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China To Overtake US In Science In Two Years

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the hmm-right-after-the-election dept.

Education 362

An anonymous reader writes "China is set to overtake America in scientific output as soon as 2013 — far earlier than expected. Chinese research spending has grown by 20% per year since 1999, now reaching over $100bn, and as many as 1.5 million science and engineering students graduated from Chinese universities in 2006. 'I think this is positive, of great benefit, though some might see it as a threat and it does serve as a wake-up call for us not to become complacent,' said Professor Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith. However, the report points out that a growing volume of research publications does not necessarily mean an increase in quality."

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What, people measure scientific output? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647612)

Is there some way to objectively measure it? Number of patents, number of papers, what?

Re:What, people measure scientific output? (3, Funny)

user32.ExitWindowsEx (250475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647674)

"China is set to overtake America in scientific output as soon as 2013" sounds like something that would bubble up in a Civ 4 or 5 game.

Chinese research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35648302)

But the problem with chinese research is not that there is good research but that it's indistinguishable in an ocean of crap. I never read any chinese author paper in a magaine unless I know the author or found it by reference from another non-chinese paper. most of them are just a waste of time. Seriously I'm not exaggerating.

But that's not just my bigoted opinion. The chinese governement has said as much when they promised a crackdown on phony research. Good for them.

Civ4 (1)

taktoa (1995544) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647690)

Beakers per turn!

Re:Civ4 (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647762)

-nod- We could get back on track in no time by just building a library in every town in America.

Re:Civ4 (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647916)

if there isn't a library in every town in America, i think that should be done regardless.

book stores don't count.

Re:Civ4 (5, Insightful)

deek (22697) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647918)

America already has the Library of Congress, which increases scientific output by 50% in all cities. There are just too many entertainers, some of which should be converted to scientists. That should be pretty obvious to most Civ players, I hope.

Re:What, people measure scientific output? (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647696)

Don't worry about it, we have this kid [slashdot.org]

But China does have cooler model trains than we do [bbc.co.uk]

Re:What, people measure scientific output? (3, Informative)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647704)

It's measured in the ability to RTFM, which Chinese scientists seems to excel at:

"The figures are based on the papers published in recognised international journals listed by the Scopus service of the publishers Elsevier."

Re:What, people measure scientific output? (4, Interesting)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648092)

China also is notorious for science fraud. From my observation, which can be summed up as a 'scientist browsing and delving into various pubs regularly', when there's fraud, it's usually in China.

Re:What, people measure scientific output? (5, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647740)

Is there some way to objectively measure it? Number of patents, number of papers, what?

In two turns their SuperComputer will be completed. Since they have a higher population, they'll get more research points. But if we build a Space Station, we can overtake them in 25 years.

Re:What, people measure scientific output? (2)

XiaoMing (1574363) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647792)

Is there some way to objectively measure it? Number of patents, number of papers, what?

FTA:

An analysis of published research - one of the key measures of scientific effort - reveals an "especially striking" rise by Chinese science.

Chinese spending has grown by 20% per year since 1999, now reaching over $100bn, and as many as 1.5 million science and engineering students graduated from Chinese universities in 2006.

One key indicator of the value of any research is the number of times it is quoted by other scientists in their work.
Although China has risen in the "citation" rankings, its performance on this measure lags behind its investment and publication rate.

Maybe the website can list "the patience to read TFA before asking redundant questions" as one of the metrics?
Also duly noted that the last one says China still lags behind in number of citations normalized to investment/publications, but still clearly defines a metric.

Re:What, people measure scientific output? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647920)

Maybe the website can list "the patience to read TFA before asking redundant questions" as one of the metrics?

I figured it would be worthless as they'd just come up with some meaningless statistic to judge it...thanks for saving me the time.

Re:What, people measure scientific output? (2)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648042)

Number of Chinese scientists? We still have a lot here.

Re:What, people measure scientific output? (0)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648060)

The number of Chinese scientists. We still have a lot of them here in America!

Re:What, people measure scientific output? (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648230)

If there is any truth to this story [cnngo.com] then they are headed down the same hill as the US, just a few years behind.

Re:What, people measure scientific output? (1)

CyberDog3K (959117) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648068)

It's the little beaker in the upper left hand corner of the interface.

