Davos Newbies Home

The G7 illusion 

Next weekend, the G7/G8 summit will attract reams of coverage. But Yale’s Jeff Garten unveils the truth about these jamborees.

“It has failed to steer Japan and the European Union towards essential domestic reforms that would unlock much-needed growth. It has had no influence in curbing America’s unrestrained appetite for oil. It has done nothing to avert recurrent financial crises in Latin America. It was a bystander during the Asian financial disaster of 1998. And it has done little to alleviate global poverty.

“Looking ahead, the G7 shows every sign of being impotent in the face of the currency disturbances that could arise if the dollar sank too fast. Its response to looming deflation will be rhetorical bromides. It will be on the sidelines when it comes to the challenge of nation building, or to balancing openness and security in the world economy, post-September 11 2001.”

It’s faster than you think 

I’ve speculated before about how rapidly biotechnologies move from cutting edge, to graduate labs, to something anyone can do in a high school lab. Richard Gayle provides chapter and verse.

“RNAi was Science’s Breakthrough Molecule of the Year for 2002. It has only been around a few years but looks like it will be incredibly important. As Derek remarks, there will be Nobels given for this work.

“But, as a sign of just how fast the world has changed, RNAi is already garnering recognition and prizes… for high school students. Anila Madiraju, a 17-year old student in Montreal, just won the $50,000 first prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Her topic was Silencing Cancer with RNA…

“When I was in high school, science fair projects involved experiments such as separating plant proteins via chromotography, mostly using techniques that were 5-10 years old because that is what was available. When I was in graduate school, you could figure that it would take many years before high school students would be replicating your work. I mean, I was getting an advanced degree requiring years of effort. It had better take years for it to trickle down to high school. Now it seems like months. The world sure moves fast these days. I kind of feel sorry for people working on RNAi, when you have a 17-year old breathing down your neck.”

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