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Education News

China Will Lead World Scientific Research By 2020 387

Posted by kdawson
from the we-got-the-numbers-we-got-the-will dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "An analysis of papers published in 10,500 academic journals across the world shows that, in terms of academic papers published, China is now second only to the US, and will take first place by 2020. Chinese scientists are increasing their output at a far faster rate than counterparts in rival 'emerging' nations such as India, Russia, and Brazil. The number of peer-reviewed papers published by Chinese researchers rose 64-fold over the past 30 years. 'China is out on its own, far ahead of the pack,' says James Wilsdon, of the Royal Society in London. 'If anything, China's recent research performance has exceeded even the high expectations of four or five years ago.' According to Wilsdon, three main factors are driving Chinese research. First is the government's enormous investment, with funding increases far above the rate of inflation, at all levels of the system from schools to postgraduate research. Second is the organized flow of knowledge from basic science to commercial applications. And third is the efficient and flexible way in which China is tapping the expertise of its extensive scientific diaspora in North America and Europe, tempting back mid-career scientists with deals that allow them to spend part of the year working in the West and part in China." Here's the Financial Times's original article.
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China Will Lead World Scientific Research By 2020

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  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:16AM (#30902950)

    But I wouldn't want to live in either.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kklein (900361)

      You haven't been to China, have you? It's less beehive and more wild west.

    • This is actually a good thing. More research will get done. When researchers write papers, they have to be peer reviewed. In essence, the results are available to the world. Everyone benefits. China will contribute a huge amount to science. Also, it's in their best interest to collaborate with the rest of the world, or else they will be left behind.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      Academic publications aren't just a sign of "efficiency," they're a sign of innovation and creativity, too.
  • To summarize... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gatkinso (15975) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:16AM (#30902952)

    "... China is tapping the expertise of its extensive scientific diaspora in North America and Europe, tempting back mid-career scientists with deals that allow them to spend part of the year working in the West and part in China."

    Translation: Chinese academics and scientists working in the West are, for all intents and purposes, spys.

    • by Rhaban (987410)

      There is a legend about a chinese who was such a great spy, he went so far to the west he returned in china.

    • Re:To summarize... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:26AM (#30903028)

      Read http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/08/28/060828fa_fact2?currentPage=all for more on how the Chinese approach science...

    • by symes (835608)

      "... China is tapping the expertise of its extensive scientific diaspora in North America and Europe, tempting back mid-career scientists with deals that allow them to spend part of the year working in the West and part in China."

      Translation: Chinese academics and scientists working in the West are, for all intents and purposes, spys.

      Troll. It is not so much between countries where spying occurs but between scientific groups. But that is only inso far research concerned with who gets the publication first. Once published, in general, everyone benefits. The only exception is commercially sensitive research - and, frankly, the chinese have the muscle to buy their way into that market.

    • Re:To summarize... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Walterk (124748) <{gro.mca} {ta} {telbud}> on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:28AM (#30903066) Homepage Journal

      Spys? That's quite harsh. There's many scientists from different countries working all around the globe. Many European ones in the US as well, and US scientists in Europe for instance. If a US scientist works in the EU, does that make him a traitor or a spy? It makes him a scientist. Science advances through different information being shared and further developed on. China and the US are not in a war, so to label them as spies seems rather odd.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jurily (900488)

        China and the US are not in a war, so to label them as spies seems rather odd.

        Yes, they are, although the battlefield is purely economic. The US is losing.

        I wonder if China can do the same technological leap as Japan did after WW2.

        • by bsDaemon (87307)
          Japan could do the technological leap because pretty much all of their previous infrastructure had been bombed into non-existance and so they didn't have to overcome inertia to replace it. Much the same in Europe, as well. In the US, we haven't fought a war on our own soil since the Civil War (Japanese invasion of the Allusion Islands doesn't count), and so once we build something it takes a really, really long time or a major incident before replacing or upgrading it seems economical to the people who ar
      • Re:To summarize... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by zix619 (802964) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @09:44AM (#30904114) Journal
        Be in research in North America for more than 15 years now. In reality, the important number of Chinese researchers in north American universities is due rather to the lack of interest from North American students for long term studies: 80% of Masters and PhD students in computer science in North American universities are from the third world, e.g. China and India. this is not simply a matter of conjecture, it's a deep trend which takes root in North American value system which everything is evaluated in dollars. In these terms, how to motivate the students to pursue higher studies, paid a misery for 4-5 years to have their Ph.Ds in order to have a job underpaid compared to their colleagues who went to the industry?
    • Don't know how China will become a leader if their research model is espionage. The USSR propped up its research by doing the same thing (see nuclear weapons) and ultimately lost when better counter measures were taken to stop them.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Alex Belits (437) *

        The USSR propped up its research by doing the same thing (see nuclear weapons) and ultimately lost when better counter measures were taken to stop them.

