Science & Society

Science and Society and how they get along.

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Location: Santa Barbara, California, United States

I'm a physicist and science consultant specialized in optics, lasers and optical engineering. This blog, StarkFX, looks at what applications physics is finding today. Or, if you are looking at my StarkEffects blog, it displays my views about and interest in the interface between society and science.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Science & Tech priorities are set by the new admin.

Peter R. Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and John P. Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, released a joint memo on August 4th outlining the establishment of scientific priorities for the FY2011 budget.

In the memorandum scientific discovery and innovation are described as, “major engines for increasing productivity, promoting economic growth, safeguarding the environment, improving the health of the population and safeguarding our national security.”

Agencies are asked to redirect resources from, “lower-priority areas,” to scientific and technological activities that are designed to meet four identifiable,“practical challenges,” to administration priorities. Those challenges are described in the memorandum as follows:

  1. ·Applying science and technology strategies to drive economic recovery, job creation, and economic growth;

  2. ·Promoting innovative energy technologies to reduce dependence on energy imports and mitigate the impact of climate-change while creating green jobs and new businesses;

  3. ·Applying biomedical science and information technology to help Americans live longer, healthier lives while reducing health care costs;

  4. ·Assuring we have the technologies needed to protect our troops, citizens, and national interests, including those needed to verify arms control and nonproliferation agreements essential to our security

There are four strategic goals outlined to help public agencies meet the requirements:

  1. ·Increasing the productivity of our research institutions, including our research universities and major public and private laboratories and research centers;

  2. ·Strengthening science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education at every level, from pre-college to post-graduate to lifelong learning;

  3. ·Improving and protecting our information, communication, and transportation infrastructure, which is essential to our commerce, science, and security alike; and

  4. ·Enhancing our capabilities in space, which are essential for communications, geopositioning, intelligence gathering, Earth observation, and national defense, as well as for increasing our understanding of the universe and our place in it.

Agencies are to describe the expected outcomes of their budget proposals, ensure transparency in their requests and provide, “quantitative metrics,” where at all possible to support their proposals. It further directs federal agencies to clearly illustrate how federal, “science and technology investments contribute to increased economic productivity and progress,” and how these goals and initiatives outlined in the memo are conducted with the, “highest standards of ethical and scientific integrity.”

I'm looking forward to reading some of these proposals, especially the parts illustrating how science and tech investments contribute to increased economic productivity. I think it is very important that the public become aware of how much we depend on science, and also what we can expect science to contribute in the future. I wonder if there is anyway that the media can make scientists as exciting as they made lawyers in the last decade?

T. Troy Stark