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The Billionaire Mathematician

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the not-enough-room-in-the-margin-for-all-these-benjamins dept.

Math 96

An anonymous reader writes Dr. James Simons received his doctorate at the age of 23. He was breaking codes for the NSA at 26, and was put in charge of Stony Brook University's math department at 30. He received the Veblen Prize in Geometry in 1976. Today, he's a multi-billionaire, using his fortune to set up educational foundations for math and science. "His passion, however, is basic research — the risky, freewheeling type. He recently financed new telescopes in the Chilean Andes that will look for faint ripples of light from the Big Bang, the theorized birth of the universe. The afternoon of the interview, he planned to speak to Stanford physicists eager to detect the axion, a ghostly particle thought to permeate the cosmos but long stuck in theoretical limbo. Their endeavor 'could be very exciting,' he said, his mood palpable, like that of a kid in a candy store." Dr. Simons is quick to say this his persistence, more than his intelligence, is key to his success: "I wasn't the fastest guy in the world. I wouldn't have done well in an Olympiad or a math contest. But I like to ponder. And pondering things, just sort of thinking about it and thinking about it, turns out to be a pretty good approach."

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education (4, Insightful)

Joe Johnson (3720117) | about 4 months ago | (#47413177)

This is why I tell people to stay in school. Even if you're smarter than most, you have a lot to learn.

Re:education (3, Funny)

m00sh (2538182) | about 4 months ago | (#47413417)

This is why I tell people to stay in school. Even if you're smarter than most, you have a lot to learn.

Nah, man. Bill Gates dropped out and he's richer than this guy.

Drop out. You'll make more money.

Re:education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413707)

Even if you do make more money, how useful will you be by dropping out?

Re:education (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about 4 months ago | (#47413809)

" Very useful! "
- Mr. McAfee and friends

Re:education (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413459)

Please don't. I work at a university and the last thing we need is more untalented/uninterested twits doing it for the money.

Thank you.

Re:education (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 4 months ago | (#47413789)

Mod parent up. We need fewer students in university, not more. You really should only go to university if you're passionate about some subject and want to learn more about it, but that's not why most students are there.

Re:education (2)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about 4 months ago | (#47413875)

Perhaps, if you one day you find yourself teaching a bunch of uninterested twits as a non union, non tenured contractor, you might wanna throw that into the equation.
Besides, if we can't saddle a bunch of dummies with debt early on, this whole national socialist experiment we got going on is gonna get rough.

Re:education (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413943)

National socialist?

You keep using that word, I don't think it means what you think it means

Re:education (1)

radiumsoup (741987) | about 4 months ago | (#47415051)

Small "n" national, dimwit. If he meant to say what you're accusing of him of saying, he would have put "Nazi" instead, which very obviously doesn't fit in the context.

Re:education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47416387)

The US is clearly a fascist socialist democracy, a fazi (fah-tzee) nation.

Re:education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47416811)

Fools, We live in a Corporatocracy/Oligarchy/Federation.

Re:education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47423795)

Some how people think having a post office makes us socialist.

Re:education (2)

parkinglot777 (2563877) | about 4 months ago | (#47414119)

We need fewer students in university, not more.

Perhaps, if you one day you find yourself teaching a bunch of uninterested twits as a non union, non tenured contractor, you might wanna throw that into the equation.

Perhaps, unless you are the mentioned person of the parent post, who is a teacher, a non-union, and a non-tenured, you should not want fewer students. Why? Think about it. If there are not many students, why do they need to hire more adjunct/instructors for when they already have enough tenured? Even though the money from tuition does not make as much profit as research grants, it does provide steady revenue to the school. Also, the larger the student body, the more tuition they earn. If the number of students is small enough for faculty people to handle, then there would be no need of adjunct professors or instructors. Then the mentioned person in the parent post will come out and make a different complaint...

Schools in the U.S. is operating in the way to maximize the profit (even with public schools). Getting a couple extra students into a class is extra money for them. So there is no reason for them to try to stay at the minimum number of students per class, but rather try to pack as close to the maximum as they can. Student loan is the student personal problem, not the school, because the student makes his/her own decision to go for. One can argue the issue with student loan from a for-profit private school (that it is the school that lure/entice students into more debt), but that would be a different story.

Re:education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47416349)

Sorry, I'm going to have to agree with Mark Twain on this one: I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

You can learn just as much, if not more about any topic through self-study and actual experience as compared to school. University, even, is not the best place to learn unless you're one of the few that benefits from such an environment.

National Museum of Mathematics (5, Interesting)

cold fjord (826450) | about 4 months ago | (#47413211)

FTA [nytimes.com]

Nearby, on Madison Square Park, is the National Museum of Mathematics, or MoMath [momath.org] , an educational center he helped finance. It opened in 2012 and has had a quarter million visitors.