        Really? What else did nice US propaganda workers tell you?

        Holy fuck, of all things, USSR had one of the best nuclear research programs in the world.

    • Re:To summarize... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RDW (41497) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @09:59AM (#30904396)

      'Translation: Chinese academics and scientists working in the West are, for all intents and purposes, spys.'

      It's much worse than that! My extensive research has revealed the existence of a vast network of 'scientists' of all nationalities, operating (like the Illuminati and the Bilderberg Group) with little regard for conventional geo-political boundaries. Despite often working in laboratories funded by national governments (or even so-called 'charities'), these sinister 'researchers' have for decades (even centuries!) made the results of their arcane 'experiments' available in communistic fashion to other members of the cabal. To protect their work from the 'unenlightened', these results are usually presented (much like the treatises of the medieval alchemists) in highly cryptic language that is largely unintelligible to anyone who has not been suitably indoctrinated. This 'training' process usually takes the form of an extended apprenticeship to an individual further up the hierarchy who, as in most cults, holds out the promise of greater enlightenment and an elevation in status in return for performing often menial tasks at unsociable hours while being exposed to mind-bending concepts. The final initiation process, the esoterically titled 'viva voce' ('living voice') ritual is particularly dreaded.

  • I should hope so (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:18AM (#30902974) Homepage

    Since the PRC accounts for about 25% of the human race, while the US accounts for about 5%!

    Let the Chinese steal from us and then start innovating on their own. We'll then just start stealing from each other.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by timeOday (582209)
      Sure, parity is the natural course of things due to comparative advantage [wikipedia.org]. But to Americans, who are accustomed to consuming a vastly disproportionate quantity of both natural resources and manufactured goods from what amounts to an overseas underclass, parity is a terrifying proposition.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:18AM (#30902976)
    As a researcher in the physical sciences, I have noticed that nearly all the Chinese groups working my area publish complete crap of no value to other researchers. There are quite a few good Chinese researchers at American universities, but I have not once found a reason to actually cite a group based in China. They have a long way to go still before they reach the same level of impact as any western country (or hell, even its neighbors Korea and Japan).
    • by Cidolfas (1358603) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @09:30AM (#30903892)
      It's the same in chemistry. What gets published in Chinese journals would get flat-out rejected from a US peer-reviewed journal. And the data is about as trustworthy as an old (1970's-ish) Russian journal, where often they just group a whole bunch of variations on a compound together and say they all react with the same mechanism, even when they shouldn't. That makes me have to disprove them, which eats up a lot of my own time. I've had to do it with both Chinese and Russian data in the fuel-cell polymer field.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      You are the research.
      The level of impact they want is quality house hold names selling to the world. All they have now is expensive imported cities, rail and roads with ideas of cleaning up the water, air one day.
      They have the skills to leap over all the past mistakes. The main problem is their population will want more products for their slave wages. When that tips over, it gets interesting.
    • by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @09:59AM (#30904392)

      When I was still in grad school, it was also the same in certain web technology research areas. I've read a bunch of conference submission papers from Chinese students and nearly all of it was non-original, improperly cited, and poorly researched. The problem they are having is that it takes time to boot strap a research program. You need to build a research culture, nurture experts in the sciences and have the free flow of ideas going. The last one is going to be a challenge for China and I sometimes wonder if they will be able to make it over that hump given their extreme censorship policies.

      As an aside, I find it interesting how culture effects research. When I was going to conferences US and even researchers from the EU would often present ideas that achieved a goal around a free market mechanism. Chinese researchers nearly always spoke of centralized control, even when the scale of the idea was really too big to make it work.

    • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:16AM (#30904694)

      As a researcher in the physical sciences, I have noticed that nearly all the Chinese groups working my area publish complete crap of no value to other researchers. There are quite a few good Chinese researchers at American universities, but I have not once found a reason to actually cite a group based in China. They have a long way to go still before they reach the same level of impact as any western country (or hell, even its neighbors Korea and Japan).

