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MacArthur Foundation Announces Genius Grants 123

Chagasi writes: "The MacArthur Foundation has announced this year's 'Genius Grant' awards. The complete list of the 24 recipients can be read here(1) at their web site and here(2) via Google's news service. The winners include a robotics researcher from Dartmouth studying robotics, and a paleoethnobotanist from Penn State studying the ancient plants and foods of prehistoric peoples."
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MacArthur Foundation Announces Genius Grants

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  • via Google's news service

    Does Slashdot have a co-marketting agreement with Google perchance? This is the second reference in the last few hours...

    • How would we ever **really** know if Slashdot sold out? ie: to Google ??

      Reputation can conceal new realities. Blind Loyalty to /. is like any other Blind Loyalty.

      The fact is, we need /. because it is the tool where people can speak their mind to the masses. Amazing meme distribution. Amazing freedom.

      But, the general subjects that are given to us to discuss, are controlled by the few who run /. They have the power to direct the flow; the focus. And if that power is influenced by business agreements, ie. GOOGLE, then I believe the ethics of the /. community is violated.

    • I noticed that google news has linked back to slashdot about the "renewed interest in the moon" story.

      Heh, maybe we can get a front page article here about google news and see if we can get a news loop going.
  • diversity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nydel ( 589895 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:35AM (#4325791)
    i'm glad to see such diversity on the list of recipients; it goes from trombone improvisationalists to robotics engineers. it's good to see both linear and non-linear genius recognized by the same organization.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      On the whole list of "geniuses," there are only four minorities on there! The whole list is a total whitewash.

      The MacArthur Foundation is racist to the core. The white people should be stripped of their awards, and the awards must be given to the real genius inventors of our multicultural society: blacks, asians, arabs, and latinos -- not whites!

      The most prestigious award should be given to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe for his revolutionary actions in uniting the workers against the white ruling class.
      • As others have pointed out there are fewer "minorities" on the list. However we must make the distinction between a genius, and a genius who 'does'something. There probably is as many 'natural' geniuses in every minority group, but fewer geniuses in the groups manage to do something about it because of the social conditions in which they are raised.

        Ie. There are few major women scientists from the renasiance.[sp?] This is not because they are dumber. Its because the culture didn't allow them to discover the genius inside them, and go out and do something about it.

        C'mon slashdotters.. this is simple logic ,no?

      • Could this have been meant in humor?
        I hope so, for the sake of your soul/karma (and who can tell the difference these days *B.S.E. Grin*).
        If one (you) bothers to look at the current recipients, one (you) will be hard pressed to find an undeserving award.

        The truth: If you choose to perceive/dedicate yourself as an emmisary for your race/ethnicity, then the greatest good you can do is to excel at your chosen field, and show the world at large that you/_others_like_you_ can do well in said field.

        The wise path is to rise above/beyond racial/cultural ambitions and make yourself noteworthy. Do, and you will be noted.

        To get WAY off-topic (even more than [parent] post, _IFYOUCANBELIEVE_), I myself have risen from 'white trash' to become a relatively respectable member of modern society. If you can't rise above the expectations of your environment, what are you but a slave to the LOCAL_MACHINE?

        To be way too serious for a moment, shouldn't anyone with any business posting to this site' be on the same team?
    • Re:diversity (Score:3, Informative)

      by buswolley ( 591500 )
      There are quite a few types of geniuses, which cannot always be quantisized empiricly. Musical, spatial, linear, hyper-linear :) , methodic,intuitive, social interaction, etc. And there are even more, of course.

      i.e. Musical geniuses can be easily split between two groups: Those who can write good music, and those who can play it exceptionally well.(not neccessarily excluding each other).

      It is good that genius isnt just Menza members. High I.Q. doesnt quite mean genius either.. Its all what you do with your brain.

      1% inspiration, 99% perspiration (Einstein(I believe))

  • by jukal ( 523582 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:36AM (#4325796) Journal
    Daniel Jurafsky, 39, a University of Colorado linguist and computer scientist improving computers' capability of processing natural language.

    His homepage [], and research on Speech Recognition and Understanding [] and Computational Psycholinguistics []. They have for example designed a discourse tagging system [], in 1997.

  • by plastik55 ( 218435 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:36AM (#4325798) Homepage
    The winners include a robotics researcher from Dartmouth studying robotics, and a paleoethnobotanist from Penn State studying the ancient plants and foods of prehistoric peoples.

    Among the other nominees I see we have a seismologist studying earthquakes, a historian studying history, and a novelist writing books.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Diversity is great, but the Genius grant selection always strikes me as a bit eccentric. Certainly they don't all fit the traditional "genius" profiles. For example:

    An artist working in three dimensions with glass beads (Lou)
    --wow, beads with 3 whole dimensions?