Amazing, 250k visitors to a math museum? Who knew?

Simons Foundation - MoMath [simonsfoundation.org]

Re:National Museum of Mathematics (2)

zurmikopa (460568) | about 4 months ago | (#47415061)

I went there with my son who was 3 at the time as well as my wife. It was fun and they had some neat things. Some of the exhibits were clearer than others. The light-floor, for example, was great for kids to entertain themselves on, but actually figuring out what was going on could be tricky, even if you read the description. (This is because it cycled through a number of algorithms.)

grigori perelman and this guy walk into a bar (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413219)

james says "Hi Grigori, i have a billion dollars"

grigori says. "i am not interested in money"

james says "I graduated top honors, went to many three letter acronyms, and started a mega-company"

grigori says "i am not interested in fame"

james says "i am kind of a big deal. i have been featured in books and now on slashdot"

grigori says "i wouldnt want to be like an animal in a zoo, on display"

james says "i have given millions to charities, all kinds of charities, to encourage STEM"..

grigori says "You are disturbing me. I am picking mushrooms,"

Re:grigori perelman and this guy walk into a bar (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413263)

james says "what about you?"

grigori says "I declined a Fields Medal...#badass"

Re:grigori perelman and this guy walk into a bar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413637)

It perversely makes me think of The Adventures of Pinocchio [gutenberg.org] . In the story Pinocchio turns into a donkey, a beast of burden, because he skips school and has fun instead. Grigori is the reverse, somebody who very likely found success in their efforts by not becoming another cog in the machine, i.e. going to college for years and then chasing green all their days.

Re:grigori perelman and this guy walk into a bar (2)

CaptainLard (1902452) | about 4 months ago | (#47415065)

james says "i am kind of a big deal. i have been featured in books and now on slashdot"

I don't think he says that at all. From the article: "He’s an individual of enormous talent and accomplishment, yet he’s completely unpretentious". Thats backed up when they say how he realized his weaknesses and sought out people to complement them with astonishing levels of success. Your post may just be pointing out the contrast between the two personality types but it comes off as ragging on Simons for accepting success and lionizing Perelman for holding true to his unconventional convictions.

Speaking of Perelman, maybe he had to deal with a bunch of jerks who unsuccessfully tried to marginalize his contributions and doesn't like talking to the public but is that any reason to give up your life's passion when you're one of the greatest minds that field has ever seen? Relax, dude.

Re:grigori perelman and this guy walk into a bar (1)

Raenex (947668) | about 4 months ago | (#47422351)

Relax, dude.

And invest in some personal hygiene. Just because you're a genius recluse doesn't mean you have to look like one.

Re:grigori perelman and this guy walk into a bar (1)

Opyros (1153335) | about 4 months ago | (#47416353)

Reminds me of the legendary meeting of Diogenes and Alexander [wikipedia.org] .

Re:grigori perelman and this guy walk into a bar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47417973)

A similar meeting between Archimedes and a Roman soldier didn't go so well...

Being a quant in the early years. (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 4 months ago | (#47413241)

His fund has an impressive trading record. He had the big advantage of starting early, in 1982, when almost nobody was doing automated trading or using advanced statistical methods. Their best years were 1982-1999. Now everybody grinds on vast amounts of data, and it's much tougher to find an edge. Performance for the last few years has been very poor, below the S&P 500. That's before fees.

The fees on his funds are insane. 5% of capital each year, and 45% of profits. Most hedge funds charge 2% and 20%, and even that's starting to slip due to competitive pressure.

Simons retired in 2009. You have to know when to quit.

Re:Being a quant in the early years. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413279)

You have to know when to quit.

It might be more accurate to say that you have to know when to start (not to mention being born at the right time!). If he tried to stay in the game he'd certainly be unable to compete eventually, but it's unlikely that he'd lose his personal fortune in doing so.

Re:Being a quant in the early years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413535)

Even better would be to be born into a rich family, then you don't know how to do anything. The only thing you need is an ancestor that did a land-grab back in the days when you could claim to be first to a spot as long as you buried anyone who was there before you.

Re:Being a quant in the early years. (1)

radiumsoup (741987) | about 4 months ago | (#47415069)

Don't be delusional. What you describe is the exception, not the norm. http://www.fidelity.com/inside... [fidelity.com]

Re:Being a quant in the early years. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413801)

It might be more accurate to say that you have to know when to start (not to mention being born at the right time!).

