>>Neil Turok: Okay. Thank you very much. I’m

not a businessman. My business is theoretical physics. I study the Big Bang and the singularity

and whether there was time before it. I’m actually not going to talk about that

today. I’m going to talk about special places. Can I have the first slide?

Next slide. Look at this picture. So, this is ancient Greece. “The School of Athens”

by Rafael. Look at these people. Does it look like a school?

[ Laughter ] This is a place where people shared ideas,

saw the world with fresh eyes, invented notions of democracy, liberty. It is a school I would

have loved to have gone to. But, see, over here on the left, what was

at the heart of it was mathematics and science. Pythagoras was the person who invented the

name “mathematics.” And looking over his shoulder is Anaximander, the first scientist who drew

the first map, thought of the concept of infinity and did the first scientific experiment.

And you see what he is doing. That’s what we do as theoretical physicists. We cheat.

[ Laughter ] We look over the shoulder of the mathematicians

to see mathematical truths. These are the most profound truths we know of. But we also

have the other eye on the real world because we’re trying to describe reality. And that’s

exactly — we use all available means to figure out how the world really works.

I want to point out another coincidence in this picture which is you see the birth of

mathematics and the concept of proof. Pythagoras was the first person whoever proved anything.

He proved Pythagoras’ theorem. But that concept is profoundly related to the notion of justice

because in a court, what do you do if you want to show somebody is guilty? You have

got to prove it. And the concepts go together. Now, I’ve led — I have led a very lucky life

and my luck began a few years before I was born when my father was tried for treason

in South Africa. There’s my father. Alongside him was this person who you should

probably recognize. And it was my good fortune to be raised in a family committed to a struggle

to change the world which ultimately succeeded. And this was a long-term enterprise. As you

said, this took, you know, nearly four decades from this picture, but they wouldn’t give

up. They believed things would change. And that was the spirit in which I was raised.

Well, as a child, I got into science, collecting beetles, playing with experiments, doing mathematics.

The ’60s were — was an era of great hope and optimism. And we left South Africa — after

my parents had both been to jail, we left South Africa and we lived in East Africa in

Kenya and Tanzania, young countries really with incredible hope for the future at that

time. And after that, we went to London, to the

U.K, and arrived just in time to see this, Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon. And that

was the spirit of my childhood, is that there was nothing that couldn’t be done if you put

your mind to it. Well, after that, I returned to Africa as

a teenager to teach in a school in Lisutu, a small land-locked country surrounded by

apartheid South Africa. And I lived in a hut like that one and taught in a local school

for a year. And I met many wonderful kids and, I could see the talent that was there,

enormous talent. But those kids never had a chance. The best they could hope for was

work as migrant workers in South Africa or over the border.

No matter how smart they were, they could not — there was no way they could succeed.

And it struck me then, and it strikes me now that here is the greatest asset with all respect

to your minds. The greatest asset the world has is its young people. And most of them

are utterly denied the opportunity to realize their potential. So my experience in Africa

affected me deeply. Now, in the village — in an African village

at night, it is a pretty scary place. There is no lights. There’s dogs barking. And people

believe in magic, and Lisutu is famous for its magic. They believe that old ladies fly

at night naked. They believe that you can make an effigy out of flour and water and

herbs and at night, it will turn into a little devil and go and kill your enemy.

And so magic was huge. And, frequently, encountered this in class as I was teaching. And I showed

some demonstration like electricity from rubbing a balloon on your hair. They shout “Tokoloshe!”

(phonetic) the word for wizard. So, after this experience, I went back to

England to Cambridge, where I studied theoretical physics. And Isaac Newton, the inventor of

the subject, the greatest mathematician of all time — I didn’t know at the time he was

actually a wannabe magician. That’s the story of Isaac Newton. He spent more than half his

time on alchemy, trying to create gold. Again connects to our — he failed. All he succeeded

in doing was poisoning himself with mercury, from which he died.

But the point is, the other part of his time he spent on mathematics and physics. And we

remember him for that because his physics was the magic that worked.

