×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

China Will Lead World Scientific Research By 2020

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the we-got-the-numbers-we-got-the-will dept.

Education 387

Hugh Pickens writes "An analysis of papers published in 10,500 academic journals across the world shows that, in terms of academic papers published, China is now second only to the US, and will take first place by 2020. Chinese scientists are increasing their output at a far faster rate than counterparts in rival 'emerging' nations such as India, Russia, and Brazil. The number of peer-reviewed papers published by Chinese researchers rose 64-fold over the past 30 years. 'China is out on its own, far ahead of the pack,' says James Wilsdon, of the Royal Society in London. 'If anything, China's recent research performance has exceeded even the high expectations of four or five years ago.' According to Wilsdon, three main factors are driving Chinese research. First is the government's enormous investment, with funding increases far above the rate of inflation, at all levels of the system from schools to postgraduate research. Second is the organized flow of knowledge from basic science to commercial applications. And third is the efficient and flexible way in which China is tapping the expertise of its extensive scientific diaspora in North America and Europe, tempting back mid-career scientists with deals that allow them to spend part of the year working in the West and part in China." Here's the Financial Times's original article.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

387 comments

Beehives and ant colonies are efficient too (5, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902950)

But I wouldn't want to live in either.

Re:Beehives and ant colonies are efficient too (2, Informative)

kklein (900361) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903396)

You haven't been to China, have you? It's less beehive and more wild west.

To summarize... (4, Insightful)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902952)

"... China is tapping the expertise of its extensive scientific diaspora in North America and Europe, tempting back mid-career scientists with deals that allow them to spend part of the year working in the West and part in China."

Translation: Chinese academics and scientists working in the West are, for all intents and purposes, spys.

Re:To summarize... (1)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903004)

There is a legend about a chinese who was such a great spy, he went so far to the west he returned in china.

Re:To summarize... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903676)

Richard Nixon?

Re:To summarize... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903028)

Read http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/08/28/060828fa_fact2?currentPage=all for more on how the Chinese approach science...

Re:To summarize... (1)

symes (835608) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903044)

"... China is tapping the expertise of its extensive scientific diaspora in North America and Europe, tempting back mid-career scientists with deals that allow them to spend part of the year working in the West and part in China."

Translation: Chinese academics and scientists working in the West are, for all intents and purposes, spys.

Troll. It is not so much between countries where spying occurs but between scientific groups. But that is only inso far research concerned with who gets the publication first. Once published, in general, everyone benefits. The only exception is commercially sensitive research - and, frankly, the chinese have the muscle to buy their way into that market.

Re:To summarize... (4, Informative)

Walterk (124748) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903066)

Spys? That's quite harsh. There's many scientists from different countries working all around the globe. Many European ones in the US as well, and US scientists in Europe for instance. If a US scientist works in the EU, does that make him a traitor or a spy? It makes him a scientist. Science advances through different information being shared and further developed on. China and the US are not in a war, so to label them as spies seems rather odd.

Re:To summarize... (1)

acidfast7 (551610) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903168)

I hope not. I'm an American citizen, did a PhD in the US, and moved to Sweden to work because I was tired of the whitehouse administration. I now run a research group in Germany, but I guess that's only because I am a spy ... according to the GP.

Re:To summarize... (2, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903204)

China and the US are not in a war, so to label them as spies seems rather odd.

Yes, they are, although the battlefield is purely economic. The US is losing.

I wonder if China can do the same technological leap as Japan did after WW2.

Re:To summarize... (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903296)

Japan could do the technological leap because pretty much all of their previous infrastructure had been bombed into non-existance and so they didn't have to overcome inertia to replace it. Much the same in Europe, as well. In the US, we haven't fought a war on our own soil since the Civil War (Japanese invasion of the Allusion Islands doesn't count), and so once we build something it takes a really, really long time or a major incident before replacing or upgrading it seems economical to the people who are going to be paying for it. Maybe if the Chinese or someone would like to come knock down some crummy old bridges and tear up 100+ year old runs of copper wire then we can get on with the business of moving forward ourselves.

Re:To summarize... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903464)

Maybe if the Chinese or someone would like to come knock down some crummy old bridges and tear up 100+ year old runs of copper wire then we can get on with the business of moving forward ourselves.

You'd think, but I feel like we'd just cry about it for 10 years and do nothing

Re:To summarize... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903422)

Look up Industrial Espionage, then you'll get a better understanding of the word "spy" in context.

Re:To summarize... (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903086)

Don't know how China will become a leader if their research model is espionage. The USSR propped up its research by doing the same thing (see nuclear weapons) and ultimately lost when better counter measures were taken to stop them.

