Sunday, October 31, 2010

Latest comprehensive evaluation of US Doctoral Programs

The long awaited (data collected were for the academic year 2005-6) Assessment of US Research-Doctorate Programs by the National Research Council (NRC) has been released on Sep 28, 2010  (press release). It is the most authoritative, systematic and comprehensive exercise of its kind.

The report can be found here. I would recommend as the most versatile and convenient way to access the NRC findings.

(see wikipedia on the report, with information on probable data errors.)

The World of Academic Research: a Taxonomy

A taxonomy of the doctoral research fields by the National Academies in the USA (source):


             Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology

                  Molecular Biology
                  Structural Biology

             Cell and Developmental Biology

                  Cell Biology
                  Developmental Biology
                  Cancer Biology

             Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

                  Behavior and Ethology
                  Population Biology
                  Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology

             Public Health

                  Environmental Health

             Genetics and Genomics

                  Computational Biology
                  Molecular genetics

             Immunology and Infectious Disease

                  Immunology of Infectious Disease
                  Immunoprophylaxis and Therapy

             Biology/Integrated Biology/ Integrated Biomedical Sciences

                  Exercise Physiology
                  Motor Control
                  Psychology of Movement


                  Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Ecology
                  Microbial Physiology
                  Pathogenic Microbiology

             Neuroscience and Neurobiology

                  Behavioral Neurobiology
                  Cognitive Neuroscience
                  Computational Neuroscience
                  Developmental Neuroscience
                  Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience
                  Systems Neuroscience


             Pharmacology, Toxicology and Environmental Health

                  Environmental Health
                  Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutics


                  Cellular and Molecular Physiology
                  Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology
                  Exercise Physiology
                  Systems and Integrative Physiology

             Animal Sciences

                  Animal Sciences
                  Aquaculture and Fisheries
                  Dairy Science
                  Poultry (or Avian) Science


             Food Science

                  Food Processing
                  Food Microbiology
                  Food Chemistry
                  Food Biotechnology

             Forestry and Forest Sciences

                  Forest Biology
                  Forest Management
                  Wood Science and Pulp/Paper Technology


                  Comparative Nutrition
                  Human and Clinical Nutrition
                  International and Community Nutrition
                  Molecular, Genetic, and Biochemical Nutrition
                  Nutritional Epidemiology

             Plant Sciences

                  Agronomy and Crop Sciences
                  Plant Biology
                  Plant Pathology
                  Plant Breeding and Genetics

             Emerging Fields:
                  Systems Biology


             Applied Mathematics

                  Control Theory
                  Dynamic Systems
                  Non-linear Dynamics
                  Numerical Analysis and Computation
                  Partial Differential Equations
                  Ordinary Differential Equations and Applied Dynamics

             Astrophysics and Astronomy

                  Physical Processes
                  The Sun and the Solar System
                  Stars, Interstellar Medium and the Galaxy
                  External Galaxies


                  Analytical Chemistry
                  Environmental Chemistry
                  Materials Chemistry
                  Medicinal-Pharmaceutical Chemistry
                  Inorganic Chemistry
                  Organic Chemistry
                  Physical Chemistry
                  Polymer Chemistry

             Computer Sciences

                  Artificial Intelligence/Robotics
                  Computer and Systems Architecture
                  Databases/Information Systems
                  Graphics/Human Computer Interfaces
                  Numerical Analysis/Scientific Computing
                  Programming Languages/Compilers
                  Software Engineering

             Earth Sciences

                  Environmental Sciences
                  Geophysics and Seismology
                  Mineral Physics
                  Soil Science
                  Tectonics and Structure


                  Algebraic Geometry
                  Discrete Mathematics and Combinatorics
                  Dynamics/Dynamical Systems
                  Geometry and Topology
                  Harmonic Analysis and Representation
                  Logic and Foundations
                  Number Theory
                  Set Theory

             Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology

                  Atmospheric Sciences
                  Fresh Water Studies


                  Astronomy and Astrophysics
                  Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
                  Biological and Chemical Physics
                  Condensed Matter Physics
                  Cosmology, Relativity, and Gravity
                  Elementary Particles and Fields and String Theory
                  Engineering Physics
                  Fluid Dynamics
                  Non-linear Dynamics
                  Plasma and Beam Physics
                  Quantum Physics

             Statistics and Probability

                  Applied Statistics
                  Statistical Methodology
                  Statistical Theory


