Issues in Science and Technology

A quarterly journal of the National Academy of Science focused on discussion of public policy related to science, engineering, and medicine. Provides a forum researchers, government officials, business leaders, and others concerned with public policy to s

Articles from Vol. 15, No. 1, Fall

An Electronic Pearl Harbor? Not Likely
The government's evidence about U.S. vulnerability to cyber attack is shaky at best. Information warfare: The term conjures up a vision of unseen enemies, armed only with laptop personal computers connected to the global computer network, launching...
Clinton Climate Change Plan Takes Some Heat
The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), in a preliminary analysis, has criticized the administration's plan to combat rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The report has buoyed members of Congress who are skeptical about global warming....
Collaborative R&D: How Effective Is It?
Industry, government, and universities are engaging n ever more joint efforts; it's time to take stock. R&D collaboration is widespread in the U.S. economy of the 1990s. Literally hundreds of agreements now link the R&D efforts of U.S. firms,...
Critical Infrastructure: Interlinked and Vulnerable
Computers and communications are boosting performance, but interconnection increases the risk of a technological domino effect. The infrastructure of the United States - the foundations on which the nation is built - is a complex system of interrelated...
Drive to Double R&D Spending Gains Momentum
The spotlight on the importance of national investments in R&D has shifted and intensified recently. In a June 8 commencement speech at the Georgia Institute of Technology, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) endorsed a doubling of federal funding...
Drugs and Drug Policy: The Case for a Slow Fix
The main policy goal should be to minimize the aggregate societal damage associated with drug use. "Fanaticism," says Santayana, "consists of redoubling your efforts when you have lost sight of your aim." An old Alcoholics Anonymous adage defines...
Environmental Policy in the Age of Genetics
Rapidly emerging technology could lead to a fundamental shift in the way we safeguard human health. In April 1965, a young researcher at Fairchild Semiconductor named Gordon Moore published an article in an obscure industry magazine entitled "Cramming...
Fighting Crime by Treating Substance Abuse
Tackling the core problem of addiction could curb criminal behavior and ease the burden on government budgets. During the past 15 years, concerns about crime and violence have prompted increased law enforcement, prosecution, and punishment. But...
Natural Flood Control
To control flooding, we need to work with the forces of nature instead of simply trying to eliminate them. Americans have always feared floods, and with good reason. Floods are the most common and costly large natural disturbances affecting the...
Preserving Civil Liberties in an Age of Terrorism
The key to stopping terrorists is to be found in foreign policy, not aggressive policing of citizens. In a little-noticed appearance before the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in late June of 1998, Secretary of Defense William Cohen did some thinking...
Pressure to Deploy Missile Defenses Increasing
In "Star Wars Redux" (Issues, Winter 1994-95), I discussed U.S. plans to develop and deploy highly capable defenses against theater (or tactical) ballistic missiles with ranges up to 3,500 kilometers. I argued that large-scale deployment of theater...
Private Venture to Sequence Human Genome Launched
The announcement of a private venture to sequence the entire human genome at less cost and in less time than the huge federal effort is raising some concerns in Congress as well as among scientists. In May, Craig Venter, president and director of...
Protection of Human Subjects in Research Questioned
While patient advocates and scientific organizations are lobbying to boost government investment in biomedical research and the director of the National Cancer Institute has called for a fivefold increase in the number of clinical trials, the system...
R&D Faring Well in FY 1999 Appropriations Process
Although R&D has emerged as a high priority for the House and the Senate, as of mid-September it was still unclear to what degree that support would translate into increased funding for FY 1999, which began on October 1. Two factors were complicating...
Research Support for the Power Industry
New technology may bring great changes but the market alone is unlikely to support the needed research. A revolution is sweeping the electric power industry. Vertically integrated monopoly suppliers and tight regulation are being replaced with a...
Research Tax Credits Expire Once Again
Although Congress allowed the research and experimentation tax credits to expire on June 30, it most likely will reinstate them this fall, and bills have been introduced that would extend the credits permanently and increase the number of organizations...
The Electronic World
Check it out.www.nap.edu www.nas.edu Publication on the Internet has been in the headlines recently. First, the posting of the Starr report on the grand jury investigation of President Clinton created an electronic logjam as hundreds of thousands...
Tracking Trends in Federal Research Spending
Absolute growth in the federal R&D budget leveled off in the late 1980s in real terms, and it began to fall after 1992 as part of the effort to reduce the federal budget deficit. Budget authority for R&D fell 10.3 percent in real terms between...
U.S. Failure in International Scientific Cooperation
In August 1991, we traveled to Mexico to meet with policymakers and scientists about the establishment of a United States-Mexico science foundation devoted to supporting joint research on problems of mutual interest. We encountered enthusiasm and vision...