Comments here and at Serendipity by Kooiti Masuda remind me yet again of the internationality of science. Not news to people in the field, but perhaps for younger readers. And the small world that science is.
Here, Masuda observed: Precise description of the polar motion by Hisashi Kimura (who led observations at Mizusawa) was a moment of demonstration that the Japanese can substantially contribute to the international scientific enterprise.
Today, of course, it's no surprise. But in 1899, when this was happening, Japan was new to the world science scene. The US wasn't exactly an old hand itself. While we'd had some individual excellent scientists before then (Ben Franklin, for instance), it wasn't until after the land grant universities (founded in 1850s and 1860s) had been at work for some decades that the US was noticeable in international science. Japan had an even later start and more rapid run up. Today, there are other countries going through the process of building their science infrastructures to the point of making significant contributions internationally.
Over at Serendipity, part of Masuda's comment is:
It reminded me another thought. There was a great development of computational geophysics in the latter half of the 20th century, including both climate modeling (Manabe, Arakawa, Kasahara), meteorological data assimilation (Sasaki, Miyakoda) and quantitative seismology (Aki, Kanamori), largely contributed by Japanese-American (born in Japan and emigrated to the USA) scientists. They made innovation by amalgamating the oriental tradition of precise numerical computation and the western tradition of rigorous logical mathematics. (I have not yet substantiated this interpretation, though.)
The very small world effect involved -- I have a connection with almost every person he names. Manabe would probably even remember me :-) after our chats in the 1990s, where I'd tell him how bad the sea ice was in his model and he'd cheerfully agree and then tell me about how good his results were anyhow. We were both right. Miyakoda, I've never met, but he's the reason that I've had sushi. My graduate advisor knew Miyakoda and apparently Miyakoda had a comment that nobody could be an oceanographer who hadn't had sushi. So after I'd successfully defended my thesis, my advisor took me out to a sushi place, thereby finishing my qualifications. Kanamori I wouldn't count except for some jr. high students. Namely, I'd attended a presentation of Kanamori's when I was in graduate school. Quiet a few years later, I went to talk to a jr. high science class. It turned out they were studying earthquakes, and their textbook had a personal profile of Kanamori. The kids were shocked/amazed/bewildered when I mentioned his sense of humor coming through in his presentation. The notion of a scientist having a sense of humor was pretty strange to them.
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