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First Principles

by Michael Nielsen on March 30, 2009

How would you use 100 million dollars if someone asked you to set up and run an Institute for Theoretical Physics?  My friend Howard Burton has written a memoir of his 8 years as the founding Executive Director of the Perimeter Institute, taking it from conception to being one of the world’s best known institutes for theoretical physics. I’ve heard many people theorize about how a scientific institution ideally should be organized (“consider a spherical physicist…”), and I’ve contributed more than a few thoughts of my own to such discussions. What I really liked about this book, and what gives it a unique perspective, is that it’s from someone who was actually in the hot seat, from the get-go.

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  1. Odd question, but do you know why the book isn’t available on, but only on the .ca version? I’d think that many people here in America would be interested in the book as well.

  2. Chris – No idea. I wondered, too.

  3. Key Porter is a Canadian publisher and they likely don’t have a US distribution deal. Burton will probably have to strike a separate deal with a US publisher. This doesn’t happen very often with US books, as all the large US publishers will have Canadian distribution but does happen occasionally the other way. Many famous Canadian authors, for example, are published by different houses in the US & Canada.

    The issue of territories happens quite often between North America and the UK & Australia with lots of authors being published by separate companies in the various places.

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