Colman: AMERICA NEEDS GREAT SCIENTISTS

Could it be that money spent on gender and ethnic studies could better be used on STEM classes?  Maybe the money used to protect rioters from the police, illegal aliens from ICE, could better be used for STEM programs.  Maybe the money UC Chancellor Janet Napolitano spends on her favorite ideological speakers and use of attorneys to stop conservatives speakers from appearing on campus could better be used for STEM classes.

With all the competition that America faces from China, Japan, South Korea, and Europe, it might be better to let Big Science, with all its possible inefficiencies, continue. 

The next big project in computing is the quantum computer, a super-fast, super-powerful device.  Do we Americans want China to build the first quantum computer?  Or does America want to be first — as it was in landing men on the moon?”

We need to use our public colleges and universities for the best for the future of our State and nation—want to hate people because of ethnicity, religion or gender?  Pay for it yourself—not use the taxpayers to finance hate.  We need STEM, not LBGTQTXYZ classes.

lab research scientist science

AMERICA NEEDS GREAT SCIENTISTS

By Richard Colman, California Political News and Views,  2/14/18

 

Sputnik, the Russian-made earth satellite, shook America’s self-confidence in science. 

Launched on Oct. 4, 1957, Sputnik, a relatively small earth satellite (184 pounds), gave Americans the impression that the nation had fallen behind the Soviet Union in science. 

Sputnik was the first man-made object launched into space. 

With Sputnik, the Soviets achieved a large propaganda victory and showed that a poor, backward Communist country could beat the United States at a scientific endeavor. 

The space race was on, and America had to catch up. 

President Dwight Eisenhower, 10 months into his second term, had to act.  Working with a Democratic Congress, the president signed into law several programs to help America regain its lead in science. 

One program created under Eisenhower was the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a government organization to help America regain hegemony in space. 

Another program was the National Defense Student Loan (NDSL) program (later called the National Direct Student Loan Program) to foster excellence in science education.  Curricula in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics were overhauled.  A university student who majored in science and wanted to teach science could get low-cost student loan for his university education.  The loan did not have to be paid back if a student became a science teacher. 

When running for president in 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) pledged that America would be first in space.  After his election, Kennedy told Congress (in May 1961) that before the 1960’s ended, the United States would put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth. 

In July 1969, America put two men on the moon.  Even though Kennedy had been assassinated (in November 1963), his goal for a moon landing was achieved. 

There has always been debate about whether America was really behind in the space race.  In terms of ballistic missiles — the kind that could put nuclear weapons inside the missiles themselves — the United States concentrated on developing light-weight nuclear weapons that would not need powerful rockets.  

The Soviet Union was not effective at developing light-weight nuclear weapons and relied on powerful rockets instead.  These rockets also had the power to put an earth satellite into orbit. 

Kennedy wanted and needed powerful rockets to put a man on the moon.  So, he focused on the manufacture of such rockets to achieve his goal of America’s being the first nation to put a man on the moon. 

Looking back at the space race, America clearly won by landing men on the moon before the Soviet Union or any other nation.   

But was the NDEA science-education program effective? 

Probably, the answer is “yes.”  The program was relatively modest and brought in scholars like Dr. George Pimentel, a Berkeley chemistry professor, to overhaul the teaching of high school chemistry.  The new curriculum was called CHEM Study. 

Before Pimentel, high school chemistry was mostly about memorizing chemical formulas and balancing chemical equations.  After Pimentel, students had to be able to solve such problems as this:  With 40 milliliters of hydrogen and 15 milliliters of oxygen, how much water could be made, and how much hydrogen or oxygen would be left over? 

Today, America has what could be called Big Science, something that began during World War II, when America needed to have an atomic bomb before Nazi Germany developed something similar. 

Big Science is expensive.  It is run largely run by the federal government.  Yet Big Science, in recent decades, led to the production of the semi-conductor, the foundation of modern computing. 

One of the key developers of the semi-conductor (or silicon chip) was Andrew Grove.  Grove, a Hungarian Jew, left his native land during the 1956 Hungarian uprising and came to America.  He knew virtually no English.  He enrolled at the City University of New York, a tuition-free institution.  Grove was a top student. 

For graduate school, Grove received his doctoral degree in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.  Grove’s work at Berkeley was supported by federal grants.  Later, Grove became president of Intel, the world-renowned silicon chip-maker 

With all the competition that America faces from China, Japan, South Korea, and Europe, it might be better to let Big Science, with all its possible inefficiencies, continue. 

The next big project in computing is the quantum computer, a super-fast, super-powerful device.  Do we Americans want China to build the first quantum computer?  Or does America want to be first — as it was in landing men on the moon? 

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Richard Colman, a biochemist, earned masters and doctoral degrees from the University of California at Berkeley.  Using CHEM Study, he taught chemistry at various colleges and universities.  He is the founder and president of Biomed Inc., a biotechnology, publishing, and informatics company.

 

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.