Re:To summarize... (2, Informative)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903248)

The USSR propped up its research by doing the same thing (see nuclear weapons) and ultimately lost when better counter measures were taken to stop them.

Really? What else did nice US propaganda workers tell you?

Holy fuck, of all things, USSR had one of the best nuclear research programs in the world.

Re:To summarize... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903136)

The USA should stop crying foul. Maybe its time the lazy citizens in the USA start doing a days hard work. I have worked with a Chinese company on a project and the bottom line is they are hard workers. The USA has only got itself to blame for its troubles.

 

Re:To summarize... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903586)

The USA should stop crying foul. Maybe its time the lazy citizens in the USA start doing a days hard work. I have worked with a Chinese company on a project and the bottom line is they are hard workers. The USA has only got itself to blame for its troubles.

Boo hoo! Poor USA most powerful nation in the world. Boo hoo! so much money that its people can afford to buy inflatable grills to cook cheese-burgers in their pools. boo hoo! Waaah! poor fallen Roman empire. USA just look at Italy... that's your future. Just go and by a bulk of speedos and vespas now.

As a scientist... (1)

acidfast7 (551610) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903142)

this comment is idiotic. Running two groups (one in the West and one in China) is becoming commonplace. Although this seems to be happening mostly in Singapore (due to English), more than in Beijing or Shanghai.

Re:As a scientist... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903408)

this comment is idiotic. Running two groups (one in the West and one in China) is becoming commonplace. Although this seems to be happening mostly in Singapore (due to English), more than in Beijing or Shanghai.

That's something a spy would say.

Just like the lottery... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902954)

...anyone can play the numbers game. But how do we gauge the quality of those papers, and the quality of the Chinese peer review process? If progress is simply a matter of slaughtering trees, then Americans can play with the best of 'em.

I should hope so (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902974)

Since the PRC accounts for about 25% of the human race, while the US accounts for about 5%!

Let the Chinese steal from us and then start innovating on their own. We'll then just start stealing from each other.

Quantity != Quality (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902976)

As a researcher in the physical sciences, I have noticed that nearly all the Chinese groups working my area publish complete crap of no value to other researchers. There are quite a few good Chinese researchers at American universities, but I have not once found a reason to actually cite a group based in China. They have a long way to go still before they reach the same level of impact as any western country (or hell, even its neighbors Korea and Japan).

Let them publish. It keeps them occupied. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902986)

I have had several contacts with computer scientists **from** China, and they seem to have very bizarre publication habits. The quantity of papers seems to be their main objective. As concerns quality, it's not necessarily good. So, let them work on publishing, they'll do less research. :)

Can you imagine... (1)

nx6310 (1150553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903000)

If all of that research is into how to make cheaper versions of the US/UK research that have the exact short term results?

Priorities out of whack (3, Insightful)

Bicx (1042846) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903010)

Maybe things wouldn't be this way if people in the U.S. started fighting the stigma of becoming a "nerd," gave college research priority over athletics programs, and provided students incentive to be hard-working and inquisitive.

Defense Spending Is Out of Whack (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903156)

Maybe things wouldn't be this way if people in the U.S. started fighting the stigma of becoming a "nerd," gave college research priority over athletics programs, and provided students incentive to be hard-working and inquisitive.

The the real priority that is clearly disparate between Western countries and China is purely what percent of our GDP we dump into science versus defense on a federal level. Do a budget comparison between the United States and China [wikipedia.org] for defense spending. I think you'll find that that leaves China with much more resources to dump into education, their growing economy, building infrastructure and science.

In the United States, military spending does foster more science and education but still not as much as dumping that new joint strike fighter contract into college educations for everyone. It ain't going to change but it's a very real difference that can be felt.

Re:Defense Spending Is Out of Whack (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903614)

Last budget: about $3 Trillion, last Defense budget: about $600 Billion. But I do agree that we are overfunding the Air Force, and defense programs in powerful Congress-Critters' localities. Still, the real money is tied up in entitlements.

Re:Priorities out of whack (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903158)

Why is this famebait? Its the same in the UK (apart from the athletic programs), someone studying engineering is an unpopular nerd compared to someone studying art history, media studies, etc.

Re:Priorities out of whack (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903240)

Last I checked, you don't study engineering in high school.

Re:Priorities out of whack (1)

Bicx (1042846) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903292)

Good thing we're talking about college then. But now that you mention it, stimulating high school students in the areas of science and math is just as important.

Re:Priorities out of whack (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903312)

Last I checked, the nerd/jock dualism doesn't exist in college.

