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. 29, No. 1, Fall

Affordable Access to Space: Rockets Are 20th-Century Technology. A Government Effort to Develop New Launch Technologies Could Open the Door to a Vast Array of New Opportunities for Space Exploration and Development
The high cost of reaching orbit is the major factor preventing the large-scale exploration and exploitation of space. When I fly from College Station, Texas, to almost anywhere in the United States, I pay $4 to rn3 gre $8 per kilogram (kg) of me. When...
Applying New Research to Improve Science Education: Insights from Several Fields on How People Learn to Become Experts Can Help Us to Dramatically Enhance the Effectiveness of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is critical to the U.S. future because of its relevance to the economy and the need for a citizenry able to make wise decisions on issues faced by modern society. Calls for improvement...
Back to Basics on Energy Policy: For the Past 40 Years, Political Leaders Have Promised That Government Can Plan and Engineer a Fundamental Transformation of Our Energy Industry. They Were Wrong
In June 1973, President Richard Nixon addressed the emerging energy crisis, saying that "the answer to our long-term needs lies in developing new forms of energy." He asked Congress for a five-year, $10 billion budget to "ensure the development of...
Bills Introduced to Improve Forensic Science
Kirk Odom served 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He was convicted on the basis of a mistaken victim identification and faulty forensics. Thirty years later, DNA testing on a hair found at the crime scene, as well as stains on pillowcases...
Controlling the Arms Bazaar: The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade
The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade by Andrew Feinstein. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2011, 704 pp. In July 2012, after years of preliminary effort, United Nations (UN) member nations gathered in New York to draft a treaty...
Decoupling Water and Violent Conflict: A Basic Human Need, Water Can Be the Source of Social Conflicts. with Safeguards, Including Informed Government Polices and Management Decisions, the Dangers Can Be Defused
As the saying goes, water is the stuff of life. It is a basic human need, the lifeblood of critical ecosystems, and a basis for livelihoods and cultures for countless communities around the world. There are no substitutes for water's most important...
Do High-Stakes Tests Improve Learning? Test-Based Incentives, Which Reward or Sanction Schools, Teachers, and Students Based on Students' Test Scores, Have Dominated US. Education Policy for Decades. but a Recent Study Suggests That They Should Be Used with Caution and Carefully Evaluated
The United States has long performed at a middling level on international assessments of students' math, reading, and science knowledge, trailing many other high-income countries. In their efforts to improve K-12 education, U.S. policymakers have increasingly...
Escape from the Great Distress the Role of Rules: Technological Innovation Alone Will Not Revive the U.S. Economy. We Must Also Update Some of the Underlying Rules That Govern the Ways That We Make Economic Decisions
The early part of my career was focused on the elusive notion of an idea and its economic power. I worked both at the theoretical level and the policy level in thinking through what we should do in our policies to take the full advantage of the power...
Global Bioethics Hopes, Fears, and New Voices: As Science Increasingly Crosses Borders, So Do the Implications of Deeply Personal Health Sciences. Can New Voices Help in Bioethical Dialogue?
During the 1990s, James Grifo, a physician and researcher at New York University, had been working to develop a technique to help treat certain kinds of infertility. Although in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments had been successful for many of his...
House Republicans Hold Controversial Hearings on ERA Rules
The House held two controversial hearings on the EPA on June 6, addressing the effects of recent rules on the oil and gas industries. The Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Energy and Power invited several stakeholders to express their...
Qualitative Metrics in Science Policy: What Can't Be Counted, Counts
The past half-century has ushered in a veritable revolution in the science of metrics, as the surprisingly long life of Moore's Law and related advances in information technology have led to a vast reservoir of quantitative information ripe for study...
R&D Funding Picture Remains Mixed, as Budget Negotiations Stall
The laborious process of crafting a federal budget for the next fiscal year (FY) 2013 appeared set to grind to a halt, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said on July 31 that they had reached an agreement...
Senate Committee Examines EPA Rule on Air Pollution from Fracking
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works' Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety held a hearing on June 19 to review new EPA air standards for hydraulically fractured natural gas wells and oil and natural gas storage. The EPA rule,...
The Climate Struggle Heats Up: The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars
The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars by Michael E. Mann. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012, 395 pp. In The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, Michael E. Mann offers a personal assessment of the controversies and shenanigans that have...
The Limits of Knowledge Personal and Public: Human Beings and Governments Typically Make Irrational Decisions. Taking This into Account in Personal Planning and in Policymaking Offers Improved Results
One of the most basic assumptions underlying much of Western thinking is that individuals are rational beings, able to form judgments based on empirical information and logical deliberations in their quest for a course of action most suited to advancing...