I am a retired physics professor /researcher, new to the group. I want to introduce a thread I did not find while lurking over past postings:
Many bright students, especially girls, have little interest in science courses. "Science is for nerds and certainly wont pay as well as Wall Street or legal firms" is their view. Changing this attitude may be more important than better instruction in science classes. Some may consider this only a self-serving objective of science teachers, but I think that everyone needs substantial understanding of the world they live in. I note, without any need to do so for this group, that without scientifically founded knowledge and the technological / medical progress that follows from it, mankind would still be in the dark ages.
With admiration, not prejudice, I also note that part of the western worlds technological leadership has been lost to Asian nations, with adverse consequences. (loss of jobs, balance-of-payments problems, etc.). For Example: India has great mathematicians and many of the world's best software centers. Japan can make robots that walk and play real trumpets at the same time! China, that awaking giant, routinely operates 30 km of fast, magnetic-levitated, trains and has recently placed a man in space. (For more evidence of this technology shift, check where your TVs, digital cameras, microwave ovens, iPods, etc. were made.)
Lower production wages in Asia are only part of the reason. High-salary engineering and design jobs are now moving to Asia. An important reason for this is the fact that China and India are currently graduating 15 times more students with advanced degrees in science, including computer sciences, than the USA. The steady usurpation / transformation of the US economy by lawyers, brokers, service workers and the government is quite advanced. For example: Seventy percent of America's most important physic journal, The Physical Review, now has foreign authors (Am. Phy. Soc. data). Restrictive immigration policies are now preventing many bright foreign students from coming to USA to study, marry and remain. (When I was reaching, many of the best students were Asians.) Stem-cell research limitations are moving very important basic research abroad. etc. If present trends continue, scientific leadership will also be lost in one or two generations.
If you visit site www.DarkVisitor.com, you will learn about a scary book, Dark Visitor, I wrote because I am very concerned by the decreasing university enrolments in hard sciences courses. (The "big bucks" of Wall Street and legal firms are attracting too many of our brightest students.) Dark Visitor claims to be a scientific prediction of a return in 2008 to ice-age climate, due to a slight orbit change that will be caused by a dark visitor, now coming from deep space. (I am trying to follow in the footprints Orsen Welles made with his radio broadcast, War of the Worlds.) One chapter discusses several physically possible objects, including even an aggregate of magnetic monopoles, that could be the approaching dark visitor, but the highest probability is assigned to the second of a pair of still gravitationally-coupled, small, stellar-core, black holes that formed in the early universe when it was smaller and typical stars pairs were larger. (The first of the pair passed by our
solar system in 1929 and caused the perturbation of Neptune that led to Plutos discovery. What it was is still unknown. It certainly was not tiny Pluto as was believed for years. The books principle character, an astronomer, has noted very small perturbations in Plutos orbit and predicted the trajectory of the dark visitor from them. His annotated, finite-time-step, three-body model is in an Appendix and all of Keplers laws, Coriolis forces, Climate factors, etc. are explained and used, but no physics is formally taught.)
Dark Visitor is designed to appeal to young people, not currently interested in physics, who are making career choices. This recruiting tool starts off with four historical chapters and all the physics in it is woven in as a natural part of the scary story. Despite this, it is a physics book in disguise. (A sub-page link lists the physics.) Obviously, I hope you will consider giving a copy to someone, girls included, about to enter college, but the web site tells how to read it for free. (I am not trying to make money or gain fame book has three other "authors" so I hope you do not consider this inappropriate SPAM. Look at the list of physics in it before you brand it as such.) It could change someone's life and help America retain scientific leadership or at least not get left too far behind by scientists elsewhere.
Thanks for your attention and any help you can give my (and your) grandchildren, for whom I wrote the book.
Sincerely - Bill (Dr. W. R. Powell)
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