And he figured out how — the laws of motion, not by studying every day things on earth,

but by staring at the heavens and the data from the planets, which told him how mechanics

works, how gravitation worked. And they work in truly magical ways. They obey mathematical

laws, which govern them to phenomenal precision. And, of course, the laws he discovered are

the foundation for all of engineering and all the projects we do today. But this basic

discovery of magic in the world underlies all of modern science and technology. And

following Newton came Maxwell, who discovered — who tried to reconcile magnetism with electricity

mathematically and in a single picture. And, in resolving the contradictions, discovered

what light is. This is probably the greatest discovery of all time in physic. To figure

out some equations and suddenly it emerges. This is light. This is radio waves.

And then came Einstein, who had to reconcile what Maxwell did with what Newton did and,

in so doing, discovered relativity and space time, the fact space and time are unified.

And, yes, I’m happy to answer questions afterwards on those very fast neutrinos which were seen

last week but probably not going faster than the speed of light.

[ Laughter ]>>Neil Turok: And so Einstein paved the way

for all of modern physics in the 20th century. And it’s been a fantastic enterprise, which,

unfortunately, has been hidden from most people. Because this enterprise of unraveling all

the laws of nature has been phenomenally successful. And so here’s a single formula that summarizes

all known physics in one line. Okay? We have Schrödinger, who discovered that the world

is not deterministic. It’s described by an amplitude, which tells us the possibilities.

And the probabilities for everything. We have Planck, who discovered quantization and just

survives as a constant in this formula. The square root of minus one, a mathematical idea,

seems intrinsic in physics. Newton also, and he survives as a constant. Because Einstein

discovered the real law of space time and gravity, at least the one we have for the

moment. Maxwell discovered electricity, magnetism, and light generalized by Yang and Mills to

the force — the weak and the strong force of nuclear physics. And then Dirac discovered

the equation, which describes three quarters of the known particles — the electrons, protons,

the quarks, neutrinos, all of these particles. And then Kobayashi-Maskawa and Yukawa discovered

how particles get their mass by introducing this term in Dirac’s theory. And this phi

is the mass. The origin of mass is the Higgs Field. And, you know, the greatest experiment

of all time, the Large Hadron Collider, is running right now.

And over the next six months, if not sooner, we should know if the Higgs Field exists,

if this formula is correct. So it’s an amazingly accurate and complete picture of the basic

laws of nature, which is — which is without equal, without parallel in science. Using

this formula, you can calculate quantities to one part in a trillion. And they are correct.

And so I would really claim this is indeed magic that works.

Our mathematical understanding of the world is incredibly powerful. It’s our most valuable

possession. I’m sorry, but money doesn’t grab me. But this does.

Understanding of the world really does. It’s completely free to share. You can explain

this equation to somebody from Bangladesh or Cameroon. And, with enough effort, they

will understand it. It’s written in Greek, by the way, you will

notice, in homage to the Greeks. But the most interesting thing about it is

it’s just the beginning. This is not the final story. We know there are deep mathematical

inconsistencies in that formula. There are infinities we can’t get rid of. They hint

at a deeper underlying formula which will be even more fundamental than this one. So

this search for the fundamental description of nature is only beginning

Well, for myself, when I went into theoretical physics, I was drawn into cosmology, understanding

the whole universe. It’s absolutely ridiculous that it works. It’s crazy that there’s this

subject. We can’t understand how bacteria works. And yet modeling the whole universe

turns out to be amazingly simple. We have the equations. We can calculate. We can make

predictions. I’ve done it myself. We predicted what would be seen when satellites like this

mapped the whole cosmic sky, the radiation from the big bang. And the predictions agreed.

It’s phenomenal. We have no right to understand the whole universe, but we do.

And so I pursued my career at Princeton and then at Cambridge where I got to work with

Stephen Hawking on the beginning of the universe. And, if you want to talk about that, I’m happy

to come back some other time. But, even as I was working on this field,

I kept worrying about Africa. I’d left those wonderful kids behind. As you

feel about your country, I feel about mine. And, in fact, I feel we should all — because

we all come from Africa. Africa is the birthplace of humanity. And I couldn’t help feeling there’s

something, you know, I need to do. And by then my parents had gone back. They

were both elected to Parliament. And South Africa now had a fledgling democracy. Interestingly,

my father is now chair of the ethics committee in Parliament responsible for rooting out

corruption within South African Parliament. So, worrying about South Africa, I went back.