      It's the same in polymer physics and every field. Read this, which puts "leading the world in science" in perspective: http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/18/will-china-achieve-science-supremacy/?ref=science [nytimes.com] In short, China tells people they have to publish or perish on a much greater scale than in other countries. As a result, there is a huge amount of published crap.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I'd just like to echo this statement (I work in nanotech/materials science). There is undeniably a massive number of publications flowing from China. Much of it is high quality, but frankly it is drowned-out by a larger amount of uninteresting or trivial publications. In short, Chinese science funding is emphasizing quantity over quality. Thus they are making gains in the raw number of publications, but are not advancing the impact per publication at all.

        It's a sad state of affairs, really... because tho
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:17AM (#30904722)

      I am a computer scientist. Asian.

      The research condition in China is extremely unhealthy. There are plenty of professors in high places who shamelessly rip off the younger researchers, and cronyism is rampant. Many professors will force the younger members in their group to put their names as first name authors in papers which they do not even read -- because the government's grant committee will only recognize papers with you as the first author. The worst is that the rampant cronyism means that younger researchers have no choice but to comply. That is, professors routinely give great reviews to papers written by buddies, no matter how crap. The same paper (or slightly altered) is published over and over again in different venues.

      There is no sense of value whatsoever with these researchers. No pride. No integrity. They exist just to make a living by crushing their opponents doing whatever they can. This is the Wall Street of research. God saves us all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tahyk (1447177)

      Same in Engineering. I have an old professor friend, who is a journal editor. They send the same crap to hundreds of journal, and even though it has no scientific value it will pass the filter by chance. It's much easier to accept than deny, because you don't have to reason. You just don't have the energy and the manpower to politely deny all. And even if you deny, he sends it again next week with very little modification.
      But that's not their fault. Science is benchmarked by publications, no matter what is

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mosb1000 (710161)
      This was my first thought when I read the article, but I thought that maybe the situation had changed in the last five years since I've been out of academics. Based on the responses to you claim, it seems that it hasn't.

      This is really terrifying. Not a single person has seen fit to contradict you. I think the scientific community should be really concerned about this. There is already a lot of low quality work filling up the world of published research with meaningless garbage (I would have said that 1
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wvmarle (1070040)

      I have read about this before (sorry no links) but the main reason of this huge production of publications is because Chinese measure their student's and scientist's performance that way. A Chinese PhD will during his thesis easily publish a few dozen papers while a western PhD student may do one or two. Some Chinese PhD's publish more papers during their PhD study than many Western scientists during their whole career. China is doing quite some quality research these days for sure though they have a lot to

  • by Bicx (1042846) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:24AM (#30903010)
    Maybe things wouldn't be this way if people in the U.S. started fighting the stigma of becoming a "nerd," gave college research priority over athletics programs, and provided students incentive to be hard-working and inquisitive.
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:34AM (#30903156) Journal

      Maybe things wouldn't be this way if people in the U.S. started fighting the stigma of becoming a "nerd," gave college research priority over athletics programs, and provided students incentive to be hard-working and inquisitive.

      The the real priority that is clearly disparate between Western countries and China is purely what percent of our GDP we dump into science versus defense on a federal level. Do a budget comparison between the United States and China [wikipedia.org] for defense spending. I think you'll find that that leaves China with much more resources to dump into education, their growing economy, building infrastructure and science.

      In the United States, military spending does foster more science and education but still not as much as dumping that new joint strike fighter contract into college educations for everyone. It ain't going to change but it's a very real difference that can be felt.

      • by gtall (79522)

        Last budget: about $3 Trillion, last Defense budget: about $600 Billion. But I do agree that we are overfunding the Air Force, and defense programs in powerful Congress-Critters' localities. Still, the real money is tied up in entitlements.

        • by swillden (191260)

          Defense spending comprises over 20% of the annual federal budget. Pretty sad, given that the Founders tried to establish a system that didn't allow for a standing army. Our military forces aren't technically unconstitutional, but they clearly violate the spirit.

          Of course, entitlements violate both the letter and the spirit. If it weren't for the executive branch's bald-faced manipulation of the Supreme Court (specifically, FDR's court-packing threats), they'd never have been allowed to get started.

    • by Chrisq (894406)
      Why is this famebait? Its the same in the UK (apart from the athletic programs), someone studying engineering is an unpopular nerd compared to someone studying art history, media studies, etc.
      • by TheKidWho (705796)

        Last I checked, you don't study engineering in high school.

        • by Bicx (1042846)
          Good thing we're talking about college then. But now that you mention it, stimulating high school students in the areas of science and math is just as important.
          • by TheKidWho (705796)

            Last I checked, the nerd/jock dualism doesn't exist in college.

            • by TheKidWho (705796)

              *Dichotomy not dualism... Damn /. for not allowing posts to be edited.

