This post was supported by Goldman-Sachs Grant No. GS98039

After my earlier post about the defense budget, I thought it might be nice if there were some other similar-sized revenue streams that we could tap into other than DoD funding.  It got me thinking… who has the most money? Governments aside (which already have schemes for funding science), it has to be large corporations and big investment banks.

While some large corporations have R & D divisions (e.g. the quantum group at IBM), I’m not aware of any investment bank that has one, despite the large number of physicists, mathematicians and computer scientists that they employ. Could we possibly get a bank to directly fund scientific research? After all, what is the entire NSF budget of $7 billion to a big investment bank? A JP Morgan executive loses that kind of money in the cushions of his couch.

Here is something that could possibly entice one of these entities to invest in physics: using neutrinos to do high-frequency trading. While all those other suckers are busy sending signals overland via satellites and fiber optics, you just take a short cut with a neutrino beam straight through the center of the earth!  My back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests an 18 ms difference to send a signal through the Earth from NYC to Shanghai rather than over the surface. You could make the trade and still have time to enjoy a quick blink afterward.

In fact, a group of physicists at Fermilab have recently done an experiment (arXiv) that demonstrated using a neutrino beam to (classically :) ) communicate through the Earth. The bit rate was low, only .1 bits per second, and the distance was only 240m. I’m sure one of the milestones on their Goldman-Sachs grant is to get that up to 1bps and 1km before the program review.

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5 Responses to This post was supported by Goldman-Sachs Grant No. GS98039

  1. Jim Harrington says:

    I think there already may be examples (or at least one) of scientific research supported by a hedge fund. What about D. E. Shaw & Co. (computational finance) and D. E. Shaw Research (computational biochemistry)?

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    • Paul B. says:

      … And is not it ironic that this post is just above the one about Simons Foundation award? Even before that (SUNY Stony Brook being my second alma-mater), I can attest to the fact that positive influence of Renaissance Technologies was quite felt on Physics (and Applied Math) departments over there…

      Paul B.

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  2. Steve says:

    @Jim, I hadn’t realized the D. E. Shaw did genuine research in computational bio. That definitely counts, and it’s very cool.

    @Paul B., Yes, I was aware of this irony, but Simons’ donations fall more under the heading of personal philanthropy. It is along the lines of what Mike Lazaridis has done with the Perimeter Institute. I’m not diminishing their amazing contributions… I was just hoping to get the whole company onboard. :)

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    • My understanding was that D. E. Shaw Research was entirely distinct from D. E. Shaw & Co., and not supported by it, with the common link being David Shaw.

      Back to the neutrinos though. Surely we don’t even need faster signalling to turn a profit. If your organizing is trading in multiple locations, it seems like entanglement may be enough to give you an advantage. We know lots of games where entanglement helps, and there seem to be so many possible permutations of financial transactions that I would be surprised if you couldn’t find a situation where if you are the only one with entanglement, there is a winning strategy for you.

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  3. Pingback: Funding boost for the arXiv | The Quantum Pontiff

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