James Gates: The Pain and Pleasures of Science

James Gates: The Pain and Pleasures of Science

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As a ball rolled down an incline, young Sylvester James Gates, along with the other students in his class, were tasked with timing it and observing the principles of mechanics in action. “I saw a piece of magic happen right before my very eyes,” he says. “Because, while I was well aware that mathematics was something that takes places between your ears, I had no idea mathematics actually described things outside of our ears. And so . . . this was the closest thing to magic I had ever seen.” Today, Gates uses the magic of math to study elementary particles and the fundamental forces of nature.

He is known for his groundbreaking work in supersymmetry and supergravity, areas closely related to superstring theory. In 1983, he co-authored the seminal book “Superspace or 1001 Lessons in Supersymmetry. Gates is also dedicated to the popularization of science and the promotion of science education and science careers to young people.

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