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US Can't Meet The "Grand Challenges" of Physics

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the shakey-on-the-change-from-a-solid-to-a-plasma dept.

United States 444

BlueSky writes "A new report paints a troubling picture of the state of physics research in the US, which the authors believe has dire consequences for the competitiveness of the US. 'The report identifies six key questions that will represent the grand challenges that materials science will face over the coming decade, the ones most likely to produce the next revolution. But it also raises fears that those challenges will be met by researchers outside of the US. It highlights the fact that government funding has not kept up with the rising costs of research at the same time that the corporate-funded research lab system has collapsed. As a result, US scientific productivity has stagnated at a time when funding and output are booming overseas.'"

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444 comments

And who can weee thank for this? (3, Insightful)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530519)

The Bu$h regime and his anti-science fundie pals..

Re:And who can weee thank for this? (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530553)

Physics helped a lot to the US to gain supremacy. With praising God they wouldn't have had the nuke first. It is also less shaky on moral grounds (i mean nuking babies instead of cloning them). Or you mean, Bush and his pals wouldn't support a nuke research? I doubt it.

The New White House Memorandum (3, Funny)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530659)

From now on, no nuclear research will be conducted, we will focus our attention on nucular research only. Anyone caught doing nuclear research will be considered a terrorist.

God dammit Zonk what do you want me to do about it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19530691)

God dammit Zonk what do you want me to do about it ? You're worse than the network news with nothing but crap.

Re:And who can weee thank for this? (5, Insightful)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530729)

Yeah, well, Bush and his cronies haven't helped at all, but they're hardly the only administration to blame. Basically, we're looking at the results of at least one generation (more likely two or three) of neglect by the federal government, the corporate sector, and our own education system.

Bush is no more the sole responsible party for this then Clinton was, or Bush the Elder was, or Reagan was.

Re:And who can weee thank for this? (5, Insightful)

bhmit1 (2270) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530989)

Bush is no more the sole responsible party for this then Clinton was, or Bush the Elder was, or Reagan was.
And lets not forget congress, who makes the budgets, isn't innocent either.

Re:And who can weee thank for this? (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531225)

Yeah but I bet he's pulled the 'Vote this way or you're a terrorist' line on congress too. Since you know they act like they have no balls of their own.

Intelligent Design Advocates (4, Insightful)

Pao|o (92817) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530525)

When you have so much Intelligent Design/Creationist proponents in positions of power it is natural that science education will suffer. There's always importing more Indians/Filipinos/Chinese nationals to do the heavy lifting.

It's like having Satanists run a local Baptist Church. No good will come of it.

Re:Intelligent Design Advocates (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19530561)

No, no, you must have faith. The problem is the people who don't have faith. They ruin it for everybody by writing those stories. If everybody had faith instead, then nobody would be talking about those problems, and so it wouldn't be a problem for anybody with faith, which would be everybody. Ergo: have faith and be happy, the good lord will provide.

Re:Intelligent Design Advocates (4, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530701)

Evolution is just the soft target for anti-intellectuals, the argument really doesn't have a lot to do with creation at all just about layfolk trying to show they are better than authority figures in a field of knowlege. They had it before with the layfolk versus educated clergy and now they are pushing it furthur. Intelligent Design is apparently also bad theology - the devil is in those details since there are critters that behave in very scary ways.

Global Warming Advocates too (5, Insightful)

fishdan (569872) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530879)

As scary as this sounds, there are a lot of the same anti-intellect, anti-science people in the the global warming movement too -- and I'm not saying this to hurt the movement. I'm as pro-green as they come, but because of my understanding of science, not because someone said that the sky is falling. When I hear people say that global warming is a FACT that cannot and should not be challenged via the Scientific Method [wikipedia.org], I get pretty frightened. All challenges to any theory make it more accurate. Intelligent Design is not a theory because it cannot be challenged. Global Warming IS a theory, and a pretty good one, but it's SIGNIFICANTLY weakened by the morons who follow it blindly, and refuse to let others analyze it critically! There are a lot of fair minded, rational people with science backgrounds who believe that taking actions to reduce carbon emissions is a good thing for the planet, who don't want to throw out the scientific method. We're willing to work towards a better understanding of climate change through science, and in places where the current theory doesn't quite fit, we're very happy to say "yes -- the science here is inconclusive." It doesn't mean the whole theory is wrong. It doesn't mean that we should not reduce carbon emissions. It doesn't mean that our cause is not just. We're not afraid of people attacking the theory of global warming. Quite the opposite, when holes are found it means that MORE study should be done. I have a terrible feeling this is going to be misunderstood, but I'll throw one more paragraph on here. I completely support the idea of SIGNIFICANTLY reducing the use of fossil fuels. In my personal life I try to be as green as possible. I take public transportation everywhere, I've started/improved recycling programs everywhere I've worked. I truly believe that we can take action to improve the suitability of the earth for humanity. I just don't want the lies of "scientific consensus" and "the time for debate has passed" to put a chill on the GREATEST accomplishment of mankind -- the scientific method. The next time someone says "there's no time for debate" please think about the fact that you could debate AND be green at the same time.

Re:Global Warming Advocates too (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531387)

The politically-motivated critics of various scientific fields aren't usually difficult to identify: they usually point out some minor flaw in a study, and then state that they have "disproved" an entire field of study. That's a lot different than someone who is merely pointing out that minor flaw so that it can be properly addressed in future studies.

