It has been three months since the attacks in New York City and at
the Pentagon. To assist the families of the victims of these attacks,
a Science and Engineering Scholarship Fund has been established. Information
on this fund follows. National Science Foundation Director Rita Colwell
has also spoken about the role that science has and will play in strengthening
national security, stating "The nation's science policy will move
in the direction of national security." Selections from her remarks
The Science and Engineering Scholarship Fund is sponsored by dozens
of organizations representing more than one million scientists and engineers.
Among those organizations are the American Physical Society, Acoustical
Society of America, the American Astronomical Society, the American
Crystallographic Association, the American Institute of Physics, and
the Optical Society of America. A statement explains "Financially
needy dependents of both domestic and foreign victims of the terrorist
attack can rely on the fund to help them pursue science and engineering
degrees at US colleges and universities." Further information about
the fund can be viewed at an American Physical Society web site at http://www.aps.org/sciencefund.html
National Science Foundation Director Rita Colwell gave a speech last
month at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars entitled,
"Science: Before and After September 11." Selections from
her remarks follow. The full text of her speech can be read at http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/forum/colwell/rc011107wodrowilson.htm
"It is abundantly clear that there is a concurrent need for increased
scientific and engineering knowledge. In times such as these, we are
acutely cognizant of living in a society defined by, and dependent on,
science and technology.
"Every discussion about airline safety, contamination by disease,
failure of communication links, poisoning of food and drinking water,
assessment of damaged infrastructure, and countless other concerns depends
on our scientific and technical knowledge.
"The mathematician-philosopher Alfred North Whitehead said of
science, 'The aims of scientific thought are to see the general in the
particular and the eternal in the transitory.'
"And so we must ask how science can elucidate these times. We
know that science brings fresh knowledge of ourselves and our planet,
and thus what is newly possible. That, however, is not enough."
"Today, sophisticated knowledge, powerful tools, and high-speed
transportation and communication amplify that complexity.
"For the past 50 years, the federal government has provided continuous
and growing support to develop the underlying science, technology, and
knowledge that helped us build these capabilities. This began, in large
part, as a result of the significant role that science played in winning
World War II.
"Since then, our enterprise of scientists and engineers has been
responsive to the changing context of society. We will need to strengthen
the links between physical sciences and the social and behavioral sciences.
"Our accrued knowledge from decades of research-support is already
serving new objectives brought about by the events that began on September
11th. The nation's science policy will move in the direction of national
"The late Congressman George Brown of California was science's
best friend and most constructive critic in the Congress. In a 1994
speech at the National Academy of Sciences, he said, 'We must have ...
a research system that arches and bends with society's goals.' The larger
context determines the direction in which this movement occurs. The
research enterprise arches and bends to national needs.
"In hindsight, there was a certain stability in the Cold War period
- with its recognizable foes and unifying ideals. The interval since
the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 has shown us the signs and signals
of past fragmentation, the rise of old hatreds, and the burgeoning of
new ones. In some sense, the fifty years of the Cold War was an anomalous
period in the larger scope of human history.
"In that long sweep of civilization, science and engineering have
had an ever-increasing influence in the life of society. We've used
most of that knowledge to remediate an existing problem or to address
a current need.
"We now recognize that we also need to draw on one of science's
most potent capacities prediction. If we can predict, we frequently
can prevent. The centuries of our accrued knowledge can and should increasingly
be directed toward prevention."
"We need to develop a broader, more anticipatory perspective in
our research. We need to increase our emphasis on envisioning future
possibilities, good or ill, as a mechanism to predict. Undoubtedly,
this will open new vistas in our exploration and discovery.
"This must take place at the same time that the research community
maintains a freedom and passion for new frontiers and the rigor of merit
"As all of you know so well, knowledge is our strongest insurance
for preparedness. Without new knowledge we cannot develop foresight.
As we evolve increasingly into a knowledge-based society, our economic
growth, our national security, and our social well being will depend
on the most advanced discoveries in every field. Knowledge is the bedrock.
"Our ability to use foresight gives us a kind of early warning
system - a guard against unintended consequences."
"Science can be an effective predictor. To prevent requires more.
The research community needs to find more effective methods to use its
capacity to predict to meet real world needs through prevention.
"Everyone in this room knows that by solving a present problem
we can easily sow the seeds of genuine dilemmas for the next generation.
History is replete with examples. When foresight directs our actions
and the use of knowledge, we are a lot less likely to fix the present
at the cost of the future.
