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Notícias da Semana…

sábado, 7 abr 2012; \14\UTC\UTC\k 14 Deixe um comentário

Nos últimos 7–10 dias, muitas notícias interessantíssimas apareceram. E vale a pena dar uma olhada no que está circulando pelo mundo afora.

  1. Brazil a Great Place to do Physics … and Other Things“: Esse primeiro link é sobre programa de intercâmbio da APS, e o caso da reportagem conta sobre um aluno que saiu da Columbia University, em NY, e foi para o CBPF, no RJ. Como diz o rapaz que fez o intercâmbio, “Given that Rio was one of Richard Feynman’s favorite places, I was sure the experience would be very interesting, and I quickly became excited about it.”. :-)
  2. Brown University forges research partnership in Brazil“: Esse segundo link é sobre a parceria que a Brown University assinou nessa semana com o IMPA (RJ). A parceria, promovida pela doação de um pai dum aluno da Brown, vai promover a colaboração em pesquisas, conferências e intercâmbios entre a Brown e o IMPA pelos próximos três anos.
  3. Open grad program allows students to pursue two fields“: Esse terceiro link é sobra um programa piloto que a Brown abriu esse ano e que poderia ser resumido como “Ciências Moleculares para a pós-graduação”. A Brown tem um currículo de graduação aberto, como o do Ciências Moleculares, desde os anos 70. E, agora, eles decidiram aplicar o mesmo princípio para a pós-graduação. A idéia é de que os alunos selecionados para participar desse experimento irão cursar seus respectivos doutoramentos, que será complementado com um mestrado em alguma outra disciplina. (A Brown permitia que seus alunos tirassem um ‘double-masters’, i.e., um duplo-mestrado até alguns anos atrás, quando essa opção foi cancelada em favor dessa nova empreitada multi- e inter-disciplinar.) E é disso que trata a reportagem, desse experimento em se ter um currículo multi- e inter-disciplinar na pós-graduação. Até onde eu conheço, essa é uma atitude completamente pioneira e que não existe em nenhuma outra escola. :twisted:
  4. How the Modern Physics was invented in the 17th century, part 1: The Needham Question“: Essa é a primeira parte (de um total de 3) de um blog convidado da SciAm, contando a história da Física moderna. Muito interessante.
  5. How Much Is a Professor Worth?“: Essa matéria do NYT trata do tópico de um novo livro que tenta comparar o salário de professores em diferentes países. Vale a pena ler pra ver em qual posição o Brasil se encontra, e como os diferentes países se comparam. Há muitos detalhes a serem analisados nessa questão todo… mas, de qualquer maneira, é um bom começo.
  6. Sociedade Brasileira de Física — Cortes no orçamento de ciência ameaçam futuro do Brasil“: o governo decidiu cortar o orçamento em cerca de 33% (comparado ao orçamento de 2010), entrando em rota de colisão com diversas conquistas recentes da política científica federal.
  7. Carnaval Is Over“: Seria esse o fim do milagre brasileiro? A FP faz uma lista dos vários fatores que influenciam essa questão.

Parcerias científicas internacionais, flexibilização do currículo da pós-graduação, história da Física, cortes do orçamento de ciência e tecnologia, e futuro econômico do país. Todas notícias relevantes e contemporâneas.

“E agora, José?”

O Lamento dum Matemático…

domingo, 21 ago 2011; \33\UTC\UTC\k 33 1 comentário

Acabei de encontrar esse artigo (PDF), escrito por Keith Devlin, onde a seguinte citação aparece:

“… The first thing to understand is that mathematics is an art. The difference between math and the other arts, such as music and painting, is that our culture does not recognize it as such. Everyone understands that poets, painters, and musicians create works of art, and are expressing themselves in word, image, and sound. In fact, our society is rather generous when it comes to creative expression; architects, chefs, and even television directors are considered to be working artists. So why not mathematicians?”

(Tradução livre: “… A primeira coisa a entender é que a matemática é uma arte. A diferença entre a matemática e as outras artes, como música e pintura, é que nossa cultura não a reconhece [como arte]. Todo mundo entende que poetas, pintores, e músicos criam trabalhos de arte, e se expressam em palavras, imagens e sons. De fato, nossa sociedade é meio generosa quando o assunto é expressão criativa; arquitetos, chefs [de cozinha], e até mesmo diretores de TV são considerados artistas. Então, por que não os matemáticos?”)