Re:What, people measure scientific output? (2)

wmac (1107843) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648166)

Scientific output normally refers to cited papers (even though it could be seen wider).

http://www.scimagojr.com/countryrank.php?area=0&category=0&region=all&year=2009&order=it&min=0&min_type=it [scimagojr.com]

Narrow down to the last year. Also interestingly Iran has the highest growth rate in all countries (11 times he average of the World) and Asia is the future scientific growth region.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18546-iran-showing-fastest-scientific-growth-of-any-country.html [newscientist.com]

Re:What, people measure scientific output? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648206)

I would argue: there isn't.

After all what is the value of a particular bit of research? You would say the invention of the transistor was very valuable, but what about the enormous amount of research that went on to get to this point? The discovery of semiconductors, for example. The manufacturing techniques to actually make those parts. A bit of research never comes on its own, and it's anyway hard to put a value on it.

The information coming out of the LHC for example one person would consider fantastic and very valuable as it tells us more about how matter is built up; others will argue it's useless as while interesting to know it's not something that goes into making a new product. At least not yet. The inventor of the semiconductor also never would have thought that it would make web sites like this one possible. You don't know what the quality of a scientific discovery is.

Back to quality of scientific output: the best way probably to measure it, is citations. The more a paper is cited by other papers, the more researchers think it's valuable information and good research.

However with Chinese papers in the mix I expect two problems: one is the "link farm" effect (they cite each other), the other is language: many Chinese don't master English well enough to order a cup of coffee, let alone to write even the summary of a research paper (this is personal experience - even with university students in Hong Kong where English is the medium of education!). A lot is published in Chinese and as such pretty much inaccessible to non-Chinese researchers. The rest of the world publishes in English, which in turn is largely inaccessible to Chinese students.

Chinese universities also have more cheating (2)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647622)

Chinese universities also have more cheating then us ones.

Re:Chinese universities also have more cheating (3, Interesting)

JanneM (7445) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647638)

You have any numbers supporting that assertion? Specifically, is it true when weighted by research impact?

Re:Chinese universities also have more cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647708)

Yes.

Re:Chinese universities also have more cheating (4, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648062)

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence of cheating.

And it's also helped by the fact that in China researchers are judged by number of papers they put out - so there is a very strong incentive for copying work from others and add maybe a bit of your own just to push out yet another paper. It's normal for a PhD at a Chinese university to have a dozen or two papers on his name when graduating; against just a few for PhDs at European or American universities.

Cheating is considered a large problem within universities in China - not only universities but also other parts of the whole education system. I've read about doctors working in hospitals with bought certificates. Recently it was pilots flying commercial Chinese airliners without having actually passed the exams. It's a real problem - and arguably part of the problem is the lack of checks and balances. These pilot licenses should have been verified with the school that purportedly issued them, for example, yet airliners were too busy expanding that they didn't do this. I wouldn't be surprised if more bribes were involved in not having those licenses checked.

Quality of Chinese research in general is still low. They will surely pick up to the game sooner or later, and there are definitely very good Chinese researchers around. Just have a look at the top universities in the US: many of their top researchers nowadays are Chinese nationals. Oh and that they are working in the US and not in their home country is not just because.

Re:Chinese universities also have more cheating (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648224)

Yes, there is cheating going on, of course there is. Problem is, cheating is going on elsewhere too, and with only anecdotal evidence it's hard to determine to what degree there really is more cheating in China than in, say, the US or Europe, and to what degree it is a matter of perception.

"And it's also helped by the fact that in China researchers are judged by number of papers they put out [...]"

Yep. But so are researchers everywhere. Your publication count - how many papers, with what impact factor - largely determines your future career no matter where you work. Is that good? No. There's lots of negatives with such a system. Is it a fact of life at the moment? Yes, unfortunately.

"Quality of Chinese research in general is still low. "

Which is why I was asking for a rigorous comparison. My feeling is - I have little hard data - that cheating is more common at lower-level schools than higher-level ones; and at earlier career stages than at later ones, simply because the benefits of cheating is greater, and the risk of getting caught is smaller, in the former cases than the latter.

