Thank the humble, cheap sensor, the standard wireless radio and basic data bases for the future of planetary assistance. A massive sensor and data network called the National Ecological Observatory Network, or NEON, could go under construction as soon as this summer and will pull data from the air, water and soil across the U.S. and act as the first comprehensive and free data depository for scientists, researchers and educators.
“It also takes scientists more time to acquire the knowledge expected of them before they are granted full professional status. In a 2008 paper, “The Burden of Knowledge and the ‘Death of the Renaissance Man,’ ” Jones observed that the age of scientists receiving PhDs rose across all major fields starting in the late 1960s; the duration of a PhD program in the life sciences has also expanded since the 1960s; and today’s Nobel Prize winners received their PhDs substantially later than those who received the awards in the early 20th century. It may even be that science is now demanding too much of students before stamping them with PhDs, preventing talented young researchers from making breakthroughs or setting the research agendas for their own labs. “In medical research, there is a palpable sense that people are being delayed before getting the chance to do research,” says Jones. Indeed, Elias Zerhouni, director of the NIH from 2002 to 2008, has called this the most important challenge facing the federal funding agencies.”