Taí uma desses “perguntinhas capiciosas” que têm a capacidade de mudar muita coisa… “Por que não os matemáticos?”

Conferência da Divisão de Partículas e Campos de APS…

segunda-feira, 8 ago 2011; \32\UTC\UTC\k 32 Deixe um comentário

Hoje (segunda-feira, 08-Ago-2011) começa a edição de 2011 da Conferência da Divisão de Partículas e Campos da American Physical Society.

O programa da Conferência pode ser encontrado no link de ‘Schedule’ da mesma.

Mais ainda, os “proceedings” da Conferência serão publicados através do eConf.

Há também uma página para a Conferência no Indico do CERN, DPF2011 @ Indico/CERN. (A razão pra essa duplicação de esforços está fora da minha alçada (coisas da dicotomia de se passar o tempo dividido entre duas insituições) — quando me chamaram pra ajudar na organização da DPF2011 esse tipo de decisão já havia sido tomada. :razz:)

De qualquer maneira, essa página no Indico contém links para os Resumos das palestras e posteres, índice dos autores e palestrantes. Em particular, nestas listagens e índices é possível se encontrar os PDF que já foram carregados para o servidor.

Eu e o Rafael estamos atendendo a DPF2011. Então, vcs podem esperar por twittadas, fotos, posts, etc, etc, etc… provavelmente não no estilo “cobertura ao vivo”, uma vez que tudo vai ser meio corrido, mas fica aí aberto o canal pra quem quiser fazer perguntas ou participar de alguma outra maneira. :wink:

O Brasil no Chronicle of Higher Education…

sábado, 9 jul 2011; \27\UTC\UTC\k 27 7 comentários

O jornal The Chronicle of Higher Education é uma das referência no mundo da Educação Superior — assim como o Times Higher Education.

No começo da semana, o Chronicle publicou a seguinte matéria sobre o Brasil: Brazil Reaches Out. Essa reportagem também apareceu no Physics Today: Brazil reaches out (Physics Today).

Pra quem está com preguiça de clicar no link da Physics Today, aqui vai o comentário deles (em sua integridade):

Chronicle of Higher Education: The Brazilian government has announced that it will fund 75,000 studentships to study abroad, worth $30,000 each. Brazil’s university system is successful, but that success is not unqualified; scientific research is highly variable in quality, and there is a shortage of researchers. Student bodies of elite universities tend to be economically homogenous. The Brazilian government recognizes that the country’s higher education system will need to expand rapidly while improving in quality if it is to support the country’s economic growth: 7.5% last year, with another 4% predicted for 2011 despite the global slowdown.

O ponto principal da reportagem é o seguinte: o governo brasileiro anunciou 75.000 bolsas-de-estudos (para estudo no exterior) no valor de US$30.000 cada. (Posso estar enganado, eu até gostaria de ter mais informações a esse respeito, mas meu entendimento é que essas bolsas são para áreas onde não há possibilidade de se fazer a pesquisa no Brasil.)

Eu, confesso, tenho algumas dúvidas. Por exemplo, como esse valor de US$30.000 é calculado e aplicado para uma bolsa de doutoramento? A tuition (custo anual) das escolas pode variar muito: nos USA, para a pós-graduação, uma escola pública (e.g., UCLA ou UCSD, SUNY-SB, Rutgers, etc) pode cobrar cerca de ~US$20.000 para alunos estrangeiros (que claramente têm origem fora do estado onde essas escolas se localizam — a anuidade para residentes do estado é consideravelmente mais baixa: cerca de 25% do valor cobrado para quem vem de fora do estado), assim como uma escola privada (Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Brown, Chicago) pode cobrar até US$40.000 por ano! E isso não inclui o salário para o doutorando, que gira em torno de US$2.000/mês (i.e., cerca de ~US$21.000–US$24.000 por ano), dando um total de até ~US$65.000 por ano. Portanto, mesmo uma média simples entre os dois tipos possíveis de anuidades já dá o valor anunciado para as bolsas, cerca de ~US$30.000.

