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. 28, No. 3, Spring

Federal Science and Technology in Brief
* NSF has released its biennial Science & Engineering Indicators report, which tracks data trends in global and domestic R&D funding, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, the science workforce, and public attitudes...
Fuel-Use Reduction Strategies
There are three basic ways to reduce fuel use in the transportation sector in the United States. The first is corporate average fuel economy (cafe) standards, with which the US. government tells the automakers what cars to sell. The second is gas taxes,...
Future of U.S. Planetary Science Explored
The House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics held a November 15 hearing to discuss the future of U.S. planetary science, particularly Mars exploration. In opening remarks, Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-MS) and Ranking...
Global Lessons for Improving U.S. Education: International Comparisons of Student Achievement Illustrate the Gains Possible for Students in the United States and Offer Insights on How to Achieve Them
The middling performance of U.S. students on international achievement tests is by now familiar, so the overall results of the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) study, released in late 2010, came as no surprise. Among the 34...
Hearings Examine R&D Activities at the EPA
In November, the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held two hearings on the merit and quality of R&D activities at the EPA. A November 17 hearing began as a discussion of the EPA's peer-review...
How to Store Spent Nuclear Fuel
"Improving Spent-Fuel Storage at Nuclear Reactors" (Issues, Winter 2012), Robert Alvarez describes a lesson relearned at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. The reactors at Fukushima and roughly one-third of our reactors have spent-fuel pools located...
Internet Freedom and Human Rights: Maintaining the Practice of Open Communication and Continuing the System of Multi-Stakeholder Management of the Internet Can Help Advance the Principles Expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
In the 63 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world has been implementing a global commitment around the rights and freedoms of people everywhere, no matter where they live or who they are. And today as people...
Is Open-Source Software the Answer? the Comingled Code: Open Source and Economic Development
Open-source software has been an enigma to many commentators. Economists, for example, have pondered why any rational person would invest time and energy developing computer programs in order to make them freely copyable and modifiable, when developing...
Learning from Fukushima: Efforts to Explain What Went Wrong in Japan's Nuclear Disaster Are Doomed to Fail If They Seek to Separate the Social from the Technological. Recognizing That All Aspects of Sociotechnical Systems Are Intertwined Is Essential to Developing Wiser Technology Policies
Disasters prompt us to seek lessons. After the tragic trifecta of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear failure at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors in March 2011, many people have turned to Japan to understand what went wrong and how to prevent such an event...
More and Better U.S. Manufacturing
Stephen Ezell's "Revitalizing U.S. Manufacturing" (Issues, Winter 2012) makes two vital points: The United States must not discount the importance of manufacturing to our economy, and we need to employ the types of policies being used in other industrialized...
New Directions for Climate Talks
In "A Course Adjustment for Climate Talks" (Issues, Winter 2012), Ruth Greenspan Bell and Barry Blechman join other analysts in expressing frustration with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process and seek more effective...
President Proposes Slim Increase in R&D Funding for FY 2013
Federal R&D investment would rise to $142.2 billion under President Obama's fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget request, according to an analysis by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This would represent a $1.7 billion or 1.2% increase...
Reducing Nitrogen Emissions
We were pleased to read "The Climate Benefits of Better Nitrogen and Phosphorous Management" by Alan R. Townsend, Peter M. Vitousek, and Benjamin Z. Houlton in your winter 2012 issue. They address the difficult balance we must seek between minimizing...
Should the Science of Adolescent Brain Development Inform Public Policy: Neuroscience Has Made Tremendous Progress in Studying the Adolescent Brain, Opening Opportunities-And Raising Challenges-For Using the Knowledge to Inform a Variety of Public Policies
The science of adolescent brain development is making its way into the national conversation. As an early researcher in the field, I regularly receive calls from journalists asking how the science of adolescent brain development should affect the way...
The 80% Solution: Radical Carbon Emission Cuts for California
The technology and knowledge exist to take the state most of the way to its ambitious 2050 goal, but more research will be needed in a few key areas to achieve full success. There is a lot of buzz about innovation being needed to radically reduce...
The Home of the Future
U.S. buildings are responsible for approximately 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Improving them presents one of the most direct and cost-effective opportunities to reduce those emissions. Our buildings in general are dreadful energy wasters,...
The Tunnel at the End of the Light: The Future of the U.S. Semiconductor Industry
Federal intervention rescued the US. industry in the 1980s. In some ways, the situation is worse now, but so far there has been little talk, never mind action, about it. Today, as it was 25 years ago, U.S. leadership in the semiconductor industry...
Time for Another Giant Leap for Mankind
In May of 1961, President John R Kennedy announced a bold priority for the United States. He memorably urged the nation to send a man to the Moon by 1970: "No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important...
Transportation: The California Model
In "California's Pioneering Transportation Strategy" (Issues, Winter 2012), two of its leading lights, Professor Daniel Sperling and California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, highlight many of the key aspects of why it is not only possible,...
Who Should Govern the Internet? Networks and States: The Global Politics of Internet Governance
The phrase "Internet governance" stimulates a range of responses, from fear on the part of infotech pioneers to hope in the hearts of many government leaders in emerging economies. A global "network of networks," the Internet interconnects networks...
Why the Current Education Reform Strategy Won't Work: To Improve Innovation and Boost the Economy, the Nation Needs a Fundamentally New Approach to Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
For over half a century, innovations based on science and engineering have powered the U.S. economy, creating good jobs, a high standard of living, and international economic leadership. Yet, as the National Science Board documented in Science and...