture held in the Engineering Science building.

Lazaridis, president and CEO of Research in Motion – the company that created the Wireless Handheld product line and the Blackberry e-mail solution – gave a lecture that focused on his financial backing of an institute with a mandate for conducting research.

"What I'm doing with [Perimeter Institute] is to try to break the trend that research has to have short-term economic payoffs," Lazaridis said. "No one knew the benefits of the laser when they invented it. Look at it now – we couldn't live without it."

Lazaridis founded the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo in order to create an environment in which post-doctoral fellows and senior researchers could gather to advance the field of theoretical physics.

"PI is unencumbered by the restrictions and traditions of universities, so it's as free an environment as we could create," Lazaridis said. "We have a memoranda of understanding with over 200 universities and have received a government grant. They're all excited about what we're doing."

Brent Smith, a first-year actuarial science and mathematics student, said he enjoyed the lecture, but was admittedly embarrassed to be in attendance. "It's pretty geeky to be at a physics lecture. There weren't very many students in the audience compared to the number of professors," he said.

"It's pretty interesting that his idea is so abstract and yet he has to be so practical about how he goes about soliciting government support," said Chris Smeenk, a first-year engineering student.

"We receive literally thousands of résumés a week. We don't know what to do with them all but, suffice it to say, they're all very impressive university graduates," Lazaridis said.

The Nerenberg lecture series, which celebrates the democracy of ideas, is an annual lecture put on by the Western's department of applied mathematics in memory of the late professor Morton (Paddy) Nerenberg.

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