And what could I do? Cosmologist is practically the most useless person on the planet. It’s

not going to make you any money. It’s never going to lead to a commercial application.

But what could I do? It turned out that maths and science was a

strategic problem for Africa. If you don’t have maths and you don’t have

science, you will not enter the modern age. It’s as simple as that.

And so I went back and helped to found a new institute, The African Institute for Mathematical

Sciences. We bought a derelict hotel and converted it into a state-of-the-art postgraduate education

facility, recruiting the best students from all over Africa in maths, physics, engineering,

computer science; put them in a hotel; brought the best lecturers in the world to teach them.

And they would come, because they’re interested in Africa.

And we did this as an experiment. How would it work?

The amazing thing is it worked brilliantly. And what it showed me, as somebody who had

worked at Princeton and Cambridge, these prestigious institutions, is they are not the answer.

There are plenty of spaces for much more innovative educational centers in the world. And, frankly,

I think that’s where the future will go. It will go to enterprise. Enterprise should be

attached to education and science. And this was our little attempt at educational entrepreneurship.

Here in this picture — so AIMS has operated for eight years now very successfully. We

have 415 students have passed through AIMS. And 95% of our alumni have gone to masters

in Ph.D. across all of science. And some of them work in the most advanced scientific

projects in the world. One works at the Large Hadron Collider. Another at National Institutes

of Health on HIV/AIDS. Another is a top financial modeler in the City of London. He’s a failure,

because it wasn’t our intention to help London resolve its financial crisis. But there he

is. He’s practically a genius. And he works at Barclay’s Bank in the city of London. But

78% of them remain in Africa. They are filling university positions. They’re working in companies.

They’re working in governments, in research centers. And they’re beginning to form the

skills base which will drive Africa’s development. In 2008 we launched, based on the success

of the center — and I could talk for an our about it. We really thought everything, the

traditional university model is running out of steam. It really needs recreating. The

style of teaching needs changing. It’s got to be interactive. You’ve got to treat students

for their potential, not — you don’t judge them and say, “You are a failure.” “You are

a success.” You’ve got to see that potential in them and let that emerge and let them develop

their minds. Don’t tell them what to think. Allow them to. That’s the spirit of the center,

and it’s been phenomenally successful. In 2008, the head of NASA, Michael Griffin, came

with Stephen Hawking and two Nobel prize winners to help us launch a new plan. And the plan

was to create 15 of these centers all over Africa within a decade. We called it the next

Einstein initiative, because it’s our dream that the next Einstein will be an African.

In 2010 one of our alumni spoke at the T.E.D. Conference. I just want to tell you a little

bit about her. Daphney Singo, from a rural province in northern South Africa. She’s wearing

her traditional tribal dress. But she’s actually just finishing a Ph.D.

in nuclear engineering. And she will be one of the leaders of technology in Africa in

the future. And she gave this talk at T.E.D., which brought

2,000 people to their feet when she quoted her mother, who was a domestic servant — her

father was an alcoholic, and her mother was a domestic servant who put her through school

and told her daughter these words, that “education is the husband that will never let you down.”

[ Laughter ]>>Neil Turok: And just two weeks ago we opened

our second center in Senegal in a beautiful ecological reserve just south of Dakar by

the sea. Virgin natural forest. And that’s the center. It’s in a renovated facility.

A big building is under construction. And over here you’ll see the first group of students,

35 students from 20 different countries, including our first Somali AIMS student. And together

they are entering their graduate careers. And I’m sure we’re going to see them do remarkable

things. The director is over here next to me, Mamadou

Sanghare. He’s one of Africa’s most distinguished mathematicians. And next to him Klaus Von

Klitzing is a German Nobel prize winner from 1985. And there’s some are solar panels, which

were donated by a German company. Here is Klaus doing what we do at AIMS. You

see, AIMS is a place of joy. It’s a center where the whole person is nurtured. One of

the most important outcomes of AIMS is the students come in. And they have been, frankly,

traumatized as young people in Africa by all the adversity they faced. AIMS is a safe house.

