Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Innovation Indian ishtyle!

Innovation Indian ishtyle!:

Three parameters: "research and development (R&D) spending as per cent of GDP, number of patents registered and yearly output of science and technology (S&T) graduates. Countries like Israel, Taiwan and Korea score significantly over India. India, with only 1% of GDP spent on R&D and over 300,000 engineers/scientists graduating each year, registered a mere 354 patents in 2003, compared with Taiwan's 5,300 and Korea's 3,952. These countries spend more than double of what India spends on R&D as a percentage of GDP. Contrast this with the vanguard innovation society, the US, with 88,000 patents and 2.7% of GDP going towards R&D with the same output of S&T graduates as India?s! In this respect, they are truly on a trajectory of being tomorrow's Innovation Society."

Establishment of an International Council for Science Regional Office for Africa

Establishment of an International Council for Science Regional Office for Africa:

"The International Council for Science (ICSU) and the National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF) have recently signed an agreement establishing an ICSU Regional Office for Africa."

SciDev.Net -- How to increase public engagement in science

SciDev.Net -- How to increase public engagement in science:

"There are three main arguments that favour an increased democratic engagement with the practice of science. The first, as indicated above, is that much of science is directly financed from the public purse. For that reason alone, scientists who benefit have a direct responsibility to ensure that their work aligns with the priorities of the public that supports them. This responsibility only increases in a political era that requires greater transparency and accountability from all those who receive public funding.

"A second reason is more explicitly political. The alternative to direct public engagement in setting the research agenda is to allow this to be done by the requirements of the market-place. This has certainly been the dominant philosophy in the way that science has been funded in most developed countries over the past 20 years. During this time, both university laboratories and government research institutes have been increasingly required to mould their research agendas to the demands of market forces, in the name of promoting rapid economic growth....

"The third factor encouraging greater public engagement in science is perhaps the most pressing. Without such engagement, the current widespread distrust in science is only likely to increase. And this in turn is likely to translate into a lack of the political support that is so vital if the full potential offered by science for achieving both social and economic progress is to be achieved."

Congress Trims Money for Science Agency

The New York Times > Washington > Congress Trims Money for Science Agency:

"Congress has cut the budget for the National Science Foundation, an engine for research in science and technology, just two years after endorsing a plan to double the amount given to the agency. Supporters of scientific research, in government and at universities, noted that the cut came as lawmakers earmarked more money for local projects like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the Punxsutawney Weather Museum in Pennsylvania."

Monday, November 29, 2004

Foreign Policy: Cost of Cyberliving

Foreign Policy: Cost of Cyberliving:

"Internet cafes are often heralded as a simple route online. But in many countries, the cost of one hour of Internet access can wipe out a day's wage. This map shows sample hourly rates at Internet cafes and the percentage of people living on $1 per day in 26 nations."

Advice on Science Advising Leaves Plenty of Questions

Science -- Mervis 306 (5701): 1450a -- Advice on Science Advising Leaves Plenty of Questions:

Key recommendation: "With respect to advisory boards, declares that 'persons nominated to provide [scientific or technical] expertise should be selected on the basis of their scientific knowledge and credentials. ... It is inappropriate to ask them to provide nonrelevant information, such as [their] voting record, party affiliation, or position on particular policies.' Such information, says panel chair John Porter, a former Republican congressman turned Washington lobbyist, is no more appropriate than asking scientists about 'their height or hair color.'"

Weighing the Evidence

Science -- Mangel 306 (5701): 1478 -- Weighing the Evidence:

What constitutes data? what is evidence? how is evidence used to draw conclusions?

"The goal of The Nature of Scientific Evidence is to help answer those questions. To do so, Mark Taper (an ecologist at Montana State University) and Subhash Lele (a statistician at the University of Alberta) have drawn authors from the fields of ecology, statistics, and philosophy. The choice of ecology as the illustrative science is a good one, because ecology has strong traditions in both the discovery of new knowledge and the application of that knowledge to important problems of society. The chapters are grouped in five sections: 'Scientific Process'; 'Logics of Evidence'; 'Realities of Nature'; 'Science, Opinion, and Evidence'; and 'Models, Realities, and Evidence.' "

Policy Forum: Why Ordinary People Torture Enemy Prisoners

Science -- Fiske et al. 306 (5701): 1482 -- Why Ordinary People Torture Enemy Prisoners:

"Social psychological evidence emphasizes the power of social context; in other words, the power of the interpersonal situation. Social psychology has accumulated a century of knowledge about how people influence each other for good or ill (1). Meta-analysis, the quantitative summary of findings across a variety of studies, reveals the size and consistency of such empirical results. Recent meta-analyses document reliable experimental evidence of social context effects across 25,000 studies of 8 million participants (2). Abu Ghraib resulted in part from ordinary social processes, not just extraordinary individual evil. This Policy Forum cites meta-analyses to describe how the right (or wrong) social context can make almost anyone aggress, oppress, conform, and obey."

One in ten IT jobs will move offshore by 2010 - vnunet.com

One in eight UK IT jobs will move offshore by 2010 - vnunet.com

According to a report from the British Computer Society (BCS), which calculates that this will impact on about 108,000 people - about 12 per cent of the 900,000 IT jobs in the UK today will move abroad by 2010..

Global Competition Launched for the Second Development Gateway Award

Global Competition Launched for the Second Development Gateway Award:

"The Development Gateway Foundation is seeking nominations for the second Development Gateway Award. The $100,000 award will recognize outstanding achievement in using information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve people's lives in developing countries."

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Study finds benefits in GM crops

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Study finds benefits in GM crops:

"A major study of genetically modified crops in the UK has found no evidence that they harm the environment."

Yahoo! News - Asia Faces Living Nightmare from Climate Change

Yahoo! News - Asia Faces Living Nightmare from Climate Change:

"The weather predictions for Asia in 2050 read like a script from a doomsday movie. Except many climatologists and green groups fear they will come true unless there is a concerted global effort to rein in greenhouse gas emissions."

According to predictions, some Pacific and Indian Ocean islands may have to evacuate or build sea defenses, storms are likely to become more intense, and insect and water-borne diseases can be expected to move into new areas as the world warms. Environmental degradation such as deforestation and pollution will likely magnify the impacts of climate change.

Rising populations and spiraling demand for food, water and other resources would be difficult enough to accomodate in a predictable world, but how will poor nations deal with their pressures and changing climate?

The New York Times -- The Academic Connection: Contracts Keep Drug Research Out of Reach

The New York Times > Business > The Academic Connection: Contracts Keep Drug Research Out of Reach:

"Academic institutions and researchers are widely viewed as the impartial, independent heart of the system this country uses to test drugs and medical devices. But that independence often comes with strings attached, sometimes making those institutions and their researchers obstacles to the exchange and discussion of test results. The upshot is that doctors may not get all the information they need. In the wake of revelations about unpublished test data showing the potential risks of pediatric antidepressants, some doctors have stopped prescribing them. And even doctors who continue to prescribe the drugs question why they were kept in the dark."

The New York Times > International > Americas > Port-au-Prince Journal: Haiti's Wounds Overwhelm a Suffering Public Hospital

The New York Times > International > Americas > Port-au-Prince Journal: Haiti's Wounds Overwhelm a Suffering Public Hospital:

"'What do we need here?' she said in answer to a question. 'We have no medicines, no materials. We have nothing.'"