Re:Priorities out of whack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903682)

It does. They just don't call themselves jocks anymore. They call themselves MBAs. When I started working in a large company, it amazed me how trivial and bullying management is. That's the jock attitude if I remember correctly. It's sad, but I found that by reading the sports page, I can get further in a company that I can reading slashdot (or anything from IEEE or ACM).

Re:Priorities out of whack (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903380)

You can't really bullshit your way though an Engineering or Mathematics degree the same way you can Philosophy or something else -- either your answer is correct or its not, and no room really for arguing or thought experiments. That means studying harder and putting more effort in, which means less time for hanging out and taking part in the scene. It's hard to be friends with someone whose lifestyle is going to be so completely different by necessity. To a lot of people, even those who might naturally have had an aptitude for science/math/engineering, the tradeoff just might not be worth it and so they don't pursue it as a course of study.

Re:Priorities out of whack (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903648)

Philosophy is not easy to bullshit your way through. Take a course on Satre or Kant sometime. Most quality philosophy curricula require 2 foreign languages as well.

Re:Priorities out of whack (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903170)

Why are we and others stuck on this dichotomy of "nerds" and "jocks"? Whatever happen to being a scholar and an athlete?

The nerd doesn't have to be a swimming champ or football star and the jock doesn't have to be science genius - but why this false duality?

My uncle was a research chemist who did groundbreaking work in ceramic lasers and he was a big time tennis player up until he died a few years ago. My Uncle Chuck was also a member of a frat in college.

Re:Priorities out of whack (0, Flamebait)

kklein (900361) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903458)

America is a country of ignorant hicks who were lucky enough to avoid being demolished in WWII, enabling them to entice the best and brightest from other countries to come over and make us seem cultured and technologically advanced. With that lead long since gone, we are returning to our rightful place in the world: The loud, annoying hayseed who has the education of a glass of water and punches anyone who disagrees with him.

It's a shit country, America.

And I say that as an American who had such high hopes for his homeland, but has heartbreakingly concluded that he's better living abroad, and shouldn't come back home.

Re:Priorities out of whack (1)

Bicx (1042846) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903604)

This isn't the America I know. Maybe you should give the country another chance. We don't all fall in to the "ignorant hick" stereotype, after all.

More than just those three reasons (3)

DiscountBorg(TM) (1262102) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903018)

When it comes to the race to develop new technologies, I'm always reminded of the (easily missed) quote at the beginning of Deus Ex: "Their... 'ethical inflexibility' has allowed us to make progress in areas they refuse to consider." For example China does not have the ethical hangups about stem cell research that we do here in the west. Perhaps they will be developing new medicines and cures based on their research--and we will end up using it in the end as well.

Re:More than just those three reasons (2, Interesting)

mangastudent (718064) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903194)

If anyone could cite a single therapy to come from embryonic stem cell research your comment might have some force.

Unfortunately, solving that is equivalent to figuring out cancer (and that's essentially what you get when you put embryonic (undifferentiated) stem cells in animals); this is basic research pretending to be applied. Look at e.g. the recent equivocations of the California state organization that's administering their effort.

Re:More than just those three reasons (1)

DiscountBorg(TM) (1262102) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903280)

I'm not sure what point it is you are attempting to convey. That because there have been no useful therapies or medicines developed as of yet, this line of research should be abandoned?

Re:More than just those three reasons (1)

mangastudent (718064) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903640)

No, I'm saying people have tried, they've failed, we understand why, and that promoting it as applied research ("... people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again [washingtonpost.com]") is fraudulent. And that claiming our scruples in avoiding research to a very small extent---there never was a total ban, only a ban on using Federal money to create new embryonic stem cell lines, as I remember---is holding us back is just not true in any way I know of.

In this field as so many others, politics is the death of real science.

This improves the rate of progress for all of us (4, Insightful)

javilon (99157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903020)

Forget for a moment the nationalistic and economic competition between USA and China. What this means to me is that with China, Russia, Brazil and India increasing their research output, the rate of scientific progress will probably double from what we had 10 years ago.

That and the fact that I prefer (for moral reasons) a non starving Chinese population, means this is good to me. The current boom in biotechnology together with an aging population, means that scientific knowledge improves quality of life for all of us.

By the way, China is investing heavily and making fast progress in stem cell development, a research area where the religious lobby in the USA has delayed progress. The USA has it's own political problems.

Re:This improves the rate of progress for all of u (0)

mangastudent (718064) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903232)

Ah, so have the Chinese come up with any therapies based on embryonic stem cells? If so, we'd know, since they would be the first and it would be banner headlines around the world.... (See my other comment [slashdot.org] on this for more detail.)