Claro, a situação na Europa é bem diferente e varia bastante de país pra país (e.g., Reino Unido, França, Alemanha). Então, eu imagino que os valores europeus vão ser um pouco mais baixos quando comparados aos valores americanos. Por outro lado, a conta européia vem em Euros, o que torna tudo cerca de 43% mais caro que a conta americana. Então, um custo de ~€21.000 se torna algo como ~US$30.000.

Mais ainda, quem conhece gente que foi pro exterior pago pelo CNPq, sabe o quão comum é o atraso do pagamento dessas pessoas…: muito mais comum do que deveria — às vezes vc recebe por 3 meses atrasados. De qualquer modo, essa já é outra questão, apesar de relevante pra pessoa que está do outro lado do oceano.

Fora isso, também é importante se colocar esses números em comparação com os dados do post Como a Ciência escapou da Foice do Orçamento — até agora. Em particular, os seguintes artigos são de extrema relevância: Brazil cuts its science budget e Brazil’s budget cut dismays scientists . Esses cortes não precisam, necessariamente, afetar as bolsas mencionadas acima. Entretanto, as pessoas formadas por este programa de bolsas vão necessariamente (por causa do contrato da bolsa) voltar para o Brasil — o que imediatamente traz a seguinte pergunta à tona: “Com esses cortes, será que haverá empregos para esses bolsistas? Ou será que eles simplesmente vão ficar desempregados depois de voltarem? Há planos para a absorção desses bolsistas?” E por aí afora…

Portanto, a notícia soa boa, mas sem os devidos detalhes fica difícil de se saber o quão realista isso tudo é.

Reproduzo aqui o artigo do Chronicle em sua integridade.

Brazil Reaches Out

July 5, 2011, 12:14 pm, By Nigel Thrift.

In Brazil on a delegation with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of State for Universities and Science. As usual with these delegations, they tend to be a mixture of frenzied last-minute reorganizations and moments of formal ceremony. They certainly require serious stamina occasioned by crammed programmes and non-stop travel.

But this delegation was buoyed by the Brazilian government’s announcement of 75,000 studentships to study abroad over the next four years, each worth $30,000, of which the UK looks set to obtain a good number.

What is striking about Brazilian higher education its range and variety. There are numerous private institutions, some of which are of good quality. There are state universities. There are federal universities. There are a number of federal science and technology institutions like CAPES, along with many national institutes of science and technology. There are a number of companies (most notably Petrobras and Embraer) which have close associations with universities. I was able to visit the University of Sao Paulo, an august institution boosted by the fact that a proportion of the State of Sao Paulo’s sales tax goes to universities (other countries take note).

What became clear to me was that Brazilian higher education is now in a state of take-off. Brazilian research is often world class. It is the 13th biggest knowledge producer as measured by numbers of papers. In particular, Brazilian research in is paramount in fields like engineering and aspects of the biological sciences.

In a meeting with luminaries from the world of Brazilian higher education, what was clear was that they are bullish about the future and that the scholarship scheme is a tangible expression of that optimism, as well as a desire to diversify the locations in which students study (which are currently led by the United Sates and France).

What is very different from many other countries which are now in economic take-off is that Brazil already has a thriving university system which has achieved many successes. It needs to expand its higher education system rapidly but the goal that has been set for participation rates seems entirely possible. In fact, it is about the same rate of expansion as the UK has achieved over the last 30 years.

There are clearly still problems. For example, the elite universities tend to be populated by students from well-off backgrounds. But Brazil is hardly the only country that can be accused of that. Again, there is very considerable variation in quality. Again, Brazil is hardly the only country that can be accused of that. It has a shortage of researchers to match its ambitions. Once more, Brazil is hardly the only country that can be accused of that.

In other words, this cannot be seen as a situation in which a country needs “help.” Rather, it requires a partnership of equals in which the non-Brazilian partner realizes that the Brazilian partner has much more to offer than the prospect of studentships abroad. Those studentships are a sign off greater engagement but an engagement that will be a two-way process right from the very start.

