November 2009

Great Science, Great Scientists, and Icons

November 27, 2009

Working as a young, self-funded, independent investigator, Charles Darwin formulated the theory of evolution by variation and natural selection. Modern science funds independent investigators differently: It has become increasingly difficult for young U.S. researchers to win funding for their ideas. (See also: “More about less opportunity for young scientists”) Unfortunately, our iconic images of great […]

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Cybersecurity: Let’s try something that can work

November 25, 2009

Perimeter defense considered harmful William Wulf and Anita Jones have written a brief, tantalizing, and important article in Science: “Reflections on Cybersecurity”. They point the way out of a tangle of security problems (not all, of course) that costs billions of dollars in losses billions in countermeasures, and billions more in opportunity costs — some […]

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Flat graphene is stable, even in theory

November 23, 2009

Graphene (not disrupted by mysterious forces) Many scientific papers suggest that the mere existence of free-standing graphene sheets violates theoretical expectations, that it is an anomaly that demands an explanation because flat graphene sheets would somehow destroy themselves. A paper in the current Nature describes “Ultraflat graphene”, but this graphene resides safely on mica surfaces. […]

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Most popular posts, continued…

November 18, 2009

Video: A digitally controlled molecular machine (>3 billion years of patchwork) A few weeks ago, I highlighted some of the most popular posts in Metamodern’s first year (see “Knowledge about Knowledge…”). Posts that offer videos, documents, or talk slides also ranked high: With downloadable documents and talk slides: Molecular Nanomachines: Physical Principles and Implementation Strategies […]

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Followup discussion
of quantum information and science hype

November 17, 2009

Quantum Bayesian Networks My recent post on quantum computation drew comments from quantum information scientist Robert Tucci, which led us into a discussion of hype in science, the pervasive mistake of equating quantum parallelism with parallel computing, and then to Bayesian quantum networks (see Robert’s wide-ranging blog on developments in quantum information science and technology). […]

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How to make carbon nanotubes
at room temperature

November 15, 2009

Made at 180°C (a record low, not long ago) As I noted in a recent post on self-assembled nanoelectronics (“Carbon Nanotube Transistors through DNA Origami”), carbon nanotubes (CNTs) hold promise for self-assembled nanomechanical systems, too: They are orders of magnitude stiffer than biomolecules, and can serve not only as rigid components, but also as low-friction […]

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A Unique Health Care System

November 15, 2009

International comparison of health care costs and performance metrics Life expectancy and infant mortality vs. total health spending as a percentage of GDP. Data plots are from here and here. Circle areas are proportional to population. I found this surprising. See also: TED-talk video: Let my dataset change your mindset (Gapminder)

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Carbon Nanotube Transistors through DNA Origami

November 12, 2009

Self-assembly of crossed carbon nanotubes Caltech researchers have applied DNA-based self-assembly to bind pairs of carbon nanotubes into structures that can act as field-effect transistors. Nature Nanotechnology has a prepublication release of their paper, “Self-assembly of carbon nanotubes into two-dimensional geometries using DNA origami templates”; the work emerged from a collaboration centered on the Winfree […]

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Quantum Computing:
Sorry, no speedup in solving linear systems

November 10, 2009

Not quite the same In the science press, Big News often turns out to be hyped trivia, but the current Big News in quantum computing is something else — a self-hyping mutant of genuine big news, the discovery of an algorithm that promises exponential speedup in a class of problems where the result depends on […]

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Asian Universities are Lagging
(according to lagging indicators)

November 7, 2009

The axis labels provide data-set menus (Cool system, worth exploring) I’ve recently written several posts related to research and education in China and India, and the comments led me to examine how their best universities are ranked among the universities of the world. The answer is “Low”, but the measuring rod looks crooked. The “Academic […]

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Indian education, top to bottom

November 5, 2009

Not necessarily the bestmath education In response to my last post, which mentioned some high points in Indian education, a comment by fiaorsh offers some perspective on the extensive low points. Since my reply ended up looking more like a post, I’m making it one: @ fiaorsh — You make some important points regarding education […]

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E-Drexler in India —
where do all the visitors come from?

November 2, 2009

Regional languages of India Rosa recently returned from Ashoka meetings in Chennai and Hyderabad, reminding me of some information I’d collected about Indian visits to my website, E-drexler.com. India is enormously diverse (e.g., many cultures, 18 officially recognized regional languages, and very different state governments), and I became curious about where inside India this traffic […]

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