"Being born at the right time" only happens in hindsight. The people who really made assloads of money doing quantitative trading are the people who invented the practice. If you're clever enough to invent a whole new discipline, then there will be naysayers who dismiss you as "being born at the right time."

If human history demonstrates anything, it is that there is always the opportunity for revolutionary technology. Everything has not been invented, and there will be some new thing that enormously disrupts our way of life. To create that new thing, or at least to recognize it when someone cleverer that you creates it, is to be born at the right time.

Re:Being a quant in the early years. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413555)

If he starts to fly around the world with his corporate jet and reserves an ISS passenger slot for his final weeks, we know who to call if an alien message is received by VLA from Vega.

Re:Being a quant in the early years. (1)

GTRacer (234395) | about 4 months ago | (#47414567)

I think I love you, AC! Assuming this was a Contact reference ^^

Re:Being a quant in the early years. (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 4 months ago | (#47420847)

His fund has an impressive trading record. He had the big advantage of starting early, in 1982, when almost nobody was doing automated trading or using advanced statistical methods. Their best years were 1982-1999. Now everybody grinds on vast amounts of data, and it's much tougher to find an edge. Performance for the last few years has been very poor, below the S&P 500. That's before fees.

So then was it a fluke or not?

Dice Slashdot Whores (-1, Troll)

oldhack (1037484) | about 4 months ago | (#47413259)

You "editors" are lower than TMZ fuckwits.

Glad to see someone say that (5, Insightful)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | about 4 months ago | (#47413289)

Dr. Simons is quick to say this his persistence, more than his intelligence, is key to his success

So very true. So often those with natural talent give up when they first encounter difficulty, where the slow learners just keep going.

Except that they put time limits on (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413413)

I.Q. tests, aptitude tests, and just about all other tests. Makes you wonder if the entire examination dichotomy is wrong.

Re:Except that they put time limits on (1)

Megol (3135005) | about 4 months ago | (#47416961)

I'd say so. I've met people with IQ >150 that can't do much and people 90 IQ (estimated) that are capable of amazing things. Passion and the ability to push on to do what they want makes a huge difference.

Re:Except that they put time limits on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47417435)

Higher level IQ tests do not, specifically limit a time, a span of 30 days may be available.

Re:Glad to see someone say that (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413683)

But then you have to ask: how many people like him failed to achieve anything they wanted because they remained persistent at the wrong thing?

Re:Glad to see someone say that (3, Insightful)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | about 4 months ago | (#47413927)

I think it depends on why you are persisting. I think the best results in science, music, etc come from those who persist because they love what they are doing, as oppose to those who persist because of a perception of talent or prestige or obligation.

re: glad to see someone say that (1)

ed.han (444783) | about 4 months ago | (#47414847)

there was an article recently talking about the importance of praising children for effort rather than results:

NYT: link. [nytimes.com]

ed

Re: glad to see someone say that (1)

ed.han (444783) | about 4 months ago | (#47414857)

correction: not recently: my bad.

ed

Re: glad to see someone say that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47415655)

That article begins by saying it is better to praise effort than intelligence (not results). Personally I think this was just another one of those self serving studies. Why not praise both? My attitude is, it doesn't matter how innately intelligent you are, it is focus and effort that determines the level of success. I know this from experience because I'm not very focused and want to help my kids do better than I have managed thus far.

Re: glad to see someone say that (1)

Megol (3135005) | about 4 months ago | (#47416985)

Results != intelligence.

Burn the heretic! Nuke it from orbit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413303)

It's the only way to be sure.

Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (-1, Flamebait)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 4 months ago | (#47413339)

"hundreds of millions of people are dying of thirst all around the world... ...so your charity was to supply them with clean water, right"

"No. I built a huge telescope to look for ripples from the theorised big bang."

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 4 months ago | (#47413357)

PS this is only a joke.

I am sure that he gives a lot to poor people too.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (2)

grouchomarxist (127479) | about 4 months ago | (#47413503)

According to wikipedia he contributes to Nepalese healthcare.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 4 months ago | (#47413583)

That's nice for the Nepalese people.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | about 4 months ago | (#47413427)

Humans nearly died out entirely from hunger and thirst, it was visionaries that led them out of a dying region of Africa into Asia, by a route that appeared to defy reason to any non-visionary of the time.

Pre-humans nearly had their brains the size of a grapefruit and wired backwards. It was visionaries who developed fire, 2.5 million years ago, providing the much-needed nutrition that allowed us to avoid the same fate as every other lineage of hominid.

Visionaries allowed the Norse to split quartz in a way that permitted them to track the sun even in cloudy skies and well into twilight, giving them greater access to the seas, trade and food than any other society of that time.

Visionaries developed cities to handle the logistics of the brewing and baking industries, again counter to any "obvious" logic that farming and hunting were how you got food.

Visionaries are the reason you can post stuff on the Internet, and why persecuted minorities around the world can have a voice and education.

So don't tell a visionary that he is defying your common sense. His work may have implications for society that you cannot imagine simply because he has the imagination and you don't. That does not mean that it will have such an implication or that he does have that extra imagination. It simply means that visionaries have a track record of saving people from starvation.

What about normal people? Those are usually the ones who manufacture conditions suitable for mass starvation. They're the ones who create nothing but buy the rights to sue to oblivion those who do. They're the ones who have allowed security holes to develop in critical infrastructure, like nuclear power stations, and then place said infrastructure on the public Internet where anybody can play with it. They're the ones who deny Global Warming and have endangered all life on this planet.

At this point in history, we'd be better off if the normal people were rounded up, put on some nowhere continent, and left to rot at their own hands. This would also solve much of the operpopulation crisis, as they're also the ones that breed morons like rabbits. If they choose to become civilized, they're free to do so. That would be helpful, in fact. But as long as they remain normal (read: proto-human), their fate is their lookout but they've no business making it everyone else's fate too.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413461)

Pre-humans nearly had their brains the size of a grapefruit and wired backwards.

As a med student with an engineering degree, please accept my fervent assurances that the modern human brain is wired backwards.

Imagine the worst layer-violating spaghetti code running on a bunch of servers in a dusty wiring closet with the most fucked up rat's nest interconnect patch panel from your most fevered dreams. Then imagine someone said, "Brilliant! Let's build billions of copies exactly like this! We'll rule the world with our superior design!"

Sometimes it amuses me how offensive my brain finds its own system to be. It's hard to countenance as an engineer...

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (4, Insightful)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 4 months ago | (#47413577)

Everything you write about humanity all those many years ago is pure speculation. I am not going to get into a debate about it with you though because you sound like a bit of a tosser.

In any event, the post was kind of a joke. Not a serious criticism of your great worship-worthy master "visionary". Now go away and suck on his arse!

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47414619)

You say "it was only a joke", but then I can see from this post that you really do despise the guy. Despite you saying it was a joke, clearly it was not.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47418521)

The joke here is your reading comprehension. GP was mocking the GGP post by calling it a joke. He really does despise the guy and he thinks the guy's expounded position is a joke.

Here's your first hint: your "quote" of the GP is not in his post... he never actually said what you claim he did.

Lest you feel left out, I despise *you*. Please die in a fire.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 4 months ago | (#47421251)

I certainly do not despise him. He is the one of the most successful algo traders in history.

You are a twat.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

jd (1658) | about 4 months ago | (#47464203)

No, you're not getting into a discussion because after googling you found it's not speculation at all and you'd hate to lose an argument with someone whose UID is so short he was probably there.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 4 months ago | (#47464383)

Er, no. There was a world before Google, I lived in it, I learnt in it.

1. What you wrote was called speculation then, and it is called speculation now.
2. You are a bit late to the party! By about 5 days.

Re: Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413701)

The list is incomplete without mentioning Hitler, Stalin, Mao among many others.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

GoChickenFat (743372) | about 4 months ago | (#47414213)

Can I select you for the 'nowhere continent"?

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 4 months ago | (#47416031)

No, clearly he is superior.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

jd (1658) | about 4 months ago | (#47464189)

Sorry, SELECT statements don't work on UIDs of four digits or less.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (2)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | about 4 months ago | (#47413947)

When people don't have enough water, giving them water is only a temporary solution. If they won't create the policies necessary to have a sustainable clean water supply, then it is pointless to give them anything.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (0)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 4 months ago | (#47414081)

Oh. Just let them die of thirst then.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (2)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | about 4 months ago | (#47414305)

In the war between the reality of the universe and your feelings, the universe will win. Keep ignoring reason because it is emotionally unpleasant and you'll just be joining the losing side.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 4 months ago | (#47414849)

Not at all. If fact I am a very emotionally unpleasant person. My personal view is that we should not do any charity apart from domestically. Including supplying water. Let's face it, most people who die of thirst/famine are black and have never in 100,000's years done anything to build a technology to help them to survive. It is not my problem that they are too stupid to figure out how to obtain a continuous and adequate supply of clean water!

So like I wrote before: "Just let them die of thirst then."

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (2)

vakuona (788200) | about 4 months ago | (#47420489)

Let's face it, most people who die of thirst/famine are black and have never in 100,000's years done anything to build a technology to help them to survive. It is not my problem that they are too stupid to figure out how to obtain a continuous and adequate supply of clean water!

Besides the obviously racist connotation, you are seriously misinformed.