             Aerospace Engineering

                  Aeronautical Vehicles
                  Space Vehicles
                  Systems Engineering and Multidisciplinary Design Optimization
                  Aerodynamics and Fluid Mechanics
                  Structures and Materials
                  Propulsion and Power
                  Navigation, Guidance, Control and Dynamics
                  Multi-Vehicle Systems and Air Traffic Control

             Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering

                  Biological Engineering
                  Bioelectrical and neuroengineering
                  Bioimaging and biomedical optics
                  Biomechanics and biotransport
                  Biomedical devices and instrumentation
                  Molecular, cellular, and tissue engineering
                  Systems and integrative engineering

             Chemical Engineering

                  Biochemical and Biomolecular Engineering
                  Catalysis and Reaction Engineering
                  Complex Fluids
                  Membrane Science
                  Petroleum Engineering
                  Polymer Science
                  Process Control and Systems
                  Transport Phenomena

             Civil and Environmental Engineering

                  Civil Engineering
                  Construction Engineering/management
                  Environmental Engineering
                  Geotechnical Engineering
                  Structural Engineering

             Computer Engineering

                  Computer and Systems Architecture
                  Digital Circuits
                  Data Storage Systems
                  Digital Communications and Networking
                  Hardware Systems

             Electrical and Computer Engineering

                  Computer Engineering
                  Controls and Control Theory
                  Electrical and Electronics
                  Electromagnetics and photonics
                  Electronic Devices and Semiconductor Manufacturing
                  Nanotechnology fabrication
                  Power and Energy
                  Signal Processing
                  Systems and Communications
                  VLSI and circuits: Embedded/Hardware Systems

             Engineering Science and Materials (not elsewhere classified)

                  Engineering Mechanics
                  Dynamics/Dynamical Systems
                  Non-linear Dynamics
                  Mechanics of Materials

             Materials Science and Engineering

                  Biology and Biomimetic Materials
                  Ceramic Materials
                  Polymer and Organic Materials
                  Semiconductor and Optical Materials
                  Structural Materials

             Mechanical Engineering

                  Acoustics, Dynamics, and Controls
                  Applied Mechanics
                  Biomechanical Engineering
                  Computer-Aided Engineering and Design
                  Electro-Mechanical Systems
                  Energy Systems
                  Heat Transfer, Combustion
                  Ocean Engineering

             Operations Research, Systems Engineering and Industrial Engineering

                  Industrial Engineering
                  Operational Research
                  Systems Engineering

             Emerging Fields:
                  Computational Engineering
                  Information Science
                  Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
                  Nuclear Engineering


             Agricultural and Resource Economics


                  Archaeological Anthropology
                  Biological and Physical Anthropology
                  Linguistic Anthropology
                  Social and Cultural Anthropology


                  Broadcast/Video Studies
                  Communication Technology and New Media
                  Critical and Cultural Studies
                  Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication
                  Health Communication
                  International and Intercultural Communication
                  Interpersonal/Small Group Communication
                  Journalism Studies
                  Mass Communication
                  Organizational Communication
                  Public Relations/Advertising
                  Social Influence and Political Communication
                  Speech and Rhetorical Studies


                  Behavioral Economics
                  Economic History
                  Economic Theory
                  Growth and Development
                  Industrial Organization
                  International Economics
                  Labor Economics
                  Public Economics


                  Physical and Environmental Geography
                  Human Geography
                  Nature and Society Relations
                  Geographic Information Sciences


                  Anthropological Linguistics/Sociolinguistics
                  Applied Linguistics
                  Comparative and Historical Linguistics
                  Computational Linguistics
                  Discourse/Text Linguistics
                  First/Second Language Acquisition
                  Typological Linguistics and Linguistic Diversity
                  Language Description/Documentation

             Political Science

                  American Politics
                  Comparative Politics
                  International Relations
                  Models and Methods
                  Political Theory

             Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

                  Public Administration
                  Public Affairs
                  Public Policy
                  Urban Studies


                  Biological Psychology
                  Clinical Psychology
                  Cognition and Perception
                  Cognitive Psychology
                  Community Psychology
                  Developmental Psychology
                  Health Psychology
                  Industrial and Organizational Psychology
                  Personality and Social Contexts
                  Social Psychology


                  Demography, Population, and Ecology
                  Family, Life Course, and Society
                  Gender and Sexuality
                  Inequality and Stratification
                  Medicine and Health
                  Methodologies : Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and
                  Place and Environment
                  Politics and Social Change
                  Race and Ethnicity
                  Regional Sociology
                  Rural sociology
                  Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance
                  Social Psychology and Interaction
                  Sociology of Culture
                  Theory, Knowledge and Science
                  Work, Economy and Organizations

