Two renowned international scientists to visit STIAS as first Donald Gordon Fellows

20 July 2009


During the month of August the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) will host Profs Manuel Castells and Leonard Susskind as the first two Donald Gordon Fellows. This fellowship was made possible by a generous grant from the Donald Gordon Foundation. Profs Castells and Susskind will be at STIAS from 4 to 14 August and 10 to 31 August 2009 respectively.Prof Castells is one of the five most cited social scientists in the world. He has published 23 books, co-authored a further 21 and published over 100 articles in academic journals. His trilogy The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture have been translated into 22 languages andThe Internet Galaxy into 15 languages. Prof Castells’ latest book, Communication Power, an empirically grounded theory of power in the network society, will be published by Oxford University Press (OUP) later this month and will be launched at The Book Lounge in Cape Town on 26 August 2009.

During his stay at STIAS Prof Castells will deliver a lecture on The Crisis of Capitalism to an invited audience. This lecture on 5 August 2009 is jointly organised with the Centre for Higher Education Transformation (CHET). On 11 August 2009 he will participate in a seminar at STIAS on Strengthening Doctoral Scholarship in the Social Sciences. Other speakers and participants include Prof Jonathan Jansen (Rector of the University of the Free State), Dr Cheryl de la Rey (CEO of the Council for Higher Education (CHE) and STIAS Board Member), and Profs Nico Cloete, Johann Mouton and Johan Muller. On 13 August 2009 Prof Castells will speak about The Intellectual Journey of Manuel Castells on the campus of the University of the Western Cape.

Prof Susskind is visiting Stellenbosch for the second time as a STIAS Fellow. His first visit in 2002 saw him participating in the second STIAS project on String Theory and Quantum Gravity. During that project many of the ideas were formulated that would later shape what is now known as the National Institute for Theoretical Physics (NITheP), established with its main centre at STIAS.

Prof Susskind is not only a pioneer of string theory, but an internationally respected authority on black holes. His latest book is entitled The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics and as a popular science writer he has recently drawn attention with his book The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design.

During his second STIAS Fellowship Prof Susskind will be an invited speaker at a five day symposium held from 10 to14 August 2009 at STIAS on Foundations of Space and Time: Reflections on Quantum Gravity. A number of local participants will be joined by 15 internationally known theoretical physicists and cosmologists, including Sir Roger Penrose from Oxford. The symposium is planned as a celebration of the 70th birthday of Prof George Ellis from the University of Cape Town.

Prof Susskind will also present a popular account of the Cosmic Landscape in which he argues that string theory presents so many self-consistent possibilities for the construction of the universe that the fine-tuned conditions which seem to account for the fact that the universe gave birth to life can be considered as no more than a statistical fluctuation.

Arrangements for this presentation will be announced at a later stage.

Caption: From left to right are Prof Lenny Susskind, Prof Manuel Castells and Prof Hendrik Geyer, Director of STIAS. (Photo: Anton Jordaan, SCPS)

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