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China and United States

  1. Sep 18, 2006 #1
    Do you guys think that China will be able to catch up with or overtake the United States in Science and Technology in 30 or 50 years? Are Chinese smart enough to rule the world in every field including Science & Technology sector? If so, why? If not, why not?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 18, 2006 #2

    russ_watters

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    Science and technology are open systems, so it depends a lot on how you want to define "rule the world".

    But by sheer numbers, China really should be putting out more PhDs and patents than anyone else.
     
  4. Sep 18, 2006 #3

    J77

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    I think "ruling" the world in something has a lot to do with quality over quantity though.
     
  5. Sep 19, 2006 #4
    But if your population is 5 times larger your 5 times more likely to have an einstein in your population. or you will have more of them than everywhere else.
     
  6. Sep 19, 2006 #5

    J77

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    How does that work ???

    Especially since Einstein came from Germany - which isn't exactly massive ?!?
     
  7. Sep 19, 2006 #6
    it's just probability, i'm not saying that will definately be the case.
     
  8. Sep 19, 2006 #7

    J77

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    I'm no statistical expert, but I don't think it works like that...
     
  9. Sep 19, 2006 #8
    then how does it work?
     
  10. Sep 19, 2006 #9

    selfAdjoint

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    The idea that number of great gniuses is proportional to population is as simple-minded as the idea that national income is proportional to area. Human beings are so complicated, and interact so richly that these simple proportions, which might be OK if applied to fish or rabbits, are completely overwhelmed by cultural complexities.

    Western Europe developed science in the early modern period, and that development was intimately braided into european cultural development of the time, religion, government, superstition, wars and revolutions, and the influence of randomly arising individuals all played a part, and we are still seeing that effect today. Area and population just don't amount to a hill of beans causally.
     
  11. Sep 19, 2006 #10
    I would suggest that while it is not directly proportional, there is certainly a relationship with population which, all other relevant factors being equal (such as perhaps culture, the average living space per person in their region, politics...), would make a place like China more likely to spawn a genius. Certainly a random sample of one person in any given country in the world is unlikely to contain any geniuses, including countries with quite a few geniuses when you scale your sample space up.

    I expect many, many people with at least as much scientific potential as Einstein have lived and died without fulfilling a noticeable fraction of Einstein's accomplishments.
     
  12. Sep 19, 2006 #11
    i didn't once mention proportional, i simply stated that having more people and more people being born made it more likely. which is nothing like saying that national income is proportional to area but more like saying that having a larger land area makes it more probable that you will have a field in your country which has an exceptional yeild.
     
  13. Sep 20, 2006 #12
    Lets just say that China has the numbers of the entire population of the United States within its military ranks, and then some. The numbers suggest that a conventional, military overthrow of the US and its neighbors is not an impossiblity. Whatever this undertaking would gain or prove is another question.
     
  14. Sep 20, 2006 #13

    russ_watters

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    How does that not support my point? It is indeed true that an impoverished and backwards society is not going to produce an Einstein because of the environmental factors that weigh against it. But that doesn't mean that the genetic makeup isn't there in a certain fraction of people - it is just that the potential doesn't get realized.

    Now apply that to China today (and in 20 or 40 years): If China gets sufficiently industrialized and modernized that potential Einesteins are recognized, cultivated, and allowed to grow, then they will produce more Einsteins than anywhere else in the world.

    Reduced version of the logic:

    -Genetic potential for high IQ is a nearly fixed fraction of population.
    -Based on environmental factors, a certain number of high IQ individuals will have their potential realized and a certain number will not.
    -The West has, for a while, has been much more capable of cultivating geniuses than the East.
    -China's potential for cultivating geniuses is increasing.

    So - if China's potential for cultivating geniuses increases to just a small fraction of the US's potential for cultivating geniuses, China will produce more individual geniuses than the US.
     
  15. Sep 21, 2006 #14
  16. Sep 21, 2006 #15

    selfAdjoint

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    Somebody asked the question, "Since it is held that the stirrup, by allowing heavy cavalry, introduced the European feudal system and the Middle Ages, while the cannon, by knocking down castles, ended same a thousand years later, and since both inventions were Chinese, why they had no special effect on Chinese history?"
     
  17. Sep 22, 2006 #16

    J77

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    I think the German attitude is still there, plus they have a lot more great scientists from the East now - including the ability to find, and possibly translate, all the great Russian work.

    In my field, Germans maintain a very strong position, as do the Russians, Dutch, Polish, English and other European countries.

    I think China seems a bit diluted at the moment - or at another extreme tries too hard. I've had a lot of terrible papers to reject from Chinese researchers - stuff like what could be written on a train, so maybe I have a bad impression.

    There could be a chance of a "genius" originating there - whatever that means - but it's not down to the size, more as has been mentioned the social environment. In the same way, you can't make a genius by making kids read and study 24/7.

    It would be helpful if we had alist of so-called geniuses - I bet a lot of them come from small countries.
     
  18. Sep 22, 2006 #17
    perhaps the question should be why does western civilization adapt many new technologies which could have peaceful uses to war?

    this whole discussion really depends on what you would define as genius, if einstein or motzart were locked in a room without windows or any books inside would they no longer be geniuses? Is genuis something in your brain or is it in your accomplishments?
     
  19. Sep 22, 2006 #18
    yea, Chinese are trying too hard, they are deperate in proving the world they are better. Why, because the government has brain washed them.

    Currently, China is soaking up world's technology and knowledge. They are more occupied at learning what other people have done, and less so work on original ideas.

    Now remember, China is communist, that means they severly control media and internet. Even though, there is probably more internet users in China than in US, they don't have access to a fraction of sites we have avialable.

    Secondly, their access to world history is limited as well. Most Chinese have so clue about many currents events in the world. I remember my prof, saying the declaration of independence was leaked during Tienamen square in China, which blew their minds.

    Thirdly, they can't freely express themselves, practice any religition, protest government, etc, or own anything. Their advances whether technological or scientific will be strictly controlled and used to advance the communist super power, and not the scientific community.

    Success of Chinese people will depend whether they can overthrow their communist regime. Otherwise they will be in the dark.
     
  20. Sep 22, 2006 #19
    Where is it recorded that sturrups and gunpowder had no special effect on Chinese history? It may be that we are simply unversed in those chapters of human development.

    Without the Chinese innovations the likelyhood of rapid advances in western society, technology and science would be diminished or at least delayed.

    My question is, what was the civil environment that allowed the Chinese to discover such influential inventions so early in history? Western civilization has riden on the back of this technology, changing it to suit its purposes and claiming superiority at the expense of 1000s of years of Chinese research and development.
     
  21. Sep 22, 2006 #20

    selfAdjoint

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    The answers to your question, which are neither simple nor short, can be found in Joseph Needham's magesterial multivolumed work Science and Civilization in China. Most good libraries should have the first three volumes.
     
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