             Emerging Fields:
                  Criminology and Criminal Justice
                  Science and Technology Studies
                  Urban Studies and Planning


             American Studies

                  American Film Studies
                  American Material Culture
                  American Popular Culture
                  Ethnic Studies


                  Ancient History (Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity)
                  Ancient Philosophy
                  Byzantine and Modern Greek
                  Classical Archaeology and Art History
                  Classical Literature and Philology
                  Indo-European Linguistics and Philology

             Comparative Literature

             English Language and Literature

                  Literature in English, British Isles
                  Literature in English, Anglophone (other than British Isles and
                               North America)
                  Literature in English, North America (other than ethnic and minority)
                  Literature in English, North America, ethnic and minority
                  Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies
                  Rhetoric and Composition

             French and Francophone Language and Literature

                  French Linguistics
                  French and Francophone Literature

             German Language and Literature

                  German Linguistics
                  German Literature

             Language, Societies, and Cultures

                  African Languages and Societies
                  East Asian Languages and Societies
                  European Languages and Societies
                  Latin American Languages and Societies
                  Near Eastern Languages and Societies
                  Slavic Languages and Societies
                  South and Southeast Asian Languages and Societies


                  Islamic World/Near East
                  Latin American
                  United States
                  Cultural History
                  Diplomatic History
                  History of Religion
                  History of Science, Technology, and Medicine
                  Intellectual History
                  Medieval History
                  Military History
                  Political History
                  Social History
                  Women’s History

             History of Art, Architecture and Archaeology

                  American Art and Architecture
                  Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture
                  Asian Art and Architecture
                  Contemporary Art
                  Modern Art and Architecture
                  Theory and Criticism

             Music (except performance)

                  Music Theory


                  Continental Philosophy
                  Ethics and Political Philosophy
                  Feminist Philosophy
                  History of Philosophy
                  Logic and foundations of mathematics
                  Philosophy of Language
                  Philosophy of Mind
                  Philosophy of Science


                  Biblical Studies
                  Comparative Methodologies and Theories
                  History of Religions of Western Origin
                  History of Religions of Eastern Origins
                  Religious Thought/Theology/Philosophy of Religion

             Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature

                  Latin American Literature
                  Portuguese Literature
                  Spanish Linguistics
                  Spanish Literature

             Theatre and Performance Studies

                  Theatre History
                  Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory
                  Performance Studies

             Emerging Fields:
                  Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
                  Film Studies
                  Race, Ethnicity and post-Colonial Studies
                  Rhetoric and Composition

Top Universities for Arts & Humanities 2010-2011

Times Higher Education Top Universities for Arts & Humanities 2010-2011 (released Oct 28, 2010)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nuclear Physics Laboratory, an Oxford landmark

The Nuclear Physics Laboratory in Oxford, renamed the Denys Wilkinson Building in 2001, housed a 10MV Van der Graff (Van de Graaff) accelerator (see here for a history). Here is a newsreel of October 1965 on the laboratory.

World Poverty with Worldmapper

In 2002, an estimated 17% of the world population (1073 million) lived on US$1 a day, or less (source). An estimated 43% of the world population (2698 million) lived on US$2 a day, or less (source).

< US$1    



© Copyright SASI Group (University of Sheffield) and Mark Newman (University of Michigan).

Commemoration Balls in Oxford (1961)

Punting on the Cherwell (a short film) in 1961.

Cambridge in 1963 (an excellent film)

A wonderful gem on Cambridge in 1963 among the quotidian newsreels. Narrated by Michael Redgrave (Magdalene, Cambridge).

I learned something from the film:  breakfast in Grantchester and the village's connection with Rupert Brooke.

Oxford in 1961 (Newsreel)

Newsreel (April 1961) on Oxford building restoration.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Konrad Adenauer visits Oxford (Dec 1951)

Newsreel: DR. ADENAUER VISITS OXFORD. - British Pathe

Konrad Adenauer visited Oxford in December 1951. (see here)

Khrushchev visits Oxford (1956)


Bibliosphere, viewed with Worldmapper

Worldmapper is a wonderful way of gaining a visual perspective on many aspects, social (demography, health, education, etc), economic, cultural, of the globe. 