They didn't "figure" it out because they didn't have to. They survived millions of years because they developed appropriate technology for their needs. They lived in a much more forgiving climate (except for tropical diseases) which didn't necessitate their developing all these fancy gizmos. Unfortunately, much of Africa is water stressed in ways that many parts of Europe just aren't, and no amount of engineering available until a few decades ago could help you there.

These black people built aqueducts and pyramids in Egypt, and built rather impressive cities all over Africa. Well before anyone else was building anything remotely comparable. So, they (we) are not as useless as you imagine.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 4 months ago | (#47421175)

1. If you read the tone of the thread then you will discover that there is a sense of sarcasm in my writing there. The idea that as a Christian nation we should not help people who are dying of thirst, no matter who they are or how they came to be thirsty, does certainly deserve some sarcasm.

2. Since you raised several points, let's discuss:

a) "Besides the obviously racist connotation"
Well you can't discuss planetary thirst and how thirsty people became thirsty without discussing Black people since they are mainly the ones who are thirsty and you can't discuss Black people as a group without having a "racist connotation".

A digression:
Do you believe in Freedom Of Speech, or not? What does it mean to "believe" in something? It means that you will promote it and not discourage it. Well your actions in trying to call me a "racist" are an action which attempt to discourage free speech. So think about it before you go around throwing labels at people you disagree with. Think about what you are doing: You are saying, "I do not believe in your right to speak freely and will try to shame you into not speaking your mind by calling you a racist, which I know is a loaded word that works in 99% of cases to completely close down any discussion".

It is about time that you, and many others, learnt to allow people to discuss a topic that you find uncomfortable without trying to close down the discussion by screaming "racist", "hater", "homophobe", "sexist", "anti semite" etc... Words which are designed with one purpose in mind: To close down any discussion. To deny truly free speech by attempting to add a bad social stigma to your adversary. So that people who might agree with my side but do not have the guts to withstand being called a "racist" will just be silent and deny themselves the right to speak freely. Well, bucko, I do have the right to free speech and you trying to attach stigma words to me is not going to shut me up.

Have you heard of the saying? If you want to know what a Liberal thinks about free speech, say something they disagree with and you will find out from their Lawyers!

End digression.

b) "They didn't "figure" it out because they didn't have to. "
Well, as evidenced by their current thirst it appears that they did have to! ... er, but didn't.

c)"They survived millions of years because they developed appropriate technology for their needs."
Technology? Please show us the link to the AfroFone which was on the African market millions of years ago. "Technology". Come on. Pull the other one. When Africa was discovered by Whites, what did they find? Did they find civilized Blacks who had built transport systems, commerce, education, hospitals, publishing, legal systems, well trained armies, a navy, an airforce etc..? No. They did not. You just said yourself that they didn't do anything like that, with the excuse that it was because they did not have to due to their "forgiving environment".

But was their environment really so forgiving? No. It was not. Let's go and live in the jungle, you and I will go there tomorrow completely naked, in Africa and see how forgiving we find it. I find it incredible that you think that Africa is a forgiving environment. Have you ever gone into the jungles in Congo by yourself without supplies and tried to survive for even a week?

Also, the different tribes were fighting against each other all of the time. That presents a need for advancements in weaponry and warfare education etc... but they developed none of that in the millions of years that you refer to. It is often said that whites developed technology in modern times mainly to win wars. I don't accept that, but that is the common lore. Well how come the Blacks in Africa did not do the same? Or the Aborigines in Oceania? Or the First Nation people in Canada? Or the North American Indians? They were all constantly at war amongst themselves. They were not a peaceful people living in harmony with nature as the propaganda suggests. Life was a struggle, a struggle against the other tribes, a struggle against other members of the same tribe, and against the extremely harsh environment.

When did the Blacks in Africa invent the hand gun? The Rifle? the Cannon? They had millions of years to do so, unhindered by the evil white man, but all they did was sharpen a few sticks.

d)"These black people built aqueducts and pyramids in Egypt"
Where is the evidence that Black people built aqueducts and pyramids in Egypt? Do you have DNA of people who you can prove did build them? The people who populate North Africa now are very different to the ones who populate the rest of Africa. I do not know the details of whether at some stage they were all very Black like in the rest of Africa or slightly Caucasian as they are now. Surely you can see a, dare I say, racial, different in the two kinds of people.

e) "So, they (we) are not as useless as you imagine."
Certainly Blacks were useless when Whites first came across them, if you define usefulness as the ability to develop advanced technology and what we call civilised society able to defend itself from external foes. Sure, if you define useful in a different way, then you can call them useful.

They did not manage to defend themselves at all because they had not developed any strategies of warfare or technology.