So to determine relative levels of scientific fraud you need to control for both those factors, and compare research at similar quality levels, from comparable institutions, performed by people at similar stages in their careers. Not easy. But necessary if we're going to go from guesses to real data.

Quantity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647624)

Quantity =/= quality.

Who will be first to automate outsourcing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647634)

In communist China, jobs outsource you.

Definition of a grad student... (4, Funny)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647636)

...a machine for turning ramen into "scientific output".

Re:Definition of a grad student... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647672)

Ramen is a Japanese thing.

Re:Definition of a grad student... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647706)

Which they took from the Chinese.

Re:Definition of a grad student... (2)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648106)

Whoosh...

Re:Definition of a grad student... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647882)

Don't worry. China is becoming more successful. This means that students will end up in business courses rather than something useful like science/maths.

Once this next generation of parasites is let loose on the Chinese economy sucking the lifeblood out of it like a fat leech... they'll bankrupt it and need bailing out from the next big economic boom zone - India maybe.

It's the circle of life. The wheel of fortune... come on Americans... sing along with me.

Re:Definition of a grad student... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647952)

s/ramen/stimulants and sources of calories/g

Not surprising (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647644)

When I hear things like Texas wants to slash 10 billion dollars from the public education budget. Or did that not get through?

Re:Not surprising (1)

fox171171 (1425329) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647742)

The United Corporations of America (formerly USA) do not need or want the citizens to be smart. It only needs them to be consumers.

Re:Not surprising (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648064)

So you have some data correlating the amount of money spent to kids learning proper English, math, and science? I would be fascinated.

this is the thing that bothers me (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647646)

'I think this is positive, of great benefit, though some might see it as a threat and it does serve as a wake-up call for us not to become complacent,' said Professor Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith

Science is absolutely not a competition. Was Argentina harmed because the US went to the moon? Was Russia harmed when penicillin was discovered? No, not at all. China's increased scientific research is a benefit to all of us.

The only way you could possibly twist this into a bad thing is if you think China is going to become a military power and try to take over the world. But it's a LONG logical stretch between "greater scientific spending" and "army capable of conquering the rest of the world." So let's cheer up a little and not look at everything through the lens of fear. This is great!

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647702)

Plus now we can steal all their Intellectual Property instead of them stealing ours.

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (2)

taktoa (1995544) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647808)

Well, China may spend a lot on science, but has comparatively few important innovations (in the last 100 years). I mean, try to think of one game-changing Chinese invention (in China) from the last 100 years. The idea that we're slipping behind China technologically is utter bullshit.

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (0)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648098)

Well, China may spend a lot on science, but has comparatively few important innovations (in the last 100 years). I mean, try to think of one game-changing Chinese invention (in China) from the last 100 years.

The idea that we're slipping behind China technologically is utter bullshit.

I know, I know, this is slashdot, and asking you to RTFA is useless. But seriously, you don't have to read the article, or even the summary, because right in the article title it says "overtake US in science in two years," so what does the last hundred years have to do with anything?

(oh, and I'd call the synthesis of insulin - one of the first proteins ever synthesized a game changer, you on the other hand, may beg to differ).

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (2)

geek (5680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647818)

Science is absolutely about competition. The "Space Race" was the single greatest time in scientific advancement in history. Being the first to do something great is a fantastic motivator. It is also very rewarding and drives people to do their best work as well as drives people to question the results.

I can't think of anything more scientific than competition. The desire to be better, to do better, to create and innovate are all competitive.

Technology != Science (4, Insightful)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648104)

The "Space Race" was the single greatest time in scientific advancement in history.

Not really - the space race was more about technology than science. Scientifically the problem was solved: there was no problem calculating the physics involved to go to the Moon - the problem was developing the technology capable of doing so. It was a fantastic motivator for science and remains one of mankind's shining achievements but was really the result of applying science rather than discovering new science.

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (1)

Doctorer (1017662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647820)

Your argument is flawed, because they are already a large military power who have repeatedly demonstrated their desire to conquer the world.

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (2, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647942)

they are already a large military power

Their power is but a shadow of the United States and an even smaller portion of the entire world.

have repeatedly demonstrated their desire to conquer the world.

