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关于科学管理和科学发展(中英对照) 精选

已有 5403 次阅读 2009-6-18 05:25 |系统分类:海外观察|关键词:科学管理 科学发展 哈佛

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On Science Adminsitration and Development
From the spring issue of the Newsletter of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University http://www.seas.harvard.edu/newsandevents/pdf/NewsletterSpr09.pdf . This farewell letter from the interim dean has many wise advices for science administration and development. I reproduce it here for Science Net readers.
There’s a saying in scientific circles,“the light bulb was not invented by a crash program on candles.”(note 1) Now seems like a good time to pause and consider what that saying means, given the media buzz about the stimulus money for research (“shovel-ready science”) and even calls for another “moon shot.”
First, progress in science and engineering rarely follows a linear path. If it did, I suspect our graduate students would complete their theses twice as fast! Even with substantial, immediate funding, researchers won’t be able simply to conjure up significant results on cue.
Second—and related to the previous point—luck is rarely “dumb.”Serendipitous breakthroughs grow out of years of sustained effort, without which they would not have happened—or been recognized as important. In this issue of the newsletter you can read about how Federico Capasso (note 2) used the elusive Casimir-Lifshitz force (once dismissed as a curiosity) to levitate a small object (pp. 4–5). Discovering the force itself wasn’t the end of the story. It took the subsequent development to provide the context for “seeing” the potential of this force anew. Put another way, to get results from shovel-ready science involves more than funding the shovel. You need rich soil in which to dig.
Third, world-class scientific research requires a complex and dynamic infrastructure. The stimulus will help science, of course, but the package aims at specific and very practical ends: creating jobs and injecting money into the economy for the near term. For continued success, we have to consider the entire infrastructure of science. Today’s big discoveries are collaborative undertakings and require sustaining a societal framework for inquiry and innovation. That’s why a one-shot investment won’t make much difference. Rather, we need to enhance education, encourage and reward industrial innovation, and recognize the social consequences and political implications of science and engineering. With respect to the last of these points, we are fortunate that Venky Narayanamurti has been appointed director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program at the Belfer Center (p. 11). In his new role, he’ll be focusing precisely on this vital political-scientific nexus.
Fourth, “top-down” direction rarely works well in science. During these difficult economic times, some have proposed another “moon shot” to rally the country and open new avenues for economic revitalization. If we can put a man on the moon, surely we can _____!” is a popular sentiment. The grand challenges being nominated for such an approach include solving the energy problem, fixing the environmental crisis, and improving global health. But the trip to the moon was a tightly focused undertaking—you really could “engineer” your way up there. Current global problems are quite another matter. In the case of energy—as materials scientist Mike Aziz discovered when he created his new course, “Survey of Energy Technology” (pp. 14–15 of this newsletter)—there isn’t any single solution we can all throw our weight behind to get the job done.
So—if not to the moon—where do we go from here? My advice for those who lead research institutions and labs would be to build and nurture environments that encourage discovery. In particular, promote conditions in which ideas can most effectively take shape. Then, as much as possible, get out of the way! In so doing, you’re far more likely to catch a glimpse of the exciting places that creative inquiry can take us. My advice for our government leaders would be to see the stimulus as a first step towards a broader effort to advance the enterprise of science and technology. While I applaud the desire to “restore science to its rightful place,” it now permeates all aspects of life and society. To my research colleagues—and those considering scientific careers—I recommend holding on to the inspiration of the grand challenges while not getting lost in the grandeur. If we end up just constructing moon shots we may miss far brighter stars along the way.
I want to end this note with thanks to everyone for making my year as Interim dean a good and very interesting one, especially given the challenging financial circumstances. It was an opportunity to see aspects of the School and the University that otherwise I’d never have known. I was fortunate to finish the year with our Visiting Committee’s review. It offered an occasion for some concerted reflection on where SEAS has been and where it’s going. And I am pleased at the record of progress that we have achieved thus far. While I’m eager to take what I have learned back to my post at the Rowland Institute, I will miss the daily personal interactions with students, faculty, and staff. And I’m sure that our new dean, Cherry A. Murray, will soon share my sense of gratitude and excitement at being part of the wonderful community that we have here at SEAS. (note 3)
Frans A. Spaepen
Interim Dean; John C. and Helen F. Franklin Professor of Applied Physics
(Note 1: my definition of a “crash program” – have nine women simultaneously pregnant for one month each in order to produce a baby.
Note 2. Names mentioned in this article are various faculty member of the school
Note 3. There are many other interesting and worthwhile opinions and tidbits about science and technology worth browsing in this newsletter at the above mentioned URL.)

