SCIENCE: THE ENDLESS RESOURCE
Underpinning Our Nation's Economic Well-Being,
Health, and National Security
"Cutting back on research at the dawn of a new century where research is more important than it has been for even the last fifty years would be like cutting our defense budget at the height of the Cold War."
--President Bill Clinton
Throughout time, humans have pondered the nature of the universe and the laws that order it, seeking to understand our world and our place in the cosmos. Curiosity and the quest for understanding punctuate all human growth and learning, beginning with our
childhood questions: "What is it?" "How does it work?" "What happens if . . . ?" Basic (or fundamental) research seeks to answer these and other questions in all scientific fields. Basic research usually does not have a specific practical benefit in mi
nd; it simply helps us understand the way things are and generates new ideas and questions about the unknown. It has taught us about the evolution of the physical universe, the evolution of life, and a wealth of other topics.
Inevitably, however, the results of basic research are prerequisites for many advances that substantially improve our lives. No one could anticipate that:
- early studies of the DNA molecule would lead to genetic engineering to develop new and effective drugs, more productive crops, and more nutritious foods;
- ultra-precise atomic clocks invented to test the laws of physics would become the heart of the Global Positioning System - now a multi-billion-dollar business used for navigat
ion, emergency rescue, tracking commercial vehicles, and perhaps soon for air traffic control;
- basic research on the way liquids pass through holes would lead to improved fuel injection systems for cars, ink-jet printers, and artificial heart valves;
- basic studies of the attitudes and behaviors of tens of millions of military personnel over decades would lay the foundation for many of today's high-performance business management practices;
- engineering experiments on microelectromechanical systems would create a billion-dollar industry providing acceleration sensors for automobile air bags, and many other products;
- fundamental research on magnetism would transform our society, making our information age possible through tape recorders, video cassette recorders, and everything else that records and stores information; or
- decades of research in basic physics and chemistry would provide the sophisticated tools essential for molecular biology, genome sequencing, and advanced medical diagnosis and treatment.
Although it is virtually impossible to predict specifically how today's basic research results will eventually improve our quality of life, or to imagine the new industries and markets that will eme
rge, there is no question that such improvements and industries will arise. America's scientists and engineers are working in universities, industrial laboratories, research institutes, and national laboratories on important research. Their results will t
ransform our lives in the twenty-first century, just as we now reap the harvest from past discoveries. Our children and grandchildren will look back with the same wonder we experience today at the myriad ways frontier basic research has advanced society.
Basic science studies matter at all levels of aggregation, from the materials we experience everyday down to their most fundamental constituents. This progress leads to new scientific and technical knowledge and, years later, to innovative prod
ucts and lucrative commercial markets. These advances have generated millions of high-skilled, high-wage jobs and significantly improved the quality of life for Americans.
The Administration's commitment to basic research derives from a clear and positive vision for the future prosperity of our nation and a strong belief that by creating knowledge and a well-educated
citizenry, we gain the power to shape our future. Therefore, the Administration has championed Federal investments in science and technology, stressing repeatedly that science fuels technology's engine - the engine of economic growth that creates jobs, bu
ilds new industries, and improves our standard of living. Moreover, a significant component of Federally sponsored research is performed in colleges and universities, where young scientists and engineers are trained in the process of creating new knowledg
OUR NATIONAL GOALS FOR SCIENCE
To advance America's interests in science, mathematics, and engineering, the Administration set forth the following goals in its 1994 science policy statement, Science in the National Interest:
- To sustain leadership across the frontiers of scientific knowledge.
- To enhance connections between fundamental research and broad national goals.
- To stimulate partnerships that promote investments in fundamental science and engineering and effective use of physical, human, and financial resources.
- To produce the finest scientists and engineers for the twenty-first century.
- To raise the scientific and technological literacy of all Americans.
