STIAS was privileged and honoured to be hosting two world-renowned scientists as Donald Gordon Fellows during November 2010: Prof Lynn Margulis, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst and Prof Kip Thorne, Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics (Emeritus) at the California Institute of Technology.
Both Fellows presented public lectures in the STIAS Lecture Series to capacity audiences. On 11 November Prof Margulis talked about Gaia & Symbiogenesis: The living Earth from Space (see the original announcement and abstract here), while Prof Thorne’s lecture a week later was entitled The Warped Side of our Universe: From the Big Bang to Black Holes and Gravitational Waves (original announcement here).
Durings his stay at STIAS Prof Thorne interacted with a number of local astronomers, cosmologists and theoretical physicists, including Profs George Ellis (UCT), Roy Maartens (UWC) and Kavilan Moodley (UKZN), as well as Dr Jeandrew Brink, previously a postdoctoral fellow in Prof Thorne’s group at Caltech and now a researcher at the National Institute for Theoretical Physics (NITheP), who played a crucial role in arranging Prof Thorne’s visit.
Prof Thorne also presented lectures at NITheP, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), the Cosmology Group at UCT and the University of the Free State.
Prof Margulis mainly focused on preparing the 4th edition of her classic book Symbiosis in Cell Evolution during her month long stay at STIAS. She indicated that her current knowledge about “the entire “eukaryosis” story (the origin of nucleated cells), as documented both by living microbial metabolism and the pre-Phanerozoic fossil record”, now allowed her to prepare “this saga of the cell as a much smaller book than its predecessors.” The working title of this edition is Symbiogenetics — Origin of Mitotic Cells from Bacterial Communities in the Proterozoic Eon.
STIAS and a wider audience await this publiction with great expectations, especially as Prof Margulis referred to STIAS as “the ultimate in academic comfort and inspiration!”
Caption: From left to right are Jannie Hofmeyr (STIAS Programme Committee), Lynn Margulis, Kip Thorne and Hendrik Geyer (STIAS Director) (Photo: Anton Jordaan, SCPS)