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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The decline of American innovation

It's been gradually becoming more and more obvious over the last two decades, but now entrepreneurs are starting to talk openly about the problems that increasingly limit innovation in the USA:
China, we've been told for years, never will overtake the United States because command economies can't innovate, only copy or steal. As a partner in a Hong Kong investment banking boutique, I saw plenty of innovation in companies we took to the stock market, notably by young Chinese scientists trained at America's best universities. China may be a tortoise in terms of innovation, but the American hare has been asleep. Bound and gagged might be a better description. Here's the quote of the year, from Sam Altman, the chairman of the start-up incubator Y Combinator, one of Silicon Valley's most successful innovators:

Earlier this year, I noticed something in China that really surprised me.  I realized I felt more comfortable discussing controversial ideas in Beijing than in San Francisco.  I didn’t feel completely comfortable—this was China, after all—just more comfortable than at home. That showed me just how bad things have become, and how much things have changed since I first got started here in 2005. It seems easier to accidentally speak heresies in San Francisco every year.  Debating a controversial idea, even if you 95% agree with the consensus side, seems ill-advised.

Corporate America is wallowing in political correctness, following our elite universities. That is all the more destructive in a winner-take-all world where there is room for just one search engine and Internet ad provider (Google), one social media site (Facebook), one standard business software maker (Microsoft), and so forth. The politically correct corporate culture that destroys the career of a Google engineer who wrote a thoughtful memo on the problems of recruiting female STEM professionals threatens to destroy our capacity to innovate at all.
Western Europe is pretty bad in this regard too, so those countries are unlikely to unseat the US as an innovative engine. But Eastern Europe is a very different matter, as those countries are a) unadulterated by the third world, b) not particularly PC, and c) totally uninterested in diversity. However, unlike China, Christianity is not aggressively growing there.

In any event, all of the factors that made the USA such a center of innovation are now seriously in decline. Which is why it will not be at all surprising if the USA continues to decline in this area, particularly if China gets around to addressing its corruption problem, which is probably the biggest single factor holding it back at this point.

Don't get me wrong, the USA is still the primary place to be with regards to technological innovation. But it is no longer safe to assume that it will continue to be.

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81 Comments:

Blogger Aeoli December 19, 2017 6:38 AM  

Look for Big 3 electric car manufacturing to jump overseas soon. Fiat is looking to sell Chrysler entirely and the only thing that would prevent the Chinese from outbidding the rest is nationalism. The Chinese are buying everything else in the auto industry.

Blogger Aeoli December 19, 2017 6:40 AM  

Tesla will stay but they're actually innovating quite a bit.

Blogger Josh (the sexiest thing here) December 19, 2017 6:46 AM  

OT prayer request:

At hospital to have baby #2... prayers appreciated

Blogger VD December 19, 2017 6:50 AM  

Good luck, Josh.

Blogger JACIII December 19, 2017 6:50 AM  

Go Josh!

Blogger Aeoli December 19, 2017 6:52 AM  

Nice.

Anonymous ZhukovG December 19, 2017 6:56 AM  

@Josh: My prayers are with you and your growing family.

Blogger McChuck December 19, 2017 6:58 AM  

China can't correct corruption in the long run. It's endemic to communist/totalitarian states, and it's part of the culture. Just like in Mexico, corruption is assumed. It's only punished when it becomes overly public, during political purges, or when the ticks start to kill the host.

Anonymous Looking Glass December 19, 2017 7:01 AM  

@3 Josh

God bless!

As to the topic, there are 4 places that really make this story: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Silicon Valley and Austin. SV is a dead-end and has been for a while. Since the 2001 dot-com crash, SV has existed to be a place to funnel inflation and burn it up. The SV-style VC model is actually broken, which, along with the Leftwing PC Culture, is what has killed the Valley. Yet the 3 other places are still rolling out inventions pretty fast.

The second issue is that when your Designers & Engineers are disconnected from the production staff, you lose a massive amount of "synergy". You lose too many of your feedback loops, which is why it's only a profitable arrangement if the cost differential is massive. Normalize the trade issues and suddenly all of the production will come home.

Last issue is that the ChiComs are running on borrowed time, literally. Most of their heavy industry is at a massive over-capacity. (Something like 4x world-wide production need for Steel.) This is why Trump is using Economic Leverage the way he does. He knows; the ChiComs know; anyone that knows the details should know. Thus, Trump will keep pushing harder against them, and if he pushes too hard, parts of their economy explode.

China will be much more of an issue after it works through its massive debt cycle, though the Globalist Financial Vultures finally found some avenues and they're going to start pillaging the place soon enough.