            • by tyrione (134248)

              Last I checked, the nerd/jock dualism doesn't exist in college.

              You were clearly never an engineering, applied mathematics, physics, chemistry, etc., university student.

      • by bsDaemon (87307)
        You can't really bullshit your way though an Engineering or Mathematics degree the same way you can Philosophy or something else -- either your answer is correct or its not, and no room really for arguing or thought experiments. That means studying harder and putting more effort in, which means less time for hanging out and taking part in the scene. It's hard to be friends with someone whose lifestyle is going to be so completely different by necessity. To a lot of people, even those who might naturally
        • by gtall (79522)

          Philosophy is not easy to bullshit your way through. Take a course on Satre or Kant sometime. Most quality philosophy curricula require 2 foreign languages as well.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bsDaemon (87307)
            I studied literature and classical history, then on my own read Hegel, Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Connolly, Neitzche and Heidegger as well as Plato, Cicero, Pliny, etc. I knew a lot of philisophy majors -- most of them were stoned all the time and would just ramble but they did quite well for themselves despite it. They mostly seemed to be bullshitting to me, but maybe I was just mistaken.
    • by Wiarumas (919682)
      Not only that, but the enormous amount of debt that a US student can take on if they don't receive aid and/or their parents' help can be a turn off for many. The tuition prices are a bit out of control exceeding inflation rates - and don't get me started on the price gouging tactics of the required book market. I'm definitely not the smartest person in the world, but I am above average, and the only thing preventing me from going back to school (even part time) for my Masters and beyond is money. I'm a b
    • by stabiesoft (733417) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:17AM (#30904716) Homepage

      Yes as the UTexas students recently discovered. Mack Brown gets a nice 5M/year now even though his contract wasn't up. They "gave" him a bump since he was so good. Of course he lost the BCS game. And don't even get me started on how valuable I think a coach even is. He's not the one with his butt out there getting creamed. But anyway,UT is short 30Mil now, so the students get a 4% tuition hike. Athletics has become what schools do, while academics are a sideshow. Its really pathetic. I stopped giving to my alma mater a few years ago when I found out the EE school was planning to use the money for F*chking wifi for the football stadium. WTF. I'd like to find a school to give to with a 0 dollar athletic program and give to them. I'm all for intramural for exercise, but this pre-NFL training camp crap should go. If the NFL wants a training camp, let them pay for it. /* end rant & I'll bet my karma takes a hit for this one */

  • by DiscountBorg(TM) (1262102) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:25AM (#30903018)
    When it comes to the race to develop new technologies, I'm always reminded of the (easily missed) quote at the beginning of Deus Ex: "Their... 'ethical inflexibility' has allowed us to make progress in areas they refuse to consider." For example China does not have the ethical hangups about stem cell research that we do here in the west. Perhaps they will be developing new medicines and cures based on their research--and we will end up using it in the end as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mangastudent (718064)

      If anyone could cite a single therapy to come from embryonic stem cell research your comment might have some force.

      Unfortunately, solving that is equivalent to figuring out cancer (and that's essentially what you get when you put embryonic (undifferentiated) stem cells in animals); this is basic research pretending to be applied. Look at e.g. the recent equivocations of the California state organization that's administering their effort.

      • by krmt (91422)

        It's still far too young to see any real successes. Prior to the past year, there wasn't any realistic way to make use of stem cells in many circumstances because of the paucity of cell lines available. Now there's more coming online. The real breakthrough though, Induced pluripotent Stem (iPS) cell technology, is brand new, and people have spent the last year making it safer by removing cMyc and whatever other oncogenes were necessary in the original formulation. That's basically done now and iPS cells sho

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Let's get this straight. You argue that when politics (nee religion) strangles a line of research, and that line of research subsequently produces few results, that is justification for continuing to strangle that line of research?

        If only the religious nuts would apply that principle to themselves.

  • by javilon (99157) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:25AM (#30903020) Homepage

    Forget for a moment the nationalistic and economic competition between USA and China. What this means to me is that with China, Russia, Brazil and India increasing their research output, the rate of scientific progress will probably double from what we had 10 years ago.

    That and the fact that I prefer (for moral reasons) a non starving Chinese population, means this is good to me. The current boom in biotechnology together with an aging population, means that scientific knowledge improves quality of life for all of us.

    By the way, China is investing heavily and making fast progress in stem cell development, a research area where the religious lobby in the USA has delayed progress. The USA has it's own political problems.

  • by ZuchinniOne (1617763) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:26AM (#30903030)

    Things are seriously backwards here when some of the most educated people in the world are paid so poorly.