Maybe the US should pay scientists decent wages (4, Insightful)

ZuchinniOne (1617763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903030)

Things are seriously backwards here when some of the most educated people in the world are paid so poorly.

Most post-docs doing basic research get paid between 30-40K. Perhaps if we paid scientists what they are worth there would be less brain drain.

Re:Maybe the US should pay scientists decent wages (2, Funny)

shabtai87 (1715592) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903176)

What, do something fun and intellectually stimulating AND make money? What madness is this? Everyone knows you have to be bored and trolling youtube for 8 hours a day in an office setting to make a decent salary!

Re:Maybe the US should pay scientists decent wages (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903266)

Academic reserchers are paid very well in the US compared to most countries. Take a look at post-doc wages in France or Italy...

The brain drain isn't geographical, it's is people moving away from research into more lucrative fields (eg. finance).

Re:Maybe the US should pay scientists decent wages (1)

ZuchinniOne (1617763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903366)

Sure, but my understanding is that the RELATIVE pay of researchers in China is much higher than average.

Thus making it lucrative there ... but not in the US.

chinese are evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903108)

the chinese do all there research in the us then they publish there work in china

What's the gov't doing? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903118)

Is the gov't doing anything about this 'brain drain'? We loved it when the best minds from Asia came to the US to study, start families and have their careers here. Now that they are heading back while our top minds continue to become lawyers and doctors (those that practice medicine not research it). All the while US companies have their IP stolen.

Maybe in 2020 the US will have large botnets stealing IP from China...

Let me take you back 25 years (3, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903122)

and you could find this exact same article, just substitute China for Japan. And yet 25 years later very few Japanese have won nobel prizes, Japan is a leader in a few select fields, but is a far cry from what people were saying it would be by now. This despite spending massive amounts of money on R&D and whatnot. Time will tell if this holds true for China as well, but I think it's important not to extrapolate too much on a very limited data set.

Re:Let me take you back 25 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903508)

Basically, the news is that a third of the world is going to lead scientific research by 2020, dominating over the current 1st place holder, a 1/25 of the world population. You're comparing apples to apple-trees.

Re:Let me take you back 25 years (1)

kklein (900361) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903534)

Absolutely. I live in Japan, and I often regale my Japanese friends with tales of the tales I was told of Japan growing up--which ended up with me living here (it's a nice place to live, if you speak/read the language). People laugh outloud, because they grew up in those days and know what it was really like.

That being said, the US economy collapsed, while my salary-in-yen is worth more dollars than I've ever seen. It's awesome when I go back home to see the folks, but shit when I remember that the bulk of my savings is in US banks.

However, the big difference here is that Japan is a small country--geographically and demographically. China is neither. I fully expect us to have our asses handed to us. The US is over. Japan is even more over.

Re:Let me take you back 25 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903554)

That might be true, but holy shit!
Japan didn't (and doesn't) have even 1/1000'th the resources of china, both in terms of human resources, natural resources, and metric butt-tones of cash.

China is poised to take over the world, people.
I for one, welcome our new Chinese overlords.
Time to go get me some rosetta courses from the 'bay.

Re:Let me take you back 25 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903776)

I think you forgot that China is 10 Japans

But how much of it is REAL research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903132)

The problem with presenting just raw numbers is that it does not reflect the quality of the research. Just last week, Nature has an article in its News section [nature.com] examining the rampant fraud and plagiarism in Chinese research publications.

Three words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903146)

... quality not quantity.

And yet (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903148)

Every time I point out how China will replace the US as the dominant force in the world, I get modded troll. Well, America, I understand. My mother is British, and consequently I have a British passport. I understand the denial that's happening - the way you feel is just like the British felt from the mid 1800's up until the middle of last century. The decline of the British Empire took 100 years. But nowadays things happen a lot faster.

Let's look at China:

      They have all the industry they need - so much, that they are rapidly becoming the worlds biggest exporter of everything.
      They have a huge population.
      They have a strong leadership.
      They have a real military. Uh this isn't Iraq, right? Their submarines are good enough to sneak up on US carriers, and they have demonstrated that they can shoot down satellites. Now I ask myself where the US will be with carriers on the bottom of the oceans and no satellites to coordinate communications for combined arms or provide overhead intelligence. They've chosen a very smart, asymmetric warfare route. They don't need to have ultra high tech main battle tanks capable of taking direct hits from M1's. They don't need hundred million dollar stealth aircraft. They just need lots and lots of reasonably good anti aircraft and anti tank missiles.
      They are becoming scientific leaders, which will even take away the US technology edge.
      They have a space program. They also have nuclear weapons. Combine the two and that means they can put a nuclear bomb anywhere on the planet with an ICBM. What's not known is their accuracy, but who needs accuracy if you have a multi-megaton device?
      Everything they can't innovate (yet), they can copy. Adherence to patents and intellectual property laws is only given by consent.
      They are the single largest holder of US debt, outside the US government.

