In PNAS, a surprising letter: ‘Systemic Addiction to Research Funding’

President Eisenhower warned of this. In the world of climate science, we have come to know this simple equation as demonstrated by some of the most zealous proponents of climate change:

No Alarm =  No Funding + No Glory

Dr. Lonnie Thomspon and his false alarm over Mt. Kilimanjaro, coupled with him being made famous by Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth while seeking more research money to study a problem that is actually more related to land use and evapotranspiration than global warming comes to mind as an example. Andrew Resnick has written a letter published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science that suggests researchers are “addicted” to funding, much like drug addicts.  His words, not mine.

resnick_PNAS_letter

Click image to enlarge

Source: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/06/11/1407369111.extract

About these ads
This entry was posted in Government funding of science. Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to In PNAS, a surprising letter: ‘Systemic Addiction to Research Funding’

  1. Latitude says:

    …gotta go where the money is

    There’s always a chain of command over you that wants more money

  2. Dave says:

    For years, I thought scientists would never be this cynical, but it’s the only thing that makes sense.

  3. cnxtim says:

    Here is the real crux of the matter. Rather than “warmists” studying the psychology of “denialists” and their mythical funding by “big business”.
    The real issue is the psychology of grant addicted warmist researchers and publishers..
    Add that to the plethora of community funded “lost in green Luddites and as they say, we have;;

    “A suitable case for treatment”…

  4. Gunga Din says:

    So “green” is the problem with green.
    Whoda’ thought?

  5. norah4you says:

    Anyone remembering Huff’s How to lie with statistics? ……

  6. PaulH says:

    The surest way to solve CAGW is to stop funding it’s “research”.

  7. M Seward says:

    We have a new monster in out midst. Forget the “military-industrial complex” we now have the “science-political complex” or the “ecoreligeous-science complex”. Call it what you will, its a Godzilla sized monster spreading destructive nonsense and drooling at the prospect of total power.

  8. george e. smith says:

    “””””…..norah4you says:

    June 14, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Anyone remembering Huff’s How to lie with statistics? ……”””””

    Statistics don’t lie; ever. They don’t predict anything either; ever.

    It is people who lie, when they claim their statistics predict anything; ever.

    Did Yogi Berra really say; Prediction is hard, especially about the future. ??

  9. ConfusedPhoton says:

    It isn’t just money/funding, there is also chum review making sure your papers are published.
    Plenty of chum prizes, plenty of chum awards, plenty of chum congratulations, plenty of circling the waggons when you are caught out and of course the obligatory pretend Nobel laureate status.

  10. R2Dtoo says:

    No one wants to talk about the fact that universities have flooded the market with excess PhDs for decades. This necessitated the establishment of “institutes” with specific purposes to hire all these graduates, and provided government and NGOs with a perfect outlet for agenda-driven research. The universities, always hungry for money, welcomed this change because they could charge “overhead” to fund a lot of the stupid frills they now offer students. This, of course, is heresy- who can be against more highly-educated students? The truth is that there is no real market for most of them in standard university faculty positions. The whole system suffers the results.

  11. Latitude says:

    R2Dtoo says: bingo

  12. Lionell Griffith says:

    They should all be called Thugs by Proxy.

    A Thug by Proxy fears actually acting like a thug but is quite willing to take advantage of those who are willing to be thugs. So they provide an excuse for the government thugs to do the dirty work and pretend the resulting stolen wealth is to be used for a noble cause. Rather than being noble, they are just as morally guilty as their surrogate thugs themselves. What they are addicted to is the unearned and they don’t care how they get it.

  13. Eric Worrall says:

    I’m deeply unsympathetic towards scientists who trump up “crisis” to make the next mortgage payment.

    I used to know a scientist, who used his deep knowledge of Chemistry, to develop a revolutionary new method of producing vitamins.

    And there are plenty of real world problems waiting for all disciplines to solve. For Physicists, there is the holy grail of 3D printing yet to be solved, printing high resolution, high quality shapes in metal. http://3dprint.com/5737/affordable-metal-3d-printer/ – this is at least as much a Physics issue, as it is a Chemistry issue.

    Or a related problem, printing circuit board tracks made of metal on 3D plastic constructions.