Dr. Clarita Pierre-Louis' statement is very sad, and perhaps as such is a very good illustration of an important fact.

I have no doubt that Dr. Pierre-Louis is a very knowledgeable health professional. However, health knowledge is embodied not only in people, but in medicines, materials, equipment, and facilities. Unless the necessary knowledge, in all its embodiments, can be brought together and brought to bear on a patient treatment is unlikely to be successful. The knowledge of the doctor without that embodied in medicines may be totally useless. The coordination to bring all the embodied knowledge together at the right time and right place represents an almost insurmountable problem for the institutions in a country like Haiti!

The New York Times: You Can't Get Here From There

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: You Can't Get Here From There:

"Last year, the number of foreign students at American colleges and universities fell for the first time since 1971. Recent reports show that total foreign student enrollment in our 2,700 colleges and universities dropped 2.4 percent, with a much sharper loss at large research institutions. Two-thirds of the 25 universities with the most foreign students reported major enrollment declines. The costs to the American economy are significant. Educating foreign students is a $13 billion industry. Moreover, the United States does not produce enough home-grown doctoral students in science and engineering to meet our needs. The shortfall is partly made up by the many foreign students who stay here after earning their degrees. Equally important, however, are the foreign students who return home and carry American ideas with them."


Sunday, November 28, 2004

Science education in danger?

Education Today newsletter, July - September, 2003- Science education in danger?:

"In a world making unprecedented progress in science and technology and increasingly aware of the Earth's limited resources, students are turning away from science subjects."

The Great Indecency Hoax

The New York Times > Arts > Frank Rich: The Great Indecency Hoax:

"Twenty-two percent of the country's voters said on Nov. 2 that they cared most about 'moral values.'"

"It took a British publication, The Economist, to point out that the percentage of American voters citing moral and ethical values as their prime concern is actually down from 2000 (35 percent) and 1996 (40 percent)."

It is not what you know that counts, but what you understand that that knowledge means!

Hut by Hut, AIDS Steals Life in a Southern Africa Town

The New York Times > International > Africa > A Hollowed Generation | Plunge in Life Expectancy: Hut by Hut, AIDS Steals Life in a Southern Africa Town:

"Sickness leads to death, death leads to destitution, destitution worsens a host of social ills, from illiteracy to prostitution to abandoned babies. Multiply a single illness or death scores of times, and a town like Lavumisa begins to unravel."

Yahoo! News - Carbon Sequestration in Disused Texas Oil Fields

Yahoo! News - Carbon Sequestration in Disused Texas Oil Fields:

"In the depleted South Liberty oil field near the town of Dayton, a University of Texas team successfully pumped 1,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide -- the principal greenhouse gas -- into the reservoirs of briny water more than 5,000 feet underground."

"With Russia's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol (news - web sites) earlier this month clearing the way for the environment pact to come into force in February and the start of the European Union (news - web sites)'s carbon dioxide emissions trading market just a month away, demand for methods for eliminating or storing the gas are on the rise."

"A preliminary estimate of the amount of carbon dioxide storage capacity along the coast regions of the Gulf of Mexico put the figure at about 300 billion tons -- enough to hold 1,000 years of pollution from the region at the current rate."

This seems a long way from application, but might prove to be useful knowledge for development.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

"Science Shops: Knowledge for the Community"

"Science Shops: Knowledge for the Community"

The Netherlands pioneered science shops to provide research and other scientific services to the NGO community. This publication provides a simple description of the approach and its value.

Involving citizens in dialogue and participation

Involving citizens in dialogue and participation

"Given the rapid pace of societal changes induced by science, technology and innovation, citizens and their representative associations should have the opportunity to express their opinions regarding the development of research policies. In this context, various ways of involving citizens in policy making have been developed during the last thirty years in different regional or national frameworks. In order to accompany harmoniously the building up of the European Research Area, it is the Commission's intention to favour further developments in this field, at regional, national or community levels."

"The Commission has launched a study to take stock of existing experiences and lessons learned. It has favoured exchanges of views on them at a conference in Brussels (12 and 13 June 2003) on “Governance of the European Research Area: role of civil society” (PDF - size: 46kB). Read the Final report of the study (PDF - size: 579kB), the conference proceedings (PDF - size: 184kB) and a review of actions (PDF - size: 235kB) of interest at European and national levels."

I found the final report to be very helpful, clarifying many issues about knowledge.

Friday, November 26, 2004

BBC NEWS | Health | World 'short of health workers'

BBC NEWS | Health | World 'short of health workers':

"An extra four million health workers are needed if global health is going to improve over the next decade, a group of 100 health leaders says."

Al-Ahram Weekly | The St Catherine's Bedouin project

Al-Ahram Weekly | Heritage | The St Catherine's Bedouin project:

"There are more than 500 historical sites and buildings in Sinai, dating from the round stone nawamis built about 4,000 BC to structures from the Bronze Age and Nabatean, Byzantine and Islamic periods. There are abundant foundations of tombs, houses, storehouses, animal traps, and evidence of copper smelting. The sites have yielded Bronze Age jewellery and amulets and tools and pottery from all ages. In 2002 UNESCO declared St Catherine's a World Heritage Site."

This article describes the integrated program that Egypt is developing around the UNESCO World Heritage Site to protect cultural and environmental wonders, while providing economic development for the very poor inhabitants of the region.

WHO Official Says Flu Pandemic Inevitable (washingtonpost.com)

WHO Official Says Flu Pandemic Inevitable (washingtonpost.com):

"Every country in the world must come up with a plan urgently to deal with an inevitable influenza pandemic likely to be triggered by the bird flu virus that hit Asia this year, a top global health expert said on Friday.

'I believe we are closer now to a pandemic than at any time in recent years,' said Shigeru Omi, regional director for the Western Region of the World Health Organization (WHO). "

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: Undermining the Pell Grants

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: Undermining the Pell Grants:

Too many kids from poor families in the United States don't get a good education. College is a distant prospect for most.

"The Bush administration, however, has actually made this problem worse by cutting the federal Pell grant program, which was developed to encourage poor and working-class students to pursue higher education.

"The cut could cause as many as 1.2 million low-income students to have their grants reduced - and as many as 100,000 could lose their grants altogether. That inevitably means that students will either drop out or take longer to finish their degrees. "

Chemistry International: Strengthening International Science for the Benefit of Society: An Overview of the International Council for Science

Chemistry International: Strengthening International Science for the Benefit of Society: An Overview of the International Council for Science:

"Founded in 1931, the International Council for Science (ICSU) is a nongovernmental organization representing a global membership that includes both national scientific bodies (101 members) and international scientific unions (27 members). Chemistry has played an important role in ICSU from the outset, with IUPAC being one of its original members. "

Advancing Knowledge and the Knowledge Economy

Advancing Knowledge and the Knowledge Economy:

"Advancing Knowledge and the Knowledge Economy is an international conference that brings together leading experts to examine how processes for creating and organizing knowledge interact with information technology, business strategy, and changing social and economic conditions. The conference is designed to broaden and deepen common understanding of how difficult-to-measure knowledge resources drive an increasingly virtualized economy and to assess prospects for advancing and regenerating knowledge infrastructure, institutions, and policies."

at the
National Academies
21st and Constitution Ave.
Washington, DC
10-11 January 2005

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Statement of the American Sociological Association on the U.S. Government Vetting of Scientists to Serve on International Advisory Bodies

Statement of the American Sociological Association on the U.S. Government Vetting of Scientists to Serve on International Advisory Bodies:

"The American Sociological Association (ASA), an organization of nearly 14,000 scientists, has grave concerns about reports from a number of affected individual scientists as well as in the press about the U.S. government?s vetting of eminent scientists who have been asked by international bodies such as UNESCO and the World Health Organization (WHO) to contribute their scientific expertise on matters vital to health and related concerns in communities in the United States and around the world."

Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society: Packard International Science Networking Initiative

Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society: Packard International Science Networking Initiative

Several years ago, Sigma Xi (an international research society whose programs and activities promote the health of the scientific enterprise and honor scientific achievement) received a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation for a program to facilitate interaction between scientists in developing countries and research colleagues around the world. This four-year program was designed to create networks of scientists and engineers in developing or transitional countries. 18 groups received awards for networking activities. Several resources created during the Packard Initiative to make information more accessible to researchers around the world persist beyond the four-year program.

The Shanghai Declaration on Engineering and the Sustainable Future

The Shanghai Declaration on Engineering and the Sustainable Future, World Engineers' Convention, Shanghai, 5 November 2004: SCIENCE (3.01b):

"Three thousand engineers from 70 countries and regions came together for the World Engineers? Convention on November 2-6, 2004. WEC2004 was sponsored by the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO) and co-sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and organized by the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST), Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), and Shanghai Municipal Government. The theme of WEC2004 was ?Engineers Shape The Sustainable Future?. Many important issues related to this theme were addressed in the plenary and seven parallel sessions of the Convention and the virtual fora associated with WEC2004."

European Commissioner: R&D policies and the Lisbon Agenda

Edubourse.com - Janez POTOCNIK European Commissioner for Science and Research Competitiveness and Economic Growth: R&D policies and the Lisbon Agenda Round table conferencePortoro- (Slovenia), 24 November 2004:

"Yet, the evidence of the positive impact of R&D on economic growth in the economic literature is overwhelming. Studies demonstrate that up to 40 % of labour productivity growth is generated by R&D spending and that there are powerful economic spillover effects between firms, sectors and countries. (For example, the normal range of economy-wide rates of return to R&D investment found in econometric studies is from 50 ? 100 %.) "

Informed Comment Received a cease and desist letter

Informed Comment Controversy:

Juan Cole, in Informed Consent (his great blog about the Middle East), apparently wrote about the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). They responded with a message, from which he has quoted:

"we demand that you retract the false statements you have made about MEMRI. If you will not do so, we will be forced to pursue legal action against you personally and against the University of Michigan, which the article identifies you as an employee of. We hope this will not be necessary."

On the one hand, I think this is the way things ought to work. If an organization thinks it has been wronged in a blog, it has the right to ask for a retraction. The author of the original blog text then has the choice of retracting the offending comment or not. Threatening legal action would seem to be a common tactic in such letters, and I think the legal system is the right place to go if the parties can not agree through direct discussion.

I am unsure of the responsibility a university might have for the comments written in a blog by a university employee. I assume the threat is empty, and that the university does not appear to have editorial control over Cole's blog. Faculty members have academic freedom protecting them from censorship of their off-campus publications.

The larger question is whether libel laws and legal procedures protect us in the blogsphere. I think of them as designed for publishers of newspapers and books, or television and radio. These organizations have deep pockets, legal staffs, and the capacity to defend themselves against libel charges. But would the average blogger have that capacity? I doubt it.

I don't think that a blogger has the right to make false charges, but I question whether what law should apply. Is a false charge on an individual's blog more like slander than libel? Some blogs are very widely read, some are logs of thoughts of the blogger with very little dissemination. Should these be treated alike, or should the law distinguish between the two. Some blogs are controlled by corporations, some by private citizens. Should they be treated the same?

Does anyone out there know what the law says about legal recourse to and legal responsibility for false claims in the blogosphere?

Knowledge and Economic Development

I have been thinking about Uganda, and the role of knowledge in its economic development during the coming decades.

The Cobb-Douglas function is the basis of much of thinking about economic growth. It estimates total economic production by the multiplication of “total factor productivity” times “capital” raised to one power “a”, and “labor” raised to another power, “b”.

It is often assumed that the value of a plus that for b equals one. This implies that if you keep the capital to labor ratio unchanged, and keep total factor productivity unchanged, the total amount produced increases directly with the amount of labor used. Two guys with shovels can dig twice as much in a given time as one guy with one shovel.

In another form Cobb-Douglas suggests that “labor productivity” is equal to “total factor productivity” times the “capital to labor ratio” raised to the power “a”. You can raise the production of workers by either providing more capital per worker, or improving the productivity of the worker and his capital.

It appears that improvements in total factor productivity account for much of economic growth. This is in contrast to early development theories that assigned most credit to capital accumulation.

Capital accumulation is important, and it is important to achieve high levels of investment (and to attract foreign capital in the form of donor assistance and foreign direct investment). We often think of capital in terms of physical infrastructure – roads and utilities – or factories and machines. But it can be in the form of human capital. A big, strong, healthy guy with a shovel can dig more than a stunted, weak, sickly guy with the same shovel. It can also be in the form of resources – fields equipped for irrigation are generally more productive than adjacent fields dependent on rainfall.

But improvements in total factor productivity (TFP) are thought to be more important to long term growth and economic development. Adding improvements in total factor productivity to capital investment at a minimum can multiply the rate of growth in production, leading in turn to still to higher investment.

Improving technology is one way to improve TFP. Getting seeds for improved crop varieties to farmers helps them to improve yields from their farms, even if the capital, labor and other inputs remain unchanged – and a key technology on the farm is the crop variety that is grown there. The bread and butter of engineering is the improvement of productive technology.

Improving organization also improves TFP. Say a farm has a road passing its gate, and there are two market towns, one a mile up the road and the other a mile down the road. If the farmer switches from the market up the road to that down the road, and gets a better price for his produce, TFP goes up. Same produce, same distance to market, but a better price! Similarly, the importance of improving business and public management skills for economic development is in the improvements in economic organization of businesses, agencies and markets that result, and the further improvements in TFP that result from better functioning institutions.

Uganda’s adults generally have no or very little schooling. Their ability to apply new technological concepts, or to improve the organization of their production is thereby limited. Education in science and technology from primary school to post graduate training should be improved to enable the school leavers better to understand development problems and to make technological choices. But the goal of formal education should be broader, to help people learn to solve problems, take recourse in modern scientific and technological systems, and contribute more to economic and social development. I think scientific and technological training should play a key role in producing the habits of mind that are critical in achieving this goal.

Once economists spoke of production as the result of capital, labor and land. The Cobb-Douglas approach often leaves out land, or more broadly, natural resources. But the first scientific and technological capacities developed in the United States were in areas such as cartography, cadastral survey, and geological survey. In Uganda, modern methods have too seldom been applied to the identification and location of natural resources, nor to the management of those resources.

I have long been struck by the idea that the difference between a resource and the useless stuff around us is knowledge – technological knowledge of how a material may be used productively, and scientifically-based knowledge of where it is, how it may be obtained, and how the resource may be managed. Water, soil, forests, fish stocks, as well as mineral resources all count.

