Page 6 - 2012-01-20

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In my high school electronics shop, Mr. Micsinszki had one rule. If you wanted to use a piece of
machinery, you had to read the manual first. Then he would ask you questions about how to use
the instrument, and if you answered correctly, you were allowed to open the box. By the time
summer came, I had opened every box in that laboratory. A lot of ideas came out of those boxes.
Perimeter’s scientists are reading the manual for the universe itself. This manual – physics –
underlies all the technologies of our modern world. The BlackBerry, for example, is theoretical
physics in a box: it’s the commercialization of breakthroughs made by physicists like Maxwell and
Hertz, more than a hundred years ago.
The other thing I learned from Mr. Micsinszki was vision. In his class, I was excited to be building
computers and learning how they worked. He told me to be careful not to focus too narrowly. “In
the future,” he said, “electronics, computers, and wireless are all going to combine, and that’s
going to be the next big thing.”
That too is something I often remember: If you only work to solve today’s problems, you’ll never
find tomorrow’s solutions.
In that spirit, I’d like to salute our partners. This year, the Government of Canada and the Province
of Ontario announced renewed support of $50 million each for the Perimeter Institute.
Private partners, too, have been both generous and visionary. I think particularly of the BMO
Financial Group, which this year gave Perimeter the largest gift it’s ever made to support science:
$4 million to establish the BMO Financial Group Isaac Newton Chair in Theoretical Physics. Xiao-
Gang Wen of MIT, an internationally renowned theorist, will become the first Chairholder.