Como a Ciência escapou da Foice do Orçamento — até agora…

segunda-feira, 9 mai 2011; \19\UTC\UTC\k 19 1 comentário

O original, pode ser encontrado aqui: How Science Eluded the Budget Ax — For Now (DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6028.407).

É importantíssimo de se colocar esta notícia em comparação não só com os cortes oçamentários americanos, mas também com os cortes brasileiros: Brazil cuts its science budget, Brazil’s budget cut dismays scientists. De fato, duas comparações bastante interessante são as seguintes: percentual do corte orçamentário (o Brasil cortou o orçamento de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento em ~13%), e proporção do investimento em Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento em relação ao PIB (o Brasil investe ~1.25% do PIB em Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento).

É dentro deste contexto que a crise econômica mundial foi apenas uma “marola” no Brasil…

When details of the 11th-hour budget compromise that kept the U.S. government running emerged last week, it became clear that science programs fared relatively well. True, most research agencies will have less to spend this year than they did in 2010 (see table), and the totals generally fall well short of what President Barack Obama had requested when he submitted his 2011 budget 14 months ago. But the legislators and Administration officials who struck the spending deal managed to slice $38.5 billion from a total discretionary budget of $1.09 trillion without crippling research activities. How did that happen?

US Research Funding Budget

First and foremost, both Republicans and Democrats were working off a quiet but powerful consensus on the importance of science to economic prosperity. Last fall, Congress authorized steady increases for three key science agencies in a renewal of the America COMPETES Act, and Obama’s recent statements on the 2011 negotiations emphasized the need to continue investing in clean energy and medical research as the overall budget is cut. Second, Senate Democratic leaders had crafted a spending plan in March that, although it failed to pass the full Senate, showed how it could be done. Finally, the so-called cardinals, who chair the 12 appropriations panels in the House of Representatives and the Senate that oversee every federal agency, found ways to protect research while trimming other programs to satisfy the deal’s bottom line.

“There was no magic to it,” explains Representative Frank Wolf (R–VA), whose panel has jurisdiction over the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology within the Commerce Department. “Science has been a priority for me and the other longtime members of the committee because you’re talking about jobs and about helping America maintain its economic leadership,” says the veteran legislator, who entered Congress in 1981. “There has not been any controversy about this.”

His appropriations counterpart, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D–MD), says she hopes that consensus will translate into “smart cuts that don’t cost us our future. I support science funding that can spur American discovery and ingenuity to create jobs for today and jobs for tomorrow.”

Of course, a passion for science wouldn’t have been enough to carry the day without the numbers to back it up. That’s clear from the actions of the commerce, justice, and science (CJS) panels that Wolf and Mikulski lead.

In February, the Republican-led House passed H.R. 1, which slashed $61 billion from current federal discretionary spending. For Wolf’s spending panel, that translated into $8 billion less than the committee dispensed in 2010. Divvied up among dozens of agencies, the $52.7 billion number forced Wolf to cut $360 million from NSF’s $6.87 billion budget, for example, and $600 million from NASA’s $18.7 billion budget.

In contrast, the 2011 spending plan devised by Senate Democrats gave Mikulski’s CJS panel $53.6 billion to work with. That $900 million difference allowed Mikulski to be kinder to the research agencies under her jurisdiction. It pared $75 million from NSF’s budget and even provided a slight boost to NASA.

“Nineteen billion dollars was authorized, and $19 billion is what I put in my appropriations bill,” Mikulski said at a hearing last week on NASA’s 2012 budget request, referring to both a reauthorization of NASA programs that was enacted last fall and the Senate plan for 2011. “But my [spending] bill died, so NASA won’t get $19 billion.”

The 8 April budget agreement resulted in a CJS allocation of $53.3 billion for each panel. And although that figure is a bit lower than the earlier Senate version, it was enough to turn the two chairs’ support for science into fiscal reality. The Senate bill was a “guide-post showing what could be done within that allocation level,” says a senior staffer at one federal research agency. “Having the Senate offer a road map made a huge difference.”

Wolf says he was happy to be able to deliver most of what science lobbyists had sought for agencies within his jurisdiction. “I thought science ended up pretty well,” Wolf says about the final bill, pointing out that it ranked with the FBI’s fight against global terrorism as his top priority. In contrast, federal support for local and state law enforcement assistance took a big hit, as did other Justice Department programs.

