Thursday, August 28, 2008

The world's most powerful woman

holds a PhD in physics.

Congrats Angie!

See: Forbes, The World's 100 Most Powerful Women


  1. Hm. I'd been thinking it was chemistry (maybe bordering on physics).

    *Checks Wikipedia*

    Probably because her thesis topic was quantum chemistry.

  2. I didn't know she had a science background at all! That's awesome. I'd been wondering lately, based on the fact that more people get PhDs than end up in research, where the rest ends up. Chancellor of Germany is pretty good alternative career, but probably even harder to get than a career in research ;)

  3. BTW, here is the title page of her PhD dissertation, and here is quite a silly "review" of the dissertation... (all in German).

    It's about quantum mechanical calculations of decay constants for the disintegration of molecules by the breaking of chemical bonds.

    Cheers, Stefan

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  5. Maggie Thatcher was a chemist. Knute Rockne was a chemist. It's not an inescapable stain. Worst comes to worst you'll found Israel or something.

    Chemistry can elevate even physics - Do the parity Eötvös experiment (pdf) and get a free December trip to Sweden. ("Cooking, serving, or eating lutefisk will permanently ruin silver utensils.")

  6. Yes I think that's admirable of Angela, and I wish we had more physicists in the US government. There are already three in Congress (two Ds and one R):

    I lived in Germany 1968-71 (near Kaiserslautern) and found it fun and of course know of their interest and accomplishments in science. As for our candidate who really wanted, and worked towards, achieving the title of "The world's most powerful woman": the regard now felt for Hillary and Bill Clinton, considering their difficult, magnanimous shows of support for Barack Obama, is quite deep and wide-spread.

  7. My rep. in Congress was a plasma physicist. I'm supporting another physicist, Bill Foster, to Congress from Illinois.

  8. These days, the political systems of both Germany and America provide many opportunities at the heighest levels of goverment for ambitious and intelligent woman to get on the neoliberal band wagon of dissolving nation states on behalf of THE CORPORATION and giving their blessing to violent suppression-I have Iraq and the poor Serbs in mind-to the party poopers who resist neoliberal globalization programs. GO ANGIE GO GIRL. Hillary-not nearly as intelligent as Angie- you too will have your chance one day to dissolve a nation or two!!!!

    Sorry for raining-the other kind of rain-on Angie's parade.

    Angie drek. Hillary drek. Gott help us.

  9. And exactly why do Angie and Hilary want to be among the most powerfull creatures on the planet Earth? What kind of person would lust for this scale of power and control? Oh I forgot, they went into poltics because they want to help people and make things better.

  10. Our prime minister comes in at number 38.

  11. Sorry to rain on the parade too.

    With regard to the pursuance of science, it shall not know gender or race bias?

    Barrack Obama had a very good speech tonight, and a lesson, not only for the Americans, but their neighbours as well.

    Out of the impoverish and discrimination, attitudes will arise. One shall not, no matter their political agenda cast onto another, by gender "that a man" is the most powerful because of the logical discourse as to their trade?

    Is it worth the thought?


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  13. Hi Bee,

    It would be interesting to know when if ever the world’s most powerful man or women will be a scientist by training. I believe the closest to that in terms of a U.S. president was Jimmy Carter who had a Bachelor of Science degree and some non credit course work in nuclear power generation. It would also be interesting to discover why such people do not become our leaders? Is it resultant as what politics brings to mind for the scientists or is it the scientist not being seen as effective leaders? None the less I believe we would all be better off if more chose to get involved and where successfully elected.



  14. Hi Phil,

    To offer my two cents, I think it is a question of interest. Somebody who spent a decade to study some field of science needs to have a true dedication to this work. I would guess it is not impossible but very unlikely somebody changes his personality after that so much that he will then go embrace a job that is cluttered with social pitfalls and in its core very unscientific. I might have mentioned it previously that I considered going into politics because I find it an interesting area. However, my interest in the topic is very much on the academic side and the practical side I had to notice is incredibly annoying and to a large extend a waste of time. I don't want to extrapolate from me to others, but I would guess that few scientists would embrace leadership when it comes down to mostly acting and rethoric.

    Besides this, there are differnent kinds of leaderships. One should never neglect the people in the background who one rarely hears of, they often have a large influence. In this regard, you might find this article interesting:

    An Advocate for Science Diplomacy.



  15. Italicized and bold, are my additions.

    "An Advocate for Science Diplomacy By CLAUDIA DREIFUS Published: August 18, 2008 New York Times


    A(Nina V. Fedoroff). Because science is more collaborative than other types of endeavors. It aspires to more democratic principles than many political systems because we have an external reference.

    People can have different theories, but we form an experiment to test it. It’s the evidence that matters. So in science, we can have differences of opinion, but we can’t have two sets of facts.

    There is an in-built process that says, “You and I may have different religions, different politics, but we can talk about science across chasms."

    I was more drawn to the last statement of this quote above. It does not matter that she is a female when she said it. I agree.

