You are viewing a single comment's thread.

view the rest of the comments →


[–] rwbj 2 points 8 points (+10|-2) ago  (edited ago)

I completely agree with you that the funding for science is completely messed up. It's requiring science to begin to interweave with for-profit or for-power interests and that is completely bastardizing many fields of science. At the same time, this was a related but different issue. The individual in question is one of the top American scientists in particle physics. And he was mostly frustrated that the US doesn't seem to have the ability to really "dream big" anymore. The example he gives is the US decisions to cancel our planned super collider in 1993. That put experimental particle physics on a 15 year hold until the Large Hadron Collider was built, in Switzerland, in 2008.

And I think that's a really good point. The Apollo program was something that will be remembered for centuries. The Manhattan Project, for better or for worse, will as well. Go further back and the US was the center of the theoretic physics that would eventually unravel the mystery of relativity. And so on. But zooming ahead of the Apollo program it gets harder and harder to start seeing big American accomplishments. The issue is that we're still spending massive amounts of money on projects, but they don't really provide any meaningful benefit. For instance the F-35 program is expected to cost more than $1.5 trillion after all is said and done. And the only product there is a moderately incremental jet fighter. And that's in an ideal case. In reality, it's a hamstrung jet fighter that was just grounded indefinitely after widespread reports of pilot hypoxia - a year after it was occasionally bursting into flames during launch. We've gone from the epicenter of science to... this.

It really does make one wonder where our capability to dream big has gone. It's what made America the nation that it is. 50 years ago China was a technologically backwards, unstable country that was literally starving. 50 years ago America was a country with an incredibly strong middle class, massive socioeconomic mobility for anybody willing to work hard, and a country not only dreaming but actively working towards putting people on the moon. It should go without saying that without a sharp change of direction we're not suddenly going to sharply change direction in the next 50 years.


[–] BarelyCoherent 0 points 4 points (+4|-0) ago 

That's not the only part of the problem. There is also an over supply of post graduate students turning out sub standard research. Over the last 20-30 years I have the watched the level of "new" research decline and thus more PhD's granted. The same techniques used to find a different micro-rna marker for the same cancer is not new research. It's sufficient for a paper not a PhD!

Further there is the problem with the "produce papers or die mentality", which looks like it might be being phased out. I have seen separate papers written by the same sub-group of authors published in different journals reporting the same information. It looks like They just jumbled up the order such that they can pass the "new unpublished paper" required by a lot of these journals.


[–] ArtsyLiberationz 2 points 2 points (+4|-2) ago 

Another Example might be the Bush Admins cancellation of Stem Cell Research, the science then leaves the USA and goes to Australia, China, Japan and some European countries. George W. Bush also vetoed a spending bill that aimed to boost federal funding for the National Institutes of Health. In the Britain., Singapore, South Korea, China, Japan and a handful of other nations, research on ES cells enjoys generous government support.


[–] DukeofAnarchy 1 point -1 points (+0|-1) ago 

If those countries want to pillage their people to fund scientific research, then that's their business, but we shouldn't follow their bad example. Every cut in federal funding for science should be welcome. It should be cut to zero.


[–] HighEnergyLife 0 points 1 point (+1|-0) ago 

You're spot on. Peter Theil talked a little about this in his book "Zero to One"

[–] [deleted] 1 point 1 point (+2|-1) ago 



[–] rwbj 1 point 1 point (+2|-1) ago  (edited ago)

There's also the issue of the powers that be want to naturally fund 'things that matter.' The problem is that we don't know what will matter. What's the square root of negative 1? Any grade schooler can tell you it doesn't exist and, thanks to years of mathematical research we now all take for granted, any science graduate can tell you... it's complex.

Bad puns aside, imaginary numbers first began to be formalized in the 1500s. And they seem, at a glance, to just be mathematical mental masturbation. But eventually we'd come to discover them to serve key functions in electrical engineering, quantum mechanics, rotational systems, and so much more. At the time of the day everybody might have been all about funding a way to make horses move a little faster... but spending time pondering the math behind the square root of -1?

This issue bastardizes competition for funding even more since it is basically impossible to really determine what is valuable and what is not.