Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Brief items, + "grant integrity"

As I have been short on time to do as much writing of my own as I would like, here are links to some good, fun articles:

  • Ryan Mandelbaum at Gizmodo has a very good, lengthy article about the quest for high temperature superconductivity in hydrogen-rich materials.
  • Natalie Wolchover at Quanta has a neat piece about the physics of synchronization
  • Adam Mann in Nat Geo has a brief piece pointing toward this PNAS paper arguing the existence of a really weird state of matter for potassium under certain conditions.  Basically the structure consists of a comparatively well-defined framework of potassium with 1D channels, and the channels are filled with (and leak in 3D) liquid-like mobile potassium atoms.  Weird.
Not fun:  US Senator Grassley is pushing for an "expanded grant integrity probe" of the National Science Foundation.   The stated issue is concern that somehow foreign powers may be able to steal the results of federally funded research.  Now, there are legitimate concerns about intellectual property theft, industrial espionage, and the confidentiality of the grant review process.  The disturbing bit is the rhetoric about foreign actors learning about research results, and the ambiguity about whether international students fall under that label in his or other eyes.  Vague wording like that also appeared in a DOE memo reported by Science earlier in the year.  International students and scholars are an enormous source of strength for the US, not a weakness or vulnerability.  Policy-makers need to be reminded of this, emphatically.

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