Mr. Nihat Ergun,
Minister of Science, Industry and Technology
I take the liberty to write to you directly in light of the news that I hear
from Turkey about the closing down of the Feza Gursey Institute.
I was not clear whether TUBITAK means to close the Institute down or to turn
it to an applied research place, but in any case this would mean a sad turn of events in the development of international-level science in Turkey.
I am sure that you are aware of the crucial role that basic research and fundamental science
has in allowing countries to seek a future of industrial excellence. The development of new ideas, fresh approaches and industrial innovation all depend on the level of basic research that a country has. The young people who are educated in an environment of excellence and insistence on the most important basic riddles of nature are precisely those who can come up with ideas for start-up companies that have the chance to break through and grow to industries like Microsoft, Google and the like.
Closing down Institutes of basic research is easy, building them to the
level of reputation that they had is hard. The FGI succeeded during the years
to create such a reputation for itself. This is an asset for Turkey,
as any other such Institute in any other country is an asset to that country.
Even if it changed the course of thinking of 50 young researchers over its existence,
this is an achievements that needs to be nurtured, not destroyed.
I trust that you read my word in the same spirit that I write them, i.e.
from deep concern for the health of basic science in all the countries
in the world. I myself am deeply involved in helping to create similar
institutes in other countries, currently in Mexico and in Brazil, and
I am therefore deeply saddened by news of contrary moves in a neighboring country.
*Prof. Itamar Procaccia*
*Grande Ufficiale dell’Ordine della Stella della Solidarieta Italiana*
*Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK), Fellow of the American Physical Society,*
*Member of the German National Academy of science,*
*Member of the Danish Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences*
The Barbara and Morris L. Levinson
Professorial Chair in Chemical Physics
The Weizmann Institute of Science