Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

Revenge of the nerds

By Paul Jay, CBCNews.ca. The federal Conservative government has had a few public disagreements with the scientific community in the last year, over things like funding, the closure of the Office of the National Science Advisor, the environment, decisions viewed as overtly political and yes, funding again.

And while researchers from all disciplines have made their voices heard, the loudest voices thus far have been the medical community and environmental scientists.

So it's interesting to note that mathematicians are the driving force behind a letter to the Prime Minister asking the government to revisit funding cuts announced in the January.

Wait a second... mathematicians? You'd be hard pressed to imagine a scientific community less driven to politics and ideology, but yes, it was a group of 18 mathematics professors who spearheaded the letter.

And of the 2,101 researchers (and counting) who have signed the letter, over 240 work in the mathematics departments of their schools.

One of the reasons for the action, said University of Toronto mathematics professor Ed Bierstone, one of the organizers of the letter, is that mathematics research is pure science, primarily curiosity-driven, and it's applied sciences that have tended to receive the bulk of the government's attention.

As well, one of the deciding factors when approving research grant applications is the number of highly qualified personnel who will be trained as part of the project, and in university-speak, that translates to PhD or graduate students. But, said Bierstone, while mathematics programs are found throughout Canada's universities, very few have graduate programs.

The result, said Bierstone, is that mathematics research grants are becoming harder to acquire. In this year's competition, for example, only 64 per cent of applicants received grants from NSERC, while five years ago that number was closer to 90 per cent.

For those who study math, numbers like that have become too hard to ignore.

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.

Comments

Anonymous

As far as I am concerned, mathematics is only a theory, and we should be open other systems of logic. Our schools should encourage a fair presentation of differing rules and thought processes so that students can decide for themselves what constitutes pure science. The government is right to reduce funding to the current, sadly monolithic, approach to Canadian mathematics.

Posted April 20, 2009 12:52 PM

Davison

vancouver

"As far as I am concerned, mathematics is only a theory, and we should be open other systems of logic."

Mathematics is pretty much as logical as it gets. Don't let illogical numbers confuse you. Formulas often start as theories as to how something relates to another, but the numbers themselves can't lie.

I guess then that taxes, banking and lotteries are just theories as well with no real impact on our lives... like measuring out non-lethal doses of medice or some such nonsense.

To be fair, you are absolutely correct in your condemnation of the METHOD Canada uses to teach, but to throw out the skills with the curriculum is idiotic to say the least.

Posted April 20, 2009 03:16 PM

Stéphane Rainville

I think this is a good piece bringing attention to innumeracy and the need to invest more money into basic research. However, I think the article does a disservice by perpetuating the stereotype that mathematicians are uncommunicative nerds removed from the political process.

Posted April 24, 2009 12:58 PM

Tim Olheiser

It was a Russian mathmatician that came up with the formula to make fighters, and bombers stealth. Thus, making radar ineffective overnight.

It is a shame, governments don't see this. Math is'nt just a hobby that geeks do to pass the time.

Without math, no science would function.

I guess the sqeeky wheel gets the grease.

Posted April 26, 2009 04:03 PM

Jeff the Engineer

I work in the field of engineering, and I must say that mathematics is the cornerstone of my (very practical) work.

I am not a mathematician, but I use the tools that they develop every day.

Mathematics is the "mother science". Everything the rest of us do with science springs from it.

Just as a carpenter with better tools can build a better structure, and an engineer with better tools can design a better structure.

Thank you, mathematicians, for continuing to provide me with better tools.

Posted April 27, 2009 07:47 AM

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

Post a Comment

Disclaimer:

Note: By submitting your comments you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that due to the volume of e-mails we receive, not all comments will be published, and those that are published will not be edited. But all will be carefully read, considered and appreciated.

Note: Due to volume there will be a delay before your comment is processed. Your comment will go through even if you leave this page immediately afterwards.

