Friday, February 09, 2007

Super Distration in Middle East Has Our Eyes Off the Ball

Do you remember back around 1992 when Oklahoma Governor Bellmon wanted to spend $1 million on a feasibility study to intice the proposed Super Conducting Super Collider to Oklahoma? Ultimately, the politicians of Texas persuaded the Feds to pick Texas for the proposed site. However, soon thereafter, Congress in its wisdom canceled the multi-billion project that would have advanced our understanding of physics immeasurably. It was too expensive they said.

So what happened? In the intervening years much of the scientific momentum has shifted to Europe and now to Asia. The European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN built the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Yesterday, a Japanese and Chinese-driven project to build the world's largest collider was announced. The locus of scientific innovation is migrating away from the US because we and our politicians seem to prefer to throw our billions down ratholes in the Middle East. In less than two weeks in Iraq we blow more money than it would cost to build that Super Collider in today's dollars. What have we blown on Iraq? And I'm not even going to mention the lives lost. $500 or $600 billion? If we had used our money on something constructive, like maintaining our lead in innovation, science, and education just think where we could be today?

Instead, we have squandered our resources in unnecessary wars. China loves it. While we are distracted China moves steadily ahead, focused on strategic advances and soft power. It's not yet hopeless. In the next election if we choose wisely, new leadership could turn things around.

No comments: