Founder and co-CEO of Research in Motion Mike Lazaridis back in 1999 set up “PI” as Mr Lazaridis, being a physics buff and a big fan of Stephen Hawking since his days back in engineering school during the early 1980s, has anteed up $165m (USD) being an amazing quarter of his personal wealth to assist in funding this non-academic application of what has typically been an academic pursuit.
In addition, even with RIM on the ropes in the smart phone market, Lazaridis’s has commissioned another new wing, with yet another $ 26 million or so which will double PI’s capacity, to over 200 researchers under one roof. This addition is making it the world’s biggest institute for the study of theoretical physics; with a mass of humming brains its fellows are now working on a range of problems at the bleeding edge of the subjects such as superstring theory, quantum-loop gravity, condensed-matter physics, complex systems and quantum information. Interesting enough is the later of these involves PI’s concession to the world of experimental science in a theoretical world with the sending of quantum-encrypted messages between it and the nearby Institute for Quantum Computing.
As a breakthrough in any of these amazing areas would be the stuff Nobel prizes are made of. However, it might also be the stuff of new technology too as even the most abstruse fields, Mr Lazaridis observes, could yield practical commercial benefits in the long run. As Mr Lazaridis calls the act of fundamental theorizing “the most high-impact, low-cost pursuit in science”. As unlike the billions spent at CERN for their massive machines, Mr Lazaridis instead invests a fraction for simple calories spent to power brain cells rather than megawatts to push protons near the speed of light.
However what is more interesting is the fact as in what use to be the domain of the governmental or academic realms are now being taken over by the philanthropic enterprises of the super wealthy. So what will this mean, as in the past academic discoveries were rather open in the spirit of scientific sharing yet now it’s in the hands of a pseudo commercial organization. The obvious issue [risk] here is the commercialization of theoretical science and what it will mean to the greater scientific community as historically success has been built upon open sharing as one idea would lead to the next and so on. So what Mr. Lazaridis is doing on the surface is applaud-able, however worthy watch with an eye of concern as we all know how well the patent system works [it’s worth noting PI is located in Canada].