Friday, October 08, 2004

No, we're not actually dead

..and neither is this blog. Believe it or not, I have a few comments to make. Firstly, I would like to congratulate Pitt alumna Wangari Maathi on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. I haven't seen much reaction in the blogosphere, but I suspect there might follow some disappointment, concerns that the Nobel committee had made a choice that was all too "safe" or easy, charges of irrelevance, etc. While I was surprised by the selection, the more I reflect on it, the more I think the choice was appropriate. Environmentalism isn't a boutique issue for yuppies in the west, and to think otherwise shortchanges people in the developing world. Development and conservation aren't mutually exclusive -- in fact, they should go hand-in-hand, as name "sustainable development" would suggest. The prize selection is another step towards abandoning Soviet-style development (epitomized by the massive, disruptive dam, of course) in favor of the new model.

However, I have very little knowledge of environmental policy, and I certainly shouldn't have the last word on the issue. I have (just) a bit more knowledge of QCD, and congratulate Gross, Politzer, and Wilczek on receiving the physics award. Note that comments are chronologically ordered from the bottom on that blog, the proprietor of which is strongly skeptical of string theory. Incidentally, it was my pleasure to hear Prof. Newman's reservations concerning string theory at the General Relativity honors lecture today; the blog to which I linked has some interesting comments concerning its success (or lack thereof.)

However, I'm not sure science is within this blog's purview, but science policy certainly is. On that note I will cite the blurb concerning Canada's new Perimeter Institute in Bob Park's indispensible What's New. It's quite telling that Canada has a PM who will say such "Brain power rather than military might is fast becoming the way countries exercise their sovereignty," while the US throws money at projects such as missile defense and hafnium isomer bombs, which don't exactly show much promise. I differ from Park on the subject of whether the US hegemony in science is threatened. He sees NSF's (or NAS'?) alarm on the issue as just another federal fund-seeking tactic, while I note US leadership has already slipped in certain areas. Positive steps should be taken to preserve US leadership in the longue duree. More on this later.

I might have a write-up concerning Christopher Hitchens and his visit later, too.


1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soviet-style development? A tad anachronistic in your commentary, I see...

December 30, 2004 at 10:58 AM  

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