      Ohhhh, it's going to be ugly. I certainly wouldn't want to live in Taiwan in the next 20 years, for a start. Forget the argument that the US is China's biggest customer, that's irrelevant. Wars often start between the best trading partners. The US and the UK circa 1800. The US and Japan WW2. France and Prussia/Germany, quite often in the 19th century. The only hope I have is that China has not shown any expansionist tendencies in recent history. They've been content with defending their borders. But if suddenly they decide to play the imperialism game - watch out!

Re:And yet (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903320)

The fact that you have a British mother does not mean you can comment with any authority on how the British felt in the mid 1800s.

British power had a significant input from the wealth of its colonies - quite different to America.

Re:And yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903400)

I'm may be wrong about this but isn't one of the reasons Japan targeted the US during WWII was because we didn't trade with them?

Except... (2, Insightful)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903404)

They have a one child policy. And lots of parents have sex selection abortion to avoid having their only child be a girl.

So you are going to have a population that will decline in number that has a bunch of young men with no hope of being married. Say what you will, the drive to take care of your family is important to society.

That's not a recipe for long-term success.

China is like a fat zit ready to explode (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903460)

They hold down anyone who dissents and create a pressure cooker. Their hold on power is tenuous - now 'why should we do what the Party tells us what to do?' In America at least I can email my congressman that I disagree with him without getting thrown in jail. At least I can Run for Office even if I am not in the dominant party, at least I can Vote for Whom I want to that is in the running. They may have focused on lucre and pulled themselves economically out of the state where they used to be - where we had to donate or sell cheap wheat to them so they would not starve en masse - and that is a good thing - In terms of research - any individual in our great country can pick up a book and read, and do research, and team with like-minded people to do research. They may or may not be funded or supported by the Government, but we have plenty of private individuals and groups capable of supporting research.

Re:And yet (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903462)

Imperialism? How about Tibet and East Turkistan? How about they have border disputes with several of their neighbors going as far as claiming an entire Indian state? Oh, they're way into Imperialism.

Re:And yet (3, Insightful)

smallfries (601545) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903770)

They are becoming scientific leaders, which will even take away the US technology edge.

There is no evidence for that. The metric used in the article (number of papers published) is quite simply the worst possible metric and gives us no information at all about the state of Chinese Research in comparison to other countries.

Wars often start between the best trading partners.

No, wars start between the largest economies who are rivals for resources and/or markets. They rarely start between trading partners. In the examples that you list Britain and the US had fought the war of independence over trading rights in the New World, and when Japan attacked the US in WWII it was in response to a trade embargo.

Quantity != Quality (2, Insightful)

cpscotti (1032676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903164)

At least in my field (Mobile Robotics), Chinese papers are everywhere but none of the ones I found were some kind of breakthrough.
China is all about volume simply bc they are HUGE.
And also... I'm still waiting to see a major civil war there sometime..

"Emerging"? (4, Informative)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903196)

rival 'emerging' nations such as India, Russia, and Brazil.

It was 18th century when Russia was "emerging" in scientific research.

science relies on the free exchange of ideas (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903220)

so i don't believe any chinese researchers will be making amazing breakthroughs as long as they live in a country which is fundamentally opposed to the idea of the free exchange of ideas. the free exchange of ideas is not some cute tweak on the product of scientific research, it is a preceding requirement for quality research to even be done in the first place

a society which does not allow a free exchange if ideas does not result in minds flexible enough to grasp important patterns quickly out of a morass of data. which is the essence of science. a society which carefully controls information results in minds weakened by an artificially placid media environment, where all information is carefully chosen for its adherence to an official point of view. but the truth is often ugly, and when "harmony" is artificially imposed, you breed flimsy minds which can only be spoonfed ideas which aren't too challenging to them

a truly keen scientific mind is bred in an environment where it is constantly challenged by ideas contrary to established belief. the mind is a muscle: challenge it, and it grows strong. put it in artificially serene environment free of opposing ideas, and it grows weak. the information environment that china supports therefore is contrary to the production of good scientific minds, and therefore contrary to the production of good science

in science, you question everything. and therefore, you get the best scientific theories. but in china, you never question, you only behave and adhere to the official party line. and so china is not building the social environment in which high quality minds can exist and high quality science can be done. china is breeding a generation of minds that are made of cotton candy and fluff with their desire for "harmony" over ugly truths. it takes an adherence to freedom of expression to get minds that are free in thought, and therefore make good science

