Templeton Foundation News

The Simons Foundation isn’t the only one announcing funding opportunities in math and physics. The Templeton Foundation’s list of funding priorities for 2010 is here, with applications opening February 1. In math and physics the topics they want to support research in are:

  • Quantum Physics and the Nature of Reality
  • and

  • Foundational Questions in the Mathematics Sciences
  • At least for 2010, they seem to have lost interest in the Multiverse.

    Templeton is also supporting a member of the Harvard Math Department in a big way, with a grant of $10 million to math professor Martin Nowak to fund a program in Foundational Questions in Evolutionary Biology.

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    7 Responses to Templeton Foundation News

    1. Marcus says:

      In the grant description, I’m curious what this means:
      ==quote==
      “missing knowledge problems”, such as in the origins of biological creativity, the deep logics of biological dynamics and biological ontology, and understandings of teleology and concepts of ultimate purpose in the context of evolution.
      ==endquote==

      Here’s the grant description link that Peter gave:
      http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~fqeb/
      It links to a page on the principal recipient Martin Nowak:
      http://www.ped.fas.harvard.edu/people/faculty/

    2. Peter Woit says:

      Marcus,

      I think the next sentence elucidates the meaning:

      “These specific kinds of knowledge are directly relevant to a wide range of philosophical and theological discussions and debates.”

      or roughly translated:

      “If I can relate my specialty of the mathematics of dynamical systems applied to biology somehow to theology, there’s 10 million bucks in it…”

    3. Yatima says:

      Hmmm… “teleology and ultimate purpose in the context of evolution”. Well, that river opens up into cargo cult ocean. Looking for purpose in evolution is like looking for a sculptor in a limestone cave.

      Seriously though, hasn’t Arthur C. Clarke or NewScientist been all over that problem already?

    4. neo says:

      IMO, this is something best judged by results rather than intent. And if the money is wasted (the results are bogus), too bad for science, but it is Templeton’s money to waste (except for the tax deduction).

    5. Low Math, Meekly Interacting says:

      Perhaps the most significant aspect of Darwin’s achievement was to make the make the absence of the need for teleological arguments virtually irrefutable. This in the mid-19th century. Resuscitating teleology is about as progressive as bringing the luminiferous aether back to explanations of Lorentz transformations.

    6. Anonymous P says:

      There may be room for disagreement about the value of Martin Novak’s research, but I’ve looked at it, and it certainly falls under the category of real science. the reference to teleology appears to be misleading here.

      P

    7. The Baron says:

      The class I took from Professor Nowak was probably the most fascinating one I’ve ever enrolled in. The interdiscliplinary nature of the scholarship coming out of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics is simply stunning, as is Professor Nowak’s intellect. A well-deserved award.