When you've got the first type of person, there really is no point in taking them seriously - they're only interested in pushing their political agenda, not in advancing the state of scientific knowledge. Although you run the risk of occasionally ignoring a "visionary"-type, if you don't identify the politically-motivated hucksters & make sure they are ignored, then the REAL science will get drowned in a tidal wave of ideological bullshit.

Re:Intelligent Design Advocates (-1, Troll)

Pseudonym (62607) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530723)

It's like having Satanists run a local Baptist Church. No good will come of it.

American Baptist, sure. If it was a Southern Baptist Church, it might be an improvement.

Re:Intelligent Design Advocates (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530739)

When you have so much Intelligent Design/Creationist proponents in positions of power it is natural that science education will suffer.
I'm sure the war on terrah isn't helping either - we waste $5B a year on just the useless TSA alone, then there are the hundreds of billions spent on the iraqi occupation. That money would have gone a long, long way if spent on something productive like basic research. Instead, the only return on investment has been negative.

Re:Intelligent Design Advocates (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19531025)

The war on terror DOES help research. Because you have to borrow money from China, they become richer and can finance their own research projects.

Re:Intelligent Design Advocates (2, Interesting)

zacronos (937891) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531435)

Instead, the only return on investment has been negative.
<sarcasm> Oh come now, you know that's not true. For example, I'm sure everyone with a piece of the Haliburton pie has seen a very nice return on their investment. And as we know from the intuitive wisdom which is trickle-down economics, giving more money to those who are already ridiculously rich is the best way to help those who are struggling economically. Ergo, I'm sure our economy has flourished as a result of this war spending. </sarcasm>

Re:Intelligent Design Advocates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19530745)

When you have so much Intelligent Design/Creationist proponents in positions of power it is natural that science education will suffer. There's always importing more Indians/Filipinos/Chinese nationals to do the heavy lifting.


But look at the bright side, American kids will get all those lucrative Intelligent Design research contracts when they graduate. ;-)

Re:Intelligent Design Advocates (0, Offtopic)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530921)

It's like having Satanists run a local Baptist Church. No good will come of it.

According to Bob Jones, Satan is already running the Catholic church. But that didn't stop John McCain going there for a pander to the virulently racist wing of the Republican party.

The three front runners for the GOP nomination are a guy who panders to anti-Catholic bigots, a guy who panders to supporters of terrorism by attending IRA fundraisers and flip-flip Mitt.

Re:Intelligent Design Advocates (1)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531053)

Do they still have IRA fundraisers? The IRA haven't been active for years. They're all respectable politicians now.
OTOH the IRA in its heyday were not supporters of terrorism. They were just terrorists.

Re:Intelligent Design Advocates (0, Offtopic)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531151)

OTOH the IRA in its heyday were not supporters of terrorism. They were just terrorists

Of course there is no difference between the person who plants the bomb and a person like Rudy Giuliani who helps the IRA raise funds.

Of course according to Rudy appologists he never actually raised money for the IRA, he was raising money for NORAID which claims to be a humanitarian organization - just like the front groups that collect money for Hamas.

In 1994 Rudy gave Gerry Adams, the leader of the IRA a 'humanitarian' award, the Crystal Apple. 18 months later Gerry had a bomb planted in a Birmingham shopping mall.

Just imagine what Giuliani's state visit to the UK would be like:

Queen Eliabeth II: And what do you do when you are not out raising money to slaughter my cabinet?

Sure the IRA have since become inactive. 9/11 gave them no choice. After 9/11 there was no way that fools like Rudy could continue to hide behind the 'NORAID' nonsense, they knew they were really buying bombs all along of course. After 9/11 the US fundraising was permanently shut down.

Re:Intelligent Design Advocates (0, Offtopic)

hostyle (773991) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531227)

Sure the IRA have since become inactive. 9/11 gave them no choice. After 9/11 there was no way that fools like Rudy could continue to hide behind the 'NORAID' nonsense, they knew they were really buying bombs all along of course. After 9/11 the US fundraising was permanently shut down.

You're saying that the IRA stopped fighting for their idea of freedom because some Islamic radicals flew aeroplanes into New York skyscrapers? Wow. Just wow.

Re:Intelligent Design Advocates (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531283)

According to Bob Jones, Satan is already running the Catholic church.

Seems like a better question would be when hasn't Satan been running the Catholic church? Okay, okay, that was loaded but I have your attention. One only has to look at history, both in modern times and as far back as we have records on the church, to see the woe that comes from that cult (IMO, they are the largest cult in history). Heck, they even supported and aided the Nazis during WWII. Most recently, shared children between priests for sex and refused to cooporate with authorities until the numbers at mass started rapidly declining.

No matter how you cut it, a lot of bad stuff bad can be directly linked to the Catholic church. Hopefully I won't be burned on a pire and my wife won't be raped trying to force a confession from her; as is historically but not altogether commonly done by the church against heretics.

Re:Intelligent Design Advocates (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531443)

The Catholic Church and Nazi connection is a complicated one. I think the biggest problem is with what they didn't do - they refused to condemn the Nazi slaughter of the Jews. While not direct support, it certainly made it easier for the Nazis to continue. They tried to keep an almost neutral stance which is pretty piss-poor considering their claim to be the church given to us by Christ.

If the Catholic leadership had any kind of conscience, they'd dissolve themselves and start again - giving all of their assets to the people they've screwed (quite literally) over the years.