    Most post-docs doing basic research get paid between 30-40K. Perhaps if we paid scientists what they are worth there would be less brain drain.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by shabtai87 (1715592)
      What, do something fun and intellectually stimulating AND make money? What madness is this? Everyone knows you have to be bored and trolling youtube for 8 hours a day in an office setting to make a decent salary!
    • People aren't paid for being educated, they are paid for taking risks. The education just gives you the opportunity to better, higher-paying risks.

  • Is the gov't doing anything about this 'brain drain'? We loved it when the best minds from Asia came to the US to study, start families and have their careers here. Now that they are heading back while our top minds continue to become lawyers and doctors (those that practice medicine not research it). All the while US companies have their IP stolen.

    Maybe in 2020 the US will have large botnets stealing IP from China...

    • by gtall (79522)

      The U.S. companies are not having their IP stolen. The Business School Product employed by U.S. companies are foolishly offshoring their companies' IP as fast as they can. These were the people you met in college that couldn't get through Engineering or Science or Liberal Arts degrees. They went to the Business School so they could become widgets. Then they turned on those of us who were busy producing and sold that IP and sometimes us to the highest overseas bidder. At last sighting, they were hawking the

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:32AM (#30903122) Homepage Journal
    and you could find this exact same article, just substitute China for Japan. And yet 25 years later very few Japanese have won nobel prizes, Japan is a leader in a few select fields, but is a far cry from what people were saying it would be by now. This despite spending massive amounts of money on R&D and whatnot. Time will tell if this holds true for China as well, but I think it's important not to extrapolate too much on a very limited data set.
    • by kklein (900361)

      Absolutely. I live in Japan, and I often regale my Japanese friends with tales of the tales I was told of Japan growing up--which ended up with me living here (it's a nice place to live, if you speak/read the language). People laugh outloud, because they grew up in those days and know what it was really like.

      That being said, the US economy collapsed, while my salary-in-yen is worth more dollars than I've ever seen. It's awesome when I go back home to see the folks, but shit when I remember that the bulk o

      • by tyrione (134248)

        Absolutely. I live in Japan, and I often regale my Japanese friends with tales of the tales I was told of Japan growing up--which ended up with me living here (it's a nice place to live, if you speak/read the language). People laugh outloud, because they grew up in those days and know what it was really like.

        That being said, the US economy collapsed, while my salary-in-yen is worth more dollars than I've ever seen. It's awesome when I go back home to see the folks, but shit when I remember that the bulk of my savings is in US banks.

        However, the big difference here is that Japan is a small country--geographically and demographically. China is neither. I fully expect us to have our asses handed to us. The US is over. Japan is even more over.

        Since when is approximately 128 Million people on a geographically tiny island small? It's the tenth largest, just behind Russia. If were judging by Population you'd expect the control of the world's economies to be a sparring match between India and China. China either expands economically at the current rate of ~ 8% or its system will crash. The US has solid growth when it reaches 3 to 4%, year over year. China isn't going to be these IP haven people believe it will become. People will demand a bigger pie

  • And yet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:33AM (#30903148)

    Every time I point out how China will replace the US as the dominant force in the world, I get modded troll. Well, America, I understand. My mother is British, and consequently I have a British passport. I understand the denial that's happening - the way you feel is just like the British felt from the mid 1800's up until the middle of last century. The decline of the British Empire took 100 years. But nowadays things happen a lot faster.

    Let's look at China:

          They have all the industry they need - so much, that they are rapidly becoming the worlds biggest exporter of everything.
          They have a huge population.
          They have a strong leadership.
          They have a real military. Uh this isn't Iraq, right? Their submarines are good enough to sneak up on US carriers, and they have demonstrated that they can shoot down satellites. Now I ask myself where the US will be with carriers on the bottom of the oceans and no satellites to coordinate communications for combined arms or provide overhead intelligence. They've chosen a very smart, asymmetric warfare route. They don't need to have ultra high tech main battle tanks capable of taking direct hits from M1's. They don't need hundred million dollar stealth aircraft. They just need lots and lots of reasonably good anti aircraft and anti tank missiles.
          They are becoming scientific leaders, which will even take away the US technology edge.
          They have a space program. They also have nuclear weapons. Combine the two and that means they can put a nuclear bomb anywhere on the planet with an ICBM. What's not known is their accuracy, but who needs accuracy if you have a multi-megaton device?
          Everything they can't innovate (yet), they can copy. Adherence to patents and intellectual property laws is only given by consent.
          They are the single largest holder of US debt, outside the US government.