Re:science relies on the free exchange of ideas (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903324)

Soviet scientists made pretty big breakthroughs, though they were not living in a free country...

you know what? you're right (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903536)

despite the best efforts of autocrats and dictators and brutal ugly rulers imposing their will throughout history, a few free minds always fell through the cracks and advanced mankind in scientific progress, despite some of mankind's efforts to keep us backwards

so the terrible irony here is that china WILL produce great scientists, just like the soviet union. and just like those soviet scientists, strong minds in spite of the system they were raised in, those minds will yearn strongly for a free society

and so those great chinese scientists will either yearn to leave china and go to the west, just like their soviet predecessors, where they can be free of all the enforced mediocrity in the political and information environment around them, or, more hopefully, they will serve as the seed of china's transformation to a free society

what i'm saying is, china will produce galileos. and galileo made scientific discoveries which challenged the political environment he was brought up in: catholic dogma. and galileo paid a price for that: house arrest. it will be sad and cruel but inevitable, but the best chinese minds of the future will inevitably wind up opposing the chinese autocracy, and will pay a heavy price for that. we can only hope that enough in china can see the stupidity of punishing their greatest minds for the sake of adhering to a brutal regime, which is brutal only to sustain itself, to be brutal another day

and my comment about galileo is not theoretical, its reality, this is the future and current reality of china's greatest minds:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/25/china-jails-liu-xiaobo [guardian.co.uk]

He told friends that he knew the risk of imprisonment when he drafted Charter 08, which demands the open election of public officials, freedom of religion and expression, and the abolition of subversion laws.

"We should end the practice of viewing words as crimes," the petition says.

Liu was arrested last December before the Charter was made public. Other drafters and signatories have been harassed. The mainstream media have been forbidden to cover the subject and censors have blocked many related internet sites and articles. Many Chinese are unaware that it exists.

Salman Rushdie, Umberto Eco and Margaret Atwood are among 300 international writers who have called for the release of Liu, who is a former president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre.

"Liu Xiaobo's case is about agreed international human rights standards, not merely the internal affairs of China," said John Ralston Saul, the president of International PEN. "China is signatory to international treaties and conventions, and cannot be given a free pass when it acts against its own and international standards."

The United States and European Union have also urged Beijing to free Liu.

"We continue to call on the government of China to release him immediately," Gregory May, first secretary with the US Embassy, said outside the courthouse today. May was one of a dozen diplomats stopped by authorities from attending the trial and sentencing.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters this week that statements from embassies calling for Liu's release were "a gross interference of China's internal affairs".

Re:science relies on the free exchange of ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903518)

I would like to agree with you, but it worked out pretty well for Russia in it's communist times. Russia not only competed but many times overtook the US in technological advancement, their only problem were the financial resources, a problem China doesn't seem to have.

Re:science relies on the free exchange of ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903616)

I work with Chinese researchers and while I'd agree that some of what you say is correct, I can only notice it if I look very hard. In my experience, most Chinese researchers tend to believe the generalisations that they read in scientific papers too much and are not cynical enough.

However, this minor deficiency in critical thinking isn't a big problem in terms of doing great research and they more than make up for it by working really hard and not acting like assholes. We live in interesting times.

Re:science relies on the free exchange of ideas (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903752)

China allows plenty of free exchange of ideas, just not certain ideas about certain kinds of politics. Germany under the Kaisers was very authoritarian with all kinds of suppression of ideas, but that didn't stop German from rapidly becoming a world in leader in physics and chemistry. Your ideas China breeding minds of cotton candy are just a racist myth. It's not like U.S. society is producing lots of non-apathetic, critical thinkers in the schools.

Re:science relies on the free exchange of ideas (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903778)

Blah, blah blah, blah blah blah blah./blockquote>

Exactly! For counter examples, see worthless brainwashed drones like Copernicus and Galileo, who nobody even remembers any more because of their inability to produce any useful work.

It's part of a trend. (2, Interesting)

MustardAndPizza (1617631) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903228)

When I was taking stats, my stat professor told me that he saw the far east eventually becoming the technology center of the world because of the increased amount of technological manufacturing and R/D coming from that region of the world.

On the other hand, he said, the United States is pretty unmatched in agricultural exports because of the natural resources at its disposal. China seems to be the biggest importer of agricultural goods from the U.S. All of that is to say, we might eventually see an increase in the value of raw commodities some time in the near future because of their increased export value.

Since Slashdot is all about unsubstantiated rumors, is now an appropriate time to say I don't have any references for this?

