THE podcast: Is ‘genius’ a bad word?

Nobel laureate astrophysicist Brian Schmidt discusses the notion of ‘genius’ with rising star physicist Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski

September 20, 2019
Sabrina Pasterski and Brian Schmidt

What does the notion of “genius” mean? And is it something that universities should look for in their search for talent? 

If anyone would be a candidate for the genius label it would be Nobel laureate astrophysicist Brian Schmidt or rising star physicist Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski. But in a conversation at the Times Higher Education World Academic Summit at ETH Zurich, neither said they identify with the term. In fact, they agreed that it’s a tag shunned by most scientists and potentially even discouraging to aspiring academics.

In this interview, Schmidt and Pasterski talk about their career successes and failures and what environments need to be created to encourage genius moments more than geniuses.

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