Thursday, December 4, 2014

America is back?

I wholeheartedly support President Obama's immigration reform. The various states in the US do not seem to realize how serious their economic problems are and how much we all need this reform to help the US exit the recession and take the rest of the world back up with it. Promoting innovation by supporting outstanding minds is crucial to fixing the economy. The US still has some of the best universities in the world, and losing those graduates is something that it can not afford. It's only natural to give them all the right to work, and to try to convince them to stay.

Some of the most beautiful minds in the US were and still are owned by immigrants. Among my Cornell professors Saul Teukolsky, who co-advised my PhD thesis together with Ira Wasserman, was educated in South Africa. Ira's father was a Jewish immigrant from Poland, and his mother was from Bucharest. Both Ira and Saul were generous, patient, and involved in our joint work. Saul is best know for the Teukolsky equation for gravitational wave perturbations around spinning black holes. His equation opened a new field that we now call gravitational wave astronomy. Gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of space-time. Just like accelerated charges produce light waves so that we have wire-less internet, accelerated masses produce gravitational waves.  More recently his numerical relativity group collaborated with Caltech to produce the simulations for the Interstellar movie. 

Many other Cornell professors were first generation immigrants. Hans Bethe had been the director of the theoretical division that built the atomic bombs that helped end the second world war. He was called the "supreme problem-solver of the 20th century", and had, of course, also been a foreigner from Germany.  I met Edwin Salpeter , who had once been a Jewish immigrant from Austria, in his early eighties when he was suffering from leukemia. He still came to many seminars  and often asked the most relevant questions in the room. His career contributions were momentous.  He had worked with Bethe to explain how stars evolved from an initial mass function. He had also been the first to understand quasars. And even at eighty he had a beautiful family with whom he was able to collaborate. In addition to his outstanding physics research, he was working with his daughter and grandson (a teenager at the time) to model tuberculosis. He also argued against wars and was pro-women in science. 

The contribution of immigrants does not stop here.  In America, there once was a prominent Nazi who was so prominent he had dinner with Hitler. The company he led -- International Business Machine corporation --- was, on American soil,  entrusted to develop the machine that put Hitler down. It was the computer that put the last nail in the coffin of Hitler and British Military secrecy that later sealed its fate into a museum archive. The rest is history ... and who has not heard of IBM?

Then think of Ford, Google, the Internet -- it all tends to start here, grown from international intelligence, nurtured by American freedom. 

If this reform is finalized, American Freedom will be back! For America and for the World! 

Thank you, Obama!

Note:  I wrote the first part, and my brother, Mihai Bondarescu, wrote the fun part starting with "The contribution of immigrants does not stop there". We were very excited when we wrote this, but I do not think Obama's immigration reform is in place. It remains to be seen when/whether/to what extent it will be approved.

No comments:

Post a Comment