----
My signature is ill and couldn't be with us today.

New Super Power (2, Interesting)

rotide (1015173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903244)

It really is quite interesting to see a new Super Power being born. This is made a bit more interesting as I'm an American and "I" have been the Super Power for my entire life. To be witnessing the handover/taking of that torch is, admittedly a little unsettling, but hey, lets be honest, the US is no barometer of "good". We're pretty shady in our own right.

That being said, I have a feeling if there isn't a massive overhaul of the Chinese government, it may be a short lived stay at the top. As their populace inevitably feels the benefits of being at the top, they are going to want a better standard of living. As more and more of their populace starts wanting more, wanting "better", and becoming more educated, the corruption, censoring, etc, is going to get more and more obvious. I can easily see their population eventually standing up and demanding something better.

Hopefully they don't have the same growing pains we did (civil war, etc), although, we did come out better for it and it didn't kill us as a nation.

It will be an interesting show to watch, even if it is a bit unnerving.

Re:New Super Power (1)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903444)

On the bright side, as China's populace want a better standard of living and become more educated, the corruption and the real reasons for censoring may finally come under the sun and disappear due to popular demand. It's not like the more developed countries started out free of corruption and other types of censoring in the beginning.

But of course, it's just as probable that things can all go the wrong way.

Or maybe not (1)

Mahalalel (1503055) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903302)

Leading the world in the number of papers published is not equivalent to leading to world in scientific research.

An old professor of mine has said that he has been shocked by the number of times he's been reading a paper by a Chinese researcher and found large sections of the paper copied verbatim from one of his own. In a country that is so competitive in publishing papers, I'm sure many succumb to the pressure and temptation. That's not to say that there are good, original advances being made, but I'm not quite as optimistic as the news title leads one to believe.
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/rapidpdf/274/5286/337.pdf [sciencemag.org]

boring prophets (1)

alobar72 (974422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903308)

maybe it's just me - but I am bored of people who are trying to tell me, how the world will look like in 10 or 20 or 50 years. I mean - it is always fun to play the "what will be" game - but I can't quite remember on of those prognosis that actually came out to be true true...

Quality vs. quantity (5, Insightful)

David Jao (2759) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903316)

Counting the number of papers is a rather dubious way to measure research output. The article acknowledges this at the very end, pointing out that the quality of the research generated by Chinese researchers is rather mixed.

My own experience as a researcher is that Asian countries in general (with the possible exception of Japan) have a long way to go before they match the impact of Western researchers. There are exceptions, such as the MD5 collision [wikipedia.org] found by Wang et al., but in general most of the major breakthroughs occur in the West.

It's also not clear whether research produced by overseas Chinese is included in the total. Some of the very [wikipedia.org] best [wikipedia.org] mathematicians [wikipedia.org] in the world are Chinese, but almost all of them are based at Western institutions. In any case, as good as they are, the number of overseas Chinese is so small that they don't represent anything close to a majority.

I got one thing to say about this... (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903326)

>First is the government's enormous investment, with funding increases far above the rate of inflation
Well of course, when the person that comes up with something good or important, they will have to give it to china directly and it will be
china's property, second, their trials for medicine are totally different then ours, so if they come out with a supposed cure, the government has no problems testing right away on humans before doing real studies on animals...also, if you think about it, they have 4 times the population as the US, so of course they will be ahead, as well as all the cyber espionage they have been doing, what ever we have come up with, they now know, so we need to do the same to them....so as to keep relatively side by side.

This is all we can hope for.

Growth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903332)

Why is it always about quantity and growth? What about the quality of research? A scientist myself, I generally find that Chinese research, however "peer-reviewed", is not really stellar. In fact it is stated in the FT's article:

Although the statistics measure papers in peer-reviewed journals that pass a threshold of respectability, “the quality [in China] is still rather mixed,” says Jonathan Adams, research evaluation director at Thomson Reuters. But it is improving, he adds: “They have some pretty good incentives to produce higher quality research in future.”

These "incentives" make me laugh tbh. The only incentive in a stupid quantitative system is to meet requirements for the next year's round of grants. To be fair, this focus on quantity is absolutely not specifically a problem with China: is it better to cut a long in-depth study in 10 monthly parts to achieve some arbitrary publication requirement, or to publish all of it in a comprehensive way, when finished? That would make it of course impossible to start a "huge" project only to milk three or four partial papers out of it and then just move on to the next buzz subject when you lose focus...

Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903340)

We might have a chance if we have free education (kindergarden through college), pay our teachers more, pay our scientists more; fix our pathetic and crumbling public schools and colleges (Yes, "free" means paid for through our taxes, because we consider education important).