Oh yeah? Back this one up with a well written, fact-based post and you'll get a +5 informative. But I seriously doubt you can do it.

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (1)

Doctorer (1017662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648010)

I'm not so hooked on /. cookies to do the work for you.

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (1, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648028)

In other words, your post is nothing more than speculation. The fact is, there is no evidence China wants to conquer the world. And you know it.

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (1)

Doctorer (1017662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648058)

In other words, I'm not going to write a peer-review quality thesis for your "+5 insightful". And you know it.

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648130)

Suit yourself.

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35648216)

Don't worry. We know you live in a trailer like your KKK peers and don't have the ability to write a peer-reviewed thesis.

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648248)

There are trailer trash who reads /. and speculate racist BS unfortunately.

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35648048)

Which means you haven't done the work at all. Making shit up and passing it as truth seems to be a huge passtime these days.

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647856)

Time to hit the history books.

You possess a certain optimism and naivete that can only be tempered with uncomfortable hard facts... Unfortunately.

Of course it's a competition! (1)

caxis (855664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647898)

Was Japan harmed because the US developed the nuclear bomb? Hell yes science is a competition--perhaps academic science is of potential benefit to everyone, but government and corporate science--I'm less optimistic.

Re:Of course it's a competition! (2)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647958)

Was Japan harmed because the US developed the nuclear bomb?

Absolutely not. There are debates about the ethicality of using a nuclear bomb, and especially about dropping the second bomb, and I don't know enough to answer that question. But one thing is clear beyond doubt: the offensive attack the US had planned if they didn't use the bomb would have been far worse. And that is historical fact.

Re:Of course it's a competition! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35648138)

You're a retard if you think that anything justifies killing civilians with a nuclear bomb, or maybe you're just another US brainwashed citizen that thinks you have the rights to do what you want in the world for so less when you've done so worse.

Opinion != Fact (0)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648172)

the offensive attack the US had planned if they didn't use the bomb would have been far worse. And that is historical fact.

Since when did educated guesses become fact? While I would tend to agree with you that is my (and your) opinion which is it something very different from a fact since we could both be wrong.

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (5, Funny)

lennier (44736) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647902)

Science is absolutely not a competition. Was Argentina harmed because the US went to the moon?

John F Kennedy, 1961: "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because it is easy but because it will annoy Argentina."

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (1)

DrFalkyn (102068) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647984)

Science is absolutely not a competition. Was Argentina harmed because the US went to the moon? Was Russia harmed when penicillin was discovered? No, not at all. China's increased scientific research is a benefit to all of us.

Was Europe harmed by German research in the 1930s?

Re:this is the thing that bothers me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35648084)

Benefits us all. Benefits them financially relative to other exporters of science.

Overtake? Hardly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647654)

Unless you purely count in terms of quantity, not quality.

Re:Overtake? Hardly... (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647796)

Yea but would also mean China would have to Actually come up with stuff and not steal idea's from us.

Let's keep things in perspective (1)

rs1n (1867908) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647668)

Don't forget that they have a much larger population, so they will produce more papers just because there are more people. But as the summary points out, quantity and quality are two different things. In the past, we've seen articles on how competitive people are over there (few top schools, and too large a population = greater competition) to the point where there have been reports of academic dishonesty (not to say that they are the only ones, though).

Maybe theyl find... (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647670)

Maybe theyl find more mixmatch dinosaurs and herbal viagra, but if the world of science elsewhere continues to bulk up on benefactor bia$ and special interest spin, then Il be just as happy to shun them all for my magic 8 ball. It already more accurate than the press and the local weathermen.

papers like those for Traditional Chinese Medicine (1)

Palpatine_li (1547707) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647676)

believe me, you can make a statistician kill him/herself just by forcing him/her to read them.

Re:papers like those for Traditional Chinese Medic (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647842)

no, they just make for entertaining counterexamples/stories for their classes/clients.

US/slash/output/still/superior/though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35648188)

kill him/herself just by forcing him/her to

entertaining counterexamples/stories for their classes/clients.