The application of modern scientific methods and technologies to natural resources seems to me to be of great relevance to Uganda, and something worthy of donor and national support. Some natural resources can attract foreign direct investment, but Ugandan capacity needs to be developed to negotiate for such FDI, and to staff the organizations it engenders.

Science -- Decline in New Foreign Grad Students Slows

Decline in New Foreign Grad Students Slows: Science -- Bhattacharjee 306 (5699): 1114a

"The number of international students beginning graduate studies at U.S. universities has declined for the third year in a row. But the 6% drop is the smallest in 3 years, an improvement that some attribute in part to faster handling of visa applications.

Education organizations had braced for the worst after a 28% drop in international graduate applications and an 18% drop in offers of admission. "Enrollments, which represent the final step in that progression, were down 10% in the fall of 2003 following an 8% drop the year before."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Science in the South

Science magazine editorial: Science in the South

"The scientists who created ICTP (the International Center for Theoretical Physics), notably the Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam of Pakistan, were motivated by a goal that is simple to proclaim but difficult to fulfill: to advance the level and role of science in the Southern world by overcoming the debilitating isolation of scientists who work there.

"This goal is more important now than ever before. No country today can survive and prosper in isolation, and economic prosperity is tied to scientific development. The building of scientific capacity needed everywhere is thus in our collective interest and is a shared responsibility. Forty years on, however, we still live in a world in which a majority of scientists, scientific discoveries, publications, and patents come from developed countries."

UNESCO - UNESCO and Microsoft sign cooperation agreement to help bridge the digital divide

UNESCO - UNESCO and Microsoft sign cooperation agreement to help bridge the digital divide: "

Microsoft today joined the coalition of major private sector partners supporting UNESCO?s global strategy to draw on information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve education, social and economic development worldwide. "

Economist.com | GM food

Economist.com | GM food: "

A DOUBLE blow is coming for the opponents of genetically modified (GM) foods, from two of the world's big farming nations. China, where many farmers already grow GM cotton, is likely soon to authorise commercial growing of GM rice. And Brazil is close to setting up a mechanism that could legalise all GM crops. "

Economist.com | China's media

Economist.com | China's media:

"China has over 2,000 newspapers, some 9,000 magazines and 568 publishing houses, according to the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), reflecting the practice of every ministry and party body to maintain its own mouthpiece. More than 700m Chinese listen to 1,000 radio stations, while 200 TV stations broadcast 2,900 channels. China Central Television (CCTV), the state broadcaster, claims an audience of over 1 billion people. Outdoor advertising is taking off and so is e-commerce, with 87m internet users. "

What do Americans Know?

From a 2001 Survey by the NSF

QUESTION Percent Correct Answers (all adults)
Lasers work by focusing sound waves. (False) 45
Electrons are smaller than atoms. (True) 48
Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria. (False) 51
The universe began with a huge explosion. (True) 33
Radioactive milk can be made safe by boiling it. (False) 48
Please tell me in your own words, what is DNA? 45
Please tell me in your own words, what is a molecule? 22

SCOPE: Sony and UNESCO bring robotics to a remote Indian village

SCOPE: Sony and UNESCO bring robotics to a remote Indian village:

"When Yu Iwamoto and Eiko Shiraishi introduced a robot and a digital camera to scores of underprivileged children recently at the Terakoya community learning center to a remote village in southern Indian state Karnataka it was a unique experience for all involved. "

"For the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan (NFUAJ), it was the beginning of direct corporate participation in their welfare program abroad."

The New York Times > National > Medical Journal Calls for a New Drug Watchdog

The New York Times > National > Medical Journal Calls for a New Drug Watchdog:

"The United States needs a better system to detect harmful effects of drugs already on the market, and it should be independent of the Food and Drug Administration and the drug industry, medical researchers and journal editors said yesterday."

In a K4D context, we need better ways to acquire and utilize knowledge of drugs that are in use, while the FDA emphasizes acquiring and utilizing knowledge from clinical trials of drugs that are proposed for future use,

Yahoo! News - Scientists Find 178 New Species in Oceans

Yahoo! News - Scientists Find 178 New Species in Oceans:

"Marine scientists say they have discovered 178 new species of fish and hundreds more new species of plants and other animals in the past year, raising the number of life-forms found in the world's oceans to about 230,000."

Comparing this with the last posting shows something about the quality of reporting!

Yahoo! News - Ocean Survey Finds New Fish, Tuna Migration Routes

Yahoo! News - Ocean Survey Finds New Fish, Tuna Migration Routes:

"For fish alone, the census has turned up 106 new species so far in 2004, or more than two a week, according to a 2004 report to be released on Tuesday."

Illustrating how little we know about the world we live in and the resources it may hold for economic development!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Economist.com | United Nations

Economist.com | United Nations:

"The UN was set up to 'save succeeding generations from the scourge of war'. It has not been very successful. Countries have repeatedly taken up arms against one another with impunity (as many as 680 times between 1945 and 1989, according to one count). Hundreds more conflicts have taken place within states."

But of course, without the UN there might have been even more wars, or the wars might have been even bloodier!

The United Nations Foundation

The United Nations Foundation:

"The United Nations Foundation (UN Foundation) promotes a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world through the support of the United Nations and its Charter. Through our grantmaking and by building new and innovative public-private partnerships, the Foundation acts to meet the most pressing health, humanitarian, socioeconomic, and environmental challenges of the 21st century."

UNU/IAS - UNU/IAS Working Paper Series

UNU/IAS - UNU/IAS Working Paper Series

"In the past six years the United Nations University Institute for Advanced Studies (UNU/IAS) has published almost 100 working papers on a range of topics related to its research activities. More than seventy have been contributed by PhD and postdoctoral fellows, along with members of faculty and guest authors.

"These are gradually being made available as downloadable PDF (portable document format) files."

The New York Times > Magazine > Idea Lab: Life Way After Head Start

The New York Times > Magazine > Idea Lab: Life Way After Head Start:

"''Lifetime Effects: The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study Through Age 40,'' was released earlier this week. It shows that an innovative early education program can make a marked difference in the lives of poor minority youngsters -- not just while they are in school but for decades afterward. "

While this blog focuses on Knowledge for Development, the cited article reminds us that the preparation of the mind to acquire, understand and utilize knowledge is as important as the availability and quality of the knowledge itself.

World Economic Forum - Survey on Trust 2004

World Economic Forum - Survey on Trust 2004:

"Across the countries surveyed, criticism about the dishonesty of political leaders registers the highest percentages in Ecuador (96%), Poland (90%), Nigeria (92%), Bolivia (91%), Mexico (93%), Peru (91%) and India (91%), and the lowest in Singapore (3%), the Netherlands (12%) and Malaysia (13%). Germany is the most critical country of this aspect of all West European countries."

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Do you get good information from polititians?

Salon.com News | Wake-up call for politicians:

"The world is becoming a much more dangerous place, led by politicians who are too incompetent, dishonest and untrustworthy to deal with the challenges, according to an ambitious survey of global opinion released Thursday. In a massive vote of no confidence in political elites worldwide, the poll of 50,000 people in more than 60 countries found that almost two out of three people considered their leaders to be dishonest. while just over half saw them as unethical. "

Yahoo! News - Gates, UNESCO Sign Computer Access Deal

Yahoo! News - Gates, UNESCO Sign Computer Access Deal:

"Bill Gates (news - web sites) signed a cooperation agreement with UNESCO (news - web sites) on Wednesday to improve access to computers, the Internet and information technology training in developing countries."