What? (1, Troll)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903360)

No way! We don't need no Gummint largess on edumucation or that fancy research! Our free market is going to provide everything for us, especially as long as those socialists (who never succeed at anything) keep funding our debt like they have for the last decade. I'm just going to bury my head back into the sand and turn Fox news back on, so I don't have to think about this reality.

New Scientist on the same topic (1)

svelemor (875096) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903390)

A somewhat more in-depth account of the increased research output of China can be found here [newscientist.com].

Bye bye English? (1, Offtopic)

fmrbastien (1334213) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903418)

I think it's now time to begin to publish in Esperanto.

By now Americans and Brittish are advantaged because all the publications are in English. And all the scientists in the world have to learn this difficult language to stay behind and understand what happens.

But will the chineese always publish their results in English? If they learn English and publish in chineese, they will always be in the first place, but if the scientific community begin to publish in Esperanto now, maybe it's not too late...

But I don't think thiw will happens, and for us non-english speaking people, a new difficult language will replace the current.

Greedy capitalists (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903476)

The reason the U.S. is falling so far behind is the fact that we glorify, even deify, athletes and musicians and throw unhealthy even obscene gobs of money at those two professions yet the return on the investment is nearly zero. Does the fact that some multi-millionare baseball player have a certain batting average do anything to improve the country? Does the fact that musicians get millions for writing one decent song and eleven crappy ones enable others to achieve anything? And then there's the current trend of anti-capitalism. China's government may be communist but its society is clearly capitalist.

corrupt publishing culture in China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903550)

While the magnitude of science publications is impressive, what about the quality? Nature magazine recently had an editorial on this subject. In summary, publishing culture in China is moved primarily by quantity. Scientists are rewarded for the number of articles and the prestige of the journal they publish in. This takes priority over all other considerations, including ethics.

From the Nature editorial:
"Chinese universities often award cash prizes, housing benefits or other perks on the basis of high-profile publications, and the pressure to publish seems to be growing. A new study from Wuhan University, for instance, estimates that the market for dubious science-publishing activities, such as ghostwriting papers on nonexistent research, was of the order of 1 billion renminbi (US$150 million) in 2009 — five times the amount in 2007. In other studies, one in three researchers surveyed at major universities and research institutions admitted to committing plagiarism, falsification or fabrication of data." (bold font added)
and later:
"Editors at the UK-based journal Acta Crystallographica Section E [publishing many biochemical crystal structures] last month retracted 70 published crystal structures that they allege are fabrications by researchers at Jinggangshan University in Jiangxi province. Further retractions, the editors say, are likely."

from:
Jane Qiu. "Publish or Perish in China" (2010). Nature 463, 142-143 [sorry, subscription only]

Blame American puritanism for part of it (0, Flamebait)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903570)

This is only one example but thanks to the Bush administration having its lips super glued to the ass of the religious "right", stem cell research is now being done largely by other countries. As the United States slid more into retreat and towards a theocratic nation, other countries just passed us by and lapped us: countries who aren't concerned about what Pat Robertson thinks and idiot hillbilly religious mentality. Mod it as a troll folks but the United States is largely to blame for its own self inflicted diminished role in research.

Depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903606)

The only way this will happen is if they can steal more research than is being produced in the US. But if they have to do it on their own, forget it.

Multiple reasons for this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903652)

One of the largest is that America is funding their students to come to American universities. We are now spending more on Chinese science students and professors than we do for American science students. That needs to stop. I would rather focus on Western nations students, or at the least, those that are not in a cold war with us.

Its all about demographics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903662)

Given that China has 3x the population of the US, it would be reasonable to expect China to outproduce the US in anything it makes a priority. However, I have doubts that the Chinese government can sustain the current policies. China's one-child per couple policy has led to an ageing population. Plus a growing middle class are going to start demanding more resources to raise their standard of living. Consequently, to maintain social stability the government is going to have to shift priorities, and I suspect that Scientific Research funding may not sustain the increases it has enjoyed. Its only a question of when, and 10 years might be the right timeframe.

No patents too? (1)

werfu (1487909) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903694)

I guess having most chineese firms not caring about legal threats from the US helps a bit. In the US you can't do anything without having a lawyer telling you if somebody has already patented a part of what you've been doing.

Melanine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903714)

Melanine will put a halt to this.

and.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30903746)

3. China is not wasting tons of money and research time trying to skew results to prove Global Warming is a man made event.

Achievement (1)

Drivintin (917847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30903774)

"You can do anything you set your mind to when you have vision, determination, and an endless supply of expendable labor. "
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...