Reasons why China will be a superpower (pt 20345)


by Sunny
4th August, 2008 at 12:50 am    

Angela Saini points out that:

Physics World has reported that physics in China is booming. Chinese scientists now publish more papers than the UK and Germany. In fact, at the current rate, by 2012 it will be churning out more physics articles than the entire number of science articles published by US researchers.

Werner Marx, an information scientist from the Max Planck Institute in Germany, said, “Usually scientific development in nations does not show such a strong acceleration as we have seen in China, so it will be interesting to see how it responds and develops in the future.”

Well, it won’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the impact of that strong acceleration will be. By the way, Angela is a friend and a new blogger, writing mostly about science. Go check out her blog.


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Filed in: China,Current affairs,Environmentalism,Science






10 Comments below   |  

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  1. Ravi Naik — on 4th August, 2008 at 1:26 am  

    Chinese scientists now publish more papers than the UK and Germany.

    Publishing papers is rather easy – it is far more difficult getting your papers accepted in prestigious academic journals. And then, in China there is this.

  2. Harry — on 4th August, 2008 at 5:11 am  

    Ravi is quite right. It’s easy to produce low impact work. Doing something innovative is much harder. It would be useful to know what the top journals in Physics are and how many scientists from China have published in them.

  3. MaidMarian — on 4th August, 2008 at 8:21 am  

    Leaving aside for one moment the (legitimate) questions about quality the interesting point is that these things are actually being published widely.

    A sign of ‘opening’ perhaps?

  4. Cabalamat — on 4th August, 2008 at 11:15 am  

    While no doubt a large proportion of Chinese research is not very good, it’s a corrolary to Sturgeon’s Law that the 10% of stuff that’s good also requires the 90% that isn’t. I expect Chinese science will continue to grow both in quantity and quality.

    This isn’t in itself a problem. The problem is that at the same time British science teaching is declining. I’m not sure Britain is going to be able to remain competitive in the 21st century.

  5. Angela Saini — on 4th August, 2008 at 12:09 pm  

    Thanks for the link Sunny!

    Yes, you are right that the quality of many of the papers is questionable. In fact I think the Physics World article directly addresses that problem.

    That said, the phenomenal rise over the last couple of years does suggest that a lot of Chinese science research is brand new (perhaps as a result of fresh spending at the turn of the millennium) so it’ll take time to reach the same standards as the more established universities and institutes in the rest of the world.

    Add the fact that many Chinese scientists are being trained overseas and then returning to China, and I can see quality research in the country really booming a few decades from now.

  6. stinkingsadhu — on 4th August, 2008 at 10:40 pm  

    That’s not all. China’s also likely to be the first for quantum computers.

  7. unsure — on 5th August, 2008 at 4:49 am  

    China’s also likely to be the first for quantum computers.

    Really? I doubt that very much. The amount of R&D into this from Western (read U.S.) companies suggests otherwise – firstly it’s a lot of dosh, secondly it acts as a lure: if you were a Chinese quantum physicist, given the option of a fat paycheck and greater freedom, where would you rather work? I know only one Chinese scientific postgrad student who’s gone back to China and over 20 who’ve managed to stay here or moved to the U.S.

  8. cjcjc — on 5th August, 2008 at 10:20 am  

    I was about to make the same point.
    They graduate and move to the US.

  9. kELvi — on 5th August, 2008 at 11:33 pm  

    Theoretical physics requires big money to support, and also requires heckuva a lot of freedom. If the Indian government does not let TIFR, Indian Inst. of Astrophysics, MatScience and a few other institutions wither on the vine, China has an excellent opportunity to forge ahead. Generating raw talent isn’t hte problem, nurturing it through the explosive phase of a scientist’s life – the 20s – is crucial. Right now faculty positions for theoretical physics in the US are hard to come by and v. well qualified tenure track candidates are being pushed out of the system. China could make a push for it if it were able to attract some of these people. Would they? good question.

  10. Muhamad — on 9th August, 2008 at 8:56 pm  

    According to a friend, Mao’s party treats scientists somewhat differently than plain citizens. I’m unsure as to how differently, so, who knows, maybe.

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