Re:Intelligent Design Advocates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19530929)

On a related note, Most GOPers Don't Believe Evolution [nbc11.com]:

Evolution may be one of the fundamental building blocks of modern biological science, but a new Gallup survey finds that the majority of Republicans in the United States do not believe the theory of evolution is true and do not believe that humans evolved over millions of years from less advanced forms of life.

The findings suggest that the three Republican presidential candidates who indicated last month that they do not believe in evolution may have been taking a safe stance on the issue.

The poll released Monday said that while the country is about evenly split over whether the theory of evolution is true, Republicans disbelieve it by more than 2-1.

Republicans saying they don't believe in evolution outnumbered those who do by 68 percent to 30 percent in the survey. Democrats believe in evolution by 57 percent to 40 percent, as do independents by a 61 percent to 37 percent margin.


Re:Intelligent Design Advocates (1)

Denial93 (773403) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531119)

It's like having Satanists run a local Baptist Church. No good will come of it.

I can see it now. "Pro Sacrifice: life and choice just don't eliminate the problem"

;-)

so? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19530541)

Well, all the major physics breakthroughs have been made outside US. What's new?

Re:so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19531351)

You forget (at the very least) Feynman, the atom bomb (which was a physics breakthrough as much as it was an engineering breakthrough) and Fermi lab. Have you been asleep for the past century?

THEY NEED JEREMY REIMER (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19531381)

They obviously need Jeremy Reimer (former high school physics teacher in Vancouver B.C. who was fired for molesting young boys there), because his skills in comp. sci. are severly lacking, evidenced by this post:

http://www.windowsitpro.com/articles/index.cfm?art icleid=41095&cpage=202 [windowsitpro.com]

Perhaps Jeremy Reimer can do better @ physics, than he does @ computer science related material (where Reimer 'fakes it till he makes it' as an "arstechnica derivative drivel author", merely regurgitating already known & proven material @ best, yet he has no degree or certification in the computer sciences, or profesional hands on experience in the field as a network engineer/administrator or programmer).

Not science but nationalism (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19530545)

This has, in truth, very little to do with science per se. The precise location where scientific research is conducted has little bearing on the science itself. There are important political, economic and strategic concerns, but the import of this article, as it always is, is more a matter of American exceptionalism and nationalism;

Re:Not science but nationalism (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530687)

The physicists these days are not trained well enough. They should know that all it takes is to link the research grant proposal to some defense target (the nano-robots can be efficient killers of Iraqis) and bingo, you get a blank check to fill in with any sum you want for the next 10 years. If schools taught these people anything it should have taught them how to kiss ass and perform fellatio on politicians. (yes, I am being a 'little' sarcastic)

Re:Not science but nationalism (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19531211)

What if I rephrase the article a bit:

"A nation with a history of major scientific output has heavily cut back on research funding. The government has not increased to meet higher costs and the corporate research labs there have been disappearing. Other countries are increasing their own funding for research and there is hope that the added funding elsewhere will compensate for this loss of scientific interest."

Now, when a major research entity (yes, the US has in the past been a big spender on scientific research) mostly cuts out of the game, it is news. Yes, the article is about how the US will be left behind, but that doesn't mean it has no impact on science as a whole.

More developed nations, more research (3, Insightful)

MathFox (686808) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530577)

We see some rapidly growing economies in Asia... China and India are the biggest, but many of the smaller countries there have shown remarkable advances over the years. From a humanitarian point of view it's good to see the poverty reduce and the money available for research increase.
Globally the state of physics research is good; it's even growing in the USA, but just growing harder world-wide. This will mean that the world will be able to solve its most pressing problems bar one: the hunger for money of the US corporations. The US should be so wise to realize that they'll be the third or fourth biggest economy of the world in a couple of years and start specializing in a few markets, leaving bulk production to China and India.

Re:More developed nations, more research (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531365)

We are specializing: it's called "intellectual property law" and we're exporting it left and right. Of course, it doesn't do anyone any good except the human refuse at the top of our corporate food chain, but there it is. IP law sure as hell isn't going to provide for the people of this great nation either ... only one thing will do that: industry.

The problem with the idea of "leaving bulk production" to another nation is that you just sacrificed your independence and control of your own future, because you are now an economic satellite of another power. That's not a good position for any country to be in. Bulk production is what feeds, clothes and houses your population, and any nation that is totally dependent on imports for those things is just asking for trouble. Our "captains of industry" (hah!) are currently hooked on cheap labor and import goods from China, the implicit assumption being that China can be trusted to continue doing business that way. Two things argue against that: one, China is not, after all, allied with the United States at any level and two, without the ability to create wealth we won't have any money to buy the stuff with anyway. At some point in the not too distant future we're going to wish we'd held on to our manufacturing base and the technical people who maintained it.

You have to realize one important fact: China has systematically stripped America of the heavy machine tools we spent a hundred years building, and collapsed the domestic industries that used them. A lot of it can't even be made anymore: the capital costs are too high. Big stamping presses, textile machines, all sorts of heavy equipment that we no longer know how to make have been sold off cheap to Japan and China. Some if it they are using for their own purposes, the rest they simply bought because they didn't want us to have it. So even if we wanted to become self-sufficient again we couldn't do it, not within any meaningful time frame. We are going to regret that.

The Bleak Future of the U.S. (5, Insightful)

ActionAL (260721) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530587)

I think this article helps us understand the path that our nation has walked down and the consequences of its destination. I see a bleak future as the gap between the rich and poor expand and the rich elite become less likely to grow America and more interested in growing their assets internationally by whatever means to achieve their profits.

Ultimately we will face a day when another nation has far exceeding power in weaponry because of their advances over us in physics, chemistry or nanotech/engineering. Then they will be in position to enforce their will upon us like we do to other nations today.

Our nation has become the big dumb bully rich preppy that we all fought against in high school.

Re:The Bleak Future of the U.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19530609)

I was the dumb bully rich preppy you insensitive clod!

Re:The Bleak Future of the U.S. (4, Interesting)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530863)

I don't think its that bleak for the US. With the amount the US spend on their defense budget, particularly aircraft/avionics and missile technology I have always though it likely that one day someone will come up with a cheap but effective defense such that a lot of striking power is instantly removed from the US and they have to adopt a less belligerent tone. Similar to what happened with Britain's navy. Once their expensive battleships ruled the seas until it became glaringly obvious how vulnerable they were to a few cheap aircraft. It wasn't the end of Britain but it did severely damage her ability to project global power. HMS IHaveBigGuns could no longer be confidently sent off to threaten some city unless it was accompanied by an even more expensive carrier group to protect it.

Maybe someone will come up with a foolproof radar and AA missile combo or a stealth missile platform that can be maneuvered close enough to a carrier group to sink most of it. Success in war is frequently about economics. Who ever can afford to fight longest will win. If I can sink your billion dollar battlegroup anchored off my coast using a few million dollars worth of missiles, negotiation becomes a much cheaper and more attractive proposition (I know the US still has a lot of nukes to fall back on but using them in anger for anything short of the US or a major ally actually being physically invaded is likely to cause so much backlash it will have been a self defeating exercise).

I don't see anyone developing new offensive technology in the short term such that the US is being threatened but I can see a day in the not so distant future when carrier groups can no longer be sent to a region for fear of being sunk or air campaigns are not a viable option because most the planes are likely to shot down. It's not going to be the end of the US, just means they can no longer wield the big stick with impunity.

Re:The Bleak Future of the U.S. (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531079)

Simple. Just build the USS IHaveEvenBiggerGuns. I thought that was the normal US route?

Re:The Bleak Future of the U.S. (1)

noshellswill (598066) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531191)

Yep. Our "cosmopolitans" have done the Republic no service. And when the yeomanry decide to take-it-back there will be hell-to-pay.

Oh noes, some other country may pull its weight (1, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530593)

I could just see how bad it'd be for the US if in the next 10 years:
Belgium develops more efficient batteries allowing the electric car to be feasable.

Zimbabwe makes a working robotic car.

China manufacturing makes solar panels 1000% more cost effective.

Spain manufactures warp drive.

And finally Brazil comes up with a cure for cancer and AIDS that are in the same pill.

What would us poor American's do? Oh yeah, we'd buy or steal the technology like every other nation does which is especially easy now with the internet.

No, I'd say the biggest threat to America comes from it's looming economic crisis coming from transition from gas to alternative fuels. If gas hits $5 or $6 a gallon, inflation may be too high for low income people to buy food and gasoline. A similar threat is losing jobs to overseas.

Re:Oh noes, some other country may pull its weight (5, Informative)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530641)

You do realise that europeans have been living with those costs of car fuel for the last 15 years, right? Here in the UK, all it means is that poor people take the bus, and there are more buses to cater for all the poor people. And students.

Re:Oh noes, some other country may pull its weight (2, Informative)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530707)

You do realise(sic) that Americans don't have a very good public transportation system at all and a lot of them live in small towns that do not have any kind of public transportation. For most Americans no car = no job.

Re:Oh noes, some other country may pull its weight (1, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530733)

Damn, this sounds SO much like flamebait. If only it weren't true. My father even bitches about the little public transportation we DO have. "Why do we have to pay for their transportation?" and shit like that.

I, personally, prefer to walk everywhere I possibly can. When I lived in California, I didn't bring my car out for the first 6 months, because I simply walked or bicycled everywhere. Nothing was more than 5 miles from me, so it was okay. The first time I rode my bike 5 miles to someone's house, I thought their eyes were going to pop out. They couldn't believe it.

Americans, in general, don't -want- public transportation and we are still very much a majority-rule country. Until it becomes attractive or necessary for the general populace, we'll continue driving our gas-guzzling SUVs.

Re:Oh noes, some other country may pull its weight (1)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530981)

Yes, that's because fuel is so cheap that public transport isn't profitable. I thought I belaboured that point sufficiently obviously. In other words, a quintupling of the carless masses will perhaps lead a bus service to think "If we run a route through this district, we will make money.".

Re:Oh noes, some other country may pull its weight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19530877)

Indeed. I can only dream of such low prices. Then again, bring on the hydrogen. That's better for everyone and in the end cheaper.

Re:Oh noes, some other country may pull its weight (2, Informative)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531087)

Ahem not only poor people, taking public transport is a very common usage of transportation over here.

Re:Oh noes, some other country may pull its weight (4, Informative)

turbofisk (602472) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531433)

In Stockholm it's far more efficient in some cases to take the public transports (subway or busses), even ministers take the subway to work... There are a lot of gridlocks in Stockholm which don't face the buses who are on their own lane... There are a couple of "core" buss routes where a bus comes along every 2-4 minutes during peak hours and 5-6 of peak ours and 6-10 minutes during night. The result? Taking the bus is far faster and you can work, read, etc while doing it...