BBC NEWS | Africa | UN starts Great Lakes peace tour

BBC NEWS | Africa | UN starts Great Lakes peace tour:

"The UN Security Council has begun a tour of Africa's Great Lakes region to see how the cycle of wars and massacres of civilians there can be tackled. "

BBC NEWS | South Asia | India starts 'final' anti-polio push

BBC NEWS | South Asia | India starts 'final' anti-polio push:

"A nationwide polio vaccination campaign has started in India as part of a World Health Organization initiative to eradicate the virus around the world."

Saturday, November 20, 2004

African Leaders Sign Great Lakes Peace Pact

International News Article | Reuters.com: African Leaders Sign Great Lakes Peace Pact:

"Eleven African countries signed a U.N.-backed peace deal for the Great Lakes region on Saturday, pledging to end genocide, war, hunger and disease that killed 3 million over more than a decade.

"Thirteen heads of state signed the peace framework -- the first step toward stability in an area encompassing Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) --on Saturday at the close of a two-day summit in Dar es Salaam."

World Community Grid

World Community Grid :

"World Community Grid's mission is to create the largest public computing grid benefiting humanity. Our work is built on the belief that technological innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can change our world for the better. Our success depends on individuals - like you - collectively contributing their unused computer time."

Foreign Aid included in $388 Bln Spending Bill

Yahoo! News - Lawmakers Agree on $388 Bln Spending Bill:

"The bill also included $403 million dollars for Sudan, including $93 million switched from unused Iraq (news - web sites) reconstruction funds, to support troops and ease the humanitarian crisis in the African nation.

"The bill chopped $1 billion from Bush's request for $2.5 billion for the Millennium Challenge Account, a new program to encourage economic and political reforms in poor countries. But this was slightly above the numbers approved in the House and Senate versions of the bill. "

Friday, November 19, 2004

The New York Times > Business > Your Money > What Wal-Mart Knows About Customers' Habits

The New York Times > Business > Your Money > What Wal-Mart Knows About Customers' Habits:

"Wal-Mart has 460 terabytes of data stored on Teradata mainframes, made by NCR, at its Bentonville headquarters. To put that in perspective, the Internet has less than half as much data, according to experts."

The New York Times > Technology > Google Plans New Service for Scientists and Scholars

The New York Times > Technology > Google Plans New Service for Scientists and Scholars:

"Google Scholar, which was scheduled to go online Wednesday evening at scholar.google.com, is a result of the company's collaboration with a number of scientific and academic publishers and is intended as a first stop for researchers looking for scholarly literature like peer-reviewed papers, books, abstracts and technical reports. "

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The New York Times > International > Africa > U.S. Suggests AIDS Fund Delay Grants

The New York Times > International > Africa > U.S. Suggests AIDS/Malaria/TB Fund Delay Grants:

"The Bush administration says that because too little money is coming into the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and too little is being disbursed and spent, that the three-year-old program ought to take a break from issuing grants.

"A decision on the postponement will be made later this week in Arusha, Tanzania, where the Global Fund's board is meeting. Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services and the current chairman of the fund, is pushing for a delay in giving a fifth round of grants."

The New York Times > International > Africa > U.S. Suggests AIDS Fund Delay Grants

The New York Times > International > Africa > U.S. Suggests AIDS Fund Delay Grants:

"The Bush administration says that because too little money is coming into the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and too little is being disbursed and spent, that the three-year-old program ought to take a break from issuing grants."

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Science counts species on brink

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Science counts species on brink:

"The leading environmental information network says 15,589 species are now known to be in a perilous position."

A New Pattern Is Cut for Global Textile Trade (washingtonpost.com)

A New Pattern Is Cut for Global Textile Trade (washingtonpost.com):

"On Jan. 1, World Trade Organization rules governing the global textile trade will undergo their biggest revision in 30 years. The changes are expected to jeopardize as many as 30 million jobs in some of the world's poorest places as the textile industry uproots and begins consolidating in a country that has become the world's acknowledged low-cost producer: China. "

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Science counts species on brink

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Science counts species on brink:

"The leading environmental information network says 15,589 species are now known to be in a perilous position."

USAID: Foreign Aid in the National Interest

USAID: Foreign Aid in the National Interest:

"'Foreign Aid in the National Interest: Promoting Freedom, Security, and Opportunity' will inform and focus international development assistance - looking back over five decades of work and looking ahead to future challenges. Written primarily by leading development scholars and academics outside USAID, including Larry Diamond of the Hoover Institute, Michael Porter of Harvard, Peter Timmer of University of California-San Diego, and Carol Adelman of the Hudson Institute, the report reconfirms the critical link between national security and foreign assistance. It lays out the scope and nature of the development challenges we face in the next 10 to 20 years. While it is not a policy document, it does include recommendations on how foreign assistance can adapt to meet future challenges more effectively."

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Economist.com | The textile industry

Economist.com | The textile industry:

More than 40 countries with clothing industries based on exports are bracing for the scheduled elimination, at the end of this year, of quotas that have governed clothing exports to the world's two biggest markets: America and the European Union.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Knowledge Management Research Center - Corporate intellectual capital - Knowledge Management Research Center - CIO

Knowledge Management Research Center - Corporate intellectual capital - Knowledge Management Research Center - CIO

This website provides a lot of papers about knowledge management, and seems pretty useful.

The role of storytelling in knowledge management and for science and technology

The role of storytelling in knowledge management and for science and technology:

"The implications when technology is brought into the storytelling process. John Seely Brown, Chief Scientist of Xerox and Chief Innovation Officer of 12 Entrepreneuring--a new entrepreneurial operating company in San Francisco, and co-author of The Social Life of Information."

John Seely Brown's thought are always worth one's attention.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Bhopal 'faces risk of poisoning'

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Bhopal 'faces risk of poisoning':

"Thousands of Indians around Bhopal remain at risk of poisoning 20 years after a major disaster in the city, an investigation by the BBC has revealed. "

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Yahoo! News - India, France to Develop Climate Satellite

Yahoo! News - India, France to Develop Climate Satellite:

"The space agencies of India and France signed an agreement on Friday to cooperate in launching a satellite in four years that will help make climate predictions more accurate.

"The project, named Megha-Tropiques, 'is a major milestone in the long-standing relationship between Indian and French space agencies,' G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, said in a statement. "

WHO Meeting Warns of Flu Pandemic (washingtonpost.com)

WHO Meeting Warns of Flu Pandemic (washingtonpost.com):

"If the three flu pandemics in the 20th century are models, one-fifth to one-third of the world population might be infected in the next one. Even if only 1 percent were to die, as some experts predict, it would cause huge social and economic disruption. The 'Spanish flu' pandemic of 1918-1919 killed at least 50 million people. "

World Report on Knowledge for Better Health

WHO | Publications: World Report on Knowledge for Better Health:

"The Report focuses on bridging of the 'know do' gap, the gulf between what we know and what we do in practice, between scientific potential and health realization. "

Yahoo! News - Finding No Fish, Ghanaians Turn to Bushmeat, Report Says

Yahoo! News - Finding No Fish, Ghanaians Turn to Bushmeat, Report Says:

"Overfishing by subsidized European fleets off the coast of West Africa is hurting local fisheries and forcing people to slaughter wildlife to get enough to eat, researchers said on Thursday.