    There is a world bursting with opportunity, with real problems which can be solved. And these pathetic losers, all they can think of is how to squeeze the next grant out of the public purse.

  14. TRBixler says:

    Maybe there is hope as Randy Schekman allowed this to be published. Circumspection or just a temporary slip, time will tell. If science is to advance it must get over the politics.

  15. Jimbo says:

    Mortgages, kids, HOT TROPICAL holidays to the sinking Maldives, SUVs, flights, climate conferences to HOT TROPICAL JOINTS, multiple homes, hypocrisy et al all have to be paid for dontcha know. Government control, money and undeserved climastrological recognition is the key to the global warming alarm.

  16. tgasloli says:

    This isn’t just a problem with AGW, this is systematic. If we want to save Science we have to eliminate government funding for “science.” Government funding for “science” will always yield junk that meets a political need, not real Science.

  17. Zeke says:

    At least engineers are good.* (:

    *micetype: Results may vary. Void where prohibited by over-regulation and sustainability standards imposed by the UN. Not applicable in some Institutes in Massachusetts. Green engineering not guaranteed by an warantee, implied or otherwise. Use with discretion.

  18. Dr K.A. Rodgers says:

    It ain’t so much the scientists who are addicted to funding but their lords and masters in admin who cream at least 15% off the top. That is where the drive comes from.
    No funding, no tenure. No funding, no promotion. And so it goes. It is why those same lords and masters will protect a proven fund raiser no matter what codswallop they produce.

  19. tteclod says:

    M Seward: we call it the Cathedral.

  20. philjourdan says:

    While his article is a bit “duh!”, it is a surprise to see who the author is.

  21. latecommer2014 says:

    It’s the oldest profession ….selling what you have for what you want to any buyer with the resources. Not much different than prostitution.

  22. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:
    Follow the money. Despite assertions to the contrary by alarmists, all the money is on the alarmist side, most of it from the government, most of that directly from progressivists and enviro-radical types. Dry up the money, and no one will continue with the alarm. Then maybe we can do some real research and maybe find something worth spending time and money on.

  23. Leigh says:

    “The surest way to solve CAGW is to stop funding it’s “research”.”
    PaulH you could be onto something there.

  24. alexwade says:

    Also in that blatantly obvious letter from PNAS, but overlooked, is that it concludes water is wet, the sky is blue, and the sun is hot.

    If people didn’t know that science is biased on money and not truth then they are either blissfully ignorant, on the take, or blinded by those on the take. The soda companies recently commissioned a study which concluded that drinking diet soda helps you lose more weight than water. If that is not a prime example of how science always favors funding, I don’t know what is. The late Michael Crichton’s book State of Fear was based entirely on this premise. But the message was lost because he chose the biggest example of corrupted science, AGW, to prove this point. Michael Crichton said one of the most appropriate things about money and science.

    I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

  25. andy says:

    So,
    Glory = Alarm – Funding
    ?

  26. Nick Stokes says:

    “His words, not mine.”

    Well, it’s the headline, which he probably didn’t write. The letter rather seems to be asking of Alberts et al – well, what do you want?

    It’s a reasonable question. It is government that has decided that research will be grant funded. And so that is the research you hear about. You don’t hear from the people who didn’t get grants. They had to do other things.

  27. Anthony S says:

    M Seward says:
    June 14, 2014 at 3:43 pm
    We have a new monster in out midst. Forget the “military-industrial complex” we now have the “science-political complex” or the “ecoreligeous-science complex”. Call it what you will, its a Godzilla sized monster spreading destructive nonsense and drooling at the prospect of total power.

    ——

    In his original warning, Eisenhower called it a “scientific-technological elite.”

    “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.
    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

    http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html

    This is addressed in the linked WUWT post in this post.

  28. Ben U. says:

    The FULL equation is

    No Alarm = No Power + No Funding + No Glory (including groupies) + No Honor (status).

  29. davidmhoffer says:

    Nick Stokes;
    You don’t hear from the people who didn’t get grants. They had to do other things.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Nonsense. You hear from them all the time. Tires that get more traction on ice. Computer screens that are flexible. 3D printers. Batteries that last longer and charge faster. RNA interference drugs that are starting to cure diseases which previously could only be cured by surgery. Crop strains which are disease and drought resistant. Cars that park themselves, or hit the breaks for you in an emergency. Shall I go on? We hear from people doing real research and getting real results every day.

    The problem with theoretical research is that it has stagnated, and in any stagnant niche, you get parasites whose only talent is creating the perception that they are adding value rising to the top.

  30. In other words:
    Supply And Demand

    If there is a Demand for scientific findings, there will be Suppliers who will fill the demand at a negotiated price.

    Question in Job Interview, “How much is two and two?”
    Correct answer: “Four”
    Successful answer: “What do you want it to be?”

  31. M Seward says:

    I got my first insight into this whole mad scene when, as a self employed professional engineer, I was also teaching part time at a local tertiary institiution lecturing in my field. One day I was called into my boss’s office and and after broaching the subject of perhaps publishing some papers I was asked what I was up to with my ‘day’ job. After giving a summary of the more interesting stuff he clapped his hands and said Oh good! – that would be good for at least two LPU’s. “LPU ?” I asked. Least Publishable Unit” he answered, we get $x of funding per paper.

    All was revealed. Academia had been sliced, diced, pasteurized, homogonized and turned into a tradeable commodity. Managerialism had finally and completely perverted the course of the enlightenment itself and shackled it to funding as merely a quantitative KPI. Not so much dumbed down as lobotomised. Pretty much what was done to mortgage securities recently.

  32. Bob Diaz says:

    If you give $100 to anyone on the street that agrees the world will end soon, you’d be surprised how many people will say the world will end soon.

  33. davidmhoffer says:

    M Seward;
    After giving a summary of the more interesting stuff he clapped his hands and said Oh good! – that would be good for at least two LPU’s. “LPU ?” I asked. Least Publishable Unit” he answered, we get $x of funding per paper.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    And that, right there is what I was talking about in my comment above. He wasn’t interested in producing new knowledge. He was interested in getting paid for the perception of creating new knowledge. He was no doubt running around having the same conversation with everyone else who was part time, scraping up every opportunity to take something that had already been done, and laying claim to it for his institution/department. Much easier to associate oneself with good work than to actually DO good work.

    Well I hope you were fairly compensated. But thanks for helping me make my point.

  34. rogerknights says:

    Physical scientists probably deserve the reputation they enjoy for incorruptibility and unswerving devotion to pure truth. The reason for this is that it is not worthwhile to bribe them.
    –Anthony Standen, Science Is a Sacred Cow (1950), pp. 168-69

  35. Galane says:

    With apologies to Robert Palmer…
    You know you’re gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to funds

  36. Nick Stokes says:

    davidmhoffer says: June 14, 2014 at 8:16 pm
    “Nick Stokes;
    You don’t hear from the people who didn’t get grants. They had to do other things.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Nonsense. You hear from them all the time. Tires that get more traction on ice…”

    You don’t see much of that research published. And I bet you won’t see data and code.

  37. knr says:

    Funding is part of it but so is the published or demand approach in academia where researchers are expected to push out a number of papers each year , quality being an issue left to journals to ‘deal with ‘
    So looking to get funding , to get research published to keep the numbers up , well the area where there lots of funding and were its a lot easer to get ‘research’ published as long as it offers the right type of ‘evidenced ‘ is a good place to start and its easy enough to stick it an AGW angle on virtual anything no matter how bad the fit , and we seen papers just like that.

    Its one of the dirty little secrets of research is that politics often influence which areas of science becomes ‘hot’ and which not . The we are above such things mythology that science community likes to dress its self up in , when it comes to issues like self serving interest , personal out looks and malpractice of all forms , is jut that mythology in the end their only human.

  38. richardscourtney says:

    Nick Stokes:

    It is very rare for me to be able to agree with you so I write to take this opportunity to do it.

    At June 15, 2014 at 12:11 am you point out that commercial research is confidential so

    you won’t see data and code.

    Yes. Only academic research is ‘governed’ by publication in the public domain: the public pay for it so have aright to see it. But most research is confidential: it is NOT published in the public domain because it has commercial, military, security, industrial and/or national value which would be harmed if shared publicly. Indeed, there are entire industries which exist to conduct espionage intended to purloin such information.

    Furthermore, the most valuable research tends to be conducted by commercial research organisations which would cease to fund research activities that failed to obtain an adequate return from the funding. Indeed, that funding issue is why davidmhoffer is so obviously right when he writes

    You hear from them all the time. Tires that get more traction on ice. Computer screens that are flexible. 3D printers. Batteries that last longer and charge faster. RNA interference drugs that are starting to cure diseases which previously could only be cured by surgery. Crop strains which are disease and drought resistant. Cars that park themselves, or hit the breaks for you in an emergency. Shall I go on? We hear from people doing real research and getting real results every day.

    Richard

  39. knr says:

    Dr K.A. Rodgers
    ‘And so it goes. It is why those same lords and masters will protect a proven fund raiser no matter what codswallop they produce’

    The prime example being Mann and Penn State who made it clear part of their ‘investigation ‘ was looking at how much money he brought in and deciding it was enough to ensure his ‘innocence’

  40. Joel O'Bryan says:

    the problem of grant funded research is closely coupled to the lack of teaching required of researchers. in US universities, I.e. tenure track research hires are asked to do too little teaching by the institution. Their entire effort is a bet on obtaining outside funded research, not teaching-education, which is a university’s primary mission. In previous decades, this was a high probability, today it is low probability. The institution’s office of Research assumes that by freeing Jr faculty from classroom lecture, he/she is better able to devote time to better grant writing and lab research to bag tenure. Thus the root of the problem is the tenure process. Its principle measurement of merit, and in most cases sole measure, is dependent on snagging an R01 or other independent multi-year funding, which is assumed to measure or be indicative of publishing impact (weighted sum of published paper’s journal IFs).
    But being “freed” of significant teaching requirements places the worth of a tenure track hire solely on research to secure a grant. This phenomenon has gone hand in hand with the dramatic rise in teaching adjunct ( non tenure) professors to satisfy the demand for universities through the last 25 years to increase enrollment as tuition loan programs expanded. This increase classroom load has been met by hiring Adjuncts.. Adjunct teachers are paid by the course, to simply teach a cookbook to undergrads. A relatively and disposable source of talent for the universities.
    The ability to use adjuncts professors (instructors) occurs as side effect of over producing too many PhDs. If the quantity of supplied labor was too close to the quantity demanded, universities would have to ask Jr researchers to teach more, as adjunct availability would often fall short. If that occured, then their value to the institution would increase irrespective of obtaining a grant.

    Ultimately, the real problem in the US is the contraction of gov research funding relative to GDP. The Progressives have so far suceeded in keeping the 3 big non-discretionary, growing budgets items off-limits from cuts, Medicare, Medicaid, and SS. In a resource limited environment, this of course means less discretionary funds available for research. Thus the universities err by continuing legacy tenure track schemes, built in a previous era of escalating grants sucess rates, while the Progressive social welfare agenda ensures even more rapid reductions in discretionary spending in the coming decade.

    The conclusion: its is going to get much worse for science research funding before it will get better. “Getting better” will be relative to future much lower spending, rather than relative to today’s levels. By 2024, federally funded science researchers will be half the size of todays in the US.
    Lesson: learn Chinese.

  41. Kelvin Vaughan says:

    andy says:
    June 14, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    So,
    Glory = Alarm – Funding
    ?

    0=0+0

  42. Stephen Richards says:

    R2Dtoo says:

    June 14, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    As I have written here oh so many times.

  43. urederra says:

    andy says:
    June 14, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    So,
    Glory = Alarm – Funding
    ?

    Nope.
    The equation is:

    No Alarm = No Funding + No Glory

    Which should be translated into:
    0 · Alarm = 0 · Funding + 0 · Glory

    And then this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Division_by_zero

  44. Jean Parisot says:

    A related question? Why is the funding biased towards warming? For every Hollywood addled green we should have a small businessman who has to keep 15 service trucks on the road; for every wayward PM at NOAA, there should be an action officer in the Pentagon saying energy independence is a national security issue. Why isn’t big oil writing Anthony checks?

  45. M Simon says:

    Nick Stokes says:
    June 15, 2014 at 12:11 am

    You don’t see much of that research published. And I bet you won’t see data and code.

    But you WILL see tires that get better traction on ice. Proof meet pudding.

  46. bob sykes says:

    A few years ago, a newly hired assistant professor was told by the Dean of Engineering at Ohio State that if he wanted tenure he would have to bring in at least $300,000 per year. There was no discussion of numbers of MS and PhD students, no discussion of papers or impact factors, no discussion of teaching quality or of service.

    Of course, that was just the Dean. The faculty promotion and tenure committees want everything. But the Dean’s attitude was telling.

    By the way, whatever you guys might think, Lonnie Thompson and his wife are worshipped at tOSU. And the hallways of his edifice on West Campus are still decorated with Mann’s original hockey stick graphic. A while ago, the student paper “The Lantern” wrote that he had finally agreed to archive his data and grant access to it. I don’t know if that is true or not. There has been a University policy for years that federally funded data must be archived and made available, but no one has ever been able to make Lonnie obey that rule.

  47. This is, for the most part, the current state of “science” in the world and even more so in regards of Climate Science. Because Oppressives/Liberals/Marxist/Socialists have taken over most of the world governments, they have sought to create a One-World “Open Society” Socialist Government, and since Communism is proved to be an oppressive and failed form of government, these Marxists have turned to “saving the planet” in order to justify their Communist type governments, regulations, and grabs for power. So, they throw hundreds of billions of dollars at “scientists” to bribe them into enabling their evil agenda, and because Scientists are human most of them willingly sacrifice their integrity and honesty in order to get promoted and make money. As long as governments fund science, you will get propaganda instead of science.

  48. ferdberple says:

    The corruption of science funding began with the question of “relevance”.

    You propose a scientific study, to determine the “existence of the XYZ particle”. The Department of Grants ask, what is the benefit of the “XYZ particle”? You answer “Today none, but it helps advance our understanding.”

    Your competitor for grant money propose a scientific study to determine “climate change and sustainability”. The Department of Grants ask, what is the benefit of “climate change and sustainability”? You answer “To save the world.”

    Who gets the grant? repeat over thousands of applications, and you can see why NASA launched a mission to planet earth and has lost the capability to put people into space.

  49. John W. Garrett says:

    Climate Scientist: We can’t find any solid evidence of CAGW.

    Government man: Well, if that’s the case, there’s not much sense in spending so much on climate research. Oh— and by the way— you’re fired.

  50. JunkPsychology says:

    Genuine scientific research will not die when government research grants dry up.

    University centers and institutes will shrink, and jobs for university administrators will disappear. Which is hardly the same thing.

    See Terence Kealey’s book, The Economic Laws of Scientific Research.

  51. davidmhoffer says:

    Nick Stokes;
    You don’t see much of that research published. And I bet you won’t see data and code.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Nope, you see results. And you should go and take a look at what a patent is, and how much information it contains (sufficient to replicate it!) before claiming it isn’t published.

    Science has run amok for the simple reason that it is awarded money for activity and not for useful results.

    I said this once before, and I will say it again. If you want useful climate models, then pay for results not activity. There is only one way to measure the utility of a climate model, and that is to use it to accurately predict the future, something all of the existing models have failed to do. Why? Because they were NOT asked to predict the future, they were asked to predict the future based on a set of assumptions, which they did. The assumptions have turned out to be incorrect, and the models as a consequence are also flawed.

    What we need is a prize for a model that gets things correct. Put out a prize for which any model published one year from now gets the temperature of he earth correct 5 years hence of $1 Billion. Of the models that collect that prize, the one most accurate gets another $5 Billion at the 10 year mark.

    You know what you would get? You would get RESULTS. Not because anything was published, not because the data was available, but because you PAID FOR A RESULT THAT COULD ONLY GET FUNDED BY DEMONSTRATING THAT IT IS RIGHT.

    What we get now is papers published to conform to the opinion of the people who fund them. They’ve never had predictive accuracy as a required metric, their only metric is vague arm waving implying that they can be used as a predictive metric to justify draconian regulations and tax regimes on the assumption that they have predictive value, which they demonstrably do not.

  52. richardscourtney says:

    Davidmhoffer:

    I agree the substantive point in your post at June 15, 2014 at 7:17 am which is http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/06/14/in-pnas-a-surprising-letter-systemic-addiction-to-research-funding/#comment-1662561 but I write to dispute a minor – although important – point you make.

    As you say

    Science has run amok for the simple reason that it is awarded money for activity and not for useful results.

    I said this once before, and I will say it again. If you want useful climate models, then pay for results not activity. There is only one way to measure the utility of a climate model, and that is to use it to accurately predict the future, something all of the existing models have failed to do. Why? Because they were NOT asked to predict the future, they were asked to predict the future based on a set of assumptions, which they did. The assumptions have turned out to be incorrect, and the models as a consequence are also flawed.

    And you suggest how to obtain the research which could provide a model capable of providing the “results”.

    But you provide an erroneous implication when you say

    And you should go and take a look at what a patent is, and how much information it contains (sufficient to replicate it!) before claiming it isn’t published.

    Actually, that is not right. Many important research findings are not patented precisely because the patent would reveal valuable information. And the information in a patent may not enable the patented device to work.

    Much commercial research which is published gets published for reasons of advertising and is not replicable in a useful manner. Indeed, I published such a paper in the 1980s, and I provide a footnote which explains this as illustration.

    Richard

    Footnote
    I devised a mensuration method while employed by the UK’s Coal Research Establishment (CRE). Incidentally, older Americans may be aware of Joseph Bronowski who was a CRE Research Director who made TV programs e.g. The Ascent of Man.

    The technique used an optical microscope and a digital stepping stage to obtain the coordinate position of any point on a 10 cm x 10 cm planar surface to a precision and accuracy of +/- 0.5 micron. I published a paper in microscopy that explained how this was achieved. The method provides such extreme accuracy that it was copied for use by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) which sets metrology standards in the UK.

    My paper explained
    * the equipment and its use,
    * how the specimen, equipment and laboratory had to be temperature controlled,
    * how the stepping stage had to approach each measured point from the same directions,
    * and etc..

    But anyone copying the system in the paper would not have a viable system at least not for more than two years. The reason for this is that the system measures to better than the tolerances of the drives of the stepping stage. Hence, each individual coordinate point needs to be calibrated and such calibration would take more than two years even using automated calibration.

    However, I had devised an algorithmic method which enabled calibration of the system with 99% confidence for each coordinate point to be obtained in under three hours. Indeed, this calibration method was the real value of the development. But anybody building the system described in the paper would need to employ CRE to provide its calibration. CRE would not have allowed me to publish the paper if the paper had included information about the calibration method.

  53. SandyInLimousin says:

    davidmhoffer says
    Excellent responses today, eloquent and succinct a pleasure to read.

  54. michel says:

    So, has anyone ever seen this data?

    Well, have they?

    Michel

    bob sykes says: June 15, 2014 at 5:14 am
    “…. Lonnie Thompson and his wife are worshipped at tOSU. And the hallways of his edifice on West Campus are still decorated with Mann’s original hockey stick graphic. A while ago, the student paper “The Lantern” wrote that he had finally agreed to archive his data and grant access to it. I don’t know if that is true or not. There has been a University policy for years that federally funded data must be archived and made available, but no one has ever been able to make Lonnie obey that rule.”

  55. Eric Worrall says:
    June 14, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Or a related problem, printing circuit board tracks made of metal on 3D plastic constructions.
    —————–

    HA, I like that.

    How about “printing” some of the components themselves ….. that those metal “tracks” connect to?

    That would increase component “density” and decrease assembly “time”.

  56. Gary Pearse says:

    Kudos to Dwight Eisenhower for being able to foresee such a development. It might be worthy of coining a natural law – D.E.’s ‘forecast’ is certainly better than climate science’s. The slowdown, the asymptote of discovery of the hard sciences since pre-mid 20th Century had this consequence. Scientists tend now to bask in the genius of engineering developments – to be sure engineers will have a bank of science that can still give us new stuff (the misnomer ‘rocket science’ is one of the more egregious examples of the basking – er, it’s rocket engineering, folks).