Currently 8 dollars a gallon in the UK (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530765)

No, I'd say the biggest threat to America comes from it's looming economic crisis coming from transition from gas to alternative fuels. If gas hits $5 or $6 a gallon, inflation may be too high for low income people to buy food and gasoline. A similar threat is losing jobs to overseas.

Gasoline is currently 8 dollars a gallon in the UK (and similar round most of Europe). Probably was ten years at least since it was 5 dollars a gallon.

Me, I cycle 8 miles to work in the morning (and obviously about the same back in the evening unless there's a diversion for shopping or an evening out). Laptop goes in one cycle pannier and room for 2 carrier bags of shopping in the other. I suppose we've got more of a public transport infrastructure here as well?

Re:Oh noes, some other country may pull its weight (2, Informative)

Alioth (221270) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530969)

$6 a gallon? It's over $8/usg here, but the economy is growing at around 6% (admittedly, we're a small island which has become very desirable to live in).

The solution? On any nice day, I ride my bicycle the 25 mile round trip to work. On a nice week I can save the equivalent of about US$40 in driving costs.

And why is this a problem? (4, Insightful)

einar2 (784078) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530599)

As long as there are enough other countries realizing the importance of scientific research, I do not see a problem.
It does not really matter who is doing it as long as it gets done.

Maybe some people cannot swell with national pride but who cares about that...

Maybe there is. (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530679)

It does not really matter who is doing it as long as it gets done.

I agree from a humanitarian point of view/ But from a nationalistic point of view, I see it as a problem.

As other countries develop and develop their own comparative advantage in whatever it may be, what are we doing in the US? It seams that, as a country, we're distracted by really unimportant stuff, whether it be creationism vs evolution, some war, or whatever. In the meantime, what comparative advantage do we have? Marketing? Patent litigation? Being the CEOs of the World (the rest of us in the US are lawyers, doctors, salesmen, working at Walmart)? And/or are we going to be the shoppers of the World - everyone else creates, produces, builds, and we, the US, just consumes?

Re:And why is this a problem? (4, Insightful)

dvice_null (981029) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530715)

It means that American companies will fall behind on the market, so they need cut costs -> Less jobs -> More poor -> More crimes -> Less tax dollars -> Less education -> Less people buying stuff from American companies -> Less Jobs -> More poor -> More crimes -> Eventually the USA will fall, like Soviet Union.

Someone predicted the fall of USA some years ago to happen in the year of 2025. But once Bush was elected to be a president, he adjusted his estimation down to 2020. And then Bush was re-elected...

Re:And why is this a problem? (1)

CagedBear (902435) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530885)

It does not really matter who is doing it as long as it gets done.
That's fine until you start talking weapons. I know our (U.S.) gov't has it's faults, but I'd much rather the flying tanks and robotic soldiers be parked at Fort Drum rather than on a boat, locked and loaded, heading this way.

Re:And why is this a problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19531145)

Among the countries likely to develop such weapons, hasn't the US pretty much already shown that it's the most likely to use them irresponsibly and aggressively?

Plenty of money for research... (5, Funny)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530631)

...that government funding has not kept up with the rising costs of research


Huh? What do they mean? There is plenty of money in research, one just has to find a way to make it sound like 'research' will eventually kill more Iraqis, then 'research' will get plenty of money. Let's look at some examples:


1. Nanotech : By building tiny small robots we can kill Iraqis and they wouldn't even see us coming! == Cha-ching $1bn of funding over the next 10 years.


2. Particle Physics: By finding the Higgs boson we could kill Iraqis over great distances. The Higgs boson will create a micro singularity in Iraq and suck in all the Iraqis and leave us all the oil we want. When we burn it all, the Higgs boson will be equally effective against Iranians! == Cha-ching $2bn for a new particle accelerator.


Gosh!... didn't academia teach these physicists anything ...?

Re:Plenty of money for research... (1)

hashwolf (520572) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530713)

Well... if that kind of research happened we wouldn't know about it, would we?
Read "TOP SECRET, EYES ONLY".
There you go, do you want tinfoil with that?

I Love this (1, Troll)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530647)

I've seen so many people say "So what? Other countries are still developing that stuff"

okay lets look at an example

The Romans- Clear Scientific superiority including war weaponry. What did they do? Conquer the whole known world and taxed it to afford their lifestyle.

and there are plenty of examples, but I tell you what there aren't examples of, countries which have made technological advances just giving them away to other countires. Considering how hated America is by the whole of the world, don't you think its very important for America to remain the strongest nation, because lathough in the past it could have faded into insignificance and no one would have cared, it would just be another economy, but now there are people just waiting for America to fall. Honestly you can't go round the world enforcing your will on other countires and then expect when you are weak for other people to cut you a break. When America falls behind it will become a nation which is pushed around and forced to act in certain ways just like it has done to others in the past, and if America wants to stay free, it can't let that happen.

Why is it always the easy freedoms that get fought for, and yet the important long term freedoms are left to rot.

Re:I Love this (3, Insightful)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530721)

Am I the only one who finds that Americans are more and more comparing themselves to the old Rome? Quite pompous, IMO. Together with the fact that they are spending more on weapons than the rest of the world combined, this starts to worry me.

