Neil Turok is working on a model of the universe that explains the big bang — while, closer to home, he's founded a network of math and science academies across Africa.

Why you should listen

Neil Turok works on understanding the universe's very beginnings. With Stephen Hawking, he developed the Hawking-Turok instanton solutions, describing the birth of an inflationary universe -- positing that, big bang or no, the universe came from something, not from utter nothingness.

Recently, with Paul Steinhardt at Princeton, Turok has been working on a cyclic model for the universe in which the big bang is explained as a collision between two “brane-worlds.” The two physicists cowrote the popular-science book Endless Universe.

In 2003, Turok, who was born in South Africa, founded the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Muizenberg, a postgraduate center supporting math and science. His TED Prize wish: Help him grow AIMS and promote the study and math and science in Africa, so that the world's next Einstein may be African.

Turok is the Director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, in Ontario, Canada. In 2010, the Canadian government funded a $20million expansion of the AIMS schools, working with the Perimeter Institute to start five new AIMS schools in different African nations.

What others say

“To me this seems like one of the most fundamental questions in science, because everything we know of emerged from the Big Bang. Whether it's particles or planets or stars or, ultimately, even life itself.” — Neil Turok, interviewed on Edge.com

Neil Turok’s TED talk

Neil Turok on the TED Blog
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Quotes from Neil Turok

It may be that we live in an endless universe, both in space and in time. And there’ve been Bangs in the past, and there will be Bangs in the future.
Neil Turok
TED2008 • 383K views Mar 2008
Inspiring, Courageous
The only people who can fix Africa are talented young Africans. By unlocking and nurturing their creative potential, we can create a step change in Africa’s future.
Neil Turok
TED2008 • 383K views Mar 2008
Inspiring, Courageous