    I see analogies in other arts. We had a great age of poets, but there are only so many words and so many rhymes and so many facets to the human condition and even a limit to imagination that we naturally get fewer and fewer great poets with time. Oh we predictably slid over into non-rhyming poetry as a temporary hope – more metaphorical stuff for a while (I’m fond of Beat generation poetry), but today, no one can make a living at it – except where grants are supplied to produce a slim arty hardbound folio.

    Classical music did about the same thing. For composers, there are only 12 notes and fewer octaves and the baroque folk had a field day with them. There followed a period of poor near-plagiarists until finally the barren edges of cacophony began to be scraped and weird low level harmonics explored in the 20th C. Stravinsky stuff was one step a way from an explosion in a coat hanger factory. Classical music today is basically PERFORMANCE of the old stuff, pretty much what physics is all about. The end of the 19th C. saw the birth of modern pop music- ragtime and progressions up through blues, jazz and rock. It seems to have had a similar compressed history. In the new stuff, the thrill is gone. You don’t even have to be able to sing. There is a lot of retrospection now in performance, seeking quality in the past.

    I could go on about painting, architecture and sculpture, the masters, the cubists who ran out of geometry quickly, architect boxes which have little more to do, it seems, but to make buildings higher and higher, for fanciful with less utility (Dubai’s skyline is the Stravinsky of architecture); Michelangelo to bent boiler plate… Dark matter and strings oddly also evoke Stravinsky. All these white lab coats and horn-rimmed glasses are new age performance scientists now. Without the largess of these obscenely giant grants where would they be? They may be becoming to big to fail?

  57. Peter Miller says:

    One of the greatest truisms of all times is the concept of: ‘The dead hand of government.’

    Hence government and climate research.

  58. davidmhoffer says:

    richardscourtney;
    But anyone copying the system in the paper would not have a viable system at least not for more than two years.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Yes agreed on everything you said. Some patents never get filed precisely to protect the IP and some get filed in a fashion that makes is deliberately difficult to replicate. But my main point to Nick Stokes stands.

    Good to see you commenting again by the way.

  59. CRS, DrPH says:

    Pres. Eisenhower’s words:

    Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite.

    We see this all the time. My field (public health) lurches from crisis to crisis, primarily because rent-seeking academics and cash-starved government agencies seek a new teat to feed upon. Let me count a few….PCBs, asbestos, bioterrorism, bird flu….all created vast, powerful constituencies that withered and died when the funding stream halted.

    As an honest scientist, I find it maddening. I’m one of the “solitary inventors, tinkering in his shop” and it’s been getting damn hard to keep it up lately.

  60. Rhys Jaggar says:

    I’ve been saying this for 5 years, but now someone’s published it in PNAS, it must be true……

    The only interest in this story is that it’s now acceptable to say it in the mainstream academic press.

    The content is such old news it makes Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch look like 14 year olds…..

  61. Robert W Turner says:

    Dr K.A. Rodgers says:
    June 14, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    It ain’t so much the scientists who are addicted to funding but their lords and masters in admin who cream at least 15% off the top.

    This is 100% accurate. My thesis advisor was often at odds with university admin because he funded all of his research through private and industry grants. The administration REALLY wanted to get their hands on this money, claiming that all research grants needed to pass through administration’s hands first where it would then be divvied. Unfortunately for the admin you can’t exactly make a Sicilian give you money.

  62. mib8 says:

    Daniel S. Greenberg _Science, Money, and Politics: Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion_

    But it’s both government grants and business executives getting too cozy with the professorial set. Everyone’s trying to funnel other people’s earnings into their own pockets.

  63. Frank says:

    Andy: If you look at the changes in large research universities over the past half or quarter century, you will see that the amount of building space devoted to scientific research has exploded. Research universities have been relatively successful at getting donors to pay for major new buildings, but most of the funding needed to keep those buildings and the people inside them running comes from the government. Intellectual freedom is great in other areas, but universities can’t afford many science professors that aren’t pulling in large grants. For example, the US spends about $65B/yr on science. Stanford University, which spends a total of almost $5B per year receives about $1B/yr in government funding (not counting SLAC) mostly for sciences (including medicine) and about $0.8B from tuition.

  64. Frank says:

    You dont become present by being humble.

Comments are closed.