Blogger WarKicker December 19, 2017 7:06 AM  

Congratulations Josh! Prayers sent your way.

Blogger Koanic December 19, 2017 7:11 AM  

How is he going to fill out forms with a name like "Josh (the youngest thing here)"?

Blogger WynnLloyd December 19, 2017 7:13 AM  

As are mine!! Congrats.

Blogger Akulkis December 19, 2017 7:35 AM  

Electric cars are idiotic for not one, but for each of several individual reasons.
Volume to energy ratio
Weight to energy ratio
Battery acids are more dangerous than gaao6
Recharge time
Daily range - gasoline 840 miles/day, electric 300.
Electrics have LOWER theodynamic efficiency due to more energy conversations chemical-thermal-mechanical-electrical-chemical-electrical-mechanical each of which incurs a loss. Hydrocarbon fuel vehicles only have 2 conversations: chemical-thermal-mechanical
Widespread adoption of electrics would require TRIPLING the electrical grid capacity at all levels: generation, distribution, and end- point delivery and even more than triple in such locales as parking facilities, rest stops, etc.
Battery tech has improved less than a factor of 2 in 250 years. And there is little teason to look forward to ever achieving such, because it all depends on chemical electronegativity, and 3v per cell is the high end of what the laws of chemistry will allow.
Electric cars will never be more than glorified golf carts, because politicians can no more change physical laws than they can change the value of pi.

The Indiana legislature once passed a law to change the value of pi to be exactly 3. Electric car-promoting policies and laws are just as STUPID.

Blogger Akulkis December 19, 2017 7:44 AM  

Tesla (the man) already optimized electric motors over 100 years ago.

Battery tech is within a few percent of maximum theoretical possibilities. Same for electric motors.

Tesla motors'problem is that to be a practical vehicle for the general market, they need an over 10x (1000%) improvement in power/weight, energy/volume and energy/weight ratios, but have less than 10% improvement available.

Anonymous Handsome Carl December 19, 2017 7:48 AM  

Maybe we should stop giving precious spots at our finest universities to our rival nation's youth.

Blogger dc.sunsets December 19, 2017 7:50 AM  

If the target of innovation is the mass market, the future is grim in the USA.

Anonymous Jerome December 19, 2017 7:52 AM  

Excellent, young musicians are coming out of Eastern Europe too. If you look at their recording rigs, they are making full studio-quality albums from their homes.

Jakub Zytecki
David Maxim Micic

Anonymous Überdeplorable Psychedelic Cat Grass December 19, 2017 7:53 AM  

Congrats Josh! Prayers on the way!

Not surprising the ChiComs might over take us: PC isn't their forte.

Blogger Matt December 19, 2017 7:55 AM  

COWBOY UP

Blogger rumpole5 December 19, 2017 7:57 AM  

@Josh. God bless, I salute you both, and Yes! A positive move for Western Civ. (And another premium producer type born, who will be paying into Social Security -- make that MY social security; I am a Boomer after all.)

Blogger Akulkis December 19, 2017 8:02 AM  

You must not be aware of the Cultural Revolution. See the last 10~15 minutes of The Last Emperor for a glimpse of what it was like. Our SJW's have not yet attained the power that the Red Guards had in targeting and destroying (up to and including execution) for un-PC badthink.

In fact, the Chinese Red Guards have been the most jealous, dangerous, and murderous enforcers of PC the world has ever seen. 50 MILLION DEAD.

Blogger Koanic December 19, 2017 8:03 AM  

> (And another premium producer type born, who will be paying into Social Security -- make that MY social security; I am a Boomer after all.)

At least let his ears dry before you stamp him with his slave number, Boomer.

Blogger Ken Prescott December 19, 2017 8:11 AM  

And then it was meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Hell, we should encourage another Cultural Revolution. That was what kept China from being as big a player in the 1980s as they are now.

Blogger Aeoli Pera December 19, 2017 8:15 AM  

Akulkis wrote:Tesla (the man) already optimized electric motors over 100 years ago.

Battery tech is within a few percent of maximum theoretical possibilities. Same for electric motors.


I'm referring to innovation in manufacturing. The products themselves (cars, batteries, AI chips) are outside my ken.

Blogger Freddy December 19, 2017 8:18 AM  

The flouride has accomplished it's goal.

Blogger Akulkis December 19, 2017 8:38 AM  

There is NO manufacturing innovation in the world that is going to make up for the overwhelming deficiencies in electric-powered vehicles.

Fun Fact... There were MANY electric car manufacturers in the 1910's-20's. I'm sure you've heard of Detroit Electric.

What happened to Detroit Electric?
People decided that they wanted to drive more than a couple of miles in one day.