You two are making slashdot more slash-dottier than normal with all/those/slashes/in/your/text. Are we competing with China's slash output too?

no suprise (1, Insightful)

BurgEnder (698732) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647686)

As most Americans seem more concerned about burning bushes, the destruction of society by letting anyone marry, and other ridiculous religious nonsense. The stupi-di-fi-cation of America was started by the right-wing years ago because a dumb American is a controllable American.

Re:no suprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647782)

I more concerned about itching clintons, the destruction of society due to unavoidable incest on an island, and just whose damn business religion is anyway. The stupification of the world started as we discovered being able to do whatever you damn well please is empowering. Empowering enough as it were to make BurgEnder mumble doubletalk in esperanto. Guess he was controlled. I love poking his pissy button.

Re:no suprise (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647826)

The 'stupidification of America' is an imagination of your weird-wing ideology. Statistics can't speak to specific cases, so maybe the people you hang out with are idiots, but overall America has a higher level of education than at any time in history. Check it out [wikipedia.org] . It's somewhat leveled off recently (in part due to immigrants not graduating from school), but in no rational worldview could you call it 'stupidification.' Seriously. If you want a cultural reference, look at how geeks are treated in Grease compared to High School Musical. It wasn't nearly as respected to be smart in those days.

Re:no suprise (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647892)

You're assuming the quality of education remained the same over that time. It didn't. More years of education doesn't mean better education if people, on average, are reading less, using their heads less, and have worse teachers. People certainly have worse teachers today--which is not to say they don't have some phenomenal teachers. But forty and fifty years ago, teaching was one of the only good jobs an intelligent woman could get. You had a huge percentage of the brightest women in the country going into teaching. Today we don't. It makes for a more egalitarian society, but also one that isn't taught as well.

Re:no suprise (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648002)

Yawn. You are speculating. What numbers do you have to show that education has gotten worse? If the best you have is your vague speculation that intelligent women no longer become teachers, then you sir have seriously failed at any sort of evidence-based thought. Come back when you have some real numbers to discuss.

Re:no suprise (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648304)

You are speculating. What numbers do you have to show that education has gotten worse?

Actually I would argue that the orignal plot [wikipedia.org] linked above provides such evidence. Given that the importance of education and the access to it has not significantly changed over the past few decades and that, in the same time, there has been no chance for humans to evolve to become smarter the only conclusion you are left to draw is that educational standards have dropped.

If I compare the expectations on my kids currently in primary school vs. what I was expected to learn it becomes even clearer. In fact in secondary school we did, admittedly basic, polynomial calculus by the age of 16. Now many students leave school at 18 without ever having seen calculus.

Re:no suprise (2)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648004)

I learned things in high school that my parents didn't get taught. Trig and calculus weren't taught to them from what I gather. My grandpa has a high school diploma but can't do algebra. It may be they are exceptions, but I wouldn't just assume they were taught more back then. We need some facts.

Good (4, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647714)

A step rise in Chinese research - and in Indian, and other newly developed countries - means more total research happening around the world. More research and more results is a win for everyone.

In addition, the spread of research efforts mean that more avenues are explored, and that progress is not as dependent on the temporary political and scientific winds in any particular country or region.

Re:Good (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648110)

[...] progress is not as dependent on the temporary political and scientific winds in any particular country or region.

Don't forget religious and cultural ideas.

For example astronomy is a subject that was held up for long time for religious/cultural reasons. For example, for very long astronomers tried anything to just be able to explain the movements of the planets on the assumption that the Earth is at the centre of the universe. They just wouldn't/couldn't accept the idea that the Sun is the centre of our solar system - let alone that even the Sun is not the centre of our universe.

Various cultures have various ideas on how the world is working, and this meta-ideas can very easily open or close certain doors to scientific advancement.

publications dont count. (1)

barv (1382797) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647726)

The system of citations & referees is so crappy that a count of publications and citations is so corrupted that it is fairly irrelevant. It is the eruption of the techno entrepeneurs that measures & indicates the savvy and value of a nation.

Immortality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647732)

There is a real chance of breakthroughs in longevity that would keep all of us alive longer (perhaps even indefinitely). For this to happen many of us older folks may need the Chinese to fulfill their scientific potential ASAP. To me this trumps concerns over economic nationalism.

Go China!

