The Art and Science of Building Castles in the Sky and Houses of Cards That Don’t Collapse
by Joseph L. Goldstein
The creative process in art and science involves two phases—generating and exploring new and wild ideas (building castles in the sky) and then narrowing down and focusing on the most tractable and useful ones (building houses of cards that don’t topple over).
In 1927, the theoretical physicist Paul Dirac, who was 25 years old at the time, published a mathematical equation that predicted the existence of a new atomic particle with the same mass as the electron but with the opposite charge. Such a particle, called the positron, was discovered experimentally four years later in cosmic rays, confirming Dirac’s theory (Rovelli, 2021).
Dirac’s equation not only did its intended job of describing the behavior of electrons, but it also predicted the first glimpse of antimatter, which we now know to be composed of many types of subatomic particles that make up as much as half of the universe (Farmelo, 2009). The Dirac equation has been referred to as “a piece of magic” (Wilczek, 2003) and “the most seductive equation in science” (Overbye, 2002), owing to the way in which reality and truth are revealed in a compressed and beautifully poetic way.
Medical Research Awards Jury
2022 Lasker Medical Research Awards Jury
Top row, left to right
Joseph Goldstein, Chair of the Jury, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center ● J. Michael Bishop, University of California, San Francisco ● Michael Hall, Biozentrum, University of Basel ● Laurie Glimcher, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ● Harold Varmus, Weill Cornell Medical College
Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Stanford University ● Xiaowei Zhuang, Harvard University ● Charles Sawyers, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center ● Robert Lefkowitz, Duke University ● Leslie Vosshall, Rockefeller University
Michael Brown, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center ● Dan Littman, NYU Langone Medical Center ● James Rothman, Yale University ● Bruce Stillman, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Jeffrey Friedman, Rockefeller University ● Peter Ratcliffe, University of Oxford ● Richard Lifton, Rockefeller University ● Richard Locksley, University of California, San Francisco ● Jeremy Nathans, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Lucy Shapiro, Stanford University ● K. Christopher Garcia, Stanford University ● Craig Thompson, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center ● Erin O’Shea, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Public Service Award Jury
2022 Lasker~Bloomberg Public Service Award Jury
Top row, left to right
Alfred Sommer, Chair of the Jury, Anthony Evnin, Margaret Hamburg, Chris Jones
Sherry Lansing, Elizabeth Nabel, Claire Pomeroy, Elias Zerhouni