"But we can never think of our current knowledge as a security
blanket for the future. It will help us in the present but as Whitehead
again instructs us, 'Knowledge doesn't keep any better than fish.'
"New, more complete knowledge replaces it - a process of constant
renewal and at an ever accelerating pace. This makes an unshakable case
for consistent research in all eras, at all times.
"Despite our vast knowledge base, we likely still know very little
of what there is to know. This should prevent us from being arrogant
about what we do know. That doesn't always happen. In fact, we do ourselves
a national disservice when we educate and train our scientists and engineers
only in science and technology.
"The world in which our work bears fruit is a world of integration
and overlapping consequences. Narrow knowledge can become incorrect
"America has been fortunate to have leaders that understood the
value of ongoing support for research. They have viewed research as
an investment, not an expense. Just as a college education is an investment
in an individual's future, support for research is an investment in
the nation's future.
"Advances in physics, biology, chemistry - the core physical sciences
- undergird all of the biomedical sciences on which we depend to understand
disease, find cures, develop vaccines, and initiate preventive strategies."
"The alternative to not being at the forefront of science and
technology is the alternative of being left behind. There is an ever-growing
community of nations with equally capable workers.
"Globalization has proven this repeatedly in the last decade.
There is a reservoir of talent in other cultures of which we know little.
They too will join the ranks of competitors.
"In the 21st century, success will be determined increasingly
by science and technology. Therefore, economic survival means being
on the cutting edge of discovery and knowledge creation.
"Choosing otherwise is not frugal; it's just shortsighted. September
11 has taught us that terrorists also utilize sophisticated science
"This new era marked by the watershed events of 9/11 presents
new directions for science and technology. As we incorporate the phrase
'homeland security' into our national lexicon, every sector of society,
but especially the federal government, will be in the business of preparedness.
"Less than a month ago, we saw a glaring example of why it is
so important to have a public educated to the issues of science and
technology. The surprise emergence of Anthrax in the mail set in motion
a race for information.
"It is vital that the public and all our leaders have a better
working knowledge of the science and technology that defines our very
existence. Although Anthrax is not an everyday occurrence, there were
many, including public officials, who thought it was contagious.
"Without correct information, we breed chaos and hysteria - neither
of which fosters appropriate responses. We have a new battle to fight
and that is to prevent man's deliberate turning back the clock of progress
in public health.
"A citizenry literate about science and technology serves several
goals. It gives the nation a workforce educated and trained to compete
in the increasingly competitive global marketplace. It promotes good
judgment as voters on both issues and candidates. It serves as strong
defense against delusions of safety as well as threats. I cannot stress
enough the primary importance of a scientifically literate citizenry.
I cannot stress enough the responsibility of the science community to
help us meet that goal. "In multiple aspects, September 11 was
a knife-sharp awakening for the nation and its leaders. Not the least
of those surprises was how little people outside of the science community
and those on the periphery understand science and technology issues.
"To a large extent, what we know and do not know as citizens is
dependent on the media. The public increasingly relies on the mass communication
of print and broadcast information.
"The science community must work in conjunction with the media
to inform the general public on new issues that affect us all. We ignore
this steep learning curve at considerable risk. We cannot protect ourselves
if we do not understand the threats as well as the prevention.
"The National Science Foundation has made a scientifically literate
citizenry and workforce a central thrust in all of our programs. We
begin with teacher preparation and solid curricula for students in the
K through 12 years.
"Today, knowledge of science and technology is necessary for everyone,
not just those who become scientists and engineers. We know that there
is an expanding need for technically skilled workers whose final degree
may be a high school diploma or an associate's degree.
"In addition, our national need for scientists and engineers cannot
possibly be fulfilled by the traditional white male population. We must
focus on attracting women and our diverse minority populations to these
"This poses a profoundly significant challenge that must be met
in our primary schools and build from there a broader base.
"As we reflect on our knowledge-driven society, we all know that
knowledge alone is not enough to make a better world. The Founding Fathers
framed a set of primary values for our nation based on the independence
of, and the respect for, individuals. Armed with these values, science
becomes an important vehicle for human progress."
"With these values to guide us, we have made appropriate choices
for ourselves as a nation. But we are not alone in the world.
"Let me share with you in closing comments that Congressman George
Brown made in a 1993 at the National Research Council. We in the science
community sorely miss his foresight and vision.
"I bring his words to you because you are an international community
of scholars and public policy experts. As always he left us with important
ideas. In a speech titled A New Paradigm for Development: Building Dignity
Instead of Dependence, he said,