    But this is not always the case if one might found within themself, as a cause, this underlying current that is propelled throughout society. That such resolve would/could bring a "reverse discrimination" to fruition.

    I am not saying this is the case, only that our "projections toward the future," brought from our historical past, must amount to a proper viewing of what is fair and right within society.

    Becomes the attempt within self, to excel above ones experience. Rise above, such discriminations and gender bias.

    It is always a life struggle to be better and fairer then we have been treated. We then empathize for another, and bring about change.

    Under currents exist in society just as they do in people?:)While subjective, they do manifest at some time. If you are aware of this under current, you can address the issue in society. With self.


  16. Javier Solana is physicist too. From Cabrera school.

  17. I like Angela Merkel. She is trying to raise an independent voice for Germany and Europe.
    She is not a "Yes sir" leader. What we need in Europe are strong political figures who can implement an independent European policy in the complex international environment. I wish General De Gaulle was alive.

  18. I have the Forbes' complete list in widget form. If you like it, feel free to post!


  19. Well, now we know who might be the world's most powerful woman next year: Sarah Palin. Although women should be picked for top posts, I think McCain is showing his cynicism as a pragmatic gamester with this. It looks like he's just trying to snag votes and not caring for the good of his country. Consider the following steps takes a few steps:

    1. Ask, and maybe even him directly too: Would John McCain have picked Sarah Palin if, having all the same background, she wasn't a woman? No, really, of course not - some guy like that just wouldn't have been the Veep choice "and we all know it." So,

    2. That shows that John McCain was pandering, trying to pull a "See what a cute smart-ass I am, diddling with Hillary supporters and sticking my tongue out at Barack Obama." My mother said, he "looked pleased as punch," with a big smug smart-alec's smirk on his face.

    3. Once voters realize that John McCain was pandering like that, taking chances with the well-being of the nation just to play election games, enough of them will be outraged enough to say, no way I will vote for an trickster like that.

  20. PS: Palin might have to take over, that's what I meant per TWMPW since the US VP doesn't quite fit the bill compared to even a smaller nation's top leader. And that in itself is more food for thought.
    "A heartbeat away from the presidency."

  21. There's a T-shirt I saw with the quote:

    "You can't fix STUPID"

    It's good to see that some "Book Knowledge" people are in powerful political positions. I was watching the 1hr show "From Student to Scientist", which featured M. Gell-Mann, Leon Lederman, Burton Richter, et al. There was a Nobel Laureate (Medicine I think), who said:

    "Maybe if we had some scientists in Washington DC [ political power ], MAYBE WE'D GET SOMEWHERE"

    There was that cute reference by Carl Sagan in COSMOS. A Landsat image of Washington DC was shown, to which he commented "No sign of Intelligent Life".

    Then you have politics in scientific peer review. Kea was outspoken about how the recent FQXI funding round, was based on conservative outlook & politics (tend to favor people with infrastructure & xxxx)

    Any research program can be broke down to 3 parts:

    A) Technical Program

    B) Business Program
    getting grant funding

    C) Political Program
    making alliances & fighting off enemies

    If you can do A/B/C, then you will be a successful researcher. It looks like Kea has A) down, but it's niche (not mainstream). Her B) needs work, waitressing is unacceptable. Needs to make an alliance with some infrastructure (C) to help with B).

    Interestingly, I made some contacts at SIGGRAPH 2008 on her behalf, & a few of them are really promising. There is this woman at Disney Animation, who is really bright/smart & seems like a perfect match for Kea (helpful). Disney announced some initiatives at the conference (research institutes announced at U. of Switzerland & CMU), which might dovetail into a Category Theory Inst in NZ.

  22. Dear Stefan,

    Thanks for the links! "Wolkige Mädchen schrift," very funny ;-)



    PS: Looks quite similar to your handwriting actually.

  23. Hi Bee,

    “To offer my two cents, I think it is a question of interest. Somebody who spent a decade to study some field of science needs to have a true dedication to this work.”

    Well seeing that politics in general has demonstrated not to require too much thinking I thought this would leave room for both:-) More seriously I thought it might appeal more to the older scientist who has already made what could be considered their main contributions or perhaps for those that consider they don’t quite have the stuff to contribute what they thought they might be capable. Either way they would have engrained in them the scientific method as being their searchlight to solutions so to speak, which forms to be what both you and myself see as so lacking today at a time when it is obviously and so urgently most needed. Personally I don’t think that politicians can speak for the scientist, as for instance, in my opinion, Al Gore has so clearly demonstrated.

    As to having the ear of the king, so to speak, it has proven so often that this only happens for the most part when he agrees with what's being suggested while not often using the logic of science as a method in that decision.



  24. Hi Phil,

    Well seeing that politics in general has demonstrated not to require too much thinking I thought this would leave room for both

    It might leave room, but not time. Best,


  25. Hi Bee,

    “It might leave room, but not time.”

    Very clever, yet I would ask how many politicians other then Angela Merkel would understand why? :-)




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