    A molecular ecobiologist studying bacterial communication (Bassler)
    --I think Gary Larson has this one covered ...

    A journalist chronicling tales of those left behind or left out (Boo)
    --hasn't this been done many times over?

    Does anyone know whether Genius Grant recipients tend to distinguish themselves above their artistic/scientific peers later in their careers? Or do they just fade back into obscurity?
  • The winners include [...] a paleoethnobotanist from Penn StateHe should get another grant just for being able to pronounce his field of study. :)
  • OT: Google News (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by mshiltonj ( 220311 )
    Google News, in just a couple days, has firmly established itself as the standard-bearer of news online. Two (The one you're reading and this [] one) of the last four slashdot articles have referenced Google News.

    Two of the the recent /. articles (This one again [], and this one []) where at the top of the Google News SciTech section when they were posted to /.

    Google News seems to find the good stories and push them to the top *really* fast. I see myself relying on them more and more.
  • I heard this guy Knight has it locked up.
  • <blockquote><i>The winners include a robotics researcher from Dartmouth studying robotics [...]</i></blockquote>Of all the crazy things for a robotics researcher to study. He's wasting his talent I'll tell ya.
  • by deathcow ( 455995 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @04:15AM (#4326019)
    Toba Khedoori's Drawings []. She is one of the chosen.
  • They're "Fellows" (Score:5, Informative)

    by BrianWCarver ( 569070 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @04:17AM (#4326026) Homepage

    From the FAQ [] about MacArthur Fellows:
    Q. Why does the program not use the term "genius" regarding its Fellows?

    A. We avoid using the term "genius" to describe MacArthur Fellows because it connotes a singular characteristic of intellectual prowess. The people we seek to support express many other important qualities: ability to transcend traditional boundaries, willingness to take risks, persistence in the face of personal and conceptual obstacles, capacity to synthesize disparate ideas and approaches.
    So calling them "Genius Grants" is apparently not quite right.

    • So calling them "Genius Grants" is apparently not quite right.

      Its not pc anymore.. I believe they were originally called that and then later with it became unpc to say such things, they changed it.
  • by phr2 ( 545169 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @04:32AM (#4326053)
    Paul Ginsparg [] is a great choice for receiving an award. His [] server has had a huge impact on scientific publishing by distributing papers for free online. The Slashdot story The Future of Scientific Publishing [] describes some of that impact. has been doing for math and science papers what the FSF has been doing for software.

    Way to go, Macarthur Foundation!

  • by __aahlyu4518 ( 74832 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @04:57AM (#4326093)
    Genius is often recognized only after the person that contained and displayed that genius has passed away... I think that is true because they forgot ME.... AGAIN !
  • How can we lobby these Foundations to give grants to leading open source people like Larry Wall or Linus ? People who are much more than just good programmers but visionaries in their own right.
  • Perhaps this will mean less funding for "All (Leftist) Things Considered".

  • The Foundation neither requires nor expects specific projects from individual Fellows, nor does it ask for reports on how the money is used.

    Oh what a great award ;-)

    Something tells me these award wouldn't necessarily be used for the kind of projects they might be expecting. "Well first I had a supermodel, then one of the Superbabes then..." ;-)

    Then again maybe this is a kind of reverse eugenics; perhaps this IS what it's for. e.g. Richard Stallman got a girlfriend after winning this...

  • I would be much more impressed if a 2d glass bead were made. No depth to the beads would be mind-boggling and so much . . . deeper I guess.
  • Sheesh (Score:4, Funny)

    by MxTxL ( 307166 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:01AM (#4327858)
    The winners include a robotics researcher from Dartmouth studying robotics, and a paleoethnobotanist from Penn State studying the ancient plants and foods of prehistoric peoples."

    Ok, i can see why they would need to tell us what a robotics researcher does, but sheesh, who in the world doesn't know what a paleoethnobotanist does??
  • Uncommon Genius (Score:2, Interesting)

    by spiel ( 27038 )
    An interesting book I read a few years back - Uncommon Genius by Denise Shekerjian. She interviewed a number of the MacArthur Foundation winners to try to determine what makes a genius.

    What she found was that none of the winners could imagine doing anything else.... they did what they did out of love for their field.... and that they had all been doing it for a long, long time, day in and day out, just doing their work. Even the youngest winner she interviewed -- who I think was a linguist in his 20's -- had been studying languages since he was 6 years old.

