Friday, October 24, 2008

Entropy of a Research Center

In an interview with Martinus Veltman back to 1999 hosted in the Nobel Prize Organization website, Veltman talks about differences in the educational systems of Europe and USA in the first two minutes. It goes this way:

Interviewer: What was a difference between being a student today and the time when you were a student?

Veltman: It was less disciplined [then]. In my student era you could do nothing for a few years. And you start working again, and I liked that a lot and I did nothing for a number of years. But today in Europe, it is no more possible because they stop supporting you and so on. They made the system such that you cannot do it.

I am strongly in favor of a system in which someone can momentarily go out and later on come back again, for whatever reason; maybe he is not mature enough or maybe he wants to have other experiences. That was [possible] in a system of my time. Today, it is no more possible, it is very difficult.

Given that such a freedom is necessary to create new science, unfortunately what he says and we are experiencing is a lack of free-thinking in today's science.

I personally have no professional academic experience in my home country Iran to be in a University as a faculty member but from what I heard from friends, I think, this is still possible one can do nothing for a number of years without being kicked out of the University in Iran. I hope they keep up the good job!

However, there are some model research institutes in Iran that are supposed to percolate the body of Iranian science within universities and these Institutes seems to be very well disciplined. This is unfortunate because if anywhere else in the world must become more and more disciplined, this should be the other way around and the entropy should get raised inside research institutions. A scientist needs new ideas to be extracted from a Hurley burly of thoughts.
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