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. 26, No. 4, Summer

Bill Proposes Incentives for Carbon Capture and Storage
In late March 2010, Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and George Voinovich (R-OH) introduced a draft of legislation that would provide extensive incentives for the development and deployment of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. Capturing...
Bringing U.S. Roads into the 21st Century: A Wide Range of Technologies and Techniques Are Now Available to Vastly Improve the Performance of Our Transportation System, but We Have Been Slow to Adopt Them
Information technology (IT) has transformed many industries, from education to health care to government, and is now in the early stages of transforming countries' transportation systems. Although many think that improving a country's transportation...
Congress Reconsiders Rules on Toxic Substances
Congress is considering revamping the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), passed 35 years ago to regulate the use of harmful compounds. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has proposed a bill, the Safe Chemicals Act of 2010 (S. 3209), that would provide...
Critical Minerals and Emerging Technologies: The Federal Government Can Help Ensure That the Nation Has Sufficient and Reliable Supplies of Critical Materials Used Increasingly in Industry and Defense
The periodic table is under siege. Or at least that is what one might imagine after hearing some of the cries of alarm that have begun echoing across the United States. We hear that the latest cell phones, electric vehicles, or critical weapons systems...
Federal Science and Technology in Brief
* The EPA announced that it is formally listing Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical widely used in consumer goods, as a "chemical of concern" and will require additional research on it. EPA joins the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in studying BPA. FDA...
Girl Power
It's not as if we have not been investing in girls who call the developing world home. Reams of annual reports attest to well-meaning efforts on the part of many. And that includes investments in health and education, the focus of the pungent clarion...
House Votes to Reauthorize America COMPETES Act
Despite strong Republican opposition, the House on May 28 approved the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 by a 262 to 150 vote. The legislation is designed to make investments in science, innovation, and education at three agencies: the National...
Making College Affordable by Improving Aid Policy: Financial Aid Programs to Expand College Access Could Be Improved by Simplifying Processes and Favoring Grants over Loans and Need-Based Rather Than Merit-Based Criteria
Higher education plays an important role in U.S. society. In addition to providing numerous public benefits, such as an increased tax base and greater civic engagement, it helps individuals attain economic and social success. Experiences and skills...
Pursuing Geoengineering for Atmospheric Restoration: Geoengineering Is Fraught with Problems, but Research on Three Approaches Could Lead to the Greatest Climate Benefits with the Smallest Chance of Unintentional Environmental Harm
A few decades ago, the notion of actively controlling Earth's climate resided primarily in the writings of science fiction authors such as Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke. Today, planetary engineering is being discussed openly by...
Reassessing Conservation Goals in a Changing Climate
Climate change poses a hierarchy of significant challenges for conservation policy. First, the sheer scale of climate change calls for conservation efforts to be vastly stepped up. Second, the pace and extent of expected climate change will probably...
Science and the Entrepreneurial University: Research Universities Have Been Key in Driving the U.S. Economy. Keeping Their Engines Revving Will Require Facing Some Critical Challenges
During the second half of the 20th century, research universities in the United States remade themselves into an important engine of the modern economy. Everyone has heard of the technological miracles wrought by Silicon Valley in California and Route...
Science's Uncertain Authority in Policy
Scientists view science as the ultimate authority on the laws of the universe, but that authority has no special standing when it comes to the laws of nations. The rigors of the scientific method may be humanity's most reliable approach to attaining...
Standards for Synthetic Biology
Jonathan B. Tucker is helping to track the emerging field of synthetic biology in writing "Double-Edged DNA: Preventing the Misuse of Gene Synthesis" (Issues, Spring 2010) in addition to his 2006 article coauthored with Raymond Zilinskas, "The Promise...
To Innovate, Educate
In June 2009, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey of more than 1,000 randomly sampled American adults. Each participant took a brief quiz testing their science knowledge including one question that asked whether or not lasers work by focusing...
Why Good Ideas Sometimes Languish: Sigmund Freud Has the Key to Understanding How Deep-Rooted and Often Unacknowledged Resistance Can Thwart the Implementation of Popular and Meritorious Innovations
At first blush it would seem that maintaining a personal health record (PHR) has many merits. Almost everyone would want to have health information about themselves readily available in a digital format and completely under their control. They could...