Physics to the Dogs: A Lost Decade for U.S. Scientists?

A Chinese flag, not an American one, will be planted in the lunar dust when the next manned mission to the moon occurs some time around 2025. Scientific teams in Europe, not the U.S., are poised to discover the Higgs boson. Indeed, the U.S. has lost the initiative not just in space, but also in fundamental research. 


This "worrying trend," as The New York Times recently termed it, is neatly encapsulated in this bitter paradox: while three American astronomers won the Nobel Prize in Physics last year for their reaffirmation of dark energy, NASA is taking a back seat to the European Space Agency in a mission to travel to space to measure dark energy. 

As The Times observed:

For some scientists, this represents an ingenious solution, allowing American astronomers access to the kind of data they will not be able to obtain on their own until NASA can mount its own, more ambitious mission in 2024.

But for others, it is a setback. It means that for at least the next decade, Americans will be relegated to a minor role in following up on their own discovery.

The costs of taking a back seat can be measured in terms of the top talent the U.S. stands to lose to other countries that are taking the lead in fundamental research, and all the benefits that come with that. That is to say, if the thirst for discovery is not a fundamental part of our culture we are a culture left without a vision, a mission statement, if you will, about who we are and what we want to be.  

Will we need another "sputnik moment" to avoid a lost decade for physics in the U.S.? Bill Nye, aka, "the science guy" describes the impact the space race had on his life and career in in the video below.

Watch here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

Why avoiding logical fallacies is an everyday superpower

10 of the most sandbagging, red-herring, and effective logical fallacies.

Photo credit: Miguel Henriques on Unsplash
Personal Growth
  • Many an otherwise-worthwhile argument has been derailed by logical fallacies.
  • Sometimes these fallacies are deliberate tricks, and sometimes just bad reasoning.
  • Avoiding these traps makes disgreeing so much better.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

Videos
  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less