The Evolved Man of the Week: Sylvester James Gates

Welcome to the Evolving Man Project’s ‘Evolved Man of the Week’ profile. Each week, we highlight an individual who embodies what it means to be an evolved man, famous and non-famous men alike. The world needs to know their stories and deeds. This week’s honor goes to the author, physicist, science educator, and television personality, Sylvester James Gates.

Mr. Gates recalls the time in his childhood when he became fascinated by science and the mysteries of the universe:

“The first part is when I was about eight years old. My father brought home a book one day, and it was about space travel. And in this book I learned that the stars in the sky were not just lights but places to go. And suddenly my universe got very much larger and I knew that science was the way, science, and technology, the way to get to such places.”

Professor Gates ponders the universe, the stars, and the nature of reality. His Ph.D. dissertation was on supersymmetry, which is a byproduct of string theory. Dr. Gates has spent an entire lifetime working on understanding the fundamental nature of the universe. These ideas and methods involve researchers and theorists using some of the most complicated mathematical equations known to man. Thankfully, Dr. Gates is a popularizer of science to the public and has a talent for breaking down complex, cutting-edge theories and mathematics for we mere mortals. Here, Dr. Gates breaks down Super String Theory to the masses:

“We are all living within a (very good) quantum computer simulation that our future Ancestors built.

Just like a computer today, multiple simulations can be run off of the same computer and off of the same program. So if it were the case that our Universe is a simulation as some Scientists believe it is, then we wouldn’t be the only simulated Universe; there would surely be many other simulations.

The trouble with such a theory is: How would we ever know if we are living within a computer simulation?

If we can not escape the simulation, how could we ever get to look at it from the outside in?”

Sylvester James Gates was born in Tampa, FL, in 1950. He received his BS and Ph.D. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Throughout his four-decade career, Dr. Gates has appeared in commercials for Verizon Wireless, TurboTax and has appeared in numerous science documentaries, including NOVA on PBS and Horizon on the BBC. Through the years, Dr. Gates has received numerous awards and honors, including being the first person of color to be the recipient of the American Physical Society’s Edward A. Bouchet Award and the National Medal of Service from President Obama in 2013. He was the first black person to hold an endowed chair in physics at a major U.S. research university. He currently serves on the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the National Commission on Forensic Science, and the Maryland Board of Education. Despite all his accomplishments and accolades, Dr. Gates still gets nervous during his television appearances:

“The claim is that I look very comfortable in front of the camera, but if you could only see what’s going on in my head,” said Gates, who admits he gets a little nervous, but “people tell me I hide it very well.”

Dr. Gates is a true pioneer and should inspire young boys and girls to pursue their dreams in reaching for the stars. We hope Dr. Gates continues to share his wisdom and far-reaching ideas about the nature of existence with everybody for years to come. Today, we honor Sylvester James Gates has this week’s Evolved Man of the Week.


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