Jesse Ausubel to receive 2022 Nierenberg Prize

Jesse Ausubel will be honored with the 2022 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest. This award is presented annually by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and the Nierenberg Family to honor the memory of William A. Nierenberg, an esteemed physicist and national science leader who served Scripps Oceanography as director for two decades. Previous awardees include atmospheric scientist Warren Washington, biochemist and Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna, filmmaker Sir David Attenborough, and primatologist Dame Jane Goodall, among others.

Andy Marshall Foundation seminar on experimentation, intellectual courage and mentorship

For its 2021 Annual Review, the Andrew W. Marshall Foundation presented an hour-long seminar in which Jesse Ausubel speaks briefly on experimentation, Melissa Flagg on intellectual courage, and Dan Patt on mentorship, followed by Q&A. IGood session. Jesse’s 5 minutes of remarks, titled Don’t Do Anything for the First Time, begin 15 minutes into the session following Jaymie Durnan’s opening review.

Play about the murder of Moritz Schlick

A pair of excellent books about the Vienna Circle of philosophers have recently appeared: Exact Thinking in Demented Times: The Vienna Circle and the Epic Quest for the Foundations of Science by Karl Sigmund (2017) and The Murder of Professor Schlick: The Rise and Fall of the Vienna Circle by David Edmonds (2020).

As an undergraduate, I took several philosophy courses and was especially taken with  Wittgenstein.  In the spring of 1972, a multi-talented astronomy graduate student, Joseph Timko, also keenly interested in philosophy, and I wrote and performed a short play about the murder of Moritz Schlick, The Best Picture.  Performing the role of Schlick, I was murdered each evening.  The play was performed again in 1975 in New York and on a few other occasions.

Working in Vienna during 1979-1982 at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, I was eager to learn more about the Vienna Circle.  Much curiosity then pertained to Vienna 1900 but little to Vienna between the wars. I attended the Kirchberg Wittgenstein symposium in 1981, where one felt stirrings of the revival now mature in the Sigmund and Edmonds books.  In honor of the Schlick revival, find posted a slightly revised 1980 version of The Best Picture, a melodrama in which Ludwig Wittgenstein, Private Investigator, made his stage debut in solving the Case of the Posthmous Positivist.


Joshua Lederberg biography published

Genes, Germs and Medicine: The Life of Joshua Lederberg  by U. of Toronto historian of science Jan Sapp has just been published.  The book provides an engaging, balanced, and perceptive view of the multifaceted life and mind of Dr. Lederberg, who passed away in 2008.

For Jesse’s particular remembrances, see

Joshua Lederberg (In memoriam, 2008)
Joshua Lederberg (A Tribute to the Foresight of Joshua Lederberg, 2009)

Crowning achievement of Deep Carbon Observatory

The media have much coverage of the new paper Extending full-plate tectonic models into deep time and its marvelous visualization of a billion years of movement of the Earth’s continents and tectonic plates in 40 seconds.  The paper generously acknowledges the Deep Carbon Observatory as well as Sloan and Lounsbery foundation grants arranged by Jesse.  Congratulations to the brilliant leader of the EarthByte Group, Sabin Zahirovic, lead author Andrew Merdith, and the rest of their team.  The paper will become a citation classic and earn them many prizes. For history of the Deep Carbon Observatory, see Jesse’s Foreword to Simon Mitton’s new From Crust to Core (A Chronicle of Deep Carbon Science)