March 29, 2011

A GRIM FUTURE?

Is Prof. Dyson’s assessment an accurate description of the current state of Western civilization in general and the US in particular? My (thoroughly non-scientific and limited) casual observations suggest that it is. The workhorses of the scientific enterprise are postdoctoral research associates (and to a lesser extent, graduate students). When I began my research career in the early 70s most postdocs were American and most of the ones who were not were European. When I (briefly) attempted to get back into research last year nearly all the postdocs I saw were Asian (not Americans of Asian descent, but visitors from Asia). It is wonderful that American universities attract such talented, energetic visitors, but worrisome that we are no longer “growing our own”. Is the US making the necessary effort to “show up” for the future?

Probably not.