Re:I Love this (3, Informative)

bhmit1 (2270) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530963)

Considering how hated America is by the whole of the world, don't you think its very important for America to remain the strongest nation, because lathough in the past it could have faded into insignificance and no one would have cared, it would just be another economy, but now there are people just waiting for America to fall.
I don't believe they really want us to fail, unless you've fallen for the fear mongering that confuses other world powers with the terrorists. However, they do want us to be indebted to them. Take the middle east with the oil profits they get from us. Take China with their huge stocks of US currency from the years of trade imbalances. Take India with the outsourcing movement and all their call centers. With the increasing globalization of the world's economies, any major competitor to the US would be shooting themselves in the foot to try to destroy us. Yet profiting from our laziness and ignorance is exactly what all the foreign blooming super powers want to do, and indeed, will do.

My biggest fear is that neither the US people, government, nor economy will be ready to be removed from the top position. We'll continue spending all our time and effort building walls to "keep the bad guys out" while forgetting that we need to "make some good guys within."

Re:I Love this (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19531071)

Considering how hated America is by the whole of the world...Honestly you can't go round the world enforcing your will on other countires and then expect when you are weak for other people to cut you a break

You still have time to change your ways. You are powerful now, and can afford to be nice to other countries. If you continue with your "We are the most powerful nation, so we don't give a crap about what you want"-policy, you are right to fear the consequences when other countries can stand up to you.

Let's say that there will be at least 3 other countries that can match you in the next 30 years (China can do that today, because you depend on them financially). What would you want your image to be? An image of "I'm from Texas, and I can hurt you!" or "We interact with other countries and listens to their needs."?

If you show the world that a super power can play nice, it will set an example for future super powers.

Re:I Love this (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19531407)

"..If you show the world that a super power can play nice, it will set an example for future super powers..."

It's worse than that. If you use your power to push other people around, they WILL eventually band together, get stronger, and push you around.

Our foreign policy up to 1941 was to ignore the rest of the world, and the world was happy with that. Our foreign policy since has been to be the school-yard bully. We fought the other bully (Russia) until he went away, and the other kids were thankful. Now we're showing that we're just as bad. How long do you give us until someone else, or some alliance, stands up to us?

 

Re:I Love this (1)

Ahruman (806510) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531391)

Considering how hated America is by the whole of the world, don't you think its very important for America to remain the strongest nation, because lathough in the past it could have faded into insignificance and no one would have cared, it would just be another economy, but now there are people just waiting for America to fall.
...Which is why half of Africa banded together and conquered the United Kingdom in 1976. As US power fades, interest in fighting it will fade as well. Except, that is, in places the US is actively trying to occupy at the time.

Department (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19530655)

Shouldn't this be from the "No-shit-sherlock" department?

Its nothing to ashamed of (2, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530669)

When Physics challenged me to a thumb wrestling deathmatch I ran away and hid under my desk before it could give me a wedgie.

Re:Its nothing to ashamed of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19530823)

don't you mean an atomic wedgie.

What? (4, Insightful)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530681)

<sarcasm>Science stagnating at a time when IP rights are stronger than ever? How can that be? I thought lots of patents on everything would virtually guarantee a scientific advantage! You mean to tell me that all those patent lawyers have been LYING?</sarcasm>

Re:What? (4, Funny)

Rumagent (86695) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530791)

Certainly not! This is evidence that current IP laws are too lax! To ensure final victory we must protect valuable [uspto.gov] research [gnu.org]. Only hardcore pinko communists and certain factions in Iran would disagree!

This is great news. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19530705)

The US will be eating some humble pie!

United States? What's that? (4, Interesting)

nysus (162232) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530757)

"You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, Reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels.

It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today!"

--Arthur Jensen, played by Ned Beatty, Network, 1976

Ludicrous. (1, Insightful)

crhylove (205956) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530819)

We have one obvious huge thing on the horizon, and it's barely even mentioned:

Nanotech. If molecular nanotechnology happens, and many scientists are stating that it IS going to happen, it's just a matter of WHEN, then all those other questions will quickly become irrelevant.

Theoretically, with the advent of molecular nanotech, every man, woman and child on the planet would have infinite personal wealth, and infinite physical power. Other than Wikipedia, and some other new networking technologies, there is very little (and admittedly, those are almost not worth mentioning), or almost nothing that we have done to prepare for that situation. That article is ludicrously irrelevant. Much less what that has to do with the US. I mean, if every man, woman, and child on the planet has infinite personal wealth and power, then what the fuck does it matter where the US physicists are in some global roster? How is that relevant when we are already decimating every other living part of the biosphere and most of the populations of most of the completely corporate owned nation/states still believe some invisible man is going to come out of the sky and smite all the sinners? I mean what the fuck? The sky is falling in a LOT of ways, including the increasingly aggressive stance of China globally (who manufacture EVERYTHING we currently rely on, btw), global warming, nuclear proliferation, countless psychotic wars between invisible man fans in the middle east and elsewhere, corporate enslavement of the populations of nearly every nation.

How can anyone really honestly give a shit if our declining empire is lacking a couple of physicists? Most of our populace talks to invisible men, is grossly overweight, completely relies on cancerous products fed to us by increasingly corrupt corporations and openly hostile trading partners who have us out gunned (they manufacture most of our actual GUNS by the way), and think that the native Americans came over on some land bridge, and we only killed about a million of them to be here (Probably closer to SIXTY million, it turns out). Our whole society is falling completely apart while fake tanned moronic cheerleading talking heads on Fox discuss Paris Hilton's traffic violations. Meanwhile the genocide continues abroad, and the cancer rates continue to go up, inflation continues to rise as our illegal federal reserve continues to attempt to stave off the inevitable by printing increasingly meaningless green paper.

WHERE THE FUCK IS THE REAL NEWS? I CAN'T EVEN GET IT ON SLASHDOT ANYMORE!!

Now, back to your discussion on the "supposed" big questions currently facing us in physics, and how our completely failed education system is not producing PHYSICISTS, as if that is the root core of all our problems.

US actively blocked MNT research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19530965)

You probably had a good point in there somewhere. Unfortunately it was smothered by too much ranting.

As regard molecular nanotechnology research though, you may recall that the US totally blocked all NNI funding for MNT work under pressure from the chem industry lobbiests. As a result, instead of well-funded progress towards MNT in the US, we will have better suntan lotion courtesy of "nanoscale" materials research in the chem megacorps, funded by US taxpayers.

And while it's still true that research abroad continues unimpeded by the current gross US myopia, there is no doubting that the pace of research is quite substantially proportional to funding. This makes a "Who cares about US silliness?" position unhelpful, because it creates a significant slowdown in the world. Most pro-MNT people would probably like to see at least some real MNT capability within their own lifetimes, and the US stance works against that.

Physics department got lots of problems (2, Insightful)

DraconPern (521756) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530829)

I took physics III at the local university thinking of wanting to pursue medical physics. The class was great because of the professor, but condition of the department was terrible. The lab equipment is 20 years old, hasn't been maintained, and is in need of replacement. The department doesn't have money to purchase a peice of $300 dollar equipment!? The upkeep of the building was bad too. It smells like the bathrooms hasn't been cleaned properly. Something like that would never pass if it was the business department. Clearly something is wrong if physics can't even get money to meet basic needs like a clean bathroom...

Power to the people... (2, Insightful)

doyoulikeworms (1094003) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530845)

Why not give individuals, not just corporations, more incentive to study the hard sciences?

Something in the neighborhood of a $1,000/year scholarship sounds reasonable. It really is a drop in the bucket in terms of our budget, and it sure as hell would go a long way, unlike certain billion-dollar wars...

Re:Power to the people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19531003)

With a nice science diploma in your hand what can you do? Most all your jobs were outsourced to support manufacturing overseas. Even R&D jobs are being outsourced because US scientists make too much. They demand as much as car salesman. The nerve of them.

The biggest threat to America (4, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 6 years ago | (#19530855)

The biggest threat to America is, without a doubt, our execrable education system. At University it is world class, but the levels below are basically third world.

Re:The biggest threat to America (1)

Heir Of The Mess (939658) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531273)

The students of today are the world leaders of tomorrow. In American news I've only seen fate of students come up in Congress when they want to throw students in jail for listening to American culture without giving more money to already too powerful corporations.

Imagine the effect if the RIAA blackmailed all the Engineering students, taking their money, and forcing them to drop out and do blue collar jobs. The flow on effects would be catastrophic, yet I bet that is partially happening right now with the blessing of the government just so the RIAA can hang onto their old business model.

US can't meet basic science and engineering much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19530915)

less "grand challenges". Why would anyone study science when less effort elsewhere offers better rewards? Until engineers and scientists obtain equal professional status things will stay the same. For physics, the worse part is that there might be no possible way to catch up in technology past certain critical breakthroughs. Look where Iran is today. They may get close to having a bomb (50's tech) just to get hammered into the ground by others that fear someone else having it.

Competition is good. (1)

eharvill (991859) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531005)

Let's "get behind" in (insert scientific innovation here) and have to play "catch-up." Similar to the space program in the late 50s and 60s. I think that is when Americans shine (or get jealous). They see their neighbor having something cooler/better/shinier and then have to go out and one-up them. It works with houses, cars, bling-bling and scientific discoveries!

Scientists and Engineers - Future-Proof Yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19531027)

Learn to speak and write Mandarin and/or Hindi. If current trends continue (no guarantee), within several decades english won't be the lingua franca for science and engineering.

Read TFA (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531031)

Too vague. No actual information and a derth -- no, none -- of cites. It was a long lamantatioin skreed designed to appeal to emotion, but providing no actual figures or evidence. As something to base an actual opinion on, it was worthless.

More itnerested in IRAQ (1)

majortom1981 (949402) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531043)

The government is more interested in IRAQ then in their own country. Here on LOng Island we have Brookhaven National LAbs. INstead of fundign the major machine (forgot what it is) they refused to give the labs funding. A private investor had to donate money to keep it going.

the article (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531045)

The article is not entirely accurate. A slashdot posting after this one discusses the test of a scramjet. I would think this to be a major feat of accomplishment in the physics arena. The article also mentions U.S. involvement. I think there would be more money for research, humanity, and more if our esteemed leader, George W. Bush, saw the pure insanity of the war he is waging in Iraq. The blame solely falls on the head and shoulders of Mr. Bush because he has not an inconsiderable amount of resources diverted to funding his war. I also believe, and this has been shared by many, that the Bush Administration has stifled science. Once Mr. Bush leaves the Whitehouse as a failure, the incoming leadership should re-establish science and stop funding faith-based initiatives because their exists a separation of church and state. His faith-based initiatives were to the detriment of science and humanity because he let his own moral judgements dictate to scientists what they can and cannot do. The faith-based initiative movement can be cataloged as another faiure which never even really had good intentions. The intent was for Mr. Bush to force his view of the world and morality on everyone; whether they agree or disagree.

Challenges (4, Insightful)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531055)

To me it is interesting that the challenges all seem to be cross-disciplinary.

* How do complex phenomena emerge from simple ingredients?
* How will the energy demands of future generations be met?
* What is the physics of life?
* What happens far from equilibrium and why?
* What new discoveries await us in the nanoworld?
* How will the information technology revolution be extended?

How can dicipline specific funding mechanisms address these issues effectively? I think, generally, unless funding agencies are willing to entertain joint proposals (say biology and solid state) these questions will be hard to address. How can you be sure that proposals don't get rejected just because they seem out of field?
--
Electricity without rate increases: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Challenges (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531383)

To me it is interesting that the challenges all seem to be cross-disciplinary.

You're being a lot more generous than I was when I saw the list:
  • How do complex phenomena emerge from simple ingredients?
Ok. This could be physics.
  • How will the energy demands of future generations be met?
That's not a physics problem. That's a sociology/economics problem.
  • What is the physics of life?
Life is a chemistry problem... unless you're talking about crash test analysis.
  • What happens far from equilibrium and why?
What equilibrium?
  • What new discoveries await us in the nanoworld?
Go ask a psychic, not a physicist. All a physicist will tell you is that we'll know once we've discovered them.
  • How will the information technology revolution be extended?
This is an economic/electrical engineering issue.

politics and science--not in the same time space (2, Interesting)

madmod (988136) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531057)

Science research, as funded by the U.S. Gov't agencies, is always at a disadvantage because politics works on a shorter time space--the terms of the people who get elected. Science research always has a long look forward usually much beyond the scope of even a 6-year term. It takes years for results to appear that are useful for products and procedures that pay off in better ways of living for people. The funding for the Superconducting Super Collider that got cancelled was in my opinion the perfect example of a long-term science research project (expensive YES) that would have yielded decades of good science for U.S. scientists and those from other countries. I think the cancellation of that project was a huge mistake in terms of science in the U.S. Politicians want projects finished during their term of office so they have something to point to for their reelection campaign. Science research rarely fits those kind of time lines. As I see it, the ways we fund science at the federal level are fundamentally flawed because of this lack of appreciation of how long good science research actually takes. Funding needs to be continuing and stable. We also need to study our priorities and stop focusing on just the glamorous stuff. (Unglamorous science today may develop into glamourous science tomorrow.)

No worries (2, Funny)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531077)

The USA has an army of laywers which will sue god for not adhering to intellectual property laws and to patent laws.
So no worries, if somebody outside of the USA will make research progress god will be sued... :-)

Its the physist fault.... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531195)

...they are not tying their research well enough to military, anti-terrorist (including the hype of terrorism), supporting the oil game, and hidden dictatorship support.

If they did that then I have no doubt the Bush administration would be falling all over themselves in support.

Just look at the budget for military....

Re:Its the physist fault.... (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531389)

wtf? I call humbug, doing those wouldn't help as much as denying evolution and global warming.

Americans need science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19531287)

I thought they already have so fat arses that you could use them as car bumbers. What's the point in wanting more?

Don't forget about String Theory and Patents (4, Insightful)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531293)

The Physics world has moved into a wierd age. Phds. are now granted to people who produce equations and theories which can not be validated with experiments. Note: I did not say proved, I said validated.

One the other said of Physics world, applied physics, you have the patent wars slowing things to a crawl. In fields like fusion and nanotechnology innovation is being stalled by patents. If you aren't writing a patent, you are figuring out how to get around someone else's patent. The amount of time wasted on patents is sad. The patent system needs to change such that the obvious and trivial can no longer be patented. Just because an invention occurred in nanotechnology or biotechnology does not mean it should be granted a patent simply because it sounds really, really technical.

In our society, we now value feeding corporations and lawyers more that we value knowledge and innovation. Meanwhile other countries like China, who do not respect our Copyright and Patent process pirate our products and will soon leap ahead of the US in physics research because they aren't encumbered by the capitalistic IP game.

Well, it's nice to see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19531299)

the US suffering for once.

They have stolen all the other countries best brains for the last 50 years by paying them more money to do their work in the US.

Now we will have a more level playing field if the US are only able to use their own scientists. In fact, we might find out how much better Eastern European scientists are, and how poor native born Americans perform?

 

US has never been pre-eminent in Physics (0)

localroger (258128) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531333)

Really, this is a serious misunderstanding, mostly because of the events leading up to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The thing is, all of the major advances in physics which made the atomic bomb possible, and physics suddenly important rather than an obscure new branch of philosophy, were made in Europe. All of them. What America did was industrialize those discoveries. Enrico Fermi stated flatly that it would be impossible to perform isotope separation because "you'd have to turn the whole country into a factory." When he arrived in the US and saw the scale of Manhattan Project constructions, Ed Teller reminded him of his comment and Fermi shot back "and you have done just that." That's what we Americans seem to excel at.

Christians don't need Scientists (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19531399)

But everything we need to know is in the Bible, so why fund so called 'Scientists' to come up with the wrong answers to things we already know?

Think of all that money wasted on 'The Big Bang' for instance. The Bible gives us the truth about creation, so what is the point of paying athiests to make things up?

The money should be instead given to Israel to facilitate the ingathering and hasten the End Times. They are nearly up us, my Cat was raptured just last week!

Nothing Really (1)

adarklite (1033564) | more than 6 years ago | (#19531413)

Governments these days don't fund scientific discoveries as they used to. It is mostly private enterprises and publicly traded companies like IBM and Intel that fund these research ventures. And as much of the industry research is being outsourced because its cheaper and they can use sterner security measures if they need to.
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