They had not developed anything significant over the millions of years that they were roaming around before they encountered Whites. You cannot blame Racism for stifling their development for those millions of years!

Fast-forward:
What about Blacks in the modern day? Living in the US and Europe. How are they doing? Well a tiny fraction of them are doing very well. But the majority of them are not really doing very well at all. If you go to any area which is populated mainly by Black people then it is hard to conclude that they are a people who are in general "Doing very well".

Whose fault is that? Well, a lot of apologists like to say that it is because of racism. The White man has discriminated against them and that is why they are not doing very well. There is some truth in that. There was a lot of very harsh and cruel discrimination in the past and certainly it is hard to achieve anything when you are in a minority and being discriminated against.

But for many, many, years now, there have been Affirmative Action style programs etc, so we will have to wait and see what happens.

Re: Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47421417)

Ah, the old "I was being sarcastic!" coverup. Great job, asshole.

Re: Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 4 months ago | (#47421469)

Not at all. I have nothing to cover up. The fact is that my original post was sarcastic as you can see from the tone of the thread. But my argument is a serious one. I have hidden nothing - Anonymous Coward! Oh, the irony!

Re: Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 4 months ago | (#47421507)

Why don't you grow some balls, get an account and post a criticism of the content rather than hiding behind Anonymous Coward, calling me an asshole, and accusing me of trying to cover-up with a claim of sarcasm.

If you read what I wrote (assuming you are able to read more than a single sentence in one sitting) then you will see that I wrote "you will discover that there is a sense of sarcasm in my writing there". That is not a claim that it was entirely sarcastic just that there was a sense of sarcasm.

And then I said: But since you want to discuss it - let's discuss.

Now, either grow a pair or fuck off.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 4 months ago | (#47422137)

FYI
"The researchers determined that one of the mummified individuals may belong to an ancestral group, or haplogroup, called I2, believed to have originated in Western Asia. "
http://www.nature.com/news/egy... [nature.com]

"Haplogroup I2 is the most common paternal lineage in former Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria and Sardinia, and a major lineage in most Slavic countries. Its maximum frequencies are observed in Bosnia (55%, including 71% in Bosnian Croats), Sardinia (39.5%), Croatia (38%), Serbia (33%), Montenegro (31%), Romania (28%), Moldova (24%), Macedonia (24%), Slovenia (22%), Bulgaria (22%), Belarus (18.5%), Hungary (18%), Slovakia (17.5%), Ukraine (13.5%), and Albania (13.5%). It is found at a frequency of 5 to 10% in Germanic countries."
http://www.eupedia.com/europe/... [eupedia.com]

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

vakuona (788200) | about 4 months ago | (#47433089)

Oh yes, Europeans just went to Africa to build pyramids without ever thinking to build any where they came from because, you know, that's just how they rolled. Where in the world has that ever happened?

One of the mummified individuals is found who "may" belong to some ancestral group proves what exactly?

What about the other mummified individuals? What about the carving and elaborate caskets and tombs that show people with distinctly African features? Or is anything that doesn't fit your crackpot theory discarded for being too inconvenient?

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47445711)

Not Anonymous just not logged in - am mtthwbrnd

"Oh yes, Europeans just went to Africa to build pyramids without ever thinking to build any where they came from because, you know, that's just how they rolled. Where in the world has that ever happened?" Not sure what your point is here.

"One of the mummified individuals is found who "may" belong to some ancestral group proves what exactly?"
It does not prove anything. But it does show that there is a question mark over the idea that only Blacks inhabited the area and that everything that ever happened there can be ascribed to them despite the fact that they did not ever do anything during hundreds of thousands of years of isolation without the white man to blame for "holding them back".

"What about the other mummified individuals? What about the carving and elaborate caskets and tombs that show people with distinctly African features? "
I never claimed that there were no black people in that area. Of course you will find many black people there.

"Or is anything that doesn't fit your crackpot theory discarded for being too inconvenient?"
I have not given any theory so I am not sure what you are attacking here. You are obviously upset with the fact that black people in Africa were unhindered for so long yet achieved absolutely nothing by way of technological or social development.

When the whites arrived in Africa, as I wrote earlier, they met with a prehistoric, undeveloped and primitive people. If I am wrong then please show the evidence. Please show the evidence of advanced technological development in Africa by black people during the hundreds of thousands of years that they were unhindered by the evil white man.

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47456985)

One of the mummified individuals is found who "may" belong to some ancestral group proves what exactly?

It's not about one individual, there's a large body of evidence pointing in that direction.

What about the other mummified individuals?

Which others? Like the pale ginger Ramesses II., the most famous king of them all?