Mikulski believes she did the best she could under the circumstances. But she isn’t happy with the fate of NASA, which employs thousands at its Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington, D.C., in suburban Maryland. “NASA won’t even get the $18.7 billion it got in 2010,” she said at last week’s hearing. “Simply put, NASA will be cut more.”

With the 2011 budget finally put to bed, Congress is turning to the budget for the 2012 fiscal year that begins on 1 October. In addition to the political bickering over how to reduce a $1.5 trillion annual deficit, legislators will have to deal with the domino effect of the 2011 cuts, as activities that needed increases this year to remain on schedule will be delayed. NSF’s final budget, for example, cuts $48 million from its request to continue building a half-dozen major research facilities, including the newly launched Ocean Observatories Initiative and the National Ecological Observatories Network. A shrunken 2011 budget also means even bigger headaches for NASA’s troubled James Webb Space Telescope.

Striking a positive note, Mikulski told NASA Administrator Charles Bolden last week that “NASA will need to work harder and smarter to accomplish its inspiring mission within a smaller budget.” Wolf was less sanguine. Asked what scientists should do to maintain support for federally funded research in these fiscally stringent times, he offers a one-word strategy: “Pray.”

O Movimento dos Jovens Acadêmicos…

terça-feira, 26 abr 2011; \17\UTC\UTC\k 17 Deixe um comentário

O original, pode ser encontrado aqui: The Young Academy Movement (DOI: 10.1126/science.1206690).

I have often argued on this page that scientists need to do more than simply advance their individual research projects. Maintaining excellence in the global scientific enterprise will require constant adjustments to policies and programs. In addition, much more outreach by scientists will be needed to make science better understood by the general public and by governments. Promising progress toward both of these goals comes from a movement that is forging new organizations of young scientists—the “young academies”—around the world. A few weeks ago, a new international organization, the Global Young Academy, held its initial meeting in Berlin to discuss spreading the idea to many more nations (www.globalyoungacademy.org). This effort deserves full support from of all of society.

In 2000, a new type of organization, Die Junge Akademie (the Young Academy), was created as a joint venture by two German academies. This Young Academy was described as “an organization intended to harness the resources of both academies in ways that would fertilize research fields with new ideas and bolster career pathways, as well as invigorate older academies by involving the young scientific community in critical policy-related work.”* In 2005, a similar Young Academy was established in the Netherlands. The success of these two experiments has recently inspired six other nations to create their own Young Academies: Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Thailand, and Uganda; all nations where the tolerance and rationality inherent to science will be invaluable.

I see this empowerment of young scientists as the next step in a process that began in 1993 in New Delhi, when the national academies of sciences from more than 60 nations came together to develop a coherent scientific position on world population issues in preparation for the major 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. This first-ever meeting of the world’s science academies soon created the InterAcademy Panel (IAP), now a vibrant global network of more than 100 member academies (www.interacademies.net). The IAP functions as a mutual support organization for the existing science academies around the world.

But the empowerment of national science academies with distinguished, well-established members can leave a gap between these influential organizations and the young, dynamic scientists who represent the future in each nation. This is precisely the gap that has been filled by the Young Academies: each a group of fewer than 200 scientists, typically selected by their national science academies to serve in 4-year leadership roles. Through its connection to a prestigious national science academy, each Young Academy is empowered to exert national leadership in advancing science through projects that the young scientists themselves determine. These young scientists can often be more effective than their older peers in interactions with society and with politicians. They also bring new energy to these interactions, with a better gender balance due to the advances that women scientists have made in recent decades.

By bringing together outstanding scientists from many different disciplines, Young Academies catalyze the formation of multidisciplinary scientific collaborations that generate innovative new discoveries. Participation in a Young Academy also strengthens a nation’s scientific enterprise by training its next generation of leaders. The work exposes them to important policy issues while building networks of trusted personal relationships that can bridge disciplines for a lifetime. And by providing a shortcut for outstanding young scientists to exert national leadership, Young Academies can be highly effective in recruiting a nation’s most talented students to scientific careers—a critical issue for the future of every nation.

