Friday, 5 Aug 94 Washington, DC
1. WHITE HOUSE SETS GOALS FOR SCIENCE IN THE POST-COLD WAR WORLD!
The long-awaited policy statement was announced by Vice President
Gore on Wednesday. "Science in the National Interest" calls for
world leadership "across the frontiers of scientific knowledge."
The way to get there is by "a strong commitment to investigator-
initiated research and merit review by scientific peers." While
the statement urges expanded partnerships between academia and
industry, the theme that runs through the document is that push-
ing back the frontiers of knowledge will produce unanticipated
benefits: "That quantum theory would lead to today's electronics
or investigations of DNA structure to genetic engineering could
not have been anticipated." John Gibbons, the President's science
advisor, even spoke unapologetically of the value to the human
spirit of understanding the natural world. The policy stresses
the need to tap scientific talent from every part of our diverse
population and raise the scientific literacy of all Americans.
2. CAN THE GOALS OF THE WHITE HOUSE BE ACHIEVED ON A FLAT BUDGET?
The APS Executive Board issued a statement commending the White
House for recasting American science policy in a form appropriate
to today's world and pledging "to work with the Administration
and Congress to translate this policy into new programs." In a
hearing before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee
yesterday, Chairman George Brown was fulsome in his praise of the
"vision statement," as were leaders of the scientific community.
The office of Sen. Barbara Mikulski told WHAT'S NEW the Senator
has no comment. Although Science in the National Interest is a
statement of principles rather than specific proposals, it notes
that Germany and Japan spend 3% of their gross domestic product
on research compared to 2.6% for the US. Brown warned that it's
unrealistic to expect that much growth in the US science budget.
3. PRESIDENT NOMINATES SIX MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD.
That still leaves two vacancies, but at this point physicists are
an endangered (extinct?) species on the 24-member body that over-
sees the NSF. Nominated are a chemist, linguist, meteorologist,
economist, engineer and anthropologist. The politically correct
group includes three women (one is hispanic and one black), plus
a black male. All six are distinguished administrators.
4. SPACE STATION: U.S. CAN'T AFFORD MORE HELP FROM THE RUSSIANS!
Vice President Gore preceded his comments on the science "white
paper" by announcing the "good news" that the Senate had agreed
to full funding for the US/Russian space station. The news was
received by the assembled science pooh-bahs without applause. The
lop-sided vote came in spite of the release of a GAO study that
predicted Russian participation would cost the US an extra $2B.
Most of the increased cost comes from the requirement for two
additional shuttle flights to assemble the redesigned station.