"They said the so-called bushmeat trade in Ghana is strongly driven by a lack of fish, and added the country risked even worse poverty and social unrest -- as well as the loss of an irreplaceable natural resource -- unless something changes. "

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Brahmos test fired near Balasore - Sify.com

Brahmos test fired near Balasore - Sify.com:

"Brahmos, the supersonic Cruise missile jointly developed by India and Russia, was flight tested from the Bay of Bengal off the Orissa coast on Wednesday, defence sources said. "

Just what we need, India and Russia using their technological resources for weapons rather than social and economic development.

With 'Scramjet,' NASA Shoots for Mach 10 (washingtonpost.com)

With 'Scramjet,' NASA Shoots for Mach 10 (washingtonpost.com)

"Next week, NASA plans to break the aircraft speed record for the second time in 7 1/2 months by flying its rocket-assisted X-43A scramjet craft 110,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean at speeds close to Mach 10 -- about 7,200 mph, or 10 times the speed of sound. "

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Commercialization of reseearch results in the United States: an overview of federal and academic technology transfer

Commercialization of reseearch results in the United States: an overview of federal and academic technology transfer

WSJ.com - Scientists Warn of a Visa 'Crisis'

WSJ.com - Scientists Warn of a Visa 'Crisis':

"Leading U.S. scientific societies called on the Bush administration to solve what they termed a visa 'crisis' that is keeping foreign students out of the country and may cause enrollments to drop."

Exploring Search Engine Overlap

Exploring Search Engine Overlap:

"Think all search engines provide essentially the same results? Think again. A new comparison tool shows that the major search engines have surprisingly little overlap, even for popular search terms. "

Salon.com Life | Women wrongly warned cancer, abortion tied

Salon.com Life | Women wrongly warned cancer, abortion tied:

"Women seeking abortions in Mississippi must first sign a form indicating they've been told abortion can increase their risk of breast cancer. They aren't told that scientific reviews have concluded there is no such risk.

"Similar information suggesting a cancer link is given to women considering abortion in Texas, Louisiana and Kansas, and legislation to require such notification has been introduced in 14 other states. "

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

UNESCO | Education - UNESCO Technology Education Guide

UNESCO | Education - UNESCO Technology Education Guide:

"The result of a collaboration between UNESCO and WOCATE, this guide aims primarily to increase in students technological literacy i.e. the technological understanding and capability necessary to live and work in a technology based society. With the help of this guide students can develop a better understanding of the role of technology in society; nurture an appreciation for the importance between and among the technological systems; solve technological problems through the application and use of tools, materials and processes; investigate and study the technological world of the past, present and future; and analyse technological systems and the impact of these systems on the environment and society."

International Network for Information in Science and Technology Education


"The purpose of International Network for the Information in Science and Technology Education (INISTE) is to promote exchange of information and stimulate cooperation among national institutions of UNESCO Member States and international and regional organizations actively engaged in the improvement of science and technology education, particularly with reference to primary and secondary schools and related teacher training, as well as out-of-school scientific activities for young people. The objective is mainly to provide information which will strengthen regional and international cooperation and research in the field of science and technology education, and to promote greater exchange of ideas and information using new information technologies between institutions."

IDRC- UNESCO Workshop: Future Direction of National Innovation and Science Policy Reviews: International Development Research Centre

IDRC- UNESCO Workshop: Future Direction of National Innovation and Science Policy Reviews: International Development Research Centre:

"A joint IDRC/ UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) workshop entitled 'Future Directions of National Innovation and Science Policy Reviews' brought together about 50 clients and users of science and technology (S&T) reviews in Paris, 23-24 April 2003."

I had trouble reading the report of this workshop, and had to download it to memory, and read the saved copy via my Adobe Acrobat software.

Science and Technology for Uganda

I recently visited Uganda for a couple of weeks to help with an assessment of science and technology in that country. Uganda is a very poor country. As such it epitomizes a problem for donor organizations. Those organizations have been able to provide assistance to more developed nations to strengthen their scientific and technological capabilities. But it has been difficult for the donors to find modalities to work on S&T in countries where the S&T sector is small. In part I suppose this is due to the small absorptive capacity of these S&T sectors and need for the donors to have relatively large projects to cut down on the relative size of the project transaction costs (design, monitoring, management, etc.).

If you think about it, it seems obvious that countries to have large scientific and technological communities and strong systems of S&T institutions must generate the resources to support them. Large countries such as India and China have been able to do so even when having a low per capita GDP, because their populations were so large. Small countries, such as the Scandenavian nations, have strong S&T capacities because they are rich. Efforts to generate resources for S&T on a regional basis where the nations individually don’t have the resources have not seemed successful, in part because the donors don’t know how to fund regional S&T capacity. Thus the Caribbean nations or the Central American nations have failed to support strong institutions serving the regions.

Perhaps some reflections on Uganda might help throw some light on how donors might better support S&T in countries with weak S&T sectors.

The large majority of adults in Uganda have less than a primary school education. The workforce is mostly rural and agricultural, belonging to more than 50 tribal cultures.

I suspect that better understanding of the physical world would help a lot. I am talking about understanding of infectious diseases, and how to prevent their spread; understanding of basic nutrition and hygiene; understanding of crop nutrition, pests and diseases on the part of farmers; understanding of common animal diseases and nutrition problems on the part of those raising livestock.

I also suspect that better understanding of technology would help a lot. I would included understanding of simple machines by the general workforce; understanding at a basic level of electricity and electrical machines and devices (by the urban populations); understanding of internal combustion engines and vehicles (especially by the people who operate them).

This is not rocket science and technology, and should be taught to kids in elementary school. One issue is to get these topics in the elementary curriculum, and in Uganda there is hope since agriculture is taught in the schools. Another issue is to get these subjects taught well. If teachers really understood these materials and how to teach them, it would be possible to draw on readily available materials in the environment for teaching. But teachers face huge classes in most schools, and that would make it hard for even a good teacher to cope and communicate. Unfortunately, most teachers at the primary school are not only themselves the products of a system staffed by teachers who did not teach science and technology well, but they have relatively little education and little S&T content within that education.

Perhaps a good place to start building S&T capacity in Uganda would be in the training of elementary school teachers to better teach basic scientific understanding and basic technology. Now many primary school teachers go to teachers training institutions, and many just receive on-the-job training – both should be improved. To get any improvement in real time, retraining of primary school teachers would be an urgent priority. But the teaching cadre is vastly overextended dealing with a student population that has increased hugely over the past decade. So how do you get the teachers the time to learn how to teach better? I have no solution.

Another issue is that kids don’t stay in school long enough to learn enough appropriate science and technology to solve their problems in Uganda. I think good schooling is likely only to help the kids make connections with institutions that will provide real solutions. Unfortunately in Uganda there are not adequate institutionalized networks providing such information. Health facilities are weak, poorly financed, and poorly staffed. Agricultural extension and market mechanisms for the provision of agricultural information are weak. The mass media don’t reach most people with scientific and technological information. All these elements should be strengthened as part of an S&T approach.

Secondary school science and technology teaching also must be improved. Until now, few students completed secondary school in Uganda, and they often followed a curriculum that is modeled after the British curriculum of a generation past. That is now expected to change, as the wave of students who entered primary school under the UPE program hits high school. Primary school teachers, SME entrepreneurs, technicians, and those who will go on to the university to obtain professional degrees all pass through the secondary education system. Improving S&T in the secondary schools will involve improving curriculum, training teachers, and providing better facilities.