          Ohhhh, it's going to be ugly. I certainly wouldn't want to live in Taiwan in the next 20 years, for a start. Forget the argument that the US is China's biggest customer, that's irrelevant. Wars often start between the best trading partners. The US and the UK circa 1800. The US and Japan WW2. France and Prussia/Germany, quite often in the 19th century. The only hope I have is that China has not shown any expansionist tendencies in recent history. They've been content with defending their borders. But if suddenly they decide to play the imperialism game - watch out!

    • Except... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by geoffrobinson (109879)

      They have a one child policy. And lots of parents have sex selection abortion to avoid having their only child be a girl.

      So you are going to have a population that will decline in number that has a bunch of young men with no hope of being married. Say what you will, the drive to take care of your family is important to society.

      That's not a recipe for long-term success.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Imperialism? How about Tibet and East Turkistan? How about they have border disputes with several of their neighbors going as far as claiming an entire Indian state? Oh, they're way into Imperialism.

    • Re:And yet (Score:4, Insightful)

      by smallfries (601545) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @09:22AM (#30903770) Homepage

      They are becoming scientific leaders, which will even take away the US technology edge.

      There is no evidence for that. The metric used in the article (number of papers published) is quite simply the worst possible metric and gives us no information at all about the state of Chinese Research in comparison to other countries.

      Wars often start between the best trading partners.

      No, wars start between the largest economies who are rivals for resources and/or markets. They rarely start between trading partners. In the examples that you list Britain and the US had fought the war of independence over trading rights in the New World, and when Japan attacked the US in WWII it was in response to a trade embargo.

    • Causes of wars (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:29AM (#30904884)
      Responding to one of your points, the US/UK war around 1812 resulted from several factors, one of which was growing American imperialism (they wanted to annex Canada) and one was perceived British weakness (they were fighting Napoleon at the time.)* Japan fought WW2 over imperialism - they wanted to dominate the Far East which was fast becoming an American zone. Their trading status was unimportant.

      China consists of a strange mix: two First World territories (Hong Kong and Taiwan), an emergent country (mainly the seaboard) and a large Third World country. In order to become the dominant power, the emergent bit has to become First World and the Third World bit has to become emergent. This is unlike Europe (where the emergent bit is the poorest part) or the US, where the emergent and Third World parts are relatively small and mixed in with the First World part.

      On this analysis, China needs to look inwards before it looks outwards. An aggressive war would result in the destruction of the most advanced parts of China, leaving the rest back near the iron age. Europe and the US would be badly damaged but would survive and retain First World capabilities. It is simply not in the Chinese interest to damage its most valuable assets. Just like Mao, they would let the peasants starve first.

      * The War of 1812 does not figure in glorious US victories. A coalition of French Canadians, native Americans and the British successfully defended Canada and burned the White House, then the British went on to defeat Napoleon and weaken US power in the Caribbean for many years. The US turned Westwards. So much for Imperialist wars.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I am not going to try to refute your entire argument as you obviously have done some homework and I doubt that in an hour of googling or rhetoric on the interwebz I could change your mind. There are, however, a few of your bullet points I would like to address.

      Their submarines are good enough to sneak up on US carriers, and they have demonstrated that they can shoot down satellites. Now I ask myself where the US will be with carriers on the bottom of the oceans and no satellites to coordinate communications for combined arms or provide overhead intelligence.

      Regarding this. Last time I checked into it (and I will admit that was a few years ago) United States aircraft carriers are deployed as part of a large battle group known as a task force. They patrol their various portions of the globe, and perform t

  • by cpscotti (1032676)
    At least in my field (Mobile Robotics), Chinese papers are everywhere but none of the ones I found were some kind of breakthrough.
    China is all about volume simply bc they are HUGE.
    And also... I'm still waiting to see a major civil war there sometime..
    • by cyn1c77 (928549)

      At least in my field (Mobile Robotics), Chinese papers are everywhere but none of the ones I found were some kind of breakthrough. China is all about volume simply bc they are HUGE. And also... I'm still waiting to see a major civil war there sometime..

      Definitely right from my field too (fluid mechanics). Most of their papers are copies of others' ideas. And also, most of them are of very poor scientific quality. When reviewing, I normally accept 50%, but for Chinese papers it works about to only about 10% acceptance rate. They are definitely doing a lot of work and a small percentage of it is quality, but the rest is crap. They don't really know why they are doing it and have no long term focus.

      It is pretty clear that their scientists are either rea

  • "Emerging"? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Alex Belits (437) * on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:38AM (#30903196) Homepage

    rival 'emerging' nations such as India, Russia, and Brazil.

