Skip to comments.George F. Will: Rev the scientific engine
Posted on 01/02/2011 12:11:23 PM PST by neverdem
New Republican legislators should come down Capitol Hill to the National Museum of American History, which displays a device that in 1849 was granted U.S. patent 6469. It enabled a boat's "draught of water to be readily lessened" so it could "pass over bars, or through shallow water."
The patentee was from Sangamon County, Ill. Across Constitution Avenue, over the Commerce Department's north entrance, are some words of the patentee, Abraham Lincoln:
THE PATENT SYSTEM ADDED
THE FUEL OF INTEREST
TO THE FIRE OF GENIUS
Stoking that fire is, more than ever, a proper federal function, so the legislators should be given some reading matter. One is William Rosen's book "The Most Powerful Idea in the World," a study of the culture of invention. Another is the National Academy of Sciences report "Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited," an addendum to a 2005 report on declining support for science and engineering research.
Such research is what canals and roads once were - a prerequisite for long-term economic vitality. The first Republican president revered Henry Clay, whose "American System" stressed spending on such "internal improvements." Today, the prerequisites for economic dynamism are ideas. Deborah Wince-Smith of the...
U.S. undergraduate institutions award 16 percent of their degrees in the natural sciences or engineering; South Korea and China award 38 percent and 47 percent, respectively. America ranks 27th among developed nations in the proportion of students receiving undergraduate degrees in science or engineering...
An iconic conservative understood this. Margaret Thatcher, who studied chemistry as an Oxford undergraduate, said:
"Although basic science can have colossal economic rewards, they are totally unpredictable. And therefore the rewards cannot be judged by immediate results. Nevertheless, the value of [Michael] Faraday's work today must be higher than the capitalization of all shares on the stock exchange."...
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
Yup. I’ve seen the model of Abe Lincoln’s invention, dunno if it went anywhere.
“..Lincoln started work on his invention between sessions of Congress in 1848. On his way home to Illinois his boat became stranded on a sandbar. As Herndon told the story, “The captain ordered the hands to collect all the loose planks, empty barrels and boxes and force them under the sides of the boat. These empty casks were used to buoy it up. After forcing enough of them under the vessel she lifted gradually and at last swung clear of the opposing sand bar.”
Herndon observed, “Lincoln had watched this operation very intently. It no doubt carried him back to the days of his navigation on the turbulent Sangamon, when he and John Hanks had rendered similar service at New Salem dam to their employer the volatile Offut. Continual thinking on the subject of lifting vessels over sand bars and other obstructions in the water suggested to him the idea of inventing an apparatus for this purpose.”
Lincoln created a scale model of his invention with the help of Walter Davis, a Springfield mechanic, who provided tools and advice. Herndon recalled, “Occasionally he would bring the model in the office, and while whittling on it would descant on its merits and the revolution it was destined to work in steamboat navigation. Although I regarded the thing as impracticable I said nothing, probably out of respect for Lincoln’s well-known reputation as a boatman.”
With some relief Herndon said, “the invention was never applied to any vessel, so far as I ever learned, and the threatened revolution in steamboat architecture and navigation never came to pass.”
The crap that schools pass off as “science” won’t get us anywhere.
I actually temped at the front desk of the Patent Office library at the new HQ in Alexandria several years ago.
Quite an inspiring foyer, unfortunately there’s more money made in the much-advertised-on-TV industry designed to fleece the would-be inventor. I have a friend who is a patent researcher, he tells me the system is stacked against the little guy with the Big Idea. You actually have a revolutionary invention, chances are it will be stolen from you and you’ll die in poverty with those many others.
Patents won't sell their vote in return for an EBT card. For that reason, the politicians in DC don't give a fat excrement about them. End of story, Mr. Will.
THAT would be a proper function of the federal government.
Will flips between Hamilton and Jefferson and here’s he in full Hamilton mode:
” But the public should not now be punished by penalizing, with diminished funding, the scientific disciplines that have been mostly innocent of the behaviors that have sometimes made academia a subject of satire.”
He tells how the ‘humanities’ have been corrupted but puts ‘faith’ in the sciences - typical nerd posturing as an ‘intellectual’ - when in fact, it is the junk science that the universities have used to help corrupt the ‘humanities’ and political science.
Fed funding of education should cease as unconstitutional and let the best succeed on their own feet. Junk science is driven by gov’t grants.
How does this fit into Will's thesis that research universities need more money? Microsoft and Apple were founded by college dropouts.
“How does this fit into Will’s thesis that research universities need more money? Microsoft and Apple were founded by college dropouts.”
Such an excellent point - you’d think that he would have thought of that.
Will and others like him still cling to the belief that big government can do good things, that it just needs to be better directed.
That idea that we need to redistribute wealth into research is just as destructive the idea that it should be redistributed to a class of people.
It’s not what the redistributed wealth is used for, it’s the forced redistribution that’s important.
Will will never get it.
Science has been corrupted by politics. Will should stick to baseball.
Pray for the Tea Party Congress
Try it without millions of men in new manufacturing starts, and the “scientific engine” won’t “rev” very high. We’re in a depression caused by the vanity of rebellion against Creation (political correctness), and men of ingenuity are preparing for the consequences. They’ll work again, when that work is properly appreciated and compensed.
True, just like the guy that sold bill gates the first operating system. His check was 65000, bills was for 65billion.
I’m gonna be blunt:
I took some advanced computer classes at a large university. They were so happy to see a white American they could barely contain themselves. The fact that most of the faculty were none white immigrants didn’t stop them from their excitement. I was a novelty conversation piece. The rest of the student body was composed of arrogant Chinese, cheating Indians, and scary, smoking Russians. It was a very depressing atmosphere. There was an easy undergraduate track called “Management, Information Systems” for our domestic minorities and women. It was non-technical (one introductory programming course), but corporations are so desperate for minorities and women “in science”, they hire them for more money than the technical “Computer Science” graduates.
The world is up-side-down.
The cure would be to balance the tax and mandate burden of foreign and domestic production. Our over burdened domestic producers cannot compete with unfettered foreign producers.
Naturally, reducing domestic taxes would be the proper solution, rather than adding tariffs to imports.
As a rule, "better products" are the realm of the small business and the entrepreneur. Large "Wall Street corporations" have never been leaders in innovation -- nor will they ever likely be. The culture just won't allow it.
The exception that proves the rule are scientifically oriented companies with a vested interest in research (e.g., pharmaceuticals).
Change the H1B fiasco. There is no need for greater than 60% of all engineers employed in high tech companies to be foreign nationals when there are literally tens of thousands of US engineers un and under employed.
This will require a tariff to level the playing field in place of corporate income taxes, but it can be done. Lord knows US companies face significant barriers when attempting to penetrate the protected markets of the countries we are exporting our manufacturing to.