Hybrids make some (not an overwhelming amount, but some) sense. Pure "plug-in" electrics make no sense at all. They actually pollute MORE than gasoline and diesel powered vehicles.

Anonymous I Love Reagan December 19, 2017 8:39 AM  

Some of us who are still conservative (and not alt-retard) still believe in the free market. China will lose just like the Soviet Union lost. Reagan proved this.

Blogger James Dixon December 19, 2017 8:41 AM  

> OT prayer request:

Done.

Anonymous Anonymous December 19, 2017 8:56 AM  

I was raised in a small community in Southern California, where there were hundreds of small aerospace and technology businesses, and thousands of scientists, engineers, and technicians.

No more.

The larger former businesses lie empty and vacant. The smaller ones have been turned into boutique breweries and such like. The many techs, etc. have retired and have moved away, or people are waiting for them to die.

All because of the decisions of the last three presidents (Clinton, Bush II, Obama) gutting the aerospace industries.

Oh, that, and the financiers who decided that it was no longer 'profitable' to run research operations. Particularly that rich cow Carly Fiorina, who gutted the tech and research staffs of three major research firms: Bell Labs, Lucent, and H/P.

They all have sown the wind.

Expect some inclement weather.

Blogger wreckage December 19, 2017 8:57 AM  

@27 Vox interpretation of free market versus Voxonomics is... specific. The free market, understood as the right of free peoples to dispose of their property as they see fit, with production as the driver of wealth... ie., what used to be meant by "free market" economics many, many years ago, is still the only game in town.

Big trade deals justified by GDP and efficiency gains, he's not so keen on.

At least, that's about where I've gotten up to in interpreting his critique, he's not explicit about alternatives.

A free market though, comes from a free people. With freedom of speech, thought, and association gone, no amount of "economic liberalism" will revive the economy.

Anonymous Looking Glass December 19, 2017 8:58 AM  

@26 Akulkis

I loathe GM for screwing up with the Volt. They had the first production-level Gas-Electric hybrid drive-train and engineering, then they put it in a boring car that has zero appeal or extra use.

The system, at the time it came out, was simply going to be too heavy for an econo-box. They could have put it in a 100k+ Cadillac and run over Mercedes with the glory of their quiet beast. That type of system allows for more passenger space and they could have made it a hit with the older set. No, they put it in cars that are just uglier versions of their normal ones.

Blogger wreckage December 19, 2017 8:59 AM  

ALSO: O/T prayer away. Children are your vote for there being a future, and as someone who's got kids, thankyou for throwing in your lot with mine in that sense.

Anonymous Causal Lurker December 19, 2017 9:14 AM  

He only scratches the surface with PC and heresy. The other friction costs add up fast: taxes and tax structure; environmentalism; "EEO" and AA; litigation; finance; patent and copyright; etc., etc., etc. All the barriers and friction points discourage creation and encourage rent-seeking. If our brightest and most flexible minds are hampered by barriers, or are seduced to excel in barrier processes, we lose the benefits of innovation.

Interesting article, and I like the possible biotech use ideas he brings up. Some of these are science, other are technology questions, but the whole set need the intellectual and academic freedom to discuss. It's not heresy to raise thesis and antithesis, it's rational thought. Build a case, consider the counterpoints, and defend your position.

However, there's an additional factor: science has mutated into an academic- foundation- government complex, dedicated to producing non-replicated, barely understood papers. Genuine Scientific Gibberish impresses the grantors and masses by its sheer gibbering incomprehensibility (now with 20% more gibber per page!). More gibberish means more and better lab, where the process IS the product.

Also (see links, this one came up at home recently), recall that scientists are intelligent but may have limited sense or wisdom. You want to ask them a second or third time after deciphering the grant or research proposal - why are you doing X, and what could possibly go wrong from a technology perspective?

https://cen.acs.org/articles/95/i48/Chemists-engineer-bacteria-use-unnatural.html

https://www.popsci.com/bacteria-man-made-dna-produce-protein-first-time#page-2

Or in Nate speak, "hey, y'all watch this!"

Anonymous TheTruthIsNeverAcceptable December 19, 2017 9:15 AM  

Akulkis wrote:
Battery tech is within a few percent of maximum theoretical possibilities. Same for electric motors.


From all that I have researched, the aluminum-air based batteries break through that limitation. While there are issues for mass production, they will be conquered in time.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S246802571730081X

Blogger Smokey Dust December 19, 2017 9:28 AM  

@josh, all the best, may your sons be warriors & your daughters virtuous.

Blogger Bobiojimbo December 19, 2017 9:35 AM  

Congratulations! May God bless you.

Blogger pnq8787 December 19, 2017 9:46 AM  

I suppose foreign innovation is better than no innovation at all. Kudos to the Jews for training up the Chinese and Indians in U.S. schools before enacting white genocide. They don't call them Jews "High IQ" for nothing.

Blogger SciVo December 19, 2017 9:50 AM  

China's corruption problem is literally thousands of years old. It's so deeply ingrained in their culture that even the threat of execution only makes them more careful about whom they bribe. I believe that they will never be rid of it.

Blogger Josh (the sexiest thing here) December 19, 2017 9:52 AM  

OT update:

Baby girl is 9 lbs and healthy. Mama and baby are doing well.

Thank y'all for praying.

I now have two more white babies than the entire alt retard combined.

Anonymous vfm #0202 December 19, 2017 10:10 AM  

If fluoride makes you stupid, does flouride make you smart?

Blogger S1AL December 19, 2017 10:11 AM  

Josh is on a troll today.

Eastern Europe has seen some interesting growth of Christianity, but... it's Eastern Orthodox, not Protestant or RCC. That's something to keep an eye on.

Anonymous Jack Amok December 19, 2017 10:13 AM  

Congrats Josh, that's a big baby!

I've been doing business in eastern Europe for a few years now. There's a lot going on, but... man. There's so little leadership. So little flexibility of thought. The women are tall, slender and feminine (in their own slavic way), and I wish their nations the best of luck, but they've got a long way to go. It's really frustrating working with them.

As for the Chinese, they're too addicted to cheating. They'll screw themselves over. Unless enough English culture rubbed off in Hong Kong. That I don't know.

Blogger BassmanCO December 19, 2017 10:17 AM  

Congrats, Josh. Children truly are a gift.

Anonymous Iron Spartan December 19, 2017 10:30 AM  

Something that I have been raging on for years is that language matters and words have meanings.

We need INVENTIONS! Innovation is all well and good, but INVENTION is what we need to be striving for.

Invention and innovation are not synonymous. The push to remove the word invention from the lexicon has not accidental. Innovation is stagnation, nothing new, just something known used in novel ways. Innovation can be expected and controlled.

INVENTION scares the hell out of the global elites. INVENTION is something that they didn't see coming, can't control and is a threat to their the stangant order they wish to impose.

The ability to try new things has never been easier. The cost for prototyping and entry into custom manufacturing has never been lower, but the number of people who have the skill and knowledge to take advantage of such things has also never been lower.

Language matters in the culture war. INVENTION needs to be the word we praise, not innovation.

Blogger szopen December 19, 2017 10:38 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger KBuff December 19, 2017 10:55 AM  

God bless, and congratulations!

Blogger kurt9 December 19, 2017 11:04 AM  

...if China gets around to addressing its corruption problem, which is probably the biggest single factor holding it back at this point.

Finally someone on the internet GETS IT about China. Having done business in China and knowing many others who have done the same, I can tell you corruption is the NUMBER ONE problem China has. All other problems are insignificant compared to corruption.

Blogger Ariadne Umbrella December 19, 2017 11:06 AM  

Congratulations! Two children are four times more fun!

As for innovation: what if manners mattered? what if the people in California, now, are so vile that no one wishes to remain around them? Is it possibly like science fiction fandom based in California? If you were sane and healthy, you would avoid fandom, and then not learn the conventions of writing it, and then not have a career in it? Instead you would do something else with your creativity and energy?

I have no idea. I am just wondering.

Anonymous Jack Amok December 19, 2017 11:11 AM  

Finally someone on the internet GETS IT about China. Having done business in China and knowing many others who have done the same, I can tell you corruption is the NUMBER ONE problem China has. All other problems are insignificant compared to corruption.

Is corruption upstream or downstream of genetics?

Anonymous a deplorable rubberducky December 19, 2017 11:28 AM  

This is an old hobby horse of mine, I used to scream this to the rafters for years and to no effect. But here it is: innovation follows the production. Technology follows the supply chain.

All that talk about how our super smart engineers can just design the stuff, and then it will be manufactured in China? Forget about it. That only works for an initial small window in time.

This truth became obvious and certain to me particularly when my hometown lost its main industries, textile and furniture manufacturing. Most of the town was involved in production, in perfecting and improving and supporting the production. All that stopped on a dime, by now everybody who used to be involved in it is either dead or aged out employability. Every advance, every new technique, every step of progress in these fields will NOT happen here. Can't happen here.

Here is not where the action is. It's very simple.

With the production goes the technology.

Blogger tublecane December 19, 2017 11:35 AM  

I was reading a Bruce Charlton book a while ago. Not Even Wrong, I think, which was about the decline of science. He made the point that if we had to do the Space Race over again, we wouldn't make it. I don't know if that's actually true, but it stands to reason. There's a sickness in our culture as regards large bodies of knowledge-keeping and advancement. It hits you in the face with universities, but you can also see it in the runaway gigantism of particle physics, for instance. Though of course that goes on in Europe, too.

Blogger tublecane December 19, 2017 11:39 AM  

@15-Then how shall our elite assimilate foreign countries into the global Borg Collective?

Blogger Aeoli December 19, 2017 11:48 AM  

Congrats Josh, and Merry Christmas.

Blogger tublecane December 19, 2017 11:51 AM  

@44-You're right in a sense, though I think the difference is too subtle to do the work you want it to do. Both "innovate" and "invent" denote a change, something new.

The former has more a sense of renewal or restoration. That is, a change within an established arrangement. Invention, on the other hand, means the discovery of something that didn't exist before.

What does that mean, really? That with one we'd have to stick by the status quo and the other we'd be free to seek any social arrangement whatsoever? Not really. Anyway, I don't know anyone who wants to be utterly free of Western Civilization who isn't a crank. We can innovate within that context, which is a very big context indeed. We don't necessarily want the Wild Blue Yonder of the completely unknown.

Anonymous Michael Maier December 19, 2017 12:04 PM  

God's blessings be onto the embiggened Josh Clan!

Anonymous Sam the Man December 19, 2017 12:12 PM  

One last observation on Innovation:

In certain areas of technology, you get to the point where the designs are sufficiently well done that there really is no need for change, until the state of practical technology constraints changes significantly:

As an example the Brown Bess flintlock, was pretty much standard from 1722 to around 1839, nothing came along sufficiently better to require its being changed.

Today with all the innovative designs in rifles, the M16 design of 1959 is still pretty much the first line standard and looks like it will be for a number of years yet. Tons of designs such as the AR18, CAL, FNC, FAMAS, AUG, L85, SCAR, G36, Tavor have come and gone (or are on their way to extinction), none have offered sufficient advantages to displace the existing M16 action design. 58 years and counting, a design which has never been considered the best, but with minor tweaks and gradual optimization has come to dominate rifle design in the early 20th century.

Or consider the Singer sewing machine: Established in 1851, by 1874 the sewing machine of today (less motor power) was pretty much complete. The design of today is really not far from the early electric designs of 1910, just optimized an the external shell made to modern sensibilities. Singer still is in business. How do you innovate in that field?

Lastly consider Aerospace engineering: In 1938 militaries were still flying biplanes because of the lack of good quality high octane gasoline (Russia and eastern Europe). By 1945 three nations (German, US and Britain) had practical Jets. The number of companies that came about in that period were massive: Republic, Grumman, Northrup, Consolidated, Boeing, Douglas, Piper, McDonnell, etc.,(just USA tally). Jet designs changed a lot from 1946 to 1976, why which time the basic large airframes were pretty close to being finished as well as one could given materials available. The large airliners are pretty much follow the 1958 707 design. It appeared in the late 1968s supersonic airliners might come about, but the high price of fuel was a constraint that limited that possibility and so our airframes are still optimized for the 500 to 600 MPH flight envelop.

Then what happened? Well a lot of avionics innovation has followed in the last 40 years (1977-2017), but no way near the air frame innovation of the previous 30 years (1946 to 1976. And as innovation declined, so did the number of companies and positions available.

For the next big period of innovation, some of the constraints that currently limit airframe designs must be lifted.

I could go one, but the main point is innovation has periods in each filed, then the designs are simply optimized for long periods of time , until material science, or basic research lifts one of the constraints. Maybe a new space program will provide some of the spark to take us to the next level

Blogger Koanic December 19, 2017 12:13 PM  

I don't know how many baby girls are born in your state per day, but maybe that information could be sufficient for de-anonymization. At the very least, it reveals a kid's birthdate.

Anonymous Joseph BL December 19, 2017 1:07 PM  

Once the American decline has run its course and the US empire has been put in the dustbin of history, it will, at the very least, serve as a good example of what kind of cultural trends and behaviors ruin a formerly powerful nation.

Blogger exfarmkid December 19, 2017 1:44 PM  

Congratulations, Josh!

Anonymous Mr. Rational December 19, 2017 2:24 PM  

Akulkis wrote:Electric cars are idiotic for not one, but for each of several individual reasons.
Man, when you're wrong you don't do it in a small way, do you?  Let's take this one point at a time.

Volume to energy ratio
Already competitive with engine + fuel tank, and you can put batteries where you can't put fuel or engines (e.g. in the vehicle floor).  A Tesla has more usable space than any ICEV of its size.

Weight to energy ratio
Up past 400 Wh/kg already.  Power-to-weight is already killing piston engines, and there are other developments like ultracapacitors which are going to turn powertrain technology upside-down.  I refer you to this paper on a material for ultracapacitor electrodes which stores more energy/weight than lead-acid and has a specific power of close to 40 kW/kg which no piston engine can match; if you have any questions after reading it I'll go into detail.

Battery acids are more dangerous than gaao6
Li-ion uses stuff like LiPF6 in propylene carbonate, not sulfuric acid.

Daily range - gasoline 840 miles/day, electric 300.
New way of processing materials produces a lithium battery electrode which charges in under 2 minutes.  That's faster than filling a gas tank.

Electrics have LOWER theodynamic efficiency due to more energy conversations chemical-thermal-mechanical-electrical-chemical-electrical-mechanical each of which incurs a loss. Hydrocarbon fuel vehicles only have 2 conversations: chemical-thermal-mechanical
All of which is overwhelmed by the ICEV's low thermal efficiency (~30% max vs. 60+% for CCGT) and idling losses.

Widespread adoption of electrics would require TRIPLING the electrical grid capacity at all levels: generation, distribution, and end- point delivery and even more than triple in such locales as parking facilities, rest stops, etc.
Nonsense.  We could convert about 70% of the fleet right off the bat, using existing generators for a greater part of the day.  The only restrictions are no charging during peak hours and limit peak loads on transformers.

Battery tech has improved less than a factor of 2 in 250 years.
Yeah, right.  Lead-acid is about 20-40 Wh/kg.  Existing EV packs are pushing 200, and researchers are aiming at 500 Wh/kg in the near term.

Electric cars will never be more than glorified golf carts, because politicians can no more change physical laws than they can change the value of pi.
Indy cars have already gone hybrid.  Ten years from now all the most powerful performance cars will have mostly electric drivetrains.

Whoever you've been listening to has been majorly disinforming you.  Don't listen to them ever again.

Anonymous Mr. Rational December 19, 2017 2:58 PM  

tublecane wrote:you can also see it in the runaway gigantism of particle physics, for instance.
It's not "runaway", it's required.  The initial science could be done with what amounts to static electricity, then cyclotrons came along and boosted the available energy and uncovered new things.  Now cyclotrons are medical proton sources:  engineering.  New science took GeV and now TeV levels of energy.  That requires physical size; there's no avoiding it.

Blogger tublecane December 19, 2017 3:09 PM  

@61-It would be required if we're actually learning anything by smashing particles into eachother at higher and higher energies, but I see no convincing evidence we are. Just results that are interesting to no one but people already convinced by the Standard Model and the hype men in media that sell it to the rest of us, which allow them to "discover" dubious new particles that don't teach us anything about fundamental physics, and only lead to more problems that need newer interesting results leading to ever-more alleged particles. None of which ever leads back to practical innovations, as in other areas of physics.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab December 19, 2017 3:09 PM  

Good lord. Somebody who thinks that electric cars will without government handouts and laws requiring it will replace internal combustion engines. Electrics may replace gasoline. Or they might not but they haven't done it yet. Not even close. Get back to me when a used one can charge anywhere, go further than gasoline, carry/pull more than my Suburban and carry more people. Oh and go off road.

Right now they are overpriced, subsidized up the wanger toys compared to what I need and drive.

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr December 19, 2017 3:55 PM  

@56 Sam the Man:

All technologies follow an S-curve of development. Slow progress as we learn how to operate, a fast spurt of growth as we do the easy stuff, then a slow but gradual improvement as we start tackling the really hard stuff. Any real improvement will require a quantum jump.

The real trick is that the quantum jump might be in an allied technology. WRT aviation, it wasn't possible to build an airliner much better than a DC-6 until jet engine technology improved enough for a Boeing 707, which was a quantum improvement.

Back to the OP...I'd bet on Eastern Europe over China. The Chinese are too obsessed with social stability. I was over in Hungary last year, and what impressed me the most was how un-Warsaw Pact the place was. They've grabbed the fruits of freedom with both hands. Delightful place.

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr December 19, 2017 4:00 PM  

@62 tubelcane:

I get the feeling that physics is trapped. There are too many fudge factors. It's going to take some "crazy" person with a completely different perspective to make a breakthrough.

The real headache is that there are so many gatekeepers that I'm not confident such a person could get in the door. 150 years ago, physics was the province of hobbyists. Today...it's all about the credentials.

Blogger rumpole5 December 19, 2017 5:16 PM  

@Josh. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

I don't know about electrics, but my Prius is the best car I've ever owned. I think that there is a lot less wear and tear because the gas engine always runs at about the same pace. The electric motor does the accelerating.

The only drawback is the picup driving good old boys who cut me off. I really need a Confederate. Battle flag decal and a gun rack.

Blogger Mr. Bee December 19, 2017 5:42 PM  

No kidding about the "trained in US universities". I was a physics grad student at USC in the mid 80s. In a graduate class of apx 20 students, I was the only white guy. There was also a black guy but the rest were from either the PRC, Taiwan or Korea. The university STEM programs had just graduated out the last of the baby boomers and their surplus slots HAD to be filled or they would lose funding - so they lobbied for and brought in huge numbers of PRC students whose prep education was far more rigorous than those in the US.

Anonymous BBGKB December 19, 2017 6:13 PM  

Electric cars are simply an attempt to regulate transportation away from poor people so only the rich are able to travel at will. The (((Elite))) would love to go back to the horse + buggy days.

Anonymous Sidehill Dodger December 19, 2017 6:51 PM  

Sam the Man wrote:As an example the Brown Bess flintlock, was pretty much standard from 1722 to around 1839, nothing came along sufficiently better to require its being changed.

Today with all the innovative designs in rifles, the M16 design of 1959 is still pretty much the first line standard and looks like it will be for a number of years yet. Tons of designs such as the AR18, CAL, FNC, FAMAS, AUG, L85, SCAR, G36, Tavor have come and gone (or are on their way to extinction), none have offered sufficient advantages to displace the existing M16 action design. 58 years and counting, a design which has never been considered the best, but with minor tweaks and gradual optimization has come to dominate rifle design in the early 20th century.


Well, that's a very U.S. centric viewpoint. Yeah, AR line has evolved into a decent weapon after its initial problems. However, from a world-wide viewpoint, I'd say that the dominant rifle design was originated by Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1948. This rifle, or refinements of the original design, is in use by a large number of third world countries, not to mention militias, rebel armies, terrorist "freedom fighters, etc. I'd wager that more Kalashnikovs have been made than all modern military rifles combined. I'd bet on the AK being the true heir of the Brown Bess. We'll see in a hundred years...

By the way, the direct impingement gas system of the Stoner/AR design is really a U.S. idiosyncrasy; almost every other modern rifle design uses a variant of the gas piston design. (The French, as usual, are weird. Their delayed blow-back design tends to blow up from time to time with unfortunate effects upon the soldier...but that's the French.)

Blogger Meng Greenleaf December 19, 2017 7:17 PM  

I can testify to feeling much more comfortable speaking plainly in China. I've seen Weaterner's (Australians) jaws go slack. I'm not sure about innovation out if China though. That's never been my experience. Japan OTOH is very innovative. I saw some new shoelaces this year that were springy. I though "how clever". This happens to me all the time in Japan.

All in all I expect this next century to see a dominate Japan. Particularly towards the later half or quarter. Which probably sounds counterintuitive.

Blogger Meng Greenleaf December 19, 2017 7:24 PM  

You know, actually WeChat pay was somewhat innovative. I was amazed at how much its been taken up in a year. Many places quit taking CC and didn't seem to want to accept cash (though they did). Everyone was using WeChat pay.

Blogger Daniel December 19, 2017 7:27 PM  

As an argentinian i can tell. Corruption is like mud and sand inside a machine, the cogs just dont work as they should

Anonymous AB.Prosper December 19, 2017 7:38 PM  

bernardbrandt wrote

All because of the decisions of the last three presidents (Clinton, Bush II, Obama) gutting the aerospace industries.

It goes deeper than that. The demand for aircraft innovation is severely limited under any scenario

Civilians are roughly half as rich as they were in 1973, measured as percentage GDP so the need for more passenger aircraft is limited. There is less time and money for travel and in reality no need to change things that work fine.

Personal aircraft are a niche item

As for military the US already has a larger and more powerful air force than anyone and no enemies that pose a real risk to us. The two closest peer powers cannot be invaded as they are nuclear.

There is no need to build advanced military aircraft to fight poor nations with obsolete equipment and poor training

As for electric cars , they are by no means a great innovation and life for most people wouldn't change if they vanished tomorrow. Nice to have, not really consequential

The reasons we don't have more inventions is mostly real innovation is really hard and the the things that would greatly improve/change human life are harder still especially in a finance drive nation with lowering average IQ and education driven by political commissars

Innovation will happen sometimes, the Internet being the most recent but its not an on demand thing. The one everyone wants and would truly change everyone's life , life extension is extremely difficult

The rest are just more of what we have already, small incremental improvements that mean little and in some cases like the mobile phone cause as much harm as good

Blogger Aeoli Pera December 19, 2017 9:21 PM  

Meng Greenleaf wrote:All in all I expect this next century to see a dominate Japan. Particularly towards the later half or quarter. Which probably sounds counterintuitive.