Many secondary schools are currently seen as giving terminal S&T training, preparing their students for technical or paraprofessional jobs. Moreover, it seems that many if not most of those who will go to the university (especially to study S&T professions) probably will attend private secondary schools. To the degree that there is a tracking of people in secondary schools, the curricula should probably reflect that that fact. For students terminating their studies after secondary school, it would seem that education should give them practical understanding and technological skills that can be used in their working lives; those going on to the university might be given more theoretical understanding to enable them to master further S&T training. Still, everyone going to secondary school in the next decade in Uganda is likely to see radical changes in the country, and to need radically different skills and understanding over the course of a working career, and S&T education should help them to face the challenges of such changes.

Uganda provides university education for a smaller portion of its citizens than the average African nation, and a smaller portion of university students are in S&T courses than in other African nations. Shockingly, a follow-up study of people after their school years indicated that more than half of Uganda’s 1980 university graduates had either died or left Uganda. A surprisingly large percentage of those graduating from the university go on for further education, and outside the health field, a surprisingly large portion of the university graduates don’t work in the field for which they were trained. Uganda has a long way to go before developing a cadre of professional S&T workers of adequate size.

I was especially struck by the lack of engineers. The electrical system in the country is radically inadequate. Mobile phones have reduced the pressure on the telephone system, but the system remains very inadequate. Railroads have deteriorated. The road system was the focus of a lot of investment over the last decade, but the new roads are described as deteriorating quickly. The lack of engineered infrastructure creates huge economic inefficiencies. I assume that there is a relationship between the lack of engineers and the problems with the infrastructure. I would guess it is important to start quickly to improve engineering education, but that will be of little use unless good jobs are created for the graduates, and the engineering graduates are put to work to assure the development and functioning of an improved infrastructure. Perhaps a financing mechanism to promote improved technical staffing in key sectors would help – either through grants or through some human-capital budgeting process for government.

Uganda is a small, open economy. It should seek to import the vast majority of its technology from abroad. A portion of this should be imported with inflowing foreign direct investment. However, it seems likely to me that a lot of the technology Uganda needs is not flowing through international commerce. The non-commercial technologies would include, importantly, agricultural, health, educational, and small enterprise technologies. South-south, non-commercial linkages would seem critical in transferring such technologies. How to build and maintain such linkages is a challenge on which I have little to offer. One offering is travel – Ugandans have to get out of Uganda, make contacts with others, and bring their discoveries back to Uganda. The work that has been done over the past decades in creating a network for the improvement of crops (CGIAR, National Agricultural Research Systems, etc.) illustrates both that progress can be made in institutionalizing modern global and national technology information systems, and that doing so is a very serious undertaking, requiring lots of resources and long term continuity!

Surely another characteristic of success in acquiring technology from abroad is to have scientifically and technologically literate Ugandans who can serve as gatekeepers and agents for the country. Again in this respect, I suggest that it is important to have stronger training in S&T in universities and secondary schools. It is also important to recognize that a lot of the technology acquisition will be done by generalists who have some technological understanding – and the education of non-S&T professionals in S&T is especially lacking in Uganda. It is also critically important to institutionalize rewarding rolls for such gatekeepers and agents in Ugandan society.

Research and development (R&D) is important. There is an essential national research agenda in Uganda, as in any country. The country’s problems have to be identified and its resources catalogued. Technologies from abroad will need to be adapted to Ugandan circumstances. Moreover, technology gatekeepers do a better job if they understand the frontiers of technology as well as the innovation process. Moreover, new members of the S&T based professions are best training in an environment in which R&D is being done and in which they can participate in the R&D. There is already a health R&D capacity in Uganda as well as capacity for agricultural R&D. These will almost surely be given high priority for further strengthening. Surprisingly, there is a capacity for ICT R&D, at least in the field of software development. It seems likely that further investments would be appropriate, perhaps including facilities in the university for development of labor-intensive, capital-saving, environmentally sustainable technologies for farmers and small businesses.

I would suggest that more important is the importation of technology, and efforts should be directed to that end.

Quality assurance is also strongly technological in nature. There are several Ugandan institutions working in this field, but quality should be a concern for every producing unit, be it agricultural, manufacturing or service based. Managers and workers should have the technological mastery and skills to produce products of good quality.

It is a mistake to assume that science and technology are what you read about in the S&T sections of daily newspapers, or see featured on television. Rockets and space travel, cosmology, robotics and artificial intelligence, and paleontology are all very interesting, but they have little practical importance to the average Ugandan. On the other hand, the ability to produce things for sale in international commerce, the ability to create and maintain the nation’s physical infrastructure, and the ability to reduce the burden of disease are critically important to the average Ugandan. Donor efforts to build S&T capacity should focus on these basic but vital areas of scientific knowledge and technological mastery.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | EU confident over fusion project

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | EU confident over fusion project:

"The project is estimated to cost $10bn and will run for 20 years
It will produce the first sustained fusion reactions
Iter is the final stage before a commercial reactor is built "

Monday, November 08, 2004

Chris C Mooney Blog on the Peer Review Case

Chris C Mooney:

"In an apparently unprecedented case, five corporations have subpoenaed five peer reviewers of a scholarly book that alleges health risks from the chemical vinyl chloride monomer. The objective seems to be to debunk the book's scientific claims by challenging and discrediting the peer review process that allowed it to be published. "

Lawyers Seek to Intimidate Peer Reviewers of a Controversial Book Via Subpoenas

The Chronicle: Daily news: 11/05/2004 -- 02:

"Lawyers representing more than 20 chemical companies have taken the unusual step of issuing subpoenas to five peer reviewers of a scholarly book as part of litigation over the alleged health risks of a widely used chemical compound. "

UNESCO Natural Sciences Portal

World Science Day:

"'Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest for all technical endeavor... in order that the creation of our minds shall be a blessing and not a curse for mankind. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations'. A. Einstein 1931"

The New York Times > Technology > New Economy: One Internet, Many Copyright Laws

The New York Times > Technology > New Economy: One Internet, Many Copyright Laws:

"In the United States, under an extension of copyright law, 'Gone With the Wind'' will not enter the public domain until 2031, 95 years after its original publication.

"But in Australia, as in a handful of other places, the book was free of copyright restrictions in 1999, 50 years after Mitchell's death. "

Will we see another flu epidemic like that of 1918 -- killing 20 to 50 million?

The New York Times > Magazine > The Flu Hunters:

"The vaccine shortage will almost certainly not be what history remembers about influenza from this year and next. The vaccine situation will probably be transitory. It is a matter for lawmakers and regulators. Fukuda, Uyeki and their colleagues fear that influenza itself won't be so amenable. Events in Asia, in particular, are escalating almost daily, with more human deaths, more different species becoming infected and more questions arising about how the virus there behaves. At the same time, some governments in the region are remaining closemouthed about what is happening within their borders. This reticence exponentially increases the difficulty of epidemiologists' work. Flu hunters are expected to forestall any big outbreak. But Fukuda and Uyeki's real fear is that they might not know one is starting until it is too advanced to stop. "

The New York Times > Magazine > Spend $150 Billion Per Year to Cure World Poverty

The New York Times > Magazine > Spend $150 Billion Per Year to Cure World Poverty:

"Ethiopia and sub-Saharan Africa have slid deeper into poverty in the last 20 years, and whereas many economists stress the failures of local leadership, Sachs is telling a different story. In his version, Africa, through no fault of its own, is trapped. Held back by geographical impediments like climate, disease and isolation, it cannot lift itself out of poverty. What Africa needs, then, is not more scolding from the West. It needs a ''big push'' -- a flood of foreign aid -- to boost its prospects and carry it into the developed world."