Maps 343, 344 (below) show the total book titles published, and the total book loans from public libraries, respectively, in 1999. Map 2 shows populations, and serves as the reference for other maps.

Titles Published

Book Loans      


Map © Copyright SASI Group (University of Sheffield) and Mark Newman (University of Michigan)
Map source

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dartmouth College in Fall, 1947

A rare film of Dartmouth College (USA) in the fall of 1947. Of particular interest to me is the brief appearance (timestamp 11:35) of Wing-Tsit Chan (陈荣捷, August 18, 1901 - August 12, 1994), the eminent Sinologist on the Dartmouth faculty from 1942 to 1966. Dave Storrs, the owner of Dartmouth Bookstore, also appeared (timestamp 4:16).

Dartmouth Bookstore was started by a student in 1872, and owned by the Storrs family from 1884 to July 2004. It is now privately owned, but operated by Barnes and Noble College Booksellers. (See this.) It was a key source of my intellectual sustenance.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The history of Dartmouth College

Recent reprints. The original publication date of JK Lord is between 1910 and 1923. (Google preview)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

PPP, but not "Psychology, Philosophy and Physiology", in Oxford

PPP, the Penultimate Picture Palace (and not Psychology, Philosophy and Physiology), on Jeune Street, off Cowley Road, Oxford is associated with a few cinematic gems, such as Death in Venice (screened Nov 22, 1976), in my memory.

The following brief history is from a comment here:

The Picture Palace opened on 25th February 1911. It was designed by local architect John R. Wilkins. It operated until the early 1920s when it was closed and became a furniture store, retaining the original 'Picture Palace' sign on the front of building until around 1950.

It re-opened as the Penultimate Picture Palace on 18th July 1976. Oxford artist John Trigg designed the exterior name on the facade from a 1896 French poster. Above the name board was the cinema's motif: a giant cut-out of Al Jolson with hands outstretched as seen in the first talkie "The Jazz Singer" (the fibre glass hands were designed by sculptor John Buckley who also designed the new door handles shaped as Mae West's lips!). The original 1911 pay box was retained. Seating capacity was given as 192. It now operates as the Ultimate Picture Palace, an Art House cinema.
The cinema will be celebrating its centenary in 2011.

(A recent photo)(A review)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Intelligent Design" rationally examined

In debating with the defenders of Darwinian evolution, Intelligent Design (ID) proponents such as Stephen C. Meyer of Discovery Institute generally accept that evolution on a small scale, such as the adaptation of beaks to the available food sources, occurs. However, they cast doubt on the ability of the naturalistic mechanisms of
 * random mutation, followed by
 * natural selection, sexual selection, and genetic drift
to evolve certain "irreducibly complex" biological features, such as bacterial flagella or the eye, or certain physiological processes, such as blood clotting.

Speciation through evolution is presumably also considered too improbable.

ID as outlined above was in fact the general position that I held when I was a Christian. I never did believe that every living species and sub-species, with their minor morphological variations, was individually made by God in three twenty-four-hour days (days 3,5, and 6). I believed that evolution operates to effect small changes, but not major ones, in biological features.

However, I now accept Darwinian evolution fully, and reject ID. I will explain why.

Two preliminary points are worth noting.

Firstly, ID provides no support for any theist views, as is made plain by its proponents. The Intelligent Designer (IDr) could well be an extra-terrestrial (ET) being who has abandoned Earth to its fate since its creation of life on Earth. For all we know, the race of ETs could now be extinct, killed off by its enemies, or its hostile environment.

Secondly, the presumption of the irreducible complexity of certain biological features can be challenged by proposing certain evolutionary pathways that facilitate their evolution. This is the crux of the highly technical debates concerning the flagella, etc.

I reject ID, for the following reasons:

Firstly, "irreducible complexity" is not a persuasive argument for ID. Science is constantly making discoveries. Plausible evolutionary pathways might well be discovered for the "irreducibly complex" features.

Secondly, the presumed Intelligent Designer (IDr) must possess a greater intelligence than humans. Who designed the IDr? There are three ways to answer this.

1. The issue is an imponderable mystery, beyond the limited capacity of the human mind. Or, to formulate the imponderable mystery more grandiosely, IDr is a being beyond time. Thus it exists eternally, has no genesis and no designer.

2. IDr was designed by another entity of even greater intelligence than IDr.

3. IDr evolved through naturalistic processes (processes of nature).

In the absence of any other evidence for the existence of IDr, there is no reason for me to accept the first answer which effectively evades the question.