What about the carving and elaborate caskets and tombs that show people with distinctly African features?

What about them? Nobody claims that there have never been any Nubians at all in Ancient Egypt. They just never lived there in sufficient numbers so as to justify the claim that Ancient Egypt was a country of people with "distinctly African features".

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47456869)

These black people built aqueducts and pyramids in Egypt, and built rather impressive cities all over Africa. Well before anyone else was building anything remotely comparable. So, they (we) are not as useless as you imagine.

These claims are inconsistent with recorded history and with archaeological finds. First, in Egypt, the Ancient Egyptian civilization was built by people practically identical to modern Egyptians, who are definitely not black (and they weren't building any aqueducts, unless of course you're using this as an *extremely* overblown term for humble irrigation ditches). Second, outside Egypt, when other Africans (I assume you are talking about black Africans specifically) were building "rather impressive cities", certainly comparable ones had *already* been built. Witness how there is no mention of any such African cities build by blacks that you suggest in the list of largest cities throughout history [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Reminds me of The Wonderful Burt Wonderstone (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 4 months ago | (#47415691)

Correct. Give a man water and he will not be thirsty. Teach a man to fish and...ah no, that's not it...

Maybe Dr Simons could buy rights to math texts (5, Interesting)

Tesseractic (1890790) | about 4 months ago | (#47413473)

And release them under an open source license. Perhaps also organise a group of people to continue developing the content. I have in mind Mary L. Boas' book Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences. Mary L. Boas died a few years ago and her book is in its third edition. I have no idea what the publishers plan to do with it, but surely those who own the rights to it would be persuadable by the appropriate application of money.

Re:Maybe Dr Simons could buy rights to math texts (1)

Tesseractic (1890790) | about 4 months ago | (#47429831)

What?? My post gets a score of "5 Interesting" and nobody has anything more to say on the topic I raised?

Another asshole (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413719)

Just another traitor of the people and NSA stasi hund. Fuck this nasty excuse of a human being.

Pondering.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47413723)

Yep! I'm pondering what it should feel like to have a billion dollars in the bank! I'm also using my advanced math to count it many ways to make sure its still all there!

he's an amazing guy (3, Insightful)

gordo3000 (785698) | about 4 months ago | (#47413797)

but trying to play the slow kid isn't exactly working. He finished a PhD at 23! that, if nothing else, tells you just how fast he is. He may not be able to do long division in his head quicker than some, but in his areas of competence, he is an intellectual giant who ALSO happens to work harder than you.

Persistence or raw intelligence (4, Insightful)

ErichTheRed (39327) | about 4 months ago | (#47413823)

" Dr. Simons is quick to say this his persistence, more than his intelligence, is key to his success"

That's a very interesting thought. I'm very interested in science, engineering, etc. but seem to lack the innate math ability to do anything beyond a bachelors degree. I probably would have been a lot happier as a researcher, but by the end of doing a BS in chemistry, I was pretty burned out. What's interesting about that statement and made me think is this -- if we were able to pull in more people who aren't "good at school" but still have something useful to contribute, there could be a lot of talent picked up. Success in early education still hinges on the ability to do well on timed tests that check your ability to remember key facts. Therefore, it favors people who can get the material down quickly and have a photographic memory. And it all builds -- early diagnostic tests in elementary school start identifying people's strengths and determining where they should focus, the SATs and other entrance exams determine to some extent what further education you are able to pursue, and exams in undergrad college courses determine whether you stay in the education game or not. For people who don't do well on tests, this can really discourage any further study, even through there's much less emphasis on this kind of learning/testing cycle in graduate studies. It's an interesting thought now that a lot of "knowledge work" is even disappearing and we have to find something for everyone to do. Identifying talent without equating talent to memory ability is a challenge for the current system. I'm not saying everyone can be a Ph.D researcher, I'm just saying that I think we miss a lot of people who could be good at this stuff along the way.

One of the things that has always struck me about math education is that so little applied math is taught. Now that I don't have the pressure to perform on exams anymore, sometimes I go back and try to figure out some of the math concepts that I never fully understood. Pairing the procedural stuff with a real world example makes it so much easier to understand, and makes it less of a procedure. Simons is a good example of taking something highly theoretical (basic math research) and applying it to something practical (being one of the first hedge funds to do HFT/heavy data analysis.) Unfortunately, it's very difficult to teach applied math to a class of 30 students, some of whom don't care, so a lot of people miss out on this. But it's kind of like chemistry...you have to have a good early education experience to make the jump from chemistry being a jumble of elements, equations, etc. to a set of rules describing how materials interact. People who don't get that exposure in their first chemistry classes aren't likely to continue.

