2012s Best Science
Written for Canadian Community News by Mike Sterling
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The best science in 2012 was the discovery of the Higgs Boson. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN made the breakthrough in the summer of 2012 and now barring further information, it has become proven science. It has gone through initial peer review.
The project was the cooperative work of 88 nations and to accomplish it, the designers and builders had to construct the world's largest and most complicated machine. Lots of money, yes, but only the yearly budget of about a medium sized University in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
My guess was that they would be a decade late, but they were not. They must have had wonderful management to get done what they did.
The people conceiving and executing this project are the product of good universities. There is a lesson here. Somehow with money being cut left and right, important things are getting done and they come from bright minds and hard work.
Most elected officials come from a commercial, financial or legal background and are not familiar with mathematics and science. Therefore, they sometimes look to cut budgets in areas that they think are long term and marginal.
Education and basic research can be candidates for the chopping block in some western nations. And yet, everything we do and all our innovations are tightly coupled to science and the scientific method. Our industries are built upon technology, which is built on science and mathematics.
It's sad to see the first rung in this research and development ladder, the teachers, having to fight for money to teach our children and grandchildren. It's hard to take when we drop and reduce programs in mathematics, science and the arts because of budget issues. Are we eating our seed corn? Does China do that?
For the past 10 years the centre for world class universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University has rated universities. Here is their released global university ranking.
The prestigious top 10 are Harvard, Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, Cambridge, California California Institute of Technology, Princeton, Columbia, Chicago and Oxford. The University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia ranked 27th and 39th respectfully, which is good.
The western culture's university system is built on many years of tradition and research. It not only requires teacher, it rests upon research programs and great problems to tackle.
The Higgs Boson discovery is a result of hundreds of years of education.
As far as the Higgs Boson, here are some neat videos that will help to explain what's the big deal?
A short introduction
The BBC talks about the discovery and how UK research is well done and economical.
Good summary by Leonard Susskind (1 hour and 15 minutes) Some duplication and not a piece of cake to learn.
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Tuesday, December 25, 2012