    It was 18th century when Russia was "emerging" in scientific research.

  • so i don't believe any chinese researchers will be making amazing breakthroughs as long as they live in a country which is fundamentally opposed to the idea of the free exchange of ideas. the free exchange of ideas is not some cute tweak on the product of scientific research, it is a preceding requirement for quality research to even be done in the first place

    a society which does not allow a free exchange if ideas does not result in minds flexible enough to grasp important patterns quickly out of a morass of data. which is the essence of science. a society which carefully controls information results in minds weakened by an artificially placid media environment, where all information is carefully chosen for its adherence to an official point of view. but the truth is often ugly, and when "harmony" is artificially imposed, you breed flimsy minds which can only be spoonfed ideas which aren't too challenging to them

    a truly keen scientific mind is bred in an environment where it is constantly challenged by ideas contrary to established belief. the mind is a muscle: challenge it, and it grows strong. put it in artificially serene environment free of opposing ideas, and it grows weak. the information environment that china supports therefore is contrary to the production of good scientific minds, and therefore contrary to the production of good science

    in science, you question everything. and therefore, you get the best scientific theories. but in china, you never question, you only behave and adhere to the official party line. and so china is not building the social environment in which high quality minds can exist and high quality science can be done. china is breeding a generation of minds that are made of cotton candy and fluff with their desire for "harmony" over ugly truths. it takes an adherence to freedom of expression to get minds that are free in thought, and therefore make good science

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Soviet scientists made pretty big breakthroughs, though they were not living in a free country...

      • despite the best efforts of autocrats and dictators and brutal ugly rulers imposing their will throughout history, a few free minds always fell through the cracks and advanced mankind in scientific progress, despite some of mankind's efforts to keep us backwards

        so the terrible irony here is that china WILL produce great scientists, just like the soviet union. and just like those soviet scientists, strong minds in spite of the system they were raised in, those minds will yearn strongly for a free society

        and

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        Soviet scientists faced the quality gulag or the above arctic gulag.
        If you met the target with KGB supplied US intel, you stayed.
        Any problems, you where replaced.
        If the CIA found out what you where doing and it got back the the KGB, removal of many people until leaks stopped.
        A bit like HP or MS with spies and empty desks. Your never really stress free and the quality of your work shows it.
    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      Blah, blah blah, blah blah blah blah./blockquote>

      Exactly! For counter examples, see worthless brainwashed drones like Copernicus and Galileo, who nobody even remembers any more because of their inability to produce any useful work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by spinkham (56603)

      China is more free then you would think. Yes, there are some things they hide from their people(Case in point.. I talked to a nuclear engineering grad student in China who was complaining about how China has no nuke reactors because the west won't let them, when they have had reactors since 1994, and have 11 on the mainland and a few in Hong Kong, with more on the way.) but for the most part they realize technical information must be free-flowing to increase their economy. This is why thet have internet a

  • When I was taking stats, my stat professor told me that he saw the far east eventually becoming the technology center of the world because of the increased amount of technological manufacturing and R/D coming from that region of the world.

    On the other hand, he said, the United States is pretty unmatched in agricultural exports because of the natural resources at its disposal. China seems to be the biggest importer of agricultural goods from the U.S. All of that is to say, we might eventually see an incre
  • New Super Power (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rotide (1015173) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:41AM (#30903244)

    It really is quite interesting to see a new Super Power being born. This is made a bit more interesting as I'm an American and "I" have been the Super Power for my entire life. To be witnessing the handover/taking of that torch is, admittedly a little unsettling, but hey, lets be honest, the US is no barometer of "good". We're pretty shady in our own right.

    That being said, I have a feeling if there isn't a massive overhaul of the Chinese government, it may be a short lived stay at the top. As their populace inevitably feels the benefits of being at the top, they are going to want a better standard of living. As more and more of their populace starts wanting more, wanting "better", and becoming more educated, the corruption, censoring, etc, is going to get more and more obvious. I can easily see their population eventually standing up and demanding something better.

    Hopefully they don't have the same growing pains we did (civil war, etc), although, we did come out better for it and it didn't kill us as a nation.

    It will be an interesting show to watch, even if it is a bit unnerving.

    • On the bright side, as China's populace want a better standard of living and become more educated, the corruption and the real reasons for censoring may finally come under the sun and disappear due to popular demand. It's not like the more developed countries started out free of corruption and other types of censoring in the beginning.

