Overcoming the Powerful Place of the Lucasian Professor

by Bruce Camber

Throughout the world. When a person reaches a certain stature, as more and more people affirm one’s work, there is reason for humility, but arrogance is actually encouraged and usually wins. We want heroes and leaders and people who are confident of their positions.  In time, humility drops away; and “It must be right;  I must be right,” ascends.

Most people come and go. We live and die and there is no accretion of affirmations. And, most of us are just fine with that.  The people who become Lucasian professors are rather different.

Lucasian Professors. A thoroughly Cambridge University icon since 1663, King Charles II formally recognized the position on 18 January 1664. Described as one of the most prestigious academic posts in the world, the first person so designated was Isaac Barrow (1663-1669). Sir Isaac Newton was the second (1669-1702).  The 17th Lucasian Professor was Stephen Hawking (1979-2009).  Newton formalized and institutionalized absolute space and time.  Hawking formalized and institutionalized the infinitely-hot big bang theory. The impact of the last two Lucasian Professors, Michael Cates #19 and Michael Green #18 has not been so radical.

Over the years we’ve discovered how concepts can limit our perspective and ideation about the nature of reality. We have also learned how particularly bad concepts can do lasting damage to our culture. The damage of those concepts promulgated by Newton and Hawking will become the subject of deep analysis once alternative concepts become the new foundations of our understanding of the nature of life and ourselves.  More