Scientific Cooperation

Article excerpt

AS we move further into the 1990s, a "new world order" seems to be emerging in scientific research as well as in geopolitics.

Science has always had an international style, with scientists cooperating and sharing information widely. Their borders have tended to demarcate fields of interest rather than national boundaries. Now cash-short national governments are finding they too need global partnerships to pursue the more costly areas of basic research.

Thus President George Bush will go to Japan seeking support for America's newest high-energy physics project as well as freer trade. Japan has been reluctant to make the billion-dollar contribution the Bush administration would like to help fund the Superconducting Supercollider particle accelerator under construction in Texas. White House aides have suggested that, this time, Japan will be forthcoming. Such a commitment would help persuade Congress to continue its funding for the $8.3 billion project.

Also, this summer France will launch the American-built Topex/Poseidon ocean-mapping satellite. This will be the first National Aeronautics and Space Administration satellite to ride a foreign rocket. It is a major element in NASA's "Mission to Planet Earth" program to study our environment from space. The space agencies of both countries decided several years ago to cut their individual costs for this important project by pooling resources.

A similar spirit of joint enterprise underlies the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) program. Japan, the European Community, Russia, and the United States have joined as equal partners to study engineering aspects of hydrogen fusion power. …