What interested me most of all was: why? At an age when most men are contemplating retirement, with more money than he can count, why was Mr. Simons still at it? "I enjoy the challenge," he replied.Hear, hear. I've reposted the STAR image just to show what Simon was referring to.
He then began describing a demonstration he saw recently of a new nuclear accelerator at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he is on the board. Two atoms hurtled toward each other, colliding with great force. "A huge number of particles are thrown out," he said, "and the job is to analyze everything that results from the collision."
"Watching the spray of particles on the screen made me think of the stock market," he continued. Every trade, even of a hundred shares of a company, affects every other trade. And every day there are thousands upon thousands of such trades, all of them affecting the rest of the market. His work, as he sees it, is to analyze that incredibly complex mosaic and try to figure out how it all fits together.
"The subject may not be the most important in the world," he concluded, "but the dynamics of the market are really interesting. It's a serious question."
I suddenly understood the motivation behind Mr. Simons's new fund. He's doing it because he wants to see if it can be done. Once a scientist, always a scientist.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Once a Scientist
There's a lot of ground to cover in the issues surrounding the recent announcement of private funding for RHIC. But as a nice way to start these discussions, it seems apropos to start with a telling quote (at least in retrospect) from the New York Times Business section on November 19, 2005, from an interview by Joseph Nocera with Simons in his Manhattan office: