Reading this profile of the gifted physicist Nima Arkani-Hamed, i kept thinking “Aries” and voila he IS. April 5, a Haute Aries and triple one at that – Sun, Retro Mercury and Chiron all the sign of the Ram.
The whole article is worth a read but here are what i think of as the “Aries” bits.
Get Nima Arkani-Hamed going on the subject of the universe — not difficult — and he’ll talk for as many minutes or hours as it takes to transport you to the edge of human understanding, and then he’ll talk you past the edge, beyond Einstein, beyond space-time and quantum mechanics and all those tired tropes of 20th-century physics, to a spectacular new vision of how everything works.
Colleagues point to his knack for simplifying impossibly complex problems…
…But while many top physicists shy away from stagecraft, Arkani-Hamed functions, colleagues say, as a “messiah,” a “Pied Piper,” an “impresario.” Arms in motion and dark hair spilling to his shoulders, he weaves together calculations, thought experiments and historical precedents into narratives, confidently outlining chapters to come.
Arkani-Hamed’s mission — simple to state, but so all-consuming that he barely sleeps — is to understand the universe. “I don’t feel I have any time to lollygag, at all,” he said this summer in Princeton.
“It has taken enormous persuasion for him to take this from a total fantasy, a losing fantasy, to something which has a fighting chance.”
There are very few things in life where what you want to do for idealistic reasons and what someone else wants to do for Machiavellian reasons are identical. And when that happens, you should just do it. You should just do it!”
(His caffeine intake peaked several years ago at 15 to 16 espresso shots per day.)
“Being Nima’s student was like having Usain Bolt as a track coach…”
“If I look at the high points of my physics career thus far, many of them occurred because I (consciously or not) tried to follow Nima’s example: pursuing one’s own ideas with unbridled enthusiasm, politely disregarding naysayers and tackling obstacles head-on. And drinking espresso.”
He resisted real-world distractions, like parking rules. As a young professor at Berkeley, he insisted on parking in the mostly empty lot near his building rather than the faraway space assigned to him, leading to an epic war with a parking attendant that landed his face on a “Wanted” poster and helped drive him from Berkeley to Harvard.
“I sleep the way lions eat,” he explained — “very little for stretches of time, punctuated by huge and delicious feasts.”
He was very stubborn. I remember once he hiked about 11 hours at the age of about 4. I asked him to come onto my shoulder and he refused.”
Nima’s talk breathed life into those that deep down feel that we need a bigger collider to make real progress. … It wasn’t making a case about practicality, it was a bold call to action, a moonshot, and he basically called out those that didn’t see it that way as cowards and those that did as having courage.”
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