Has the Brain Drain of Top Scientists Caused the US to Lose Its Edge?
With a diminishing space program, is science and technology forced to take a back seat?
For quite some time now, the last and final mission of the Space Shuttle has generated much publicity and this phase out will have huge implications for space travel, for generations to come. One of these major concerns is the outright fear that the United States could be losing its lead in a variety of areas of high tech and not just space. A cadre core of 17,000 engineers and staff will be reduced down to 7,000 and is a tremendous loss of both high talent and high experience. The space program will have an extreme amount of difficulty trying to replace this precious resource of human talent.
Sadly, we have seen this before. Back in 1993, the Congress cancelled the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC), was set to be built outside Dallas, Texas. Construction was underway and the project was moving forward in full force. The Super Collider was massive in both size and expected energy levels that would have far surpassed the current operational levels of the Large Hadron Collider. To give you an idea, the original planned circumference of the SSC would have been exceeded 50 miles and would have had energy levels of 20 TeV per beam of protons which is considerably larger than the size of the LHC. Needless to say, the project was exciting and ambitious not to mention that it would have been completed much earlier giving the US a head start on discoveries currently taking place in Geneva, Switzerland. Long story short, Congress gave physicists $1 billion dollars to dig the hole for the huge atom smasher. A lack of funding caused Congress to scrap the project and then gave physicists an additional billion dollars to fill the hole. Yes, that's $2 billion dollars for a hole and was the most expensive hole ever dug in human history.
The loss of the SSC set back US high energy physics for two generations. These fields have not yet recovered and thousands of individuals lost their jobs as a direct result. Now, the new Vatican for high energy physics is Geneva, Switzerland because of the construction, completion and operations at the Large Hadron Collider. There is of course no doubt that the LHC is making tremendous advancements, breaking records and making incredible discoveries but... The United States Lost the Lead. Many are now wondering if the edge was lost as well.
Photos of the abandoned remains of the planned Super Collider can be seen below. Even today, some wonder if the increased energy capabilities and larger size of the SSC would have provided us answers to questions and discoveries currently being sought out by the LHC, years earlier. As stated above, the SSC would have provided us a tremendous head start.
Also, the US might lose its lead in stem cell research because of restrictions on federal funding. Again, there is a "brain drain" of top scientists, who might consider going to Europe or Asia to pursue stem cell research. So, one by one, a case can be made that the US is losing the edge in high tech areas -- First in physics, then in biology, now in space research. Remember that this has happened before, in the 1920s and 1930s when there was a decline of science and technology in England. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the British pioneered such technologies as steam power, electricity, chemicals, and aeronautics. But, it lost its edge fairly early in the 20th century which was to be surpassed by Germany. Of course, times are tough and the critics are quick to jump to the fact that science, too, must be downsized.
But science is different. Science is the Engine of Prosperity.
Downsizing science is like eating your own seed corn. Politicians spend all their time arguing how to cut up the pie and devising all kinds of different ways to slice it up. My Attitude is: We Need a Bigger Pie. And a bigger pie, comes from science, the engine of prosperity. So, by slowly losing the edge in different areas, the US is making it difficult to generate the new technologies which will give us a bigger pie. This not a wise decision and it might be a rather good idea for the pace to be changed up a bit.
In closing: Even though this may be the last hurrah for the space shuttle, hopefully the ever increasing advancements and understandings in various technologies will one day open the universe to the average person. One such technology is the space elevator (video below) and is something that is becoming an ever increasingly popular idea and also something that I talk about in my most recent book, Physics of the Future.
Perhaps one day, technologies like this will allow the average person to take an affordable ride into space by doing nothing more than hitting the UP Button!Until Then...
What would happen if you tripled the US population? Join Matthew Yglesias and Charles Duhigg at 1pm ET on Monday, September 28.
Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live.
Having been exposed to mavericks in the French culinary world at a young age, three-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn made it her mission to cook in a way that is not only delicious and elegant, but also expressive, memorable, and true to her experience.
New experiments find weird quantum activity in supercold gas.
Quantum Mechanics, Onions, and a Theory of Everything<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="036ae7b8dd661df2d125a3421a0299ba"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bcVruA0AJ-o?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Researchers say that moral self-licensing occurs "because good deeds make people feel secure in their moral self-regard."
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