One final thought on the Big Science/ Space Chronicles stuff from last week. One of the things I found really frustrating about the book, and the whole argument that we ought to be sinking lots of money into manned space missions is that the terms of the argument are so nebulous. This is most obvious when Tyson or other space advocates talk about the need for "inspiring" people, but it shows up even in what ought to be relatively concrete discussions of actual science. Read more
I was tremendously disappointed and frustrated by this book.
This is largely my own fault, because I went into it expecting it to be something it's not. Had I read the description more carefully, I might not have had such a strong negative reaction (which was exacerbated by some outside stress when I first started reading it, so I put it aside for a few weeks, until I was less mad in general, and more likely to give it a fair reading). I'm actually somewhat hesitant to write this up at all, for a number of reasons, but after thinking it over a bit, I think I have sensible reasons for being disappointed in the book, and it's probably worth airing them. Read more
A week or so ago, lots of people were linking to this New York Review of Books article by Steven Weinberg on "The Crisis of Big Science," looking back over the last few decades of, well, big science. It's somewhat dejected survey of whopping huge experiments, and the increasing difficulty of getting them funded, including a good deal of bitterness over the cancellation of the Superconducting Supercollider almost twenty years ago. This isn't particularly new for Weinberg-- back at the APS's Centennial Meeting in Atlanta in 1999, he gave a big lecture where he spent a bunch of time fulminating about what idiots politicians were for cancelling the project. Read more
Most parents are convinced of the extraordinary talents of his offspring. Try to say a loving father or mother that they grow not Beethoven or Lobachevsky, a humble engineer, salesman, and even the janitor - and you will instantly become the worst enemy. And now, enchanted vision of future success beloved offspring, parents become involved in its development.
The desire to provide the child the best starting conditions led to more and more parents should be a system of early education and / or early development. By themselves, these systems are good, but often parents are watching the baby, seek out there talents and abilities that are actually available, or the opposite - be sure that there is some talent. Read more