By fusing the promotion of the larger goals of science with an integration of young scientists into public service, the Young Academy movement is well positioned to drive the creation of the tolerant, rational societies that the world so badly needs.

O DOE cancela uma iniciativa massiva de treinamento…

segunda-feira, 25 abr 2011; \17\UTC\UTC\k 17 1 comentário

Quem quiser ler o original, pode encontrá-lo aqui: DOE Pulls the Plug on Massive Training Initiative (DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6026.162-a). DOE é uma abreviação, em Inglês, para “Department Of Energy”, que é o órgão americano análogo ao Ministério das Minas e Energia no Brasil. Historicamente, esse é o órgão que patrocina a pesquisa científica em Física de Partículas (pense em termos da Segunda Guerra Mundial) — no Brasil, esse papel é feito pelo Ministério de Ciência e Tecnologia (através do CNPq e CAPES).

In April 2009, President Barack Obama announced an ambitious education and training initiative at the Department of Energy (DOE). Speaking to members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Obama said a proposed 10-year, $1.6 billion program, dubbed “Regaining our Energy Science and Engineering Edge” (RE-ENERGYSE), would “capture the imagination of young people who can help us meet the energy challenge.”

But RE-ENERGYSE never got off the ground. Congress twice declined to fund any portion of its sprawling vision, which would have included graduate and postdoctoral fellowships, summer research projects for undergraduates, professional master’s degrees in clean energy, and associate degree programs to train a clean-energy technology workforce. In February, the White House threw in the towel, dropping the program from DOE’s 2012 budget request.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu insists that the Administration remains gung ho about attracting more students into the field of clean-energy research. But its 2012 budget request signals a major shift. Instead of RE-ENERGYSE, Chu is now touting expansion of a small graduate fellowship program that is run out of an office different from the one responsible for implementing RE-ENERGYSE.

To understand why RE-ENERGYSE never got off the ground, it helps to understand DOE’s checkered history in science education. Although some previous Administrations tried to carve out a larger role for DOE in this arena, Congress has traditionally seen education as a secondary mission for a department that already has major responsibilities for science, energy, national security, and environmental cleanup. So the broad scope of RE-ENERGYSE was a red flag for some influential legislators, who also wondered why it was under the jurisdiction of the energy undersecretary when existing education and workforce-training efforts were overseen by the science undersecretary (Science, 10 July 2009, p. 130).

Kristina Johnson, the former energy undersecretary whom Chu asked to manage RE-ENERGYSE, says that it seemed clear to her. “It’s a national imperative, and the president is strongly behind it,” she explains. “So I came in, very wide-eyed, and said we should do this. As an engineer, I like to set a goal and put in place a plan and then carry it out. It’s really pretty simple.”

Although Chu tried to explain the program to legislators when testifying on DOE’s 2010 budget, Congress eliminated his request for $115 million when it approved DOE’s overall budget. The next year’s request, for $55 million, fared no better. And last October, Johnson, a former engineering dean and successful entrepreneur who joined the Administration in May 2009, left DOE and now consults for energy companies. “When she left, RE-ENERGYSE was gone, too,” says one DOE official. The Administration made it official by removing the initiative from its 2012 budget.

“There are broad STEM workforce–development programs across the federal government,” says Carl Wieman, associate director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, in explaining the decision. “And there are plenty of other opportunities to improve STEM education.” Wieman, a physics Nobelist and science educator who joined the Administration last fall, says that RE-ENERGYSE “may have been comprehensive, but that also makes it complex to set up and make work. So the decision was that we’ll find something that Congress is happier with and move on.”

That something, Chu says, is a request for $11 million in 2012 to more than double the number of graduate research fellows supported by DOE’s Office of Science. It’s the most direct way to beef up the nation’s clean-energy workforce, he says: “The pipeline starts early, by getting [elementary and secondary school students] interested in science. But [educating] undergraduates and those in graduate school, this is something that we feel very strongly about.” Some 150 fellows are now funded under a program begun in 2009. Last month, DOE also announced a competition this year to award 20 postdoctoral fellowships for research on clean-energy technologies.

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