And they really thrive within this supportive environment. And AIMS — every party, of course,

being Africa, is a lot of dancing. And here we are celebrating the opening of AIMS Senegal.

I’m going to skip this. Well, that’s part of my life. The other part

is my cosmology and my physics. And so, while I was busy setting up AIMS, there was a far

more enterprising person in Canada by the name of Mike Lazaridis, the inventor of the

BlackBerry. Mike is a very, very rare individual who spotted an opportunity, in my opinion,

that everyone had missed. Not just smartphones, which he invented, but an even more profound

one. When Mike made a fortune out of smartphones, he wanted to start something. He said, “I

want to go to the root of innovation. I want to support the foundations of all innovation.

What is that? It’s theoretical physics. I’m going to fund a center for theoretical physics

in Waterloo, Canada, called the Perimeter Institute.”

And many of the philosophy is the same as at AIMS. It’s a public/private partnership.

It’s entrepreneurial. It moves quickly. It’s — it has an extremely ambitious goal,

which I’ll tell you about. Its focus is on quantum theory and space time. These are the

two most fundamental notions in physics and, actually, all of science. The laws of physics,

the arena for physics. Here’s a picture of a vacuum. The vacuum in physics is one of

the most interesting things. Everything is fluctuating in and out of existence all the

time due to quantum effects. And, as we now know from observations, the vacuum has energy,

which is one of the most mysterious things in physics. Where did that energy come from?

So Perimeter set its goal as a deeper understanding of quantum theory and space time. And, as

a professor at Cambridge, I was shocked. How could you be so daring as to declare that

you are going to stimulate new breakthroughs in our understanding of these things. But

that was the intention. And so three years ago, I moved to Perimeter

and AIMS became part of the outreach mission of Perimeter. So these things are now organizationally

connected. And Stephen Hawking, my colleague from Cambridge, came with us to help conceptualize

what we would do. I remember when I told Stephen, “I’m thinking

about moving to Canada, because the guy who invented the smartphone loves physics, and

he’s founded a center that — dedicated to quantum theory and space time.” I sort of

said it without thinking. And Stephen’s eyes just lit up, “What? How

could anyone do something like that?” And so Stephen came and helped us conceive

of an expansion of the Perimeter Institute called the Stephen Hawking Center, which we

opened last week. And it’s a spectacular place.

The whole facility can house 250 researchers in the foundation’s or physics of theoretical

physics. It’s a very interactive — it’s like a space

ship, basically, this building, a mixture between a space ship and a play house. And

that’s the spirit in which we run it. Here, I have a diagram which — which echoes

Eike’s diagram. How — There was no arrangement in advance.

But we are in the zone. [ Laughter ]

>>Neil Turok: We’re absolutely in the zone. You see — pardon?

>>>(Off mike.)>>Neil Turok: Didn’t get it. So the foundations

of the subject, quantum theory, quantum information, quantum foundations, space time, quantum gravity

and string theory are leading approaches to space time.

Then we have physics on small, medium, and large scales, particles, condensed matter,

cosmology, and complex systems. But, you see, what’s really important is that Perimeter’s

at the center of all these things. One of my favorite sayings at Perimeter is, there

are no groups. People say how many postdocs for our group this year? What groups? There

are no groups. What we’re all about is collisions between

different approaches which will lead to something genuinely new.

And so we — you see, this is one of the diseases of academia, you have physics and math and

engineering and computer science. Then within those departments, they fragment into groups

and they all fight each other for resources, and everything slows down.

At Perimeter, no, we have research focuses which bring people together, and I’ll show

you just three of them, our top priorities. One of them is quantum field theory and particle

physics. These are the fundamental description of particles and forces is quantum field theory.

And particle physics, as I said, now has the greatest experiment of all time going, the

large hadron collider. It’s a huge area of opportunity where techniques from all these

fields are actually combining. And Perimeter has, as I’ll show you, the leading young group

in the world in that field of developing our fundamental description of particle physics.

Black holes, we’re about to be able to observe black holes. These are the most weird objects

in the universe. If you fall in, you never come out.

But there’s one in the middle of our galaxy. It’s about a million solar masses. And as

I’ll show you, we are about to see it in exquisite detail.

And then quantum materials. This is the next basis, the next technological revolution.

You see, all the devices you use — I mean, what’s a BlackBerry or iPhone? It’s just theoretical

physics in a box. That’s all it is. And the transistor was invented by a theoretical

physicist. Maxwell discovered the laws of radio waves. That’s what’s in one of those

devices, just theoretical physics. Quantum mechanics is a whole new horizon of

a type of materials which will drive the quantum electronics of the future, which will be infinitely

more powerful than what we use today. So quantum fields and particle physics. Here

is CERN, the large hadron collider, 27-kilometer tunnel underground. And there we have black

holes. And this is a futuristic picture of an experiment called Lisa, which will be in

space, we hope, in ten or so years, which will detect gravitational waves, waves in

space time, produced when black holes merge. And so you see our field is all about young

people. It’s about finding the most gifted, talented people worldwide, getting them as

quickly as possible to a center where they can develop their potential.

So here we have a Portuguese, an Italian, an American, a Colombian, an Israeli. These

are our brilliant young quantum fields and particle physics researchers at Perimeter.

In black holes, here’s a picture of two black holes merging and emitting — spewing out

gravitational waves, which will be seen by detectors like this one, LIGO, one kilometer

arms on a side in — there are two such stations. And they will detect these signals produced

by gravitational — by black holes colliding. So Perimeter has joined LIGO, this experiment.

And — and there are other techniques using neutron stars. You — you observe neutron

stars and, essentially, use them as a giant gravity-wave telescope.

And these are some of the young people. This person, Avery Broderick, is the first person

to ever make an image of the black hole at the center of our galaxy. He did that last

year. And over the next few years, that image is going to become more and more refined so

that we really see the shadow of the black hole.

In quantum materials, just last week, and this goes back to Newton, we’ve just appointed

a chair at Perimeter called the Newton chair. One of the strange things is that there was

no chair in the world named for Isaac Newton. Just think about that. The founder of modern

science and mathematics and nobody thought to name a chair after him.

Well, we have. And we’ll be announcing four more chairs for Maxwell, Bohr, Einstein, and

Dirac, to really build strength and depth, so we have 50 faculty out of 250 researchers.

Because we have a saying at Perimeter that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s

technology. And if you look at history, it’s blindingly obvious this is the case.

Why should it not be true in the future? And we believe it will be.

This is what others are saying about us. And let me go back at the end to this picture.

I hope I have convinced you that there’s plenty of space for enterprise in the field of advanced

knowledge of sharing and creating advanced knowledge.

We need to — we need more of these places. We need more places in the world where people

generate important discoveries. And I would say thanks to companies like Google

and people like all of you, the world is speeding up. Traditional institutions like universities

and research centers move slowly. We need 21-century spaces and communities

which advance the frontiers of understanding and create the breakthroughs which will define

our future. Thank you.

[ Applause ]

Does Neil Turok play Armis?

thats amazing.. i think he should be given some huge reward for the african centers for mathematical physics, he's done a service for a whole continent imo xD

Neil Turok, i have watched many of your talks and to put it simply, you are my favorite living scientist. I agree with almost anything you say and i find you a perfect scientific role model. But what you said about Newton being the greatest mathematician of all time is completely out of line. If there is one person that can claim that title, that would have to be Archimedes. Just consider that his bust is on the Fields Metal, the Nobel prize for mathematics. He was essentially using calculus (and much more) more than 1500 years before they were "invented" in the 17th century. Whoever does not believe this, please do your own research about Archimedes and find out for yourself.

I had no idea Turok was a rabid leftard – too bad.