在科学界有一句格言,“灯泡的诞生并非来自取代蜡烛的紧急研究计划。”(注1 )最近刚刚颁布的刺激科学研究的经费计划(也就是所谓的“金铲子计划”)在媒体上激起了热烈的讨论,有人甚至还呼吁再次出台“登月计划”。所以现在是我们停下脚步仔细想想这句格言的时候了。


第二,和上一点相关的是—— 好运很少是“偶然”的。偶然发现的重要突破都是源自于多年来持续的努力,如果没有这些努力的话,这些突破不会发生——也不会被认定是重要的。在这期简报中,你能够读到Federico Capasso(注2)是如何使用令人费解的卡西米尔力(这种力以前被当成是一种奇闻异事而不被重视)让一个小物件悬浮起来的(第4-5段)。但是,发现这种力本身并不是故事的结尾,只有经过后续的大量研究人们才搞清楚在什么情况下可以利用这种力。换句话说,要想从现成的的科学研究结果中获得收益,光打造一把金铲子是不够的,还需要有可供挖掘的肥沃土壤。

关于以上几点中的最后一点,我们很幸运,Venky Narayanamurti已被任命为Belfer中心科学、技术、和公共政策项目的主任(第11页)。在这个新岗位上,他明确地将重点放在至关重要的政治科学关系上。


但是,登月计划其实是一个高度集中的项目——你真的可以仅靠工程研究的力量登上月球。而目前全球面临的各种问题完全是另一回事。就能源问题而言,正如材料学家Mike Aziz在开设新课程“能源科技调查”所发现的(见14-15页)—— 没有任何一种单一的办法能够解决全球能源危机。因此,如果没有登月计划,我们今后将何去何从呢?我的建议是那些研究机构和实验室的领导者应该建立和培养鼓励探索的环境。特别是要努力创造孕育思想创新的环境。然后就尽可能走远点,别碍事!只有这样,才更有机会一瞥创造性的探索能将我们带到何等神奇的天地。


对我研究所的同事,包括那些正准备从事科学研究事业的人,我建议他们在人类面临的巨大挑战前保持研究热忱,而不要被伴随其中的宏大主题所迷惑。如果我们最后只忙于登月计划,,那么我们很可能会错过明亮得多的遥远群星。最后,感谢在我担任临时院长这一年中给我帮助的每个人,因为你们,这一年变得非常有趣,非常有意义,特别是这一年我们的财政面临种种严峻挑战。对我而言,担任院长是一个可以全面了解本学院和大学的绝好机会,否则很多事情我永远都无法知晓。我很幸运以访问委员会的考察报告结束了我的任期。本次考察报告提供了一个机会让我们共同反思哈佛大学工程与应用科学学院过去所经历的一切,以及它即将迈向何方。同时,我也为迄今为止我们已经取得的进步感到高兴。虽然我很急切的想要带着所学回到Rowland研究所,但我会想念与我朝夕相处的那些学生、教授和其他工作人员。我确信我们的新任院长Cherry A. Murray将会很快分享到作为工程与应用科学学院这个无与伦比的团体的一份子的那份感激和激动之情。

Frans A. Spaepen (代理院长,John C. and Helen F. Franklin 应用物理教授)


(科学网 陈丹译 何姣校)


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