Science in the 21st Century

I’m at the “Science in the 21st Century” conference at the Perimeter Institute today. There are 32 people in the room right now: 23 are male and 9 are female, but only one is non-Caucasian, which pretty much matches the numbers in the picture from the conference dinner last night. That’s about the same M/F ratio I see in science grad courses at U of T, but definitely not the ethnic distribution—wonder why? It can’t just be a “seniority effect” — this is a pretty young crowd. We see the same thing at DemoCamp: non-Caucasians are often a majority n sci/tech classes and companies in the Greater Toronto Area, but definitely a minority on Tuesday nights. Thoughts? Michael Nielsen says that SciBarCamp was 50/50…

Beth Noveck: “Designing Digital Institutions: Science in Government 2.0”. Talked about crowdsourcing patent review; wonder if U of T would run a grad course for sci/eng students to teach them how to do this (and as a side effect, get them to do some useful patent reviewing)? Might be a good central theme for a tech reading/writing course.

Eric Weinstein: “Sheldon Glashow Owes Me a Dollar”. His main point seemed to be that radical thinkers need to find wealthy benefactors (Medicis or Gates) in order to have the freedom to pursue really wild ideas. What I took away from it was how fundamentally the influx of physicists into banking is reshaping the language used by the latter.

You can follow the others in real-time on FriendFeed, or better yet, watch videos of the talks on the Perimeter Institute’s site.