He's right though -- people who work hard and are persistent do get ahead. Not always, and life isn't fair sometimes, but that tends to be true everywhere. Yes, some people just get lucky, and we only hear about those examples in media. But for normals, how well you do is definitely linked with how much effort you put in.

Re:Persistence or raw intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47417009)

>One of the things that has always struck me about math education is that so little applied math is taught.

Here, we call applied math either: physics, CS, engineering, ...

I wish there were more stories like this (4, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 4 months ago | (#47413941)

Unfortunately, very few people who complete a PhD in this country go on to acheive much financially. Even as the chair of a math department his salary was dwarfed by that paid to the football coach of the same university. It is sad that research pays so poorly in this country in spite of its great benefits.

Re:I wish there were more stories like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47415681)

Sure they make money, just not in the field of pure math. We have math pretty well figured out, it's reasonable that a PhD in math is likely going to make more money doing something else.

Don't like him (2, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#47413961)

He worked for the NSA...
He made his money through High Frequency trading... which is nothing more than steeling...

I guess he worked for the NSA prior to them going Full Tilt Gestapo on us... but the HF Trading thing I can't let go of. That's basically stealing from the peoples retirement and is flat out evil. Being a "math genius" he would have know what he was doing.

Re:Don't like him (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47420899)

He made his money through High Frequency trading... which is nothing more than steeling...

Even ignoring your typo except for this mention, how is it stealing?

If you and I know that something goes on sale tomorrow for a limited time, and I get to the store before you, why can't I buy it at the lower price?

If the HFTs are literally 'cutting in line', I would see it differently. They're taking advantage of a time window they created by putting in technology.

That's nothing! (2)

coofercat (719737) | about 4 months ago | (#47413971)

I'm a mathematics genius too. I counted all my money, and I've managed to amass 23 billion pounds, just in my wallet (and that's after I bought lunch). That doesn't include all the money in my penny jar at home and the stuff that's down the back of the sofa. If we add all that, I'm pretty sure I'm the second richest person in the world.

Simons - I love this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47414705)

Simons is great - he's a multi-billionaire, but he still does lectures on topology you can get on YouTube, and he's as excited about it now as ever. I got interested in topology, a branch of math I'd never looked at before, by stumbling over one of his lectures. I did not understand ANYTHING, but his engaging style made him one of the best lecturers I've ever seen, and I started learning more.

Still, like Bill Gates, the #1 ingredient to his success was timing. He was the right person at the right time when the "quant" stuff was just starting, and he could make a lot of money. Anyone earlier wouldn't have had the data and computers, and anyone later would find a mature, level playing field. I still think that the biggest ingredient to success is the exact timing of doing something when it is first possible, and that's the one thing no one can control. There are equally brilliant people who didn't have that same window of opportunity.

That's why we do not need governments and taxes (1)

mike555 (2843511) | about 4 months ago | (#47414841)

So why do we still have "governments" robbing (taxing) people to fund some research or anything?

Stonybrook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47414949)

Go Seawolves!

Camel smokers know their stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47414951)

Is it true that he still smokes a pack a day?
The article was VERY poorly written, jumping from one event to another with no thought of continuity.
Did any of those billions originate in Bogata? If not, why mention it.
Maybe there is a movie hiding in plain sight....
Sort of a cross between "Beautiful Mind" and "Wolf of Wall Street".
Excuse me, I have a screenplay to write.

So how'd he make his fortune? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47415281)

Since the article points how how wealthy he is, did he use his understanding of math to somehow make all that money?

Wait! He's a hedge fund owner! (2)

footNipple (541325) | about 4 months ago | (#47415505)

Why is he receiving accolades on Slashdot? He does automated, high frequency trading! Oh wait, never mind. He's a democrat/leftist. Phew!

Why am I not more impressed? (1)

paiute (550198) | about 4 months ago | (#47415695)

Born into a family with money which encouraged his education, he went on to make more money.

Pissing it away on AFRICANS.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47416095)

... and other worthless third world invaders, no doubt. Will he face reality and admit that the races different, and that some races are less intelligent than others? Will he help HIS OWN RACE? Of course not. So being a multi-billionaire hasn't given him the ability to tell the truth, has it.

America is being destroyed by millions of ungrateful, parasitic third worlders, who can't stand their own races, and are the real 'white supremacists' - they believe that white countries are superior to the ones their own races make... And this idiot is pissing away his money on trying to help unintelligent blacks become geniuses, when their very DNA prevents that from ever happening.

Re:Pissing it away on AFRICANS.... (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 4 months ago | (#47421323)

"James Harris Simons was born to a Jewish family"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J... [wikipedia.org]

So you want him to spend the money in Israel?

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