Dear Professor Nuket Yetis,
I was shocked and saddened to learn about the closing and moving of
the Feza Gursey Insitute. I visited FGI twice – once in 2008 and then
again in 2009 – and had very fruitful visits there. It is really a
shame that there seems to have been a hasty decision to move it out of
its current campus. In India, we are in fact in the process of
building an instiute, the International Centre for Theoretical
Studies, along the same lines. A place where researchers from all over
India and the world can come and visit for a short time for either
conferences or research visits.
Theoretical scientists do not require much money – most people have
need only for a good computer and some travel money – but what they
requires are pleasant working environments. FGI is located in a really
wonderful place. Far enough from the city to be isolated from the
noise and crowds but close enough that people can easily get to in a
I’m tempted to quote from the poem – `We Are The Music-Makers’ – by
Arthur William Edgar O’Shaugnessy –
We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, it seems.
Mathematicians and Theoretical Physicists are the `music-makers’ of
today – several years down the road they do end up changing the world.
Much of the material benefits – from computers to CD players to the
internet – that we enjoy today came out of the theoretical grounwork
laid out by the idle speculation of theoretical scientists several
generations ago. But they need the `lone sea-breakers and desolate
streams’ to wander by and sit. The campus of FGI did provide such an
environment and moving it to an industrial park does damage in a way
that is perhaps not tangible at first.
The other important facet of FGI is that it provides a magnet for
Turkish students abroad to come to when they visit home. Turkey, like
India, I’m sure suffers from the problem that some of its best and
brightest people leave the country and never come back permanently.
However, now the attraction of the west – like the US – is waning as
times have changed and opportunities are not the same as they once
were – so a lot of them are planning on coming back. FGI is in an
excellent position to attract such people – the wonderful location and
excellent facilities are better than many places worldwide and so I’m
sure a lot of Turkish students studying abroad would love to come back
and build it up. In my opinion, moving it from its current location is
simply disastrous – and will kill its future and I hope TUBITAK and
the government of Turkey will rethink their position on this matter.
Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore.