My name is Roberto, nice to meet you. I am a theoretical physicist for real (yes, like Sheldon Cooper). You don't need to call me "doctor". I don't mind about those things. You can call me 'Beto', as my friends and family do.
I have been working in universities since I became a physicist, but there is a catch:
Universities do not actually fund science.
Universities pay scientists to teach and do administrative work, but when we need money for travelling, buying equipment and even hiring students and researchers, we need to search for money ourselves. Usually, we spend weeks (a time that could be better used to actually do science) only writing and rewriting funding applications that, most of the time, are rejected because there is much more science trying to be done than money to fund it. In summary, we need to buy our own 'research time'.
Yes, that sucks!
There is more. It is much more difficult to be funded on theoretical research with long term objectives. People only give you money if they have an immediate return. But we all know that, in science, the best return comes with time.
That is why I am asking for your patronage: to do science. The less time I have to spend looking for money, the more time I can spend doing actual science! Things that really matter. It is simple like that.
Why on Earth would I sponsor science?
First of all, have you said that out loud? Try shouting it:
I AM SPONSORING REAL SCIENCE!
Doesn't feel good? I could say to you that science save lives, is responsible for all advances in our societies and all our technological achievements, but you already know that. You are using one right now!
But the truth is that there is more to it. Science helps us to improve ourselves. It allows us to be critical, to see beyond prejudice and to understand the world in we leave and ourselves. If you don't think this is a good reason to sponsor science, I don't know how to convince you. (I'm a scientist, not a marketing specialist.)
But what exactly do you do?
I am working in the following cool projects right now:
Complexity and Complex Systems: the physics of systems with many interacting parts, whatever they are. Yes, it is possible to create a general theory that encompasses things like computer networks, biological organisms and even societies at the same time! The key is to represent things as complex networks. You can read a bit about that in the excellent book: Linked by A. Barabasi.
(The picture in the top of the page is from one of my recent works, a preprint of which I am publishing here.)
Sustainability: theoretical physics can and must contribute to the problems of our civilization. I am currently working with friends from different areas to understand how we can use physics and mathematics to help us manage the sustainability of our institutions.
Philosophy of Science: it might seem incredible, but there are still many unsolved problems here. A mathematical framework called Bayesian Inference might be the solution. That is a deep subject, unlikely to be funded by any other institution except by people who see the importance of pure understanding.
Black Holes: they had to be here. I only recently started to study these fascinating objects. They might hold the key for solving many mysteries of the universe and I am working on some of them right now.
What am I sponsoring?
Here is where your money is going:
- Publishing Articles: do you know that when we publish our papers we lose the copyright and earn absolutely nothing for that? The publishers then charge an average of US$30 for anyone to see them and we got nothing. There are some publishers that offer open access, which means that anyone can see the paper, but we have to pay fees that might reach around US$ 2000 for this! I want to publish my papers mainly on open access such that everyone, including you, can read them so part of your sponsorship is going to pay for open access articles.
- Research Data: research needs information and this costs money. We need to exchange knowledge with other scientists, buy our access to papers (expensive), buy books (extremely expensive) and attend conferences to know what are the new developments and important challenges in the field.
- Research Equipment: I'm not an experimental physicist, but I still need equipment to do research and it is becoming increasingly expensive. High level simulations require fast computers and cutting edge software, both of them cost thousands (literally!) of dollars. Part of your sponsorship will help to buy and keep them.
- Spreading Knowledge: science is for everyone who wants to learn. I am starting a website which will serve as a virtual university to teach and spread science. Currently, it is here: http://alamino.org/academy. Part of the money will support improvements in the website.
How do I know you are a real scientist?
Here is my webpage: alamino.org
And my Researchgate profile: Roberto C. Alamino
And also a list of my scientific publications: Scientific Work by Roberto C. Alamino