Washington DC Nano News - The Politics of Science…

Margaret Glass

authored by Margaret Glass, ASTC

As election season draws near, the scientific community is gearing up for the next administration. A document released by, The Wilson Center OSTP 2.0 CRITICAL UPGRADE, presents recommendations about science and technology policymaking for the next president. At this month’s CNSF meeting, we had the chance to discuss these recommendations with Eric Bloch, former NSF Director (1984-1990) and current director of the Washington Advisory Group. The report identifies some overarching recommendations, and lots of associated points for each one. It is also full of interesting quotes from many of the 60 individuals who were interviewed. Two statements stand out to me: “Two immense forces have emerged in recent decades to transform the way all science is performed, just as they have altered the conditions of our daily lives: access to powerful computing, and the technology of instrumentation which provides inexpensive means of sensing and analyzing our environment. These have opened entirely new horizons in every field of science from particle physics to medicine. Nanotechnology, for example, the ability to manipulate matter at the atomic and molecular level, and molecular medicine, the ability to tailor life essential substances atom by atom, both owe their capabilities to advances in computing and instrumentation.” John H Marburger II Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy 2001 And… “If you can’t explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it to any intelligent layman, that really means that you don’t understand it yourself.” D Allan Bromley Former Science Advisor to the President Both of these emphasize what Eric Bloch said in his verbal comments to our group: “Public understanding of and engagement in science needs to be taken more seriously.” Who is in a good position to take on this challenge? This project maybe?