Vitaly's response

Wed May 24 16:18:30 EST 1995

I think Vitaly's latest response may be somewhat short-sighted. A much larger 
proportion of the general US population goes to graduate school today than did 
50 years ago. This does not suggest that today's population produces a larger 
proportion of 'talented' people, although the absolute number certainly must be 
higher. The trend started approximately 50 years ago when Vannever Bush, then 
science advisor to the US President, orchestrated a masterly and forsightful 
policy change such that the government support of basic research was considered 
a matter of prime importance to national security and to continued technological 
supremacy. Many things concerned with economic policy went wrong in the 1980's. 
The definition of national security has now changed. An exponential rise in 
research activities in basic biology during the 60's and 70's have led to 
unprecedented advancement in our understanding of life, but the necessary 
capital to apply all this knowledge, especially in the plant world, has not been 
forthcoming. Therefore, the rate of support of basic biology has not kept pace 
with the rate at which young scientists are produced. Remember that this 
mechanism of producing new scientists is designed to produce an exponential rise 
in the latter's number. How long can you sustain a near exponential growth rate? 
Under the circumstances the present state of affairs is inevitable, and is 
likely go worse, unless something is done. There are two ways: (1) Change the 
mechanics of producing Ph.D.s, at the expense of sacrificing knowledge, (2) 
increase the rate of funding.  

Animesh Ray
Dept of Biology
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY 14627
ray at


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