      But of course, it's just as probable that things can all go the wrong way.
  • by David Jao (2759) <djao@dominia.org> on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:48AM (#30903316) Homepage
    Counting the number of papers is a rather dubious way to measure research output. The article acknowledges this at the very end, pointing out that the quality of the research generated by Chinese researchers is rather mixed.

    My own experience as a researcher is that Asian countries in general (with the possible exception of Japan) have a long way to go before they match the impact of Western researchers. There are exceptions, such as the MD5 collision [wikipedia.org] found by Wang et al., but in general most of the major breakthroughs occur in the West.

    It's also not clear whether research produced by overseas Chinese is included in the total. Some of the very [wikipedia.org] best [wikipedia.org] mathematicians [wikipedia.org] in the world are Chinese, but almost all of them are based at Western institutions. In any case, as good as they are, the number of overseas Chinese is so small that they don't represent anything close to a majority.

  • >First is the government's enormous investment, with funding increases far above the rate of inflation
    Well of course, when the person that comes up with something good or important, they will have to give it to china directly and it will be
    china's property, second, their trials for medicine are totally different then ours, so if they come out with a supposed cure, the government has no problems testing right away on humans before doing real studies on animals...also, if you think about it, they have 4 ti

  • It's called the Law of Large Numbers folks. They've got the numbers, we don't.

  • The reason the U.S. is falling so far behind is the fact that we glorify, even deify, athletes and musicians and throw unhealthy even obscene gobs of money at those two professions yet the return on the investment is nearly zero. Does the fact that some multi-millionare baseball player have a certain batting average do anything to improve the country? Does the fact that musicians get millions for writing one decent song and eleven crappy ones enable others to achieve anything? And then there's the curren

  • by HisMother (413313) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @09:26AM (#30903836)
    An astonishing fraction [physorg.com] of research "results" from China are just plain made up. [nature.com] No wonder they're so prolific! I don't doubt that they will eventually make significant scientific contributions as a nation -- they're 20% of the world's population, after all -- but they're going to have to clean up their act before the global scientific community starts to take them seriously.
  • by vvaduva (859950)

    Good, maybe they'll stop stealing from others and start actually creating really innovative things...

  • true and not-true (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nerdyalien (1182659) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @09:47AM (#30904170)

    Let me bust some myths here...

    1. By publication numbers, YES! China or even any Asian institution can easily knock down a Western institution. But once you bring in "Impact Factor", Asian institutions sink in to the bottom of the pacific!!

    Maybe Westerners don't know much about what I'm about to tell. In general, researchers in Asia (especially of Chinese descent) loves to publish barrage of papers every year. Most institutions in this part of the world gives you incentives/bonuses based on the "number" of publications.

    How do I know this? Because I'm a PhD student in an university in south-east Asia. When I entered this department, head of research was a mainland Chinese. His first rule was "publish at least 1 journal + 1 conference paper every year. Without 2 journal papers, I won't even read your thesis".

    As a consequence of this rat-race, people here are just publishing every crap they can and they don't respect the quality or adherence to ethics of sciences. Even one time, a chinese-descent researcher asked me to fake/make-up data and publish (in fact, that's how she get really amazing data for publications). Here people may call it "scientific discovery", but for a proper trained eyes (like myself), its nothing but "scientific fraud".

    Personally, I'm very disappointed with how research departments operate here. Hence I applied to US grad schools last month.

    2. Can China improve ? I'm not sure. But certainly I have met several extremely talented mainland Chinese researchers, but all of them reside in some other country (e.g. Australia, Singapore).

    Then again, I was asked to review a conference paper, written by *post-doc* students from a non-popular rural university in China. Literally, it was unreadable. It seems they have heavily used the thesaurus or used a translator altogether. Lets forget about the language (even I am happy to help them re-write the paper). That particular paper I read, it didn't prove anything significant nor important, knowledge contribution wise.. NULL. Undergrads in my university report much better research outcomes.

    So it is hard to predict... but surely, western institutions still have the mojo.

    3. Despite what we see and read, I strongly believe they (Chinese) have a proper R&D knowledge sphere hidden out somewhere. Otherwise, they won't be able to progress in nuclear, military and other technology fronts. Also not to forget, they have journals and other publications in *chinese*.... which I believe are out of reach to us, as we can't read Chinese and those material hardly get translated to English and reach to science databases in west.

    As of 2010, it is safe to say... US/UK/EU institutions have the monopoly in Research.. and Asia is nothing but spammers to periodicals. Just my $0.02...

"Anyone attempting to generate random numbers by deterministic means is, of course, living in a state of sin." -- John Von Neumann

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