With the second answer, we get an infinite sequence of ever more intelligent beings. Despite the beautiful mathematics of transfinite numbers, which I have studied, an infinite sequence of ever more intelligent beings is not a satisfactory answer.

With the third answer, IDr evolved through processes in nature. If we accept this, then we might as well skip the assumption of ID, and accept that life on Earth evolved through processes in nature.

In conclusion, I do not believe in ID.

Robin Waterfield's of Oxford

I first visited Robin Waterfield's secondhand and antiquarian bookshop in Park End Street, Oxford (opened in 1976) on January 14, 1980, when I bought The Tourist Guide by Jaroslav Hašek. I just learned of Waterfield's very colourful life from his obituary.

There is another Robin Waterfield (see wikipedia), classicist and author of Why Socrates Died: Dispelling the Myths.

Top Universities for Social Sciences 2010-2011

Top Universities for Social Sciences 2010-2011

Friday, October 22, 2010

Voices of Northamptonshire in 1967

A wonderful sound archive of Northamptonshire (East Midlands) voices from 1967 and 1968, with Jeremy Seabrook:

*The changing environment (1967)
*The Response to the Environment (1968)

On the regional dialect, see this. On Jeremy Seabrook, see this and this.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


What is the size of readership for this book: Canada Domestic and International Postal Rates 1870-1999, by Dr. Robert Smith & Anthony S.Wawrukiewicz (54 pages, US$ 24.95, plus shipping)?

For my own education: Postal history.

Brattle Book Shop: the mind of Boston

Brattle Book Shop is the best secondhand bookshop that I know of in Boston. the intellectual heart (unsuitable metaphor?) of America's east coast. Its unique outdoor display is most memorable.

A video tour of Brattle and interview with the owner.

As a nostalgic note, I bought these good books, among others, from Brattle on July 2, 2002:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Delightful film, featuring Nick Hogarth of Medway (Rochester) in Kent. Is he the author of this article on collecting Kenneth Tynan?

A Temple to knowledge: Blackwell's Norrington Room, Oxford


Opened in 1966, the Norrington Room was (but no longer, I suppose) the largest single room devoted to book selling, as certified by the Guinness Book of Records. Instead of focusing on Mathematics, Science and Engineering during my frequent visits there, I invariably wandered off to the enticing displays of knowledge and wisdom all around me.

*** Postscript ***

There is now an online virtual tour of Blackwell's, offering panoramic views from various vantage points. A good view of the Norrington Room is available here.


Blackwell's in Books: here

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"A word in edgeways" and "Stop the week" remembered

BBC radio 4 served to expand my intellectual horizon over the period from October 1974 to July 1977. Of particular impact on me were two programs on Saturday evenings, "A word in edgeways" with Brian Redhead, and "Stop the week" (1974-1992) with Robert Robinson.

This nostalgic post is intended as a repository of online information pertaining to these two programs that had been my tutors over the airwaves, with as much influence on me as any flesh and blood ones.

According to this, "A word in edgeways" is the precursor of  "In our time" with Melvyn Bragg, a unique online treasure trove of intellectual discussions (see list of programs), ranging over every major domain of knowledge.

"A word in edgeways":

*In "Life on Air: a history of Radio 4"

"Stop the week":

*Essay by Nigel Stapley

A gentle madness

Five best books on bibliomania (source):

Excellent history of the world's languages

Empires of the Word (2005, bought Jan 22, 2010) is an excellent global history of languages, from Nicholas Ostler, a Balliol alumnus, with a PhD in lingustics and Sanskrit from MIT.

This book is unique (in my reading experience) in its depth, breadth, and rigour of scholarship, and its readability (being free of academic jargon). It is the best book on linguistic history (evolutionary linguistics) that I know of.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Peter France: a biographical note

Peter France, the author of Hermits: The Insights of Solitude (1996)(bought April 1999), reveals and reviews his life, focusing on the spiritual aspect, in a December 1999 article.  He reported for BBC Everyman, and can be seen in a program in the BBC archive.

There is another Peter France, a scholar and translator of French and Russian literature.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fifteen years ago

What were my reading interests fifteen years ago when I visited my last Friends of the Library Book Sale? (See previous post.) As always, they were eclectic and diverse. Naturally, American history was a key interest then. At the sale on October 12, 1995, I bought, among many other books, the following:

*Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture (1991), by Michael Kammen

*The Best and the Brightest (1972), by David Halberstam