The last line is the important one (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647744)

China may do a lot of research, but it does not seem to do a lot of good research. If you've been to China, it is understandable why: There is very much a mentality of "Whatever you want to do is ok, so long as it gets you ahead." Lying, cheating, all perfectly ok. Well maybe you can argue this works in normal life and business (though some serious downsides can be pointed out) it doesn't work in science.

Feynman put it really well (he was talking about the Challenger disaster): "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."

Well China's culture doesn't magically stop when you start talking universities and labs. The faking of results goes along strong, because it helps you get ahead. Publish more papers, be more prominent and all that. Works for the individual researcher, I suppose, but that means overall the research is useless. I can write as many papers as I like, fake as many results as I like, that claim that X causes Y. However if X does indeed not cause Y it doesn't do any good, I can't change reality.

Before China can become truly top at science, as in producing the most useful actual output, they'll have to have a cultural change, at least in the scientific community and probably the larger culture.

However I also fail to see why this is a big deal. I wouldn't consider myself all that worldly, but I've traveled to a fair number of countries not the US. All of them are by definition #2 or lower in science output, as well as many other things the US is #1 at. Guess what? that doesn't matter. They are nice places to live, with happy productive people, stable governments, and so on (I don't tend to visit countries that don't meet those requirements). I could move to Canada or the UK or Norway and be quite happy there. They may not be #1 in anything, I don't know, but it doesn't matter. You don't have to be the best at everything, I think maybe Americans need to learn that.

Re:The last line is the important one (1)

Lord_Jeremy (1612839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647968)

Mmm. Very true on some points. However it also comes to mind that China is often noted for ignoring things like licensing requirements for foreign-produced software. The chinese business or lab or whatever that isn't paying $X for all their copies of Microsoft Office can put that $X into R&D, advertising, whatever they want.

Plagiarism (1)

domulys (1431537) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647760)

the report points out that a growing volume of research publications does not necessarily mean in increase in quality

No kidding. China (and Asia South-Pacific in general) has a rampant plagiarism problem. E.g.,:

http://www.forbes.com/fdc/welcome_mjx.shtml [forbes.com]
http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-04-11/news/20844688_1_yuan-papers-professor [sfgate.com]

This practice has permeated many of the country's scientific journals, where it is commonplace to copy-and-paste large sections of others' work. International journals are typically able to shield this using "similarity detectors" and peer review, but the occasional hack-job still gets through occasionally.

Wow this is a surprise! (1)

Giometrix (932993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647764)

I'm surprised; I thought the Chinese were already "beating us" (whatever that means) in Science. Good for them! Hopefully this will inspire the U.S. and Europe to get their shit together.

Woohoo! (4, Insightful)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647804)

Awesome. Then we can just copy their IP for a change.

Aww, go ahead and mod me troll. You know it's true.

Re:Woohoo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35648190)

Awesome. Then we can just copy their IP for a change.

Aww, go ahead and mod me troll. You know it's true.

They'll do the jobs American's don't want to do! Awesome!

Is that so? (1)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647806)

Being in one of the largest hospitals in the US with a cancer research division comprised entirely of Chinese people, I must say I'm a bit surprised at the news.

Re:Is that so? (4, Insightful)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647862)

I worked in one of those. It wasn't the superior research skills of the Chinese, it was racism. Once, it was a balance of lots of nationalities, then they hired someone who only hired Chinese.

There were a lot of people who did really good work there, certainly including the Chinese members, but any time you have a top notch place composed entirely of one nationality, you know it's not merit driving hiring. And yes, I'd say that for an all caucasian crew as well.

Here we go again... (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647828)

However, the report points out that a growing volume of research publications does not necessarily mean in increase in quality...

Let's remember that although the USA discovered the silicon chip via Bell Telephone Laboratories USA, it was not until the Japanese came around and showed us what to do with it.

Guess what, several decades later, all our electronics are Asian made! What a shame! And the recent quake in Japan exposes how dependent we are on those Asians when it comes to sophisticated chips...forget INTEL and AMD.

I am afraid this story will be repeated but with China this time.

Or US tax code encourages foreign R&D (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647894)

With the American tax code taxing 35% of all profits it is no wonder why these American companies with mountains of cash want to invest in R&D rather than let it sit in Asian or Swiss vaults.

Maybe if we did not have such high taxes more science and R&D could be done in America.

Re:Or US tax code encourages foreign R&D (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35648116)

You're an idiot. If your logic were even remotely accurate, then Europe would be the last in the pack as far as R&D goes. Guess what? They're not.

Yeah, but we've got the most ... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647908)

... ummm

...

facebook profiles per capita?

Yeah! That'll show 'em! Hell yeah! USA! USA! USA!

That is nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647912)

Around 2020, they will have man on the moon. More importantly, they will have multiple space stations around the earth, of which ONE will be open to the outside world. The rest will be military only (the more so since their space program is the ONLY one in the world that ANSWERS SOLELY TO THEIR MILITARY).

Likewise, by 2015, it will be announced that China has more nuke boomers in the water than does the entire west. In addition, it will finally be figured out that the number of land based and boomers missiles is a LOT more than the number of warheads that are claimed. IOW, they will finally come clean on their warhead production.

They will also have finished their dam in the Himalayans that feed all of India and Southern Asia, and it will become obvious that China is about to slowly take the water that THEY need ahead of the rest of asia. Keep in mind that China's water is not just dwindling, it is HEAVILY polluted.

In about 2 years, they will do a recall of many of their scientist that work in America. ANd a number of spies will head over there.

Lots of things are going to be forthcoming in the next couple of years.

dumb and dumber (3, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647936)

This article is dumb for (at least) two reasons:

Dumb: As noted in the slashdot summary, quantity of papers isn't the same as quality. I have published physics papers in refereed journals, and my experience is that most scientific papers are correct but utterly inconsequential. They matter to the people who published them, because those people are desperate to get permanent jobs. Period.

Dumber: It's not a nuclear arms race, it's scientific research. By the (lame) metric of quantity of papers, the U.S. has increased its "output," while China has increased its "output" as well (and at a greater rate). Why is this a bad thing? Scientific progress enriches everyone.

We can never compete with the Chinese fairly. (0)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35647940)

There are more of them, so of course more of them will graduate with degrees in anything.

Rather than competing fairly, we should be using every unfair advantage we have to one up them just as they are using every unfair advantage they have right now, such as price, or rigged exams, or lead in the toys sold to American babies.

Now I'm not advocating we use the lead in the toys, as obviously China punished the individuals responsible for that, but we have to sotp pretending like America with 300 million people will ever produce more of anything than 1.5 billion people. The math just does not work in our favor.

We do have some advantages, such as infrastructure which we aren't renewing and are allowing to go to waste. We do have a bigger economy which we aren't using to our advantage. It's our destiny to be the slaves of the Chinese. America has become a nation of pathetic silent servants.

I hope ... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35647970)

When the US is a third-rate, has-been country with no scientific or technological leadership in the world, the irony will be that it wasn't the Communists or terrorists that did us in ... it was all of those so-called America-loving conservatives who reward ignorance and shun scientific knowledge, who defund scientific research and agencies, who cut education and kill financial aide for college students, who attack scientists for daring to contradict the ideology with their elitist "facts." It will have been these people who damned our country.

Re:I hope ... (3, Insightful)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648272)

They'll be sure to hang the liberals for it.

Chinese Professor (1)

slapout (93640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648018)

Reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTSQozWP-rM&feature=player_embedded

USA shyit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35648066)

This wont be the last thing a country overtakes the USA in...... in the coming future!

USA is going to shyit

to busy suing each other!

pshaw! (1)

The AtomicPunk (450829) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648120)

Well, fine, so they're great at SCIENCE. How good are they at spying on their own citizens, printing money, and starting senseless wars? eh? eh? Yeah, that's what I thought, the US still has that market cornered... so there.

Re:pshaw! (1)

Dishwasha (125561) | more than 3 years ago | (#35648168)

Thank you Peter Griffin.

Who Cares! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35648126)

Any scientific study worth a darn will produce something tangible. Let them do the heavy lifting for a while so we can just acquire it and reverse engineer it. I'm happy to let them fritter away money on lots of dead-end research before they come up with something useful.

Hey China! Payback is a b***h!

Stop suing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35648176)

Maybe if the US companies stopped suing eachother they would have more money to spend on R&D.
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