The Economic Impact of ICT: Measurement, Evidence and Implications

The Economic Impact of ICT: Measurement, Evidence and Implications:

"The rapid diffusion of the Internet, of mobile telephony and of broadband networks all demonstrate how pervasive this technology has become. But how precisely does ICT affect economic growth and the efficiency of firms? How well can these impacts be measured? And under which conditions do the impacts of ICT emerge?

"The Economic Impact of ICT: Measurement, Evidence and Implications addresses these questions and provides an overview of the impacts of ICT on economic performance, and the ways through which these impacts can be measured."

Measuring the Information Economy

Measuring the Information Economy:

"The focus of the work reported on this page is on measuring and analysing the information society is to examine and better understand the economic impact of information and communication technologies and applications such as e-commerce on OECD economies."

Friday, November 05, 2004

The New York Review of Books: Dishonesty in Science

The New York Review of Books: Dishonesty in Science:

"Scientific Integrity in Policymaking accuses the Bush administration, first, of deliberately suppressing scientific findings in the interest of its own ideological and political ends and, second, of packing various regulatory and review boards with unqualified members who can be counted on to favor industrial profits or conservative ideologies over public health and safety. Manipulation, distortion, and suppression of scientific findings in the interest of industries, the report shows, have affected research results on climate change, on mercury emissions and other pollutants, on airborne bacteria, on endangered species and forest management. The government's evidence about Iraq's famous aluminum tubes is said to have been misrepresented in the interests of building a case for war. "

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

UK House of Commons - Science and Technology in UK's Development Assistance Program

House of Commons - Science and Technology - Thirteenth Report

This is a report on the role of science in the British foreign assistance program, published 14 October, 2004. It is rather critical of the Department for International Development for its failure to use science and technology more effectively for development assistance.

Reisman on Technology Transfer

Reisman, Arnold and Cytraus, Aldona, "Institutionalized Technology Transfer
in USA: A Historic Review"
(August 27, 2004).
Abstract: "America has a long and rich history of transferring technology (TT), from government laboratories and agencies to the private sector as a matter of national policy. This policy dates back to the Morrill Act of 1862 creating the Land Grant Universities and in turn the Agricultural Extension Division. Over the years, other Departments, and or Agencies of the US government have followed Agriculture's (USDA) lead and have actively pursued policy-based TT to the private sector. In 1988, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) formerly the Bureau of Standards, founded its Advanced Technology Program (ATP), and in turn in 1999, the ATP launched its Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP). Though structured somewhat differently (involving some co-pay and State contributions) the MEP is to manufacturing what the Agricultural Extension Program (requiring no payment from recipients) has been to America's agriculture (and related industry) over the years. There is also a great deal of policy-based technology transfer to other countries' governments, as well as their private sectors. The most documented of these programs was the rebuilding of Western Europe in the aftermath of World War II via the Marshall Plan and its follow-on to developing countries via USAID. This paper will review this rich history, its socio-economic impacts, and indicate future trends."

Reisman, Arnold, "Israel's Economic Development: The Role of Institutionalized Technology Transfer"(August 4,2004).
Abstract: "Until 1948, the year Israel gained independence from Britain, its land was mostly barren, underpopulated, and its agriculture performed by small communes of inexperienced farmers. Its manufacturing was cottage industry in format. Just eight years after independence, the first University/Institute technology transfer (TT) unit (YEDA) was established by the Weitzmann Institute of Science. This organization is still operational and has amassed a long track record of successful TT to the private sector. Over the years, Israeli universities and institutes have researched various aspects of agriculture and agricultural engineering needs for arid and semi arid zones of the globe. Like in the US, such developments were immediately transferred to the agricultural communes and to private farmers on a gratis basis. As a matter of government policy, it has shared much of its agricultural knowledge with developing countries. Israel's per capita exports in 2002 were 16.58 greater than in 1970 despite the fact that its population has more than doubled during that period. Today, Israel is an R&D pioneer in software, telecommunications, biotechnology and the life sciences. It is an undeclared nuclear power, and the world's 5th largest exporter of advanced weapons systems. More than a third of the Fortune 100 companies are established in Israel - as a wholly owned subsidiary; as part of a joint venture; in partnership with, or in technology exchange with Israeli companies. And, just after the United States and Canada, Israel heads the world's nations in NASDAQ listings. Much of that was accomplished through institutionalized TT from abroad and from indigenous innovations at its government and university laboratories using the US model as reviewed in Reisman and Cytraus, (2004)."

Reisman, A., Capar, I., and Aktas, E. (2004), " Turkey's Development: The Role of Technology Transfer ". Working paper.
Abstract: "The policies of the Ottoman Empire and of its successor Turkey, have always considered technology transfer (TT) from abroad to be an important means for development. In late 18th century, the Ottoman Empire transferred some technology to improve its army. Contemporaneously there were attempts to transfer technology for building factories. In the Turkish Republic's early years, the government took TT and foreign investment issues very seriously. Based on successive five-year development plans in the ensuing 20 years Turkey transferred technology for many of its vital (state-owned) industries. In the last two decades, its private sector has led the way via joint-ventures and or licensing. This paper discusses the role of TT in Turkey's economic development during each of the following five periods: [1] the Ottoman Empire (late 14th through early 20th century); [2] the Republic's (formative) first 10 years; [3] the pre WWII years (1933-1939); [4] the Cold War period (1945-1989) and finally; [4] the era of liberalization, privatization and globalization."

Reisman, A. (2004) "Transfer of Technologies: A cross-disciplinary taxonomy ". Aninvited paper presented at the "Caucasus and Central Asia in the Globalization Process," International Conference Qafqaz University, May12-13 2003, Baku-Azerbaijan. Forthcoming in Omega: The International Journal of Management Science.
Abstract: “Transfer of Technologies (TT) takes place among various kinds of players, takes on various kinds of modalities and is done for various motivations. Its literature is very disjoint and disparate. It transcends several academic disciplines and professions. This paper presents a taxonomy defining the field in its entirety and delineating all of its facets in a manner that is parsimonious yet discriminating. Many potential uses for the taxonomy are identified. These include more effective teaching of TT subject matter.”

Reisman, A. (2004), "Illegal Transfer of Technologies: A Taxonomic View", Working paper,
FORTHCOMING IN: the Journal of Engineering and Technology Management,
Abstract: "Illegal transfer of technology (ITT) is one of the major policy formulation, industrial management, and law enforcement issues of this decade. It includes industrial espionage, the piracy of; software, logos, and hardware designs and it overlaps with issues of terrorism and those involving weapons of mass destruction. It is of concern at corporate, national, and world-body levels. Technology herein is defined broadly to include intellectual property. ITT involves various kinds of players, takes on various modalities and is done for various motivations. The ITT literature is very disjoint and disparate. It transcends several academic disciplines, professions and professional communities. This paper presents a taxonomy defining the field in its entirety and delineating all of its facets in a manner that is parsimonious yet discriminating. A number of potential uses for the taxonomy are identified as are its potential users."