Privacy Policy | Submissions Policy

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

Unpaid Zara garment workers say they still haven't seen a cent
Workers who stuffed pleas into pockets of clothing sold at Zara say they still haven’t been paid despite promises of compensation.
Missing Argentine submarine: Investigators say sound consistent with explosion heard
Argentina's navy announced Thursday that a sound detected during the search for a missing submarine is consistent with that of an explosion — an ominous development in the hunt for the vessel and its 44 crew members.
Myanmar, Bangladesh sign deal for potential return of displaced Rohingya Muslims
Myanmar and Bangladesh have signed an agreement covering the return of Rohingya Muslims who fled across their mutual border to escape violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
more »

Canada »

Refugee lawyers under 'major pressure' amid backlog of asylum claims
Even as politicians in Quebec and Ottawa maintain they're ready for any new influx in asylum seekers, immigration lawyers working on the front lines say they're already struggling to cope with a backlog of refugee claimants.
Exclusive 'If I don't like his words ... I'm not taking the apology': N.L. residential school survivor on Trudeau visit
Labrador resident Toby Obed still struggles with the emotional and physical scars of being in a residential school as a child. Will Justin Trudeau's formal apology change any of that?
Analysis MPs face the dilemma of figuring out who to invite to election debates and who to leave out video
The MPs studying the creation of an independent commission to oversee leaders debates during federal elections were quick to arrive at the most fraught question they could dare attempt to answer. Who should be eligible to appear on the biggest stage of an election campaign?
more »

Politics »

Federal task force eyes next steps to tackle influx of illegal border crossers
A federal task force will meet later today to map out a contingency plan to deal with the influx of people illegally crossing the border into Canada. It will be the group's sixth meeting, and it comes as the spike in summer crossings begins to slow down.
New Bibeau expresses cautious support for deal on displaced Rohingya Muslims video
The agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh covering the return of Rohingya Muslim refugees is a step in the right direction but needs to meet several conditions before it is implemented, Canada’s International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Thursday.
Exclusive 'If I don't like his words ... I'm not taking the apology': N.L. residential school survivor on Trudeau visit
Labrador resident Toby Obed still struggles with the emotional and physical scars of being in a residential school as a child. Will Justin Trudeau's formal apology change any of that?
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Analysis Hollywood stars on the defensive as scandals prompt tough questions video
With the disturbing revelations about producer Harvey Weinstein and new allegations of sexual misconduct attached to A-list actors emerging daily, there is a noticeable chill in La La Land.
YouTube steps up enforcement of content aimed at children
YouTube stepped up enforcement of its guidelines for videos aimed at children, the unit of Alphabet Inc's Google said on Wednesday, responding to criticism that it has failed to protect children from adult content.
Sister of murdered Inuk woman 'turns pain into positive action' with opera project
It has been just three weeks since Inuk artist Delilah Saunders and her family testified at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls at Membertou First Nation in Nova Scotia. Now, Saunders says she's "turning her pain into positive action," collaborating with a Labrador City composer on a chamber opera.
more »

Technology & Science »

Tesla's massive battery in Australia is ready for testing
The world’s biggest battery is ready for testing in South Australia, with hopes it can help solve the energy problems plaguing that state.
Uber hack latest example of why vigilance required to keep your wallet safe
For the 8,000 Canadians who had personal data stolen by hackers in the massive Equifax data breach earlier this year, trust and peace of mind are now difficult to come by. For the rest of Canada, the incident should serve as a cautionary tale, as such breaches are expected to increase in size and scope.
YouTube steps up enforcement of content aimed at children
YouTube stepped up enforcement of its guidelines for videos aimed at children, the unit of Alphabet Inc's Google said on Wednesday, responding to criticism that it has failed to protect children from adult content.
more »

Money »

Canadian households lead the world in terms of debt: OECD
Household debt levels in Canada are higher than those in any country included in a new OECD report, and the organization says it's a major risk to the country's economy.
Uber hack latest example of why vigilance required to keep your wallet safe
For the 8,000 Canadians who had personal data stolen by hackers in the massive Equifax data breach earlier this year, trust and peace of mind are now difficult to come by. For the rest of Canada, the incident should serve as a cautionary tale, as such breaches are expected to increase in size and scope.
Aurora Cannabis buying greenhouse designer Larssen to push pot partnership plans
Aurora Cannabis Inc. says it intends to use its ownership of greenhouse design firm Larssen Ltd. to pressure other cannabis producers to enter partnerships that will further its aggressive growth plans.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Preview Gilles and Poirier hope to solve the Shib Sibs at Skate America video
Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier hope their seductive gumshoe-meets-siren free dance can put them past the Shibutani siblings this week at the Skate America Grand Prix event.
Profile Skeleton's alphabet-soup man once lived off peanut butter video
His name is tough to spell, but Dave Greszczyszyn has never shied away from a challenge. Like the time he quit his comfy teaching job to chase his Olympic dream.
In Depth The Olympics have a host-city problem
Faced with a huge price tag for hosting what amounts to a two-week party, cities around the world are no longer clamouring for the Olympics. Now the IOC is trying to rein in costs to make the Games more attractive.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »