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Roger Penrose and the vision thing

Penrose—who has now won the Nobel—is still defining the way we see the universe. But, asked Philip Ball in 2017, in today's world of ultra-specialised science, could a thinker of such breadth ever emerge again?

By Philip Ball   March 2017

Scientists exhausted by the relentless demand to “demonstrate impact” and churn out peer-reviewed papers find ways of cheering themselves up. A popular consolation is to imagine reviewers’ reports on Einstein’s “grant application” for his work on special relativity, condemning his revolutionary thoughts as sheer speculation, devoid of any practical application, and worthy of no funding at all.

Lost golden ages are rarely as golden as we remember: back in 1905 Einstein wasn’t funded either, but still working in the Swiss patent office. The rueful jokes do, however,…

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