    Also some interesting background on the MacArthurs and the Foundation if I recall.....
  • Excellent book (Score:3, Interesting)

    by selan ( 234261 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:25AM (#4328177) Journal
    Uncommon Genius: How Great Ideas Are Born by Denise G. Shekerjian []

    This is a great book about the Macarthur fellows and the fellowship program, and about creative thinking in general. It contains a series of interviews with forty fellows and tries to understand how they get their ideas.

    Anyone want to write a /. review?

  • Where's Al Gore?
  • Very few people know who John MacArthur was. He made his money selling life insurance by mail. Considered a very shady operator, his company was prohibited from operating in several states, and was notorious for not paying claims. At one point, his insurance company was down to a net worth of $4. Yes, four dollars. MacArthur introduced the use of big newspaper ads to sell insurance, which previously was sold by insurance agents on commission.

    His biography, The Stockholder, by William Hoffman [], is forgotten and out of print, but was one of the best business books of 1968. The Library of Congress has a copy.

    He set up the MacArthur Awards scheme in his will the way he did to annoy people. (The Skipper probably said "piss people off"; he was that kind of guy.) He thought the other big foundations were too establishment-oriented, and giving money to people outside the academic establishment, and not through it, was intended to annoy academia.

  • I am alternately amused, baffled and disgusted:

    Over the lifetime of the Macarthur Grant,

    12 people have won in the category of DANCE, while 11 people have won in the category of PUBLIC HEALTH

    Dance, genius, dance! [] - read my book, Half Mast [] - [] - New Architect []

  • Did anyone notice how the nominators all seem to be in New England or California?

    I saw one CO, TN, and MI. That's all. 4 from NY, 8 from CA, 8 From New England, (Not NY).

    There are talented people everywhere, these folks were just in the right place at the right time.

    Go Luck!
  • Hmmm, I dunno, I dunno. Some of these people are really impressive, and it is good to see recognition for excellence vastly different fields. But I have to wonder whether they're being so careful to avoid focusing too much on traditional targets for awards (e.g. scientists) and finding people like the bead lady instead. Now, the world needs its bead ladies, no doubt. But as someone pointed out, when a foundation has given out more awards for dance than for medicine, you've got to wonder whether they're really accomplishing the most social worth with their power. What I'm getting at is that there seems to be a bit of self-congratulatory, "look how enlightened we are for recognizing the bead ladies of the world"-ness going on.

    Not to pick on the bead lady... that's kind of cool, actually. But you see my point, I hope.

  • It's on ABC after Nightline. I'm setting my Tivo for it.

    "Genius is perhaps something one is born with. Creativity is something I
    think which requires effort."
    --Daniel Socolow, director MacArthur Fellows Program

    It's a cross between the Publishers Clearinghouse Prize Patrol and that
    classic television show "The Millionaire," where a man comes to your home
    and presents you with a check for $1 million. Suddenly and without
    warning, you receive a call that makes you $500,000 richer. But you
    haven\222t entered a contest. You've been secretly nominated and then
    selected as a MacArthur Fellow.

    For this year's 24 winners, ranging in age from 29 to 60, the news came
    both as a shock and in strange ways. Photographer Camilo Jose Vergara was
    shopping for a mattress when he retrieved a message on his cellphone that
    the MacArthur Foundation President was looking for him. Vergara began
    photographing the World Trade Center towers in 1970 with the construction cranesbehind them. Today, his exhibition of World Trade Center photographs is
    at the New York Historical Society.

    He's one of the new crop of MacArthur Fellows correspondent Michele Norris
    will introduce you to this evening on UpClose. She'll profile seven of
    the winners, including Liz Lerman of Takoma Park, Md., an
    award-winning choreographer; George Lewis, a LaJolla, Calif. jazz
    trombonist and composer at the University of California, San Diego; Liza Lou, a
    +California artist who turns glass beads into something extraordinary; New York+documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson who picks historical African-American
    +subjects for his spotlight; Daniela Rus, an associate professor at Dartmouth
    +who works with robots that can change their shape; and Brian Tucker, a Palo
    +Alto seismologist who works to minimize damage from natural disasters in
    +developing countries.

    What these and the other 17 MacArthur Fellows have in common is a sudden
    infusion of cash -- $100,000 each year for the next five years -- to
    pursue their creative interests or whatever they choose. There are no
    strings attached.

    They've been nicknamed the Genius Awards. But Daniel Socolow, the
    director of the MacArthur Fellows Program tells UpClose: "The true genius
    is that the awards are designed to remind us that once a year that
    extraordinary talent can be found anywhere."

    Richard Harris
    Senior Producer
    Nightline UpClose

    If you have questions or comments regarding this message or a recent "UpClose"
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