Thursday, September 15, 2005

Quantum chemist to lead Germany?

Angela Merkel, the Christian Democratic Union candidate favored to lead Germany after the upcoming elections, is a former physicist. Why can't we have scientists in high office in this country?

WSJ: Ms. Merkel, who excelled at math and science, eventually obtained a post at the Academy of Sciences in East Berlin. It was the communist state's top scientific institution, but Ms. Merkel was relegated to a converted workers barracks tucked behind overgrown shrubbery. Her work in quantum chemistry was considered marginal because it had no industrial relevance.

Fellow physicist Michael Schindhelm recalls that doing worthwhile research was difficult. Because neither he nor Ms. Merkel was a member of the communist party, they weren't permitted to travel to the West or even read most Western science publications. The laboratory's computers and equipment were obsolete. "We tried to focus on research you could do with a pencil and paper," Mr. Schindhelm says.

The experience helped sharpen Ms. Merkel's political views. Mr. Schindhelm says he and Ms. Merkel both became convinced that the overbearing East German state had caused a decay of society by undermining individual responsibility. "In a different form, we're experiencing something similar now in unified Germany," he says.


Steve Sailer said...

Mrs. Thatcher had a degree in chemistry and practices for a little while before going into politics.

Anonymous said...

And she's a woman too! I think I just heard Lubos Motl's head explode.

Anonymous said...

The Prime Minister of India has a Ph.D. in Economics from Oxford. He's still seen as more of an 'academic' than a politician - There is such a thing as being over-qualified for head of state?

Anonymous said...

I think I just heard Lubos Motl's head explode.

Methinks Motl, unlike you, understands what the word "probability" means.

---Anonymous #3

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