A comprehensive collection of articles for you to become well versed in the world of science and engineering.

June 24th, 2008 Facelift

Things been quiet these last couple of weeks because I’ve been working on a face lift for the site. We have a new front page at, and a new layout for the rest of the site. One of the big goals was to do a better job of communicating that the site contains a … read more

June 18th, 2008

Remember all those imminent faculty retirements?

Back in the late 1980′s, people were predicting that all sorts of scientists would be needed to fill the shoes of the big cohort of scientists and engineers hired in Sputnik-fueled buildup of the late 1960′s. Researchers tend not to retire early – why give up a cushy tenured faculty gig? – but these folks … read more

June 4th, 2008

Larry Summers Revisited

Another really interesting article on women in science (and still more in the queue!) – this one is more upbeat. A piece in this week’s Economist subtitled, “Girls are becoming as good as boys at mathematics, and are still better at reading” describes research that shows that the gap between boys’ and girls’ math scores … read more

June 3rd, 2008

Women in Science in the News

A bunch of new and interesting studies on women in science have come out in the past couple of weeks. Today, the first two, on workplace issues: The Athena Factor: Reversing the Brain Drain in Science, Engineering, and Technology from the Center for Work-Life Policy has gotten some good coverage in the New York Times … read more

May 22nd, 2008

Japan worried about engineering “shortages,” too

The New York Times reports this week that “Japan is running out of engineers.” The reasons cited: fewer young people, reduced enrollment rates in engineering classes, and an unwillingness on the part of foreigners to immigrate. This is pretty telling: Some young Japanese, products of a rich society, unfamiliar with the postwar hardships many of … read more

May 20th, 2008

Hard times in physics?

I have been paying a fair amount of attention to the NIH meltdown because of the time I spent up at NBER, but not a whole lot to current goings on in the physical sciences. This interesting graph from the AIP tells me that there are some problems there, too. The percentage of new physics … read more

May 19th, 2008

Tolstoy Syndrome

Over the years I have given a lot of talks to senior faculty about how graduate and postdoctoral education can be improved. There are always a few members of the old guard who dig deep and come up with the most bizarre reasons why I can’t possibly be right, despite lots of evidence. I have … read more

May 13th, 2008

Manufacturing Innovation

There’s a fascinating New Yorker article on Nathan Myhrvold’s current company, Intellectual Ventures. One of the company’s core activities involves getting lots of smart people together in a room for a few days, brainstorming, and patenting the resulting ideas. They’re kind of a patent troll outfit, but they do seem to be generating some genuinely … read more

May 7th, 2008

Making the Grade

Nature this week has an opinion piece about the continued mediocre ranking of the US in standardized tests of mathematics and science. The authors claim that the tests don’t really matter that much because 1) it’s the proportion of very high scorers that matters, not the mean, and 2) a lot of the countries that … read more

May 3rd, 2008

Privacy paranoia at NSF?

Inside Higher Ed has an article with Orwellian-sounding overtones: Data on Minority Doctorates Suppressed. The gist of it is that NSF has tightened up its privacy rules and will no longer be reporting information on the ethnicity of doctorates when the cell size is 5 or smaller. The trouble is that basic reporting on the … read more