Ditto.

Anonymous Mr. Rational December 19, 2017 10:28 PM  

Brick Hardslab wrote:Somebody who thinks that electric cars will without government handouts and laws requiring it will replace internal combustion engines. Electrics may replace gasoline.
They're going to replace gasoline (and diesel) in a lot of dense cities, because they can't handle the emissions any more.  A lot of these will be plug-in hybrids which will operate all-electric in the urban core.

Electrics may replace gasoline. Or they might not but they haven't done it yet. Not even close.
You should watch the technology.  Silicon power FETs which limit out around 105 C case temperature are being supplanted by SiC which hums along happily at twice that and several times the power density.  Electric motors have always had much higher power density, durability and everything else than ICEs.  Motors are simple, making them cheap.  The problem since the 19th century has been the battery, and batteries are getting better at a dizzying pace compared to the first century-plus.  Your laptop and cell phone are proof of this.

Get back to me when a used one can charge anywhere, go further than gasoline, carry/pull more than my Suburban and carry more people. Oh and go off road.
They're already electrifying the likes of HMMVs to make them stealthy.  That tech feeds off the urban emissions reduction efforts and vice versa, and you will find it in your Suburban sooner than you think.  E.g. a drivetrain which is mechanically FWD with a motor-generator feeding independent motors on the rear wheels which can do traction control without engaging the brakes and torque vectoring for stability.  The V8 is replaced by a turbocharged Miller-cycle I4 at 10% higher thermal efficiency, and a battery supplies peak power and all energy for local trips from the grid.  Your vehicle is lowered by removing the driveshaft without losing clearance, cutting drag and lowering the CG for off-road use.  The battery is in the floor for even lower CG.  (Do you remember the 1970's Suburbans?  Their V8s were rated at a mere 120 HP.  That was enough.)

It may not be a pure EV for some time, but a plug-in hybrid which gets most of its energy from the wall socket is EXTREMELY convenient; you rarely HAVE to go to the gas station, you do it on long trips and otherwise at your leisure.  I've been driving one for over 4 years now, it's addictive in ways you won't know until you try it.  It is the future.

Anonymous Mr. Rational December 19, 2017 10:32 PM  

@62 How is finding the Higgs boson NOT learning something?  Unfortunately it was right about at the predicted energy so it didn't force any re-evaluation of the standard model and lead to anything unexpected, but we learned that the standard model was valid in that respect.

We are learning something about the gravitational anomaly of space probes, though, most recently around Jupiter.  Something is varying their speed by over 1 mm/sec and we don't know why.  This is something that was completely unexpected when the probes were launched, and we wouldn't know about it if we hadn't sent instruments and cameras out there.  Serendipity can't happen if you don't go out looking at things.

Will it lead to practical innovations?  Let's figure out what's going on first, maybe THEN we can build devices to exploit it.  Note that we've known about nuclear fusion for a century-plus and had fusion-based weapons for over 60 years now, and still haven't commercialized it.

@65 The way that's going to happen is that people are going to start messing with the anomalies and fudge factors and working on ways to make sense of them.  When someone comes up with a model, it's time to test it.  Testing either falsifies the model, or fails to.  Consider the phlogiston model of fire for how this works.  The phlogiston model failed because some things gained weight when they burned and some lost it.  Phlogiston couldn't be a substance if it didn't have a consistent weight.  That's how it was falsified and replaced by the oxidation model, which endures to this day.

Blogger Freddy December 20, 2017 12:49 AM  

I realize it's not important to understand wtf United Nations troops are all the US, or that the UN Agenda 21 affects anybody other than residents of Nor/So Cal fires. Many people people that post here get your American game on because they are gunning for your rural property, selling it back per FEMA at .30 / dollar. We're under attack. Wake up you who slumber and sleep

Blogger Freddy December 20, 2017 12:58 AM  

Chicago needs assistance, but THEY rejected the National Guard. 2 months of food / water is how the We position ourselves.

Blogger Freddy December 20, 2017 1:09 AM  

Raytheon controls the wind.

Anonymous BBGKB December 20, 2017 10:59 AM  

Asians I meet in college struck me as being able to memorize a book but not able to understand what was in it

That means the CA dam that broke 2 weeks post inspection could have had Asian A+ inspectors or #AffirmativeAction failures.

Blogger Phat Repat December 21, 2017 1:04 AM  

@71
And last I checked, they only accept credit cards from the mainland. So, good idea, would be happy if they opened it up to international. ;-)

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