Is academic life changing?

Here’s Mason’s provost, Peter Stearns, on the matter. My own sense is that he’s spot on. Even in the comparatively secure hard sciences, the “social contract” between institution and faculty is undergoing an evolution.

A caution however: one of the US’s enduring competitive advantages has been its ability to attract top flight scientists from all over the world. The perception that either tenure or research support is being eroded will not help, especially in a global environment where countries like China and Singapore are pouring massive amounts of money to bring the best and the brightest to their own shores.

Neuroscience in China

Nature Magazine has an excellent report here. US National Academy of Science member Moo Ming Poo is leading the way at ION in Shanghai.

Money quote from Poo:

“It’s more exciting, exhilarating here [than in the US],” he says. “They need me. I feel it’s the best use of my life.”

China’s Future

Time Magazine’s Michael Shuman has a really interesting piece on China here. In essence, he thinks the current state capitalism model in unsustainable because it sends inaccurate price signals which are creating huge distortions. Shuman sees China going the same way as Japan.

Shuman’s report is relevant apropos of yesterday’s blog entry┬áhere on Advanced Studies regarding some serious future challenges to international science.

Rare Earth Elements–the mother lode at the bottom of the Pacific

The report in Nature Geoscience is here. The geopolitical significance could be large. China has been adopting a neo-mercantilistic policy with regards to these commodities for some time. They are ubiquitous in modern gadgets of all sorts and until we have adequate resource substitution, technological supply chains will depend on a constant supply. Right now, the supplier is largely China. According to this report, that could change.