Achieving these goals will ensure that our nation has the specialized human resources as well as the modern infrastructure needed for cutting-edge science and technology. The science and technology
enterprise weaves a vast and variegated fabric of knowledge, ideas, devices, and questions that covers a broad range of human curiosity and innovation.
This report is organized around these science policy goals, and this chapter focuses on leadership in the generation of fundamental knowledge that defines basic science. The chapters on technology,
health, environment, and national security capture the partnerships and connections that harness new knowledge, helping us reach those overarching national goals. The chapter on human resources addresses the production of the world's best scientists and e
ngineers, and the need to improve public literacy in science and technology.
SUSTAINING LEADERSHIP ACROSS THE
FRONTIERS OF SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE
Leadership across the frontiers of scientific knowledge is not merely a cultural tradition of our nation - today it is an economic and security imperative. Creative people working in diverse fields generate new knowledge - rich in wonder and often leading
to unexpected applications. The range of our research spans all major fields of science and engineering and is one of its most powerful attributes.
There is a solid consensus that maintaining the human resources and modern infrastructure essential for scientific leadership is a fundamental Federal responsibility. Thus, public funding of researc
h and development traditionally has enjoyed strong, bipartisan support. Government investments provide world-class facilities, promote scientific breakthroughs and interdisciplinary linkages among the major science and engineering fields, and train talent
ed people to tackle emerging scientific challenges. As corporate R&D laboratories have increasingly favored applied research and development projects likely to improve competitiveness in the near term, the Federal government has become the dominant sponso
r of the nation's long-term, basic research portfolio. The Administration has embraced this role by continuing to support the basic science programs of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in
the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE) , and the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration. These programs are vital to our
nation's future, as are those at the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Com
merce (DOC), Interior (DOI), and other Federal agencies with targeted missions. Between FY 1993 and the Administration's FY1998 budget request, Federal investment in basic research has risen
from $13.36 billion to $15.30 billion - an increase of 14.5 percent.
This diversity of Federal sources of research funding and the rich variety of institutions and organizations conducting the research are two of the strengths contributing to U.S. leadership across t
he scientific frontiers. Universities and colleges - where education proceeds synergistically with the creation of new knowledge - consistently perform about one-sixth of all Federally funded R&D, and over half of our basic research. Federal laboratories,
nonprofit research institutes, and industrial firms are also major players. The laboratories of DOE, NIH, NASA, and USDA, particularly, are deeply integrated into America's fundamental science enterprise in their mission areas. Rich in human talent and e
ngineering capability, these Federal laboratories are renowned for unique, state-of-the-art scientific facilities, instruments, and other resources, operated for and made available to the national scientific community. Of course, a major component of the
R&D portfolios of these laboratories, as well as those of DOD, DOC, and other agencies, serves their overriding missions to ensure national security, and to promote technological progress, health, environmental quality, and food supply as described in the
other chapters of this report.
Most important, the people actively engaged in the quest to understand the unknown power our innovation system. They recognize, pursue, and exploit breakthroughs, no matter where in the world they a
For example, in the mid-1980s European scientists discovered high-temperature superconductors. Immediately, American investigators with the requisite expertise turned their energies with great success to extending and exploiting this discovery, both in te
rms of fundamental understanding and engineered applications.
Scientific breakthroughs spur new technologies that, in turn, enable improved scientific capabilities to explore the unknown. It was not until the mid-1980s that physics understanding, niobium purity, and ultraclean manufacturing and processing
techniques made it feasible to build a superconducting electron accelerator needed to explore the innermost structure of the atom's nucleus. The world's largest assembly of superconducting accelerator cavities is now at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, Virginia.
Given the growing linkages among the scientific and technical disciplines, it is impossible to predict what expertise will be indispensable for future developments. As with any investment portfolio, certain areas will be emphasized at any given time becau
se of special opportunities for progress and impact. The Federal portfolio, however, must remain broad-based and accommodate the high-risk investments that may have enormous long-term impact. It is increasingly evident that the major fields of science a
nd engineering mutually catalyze one another - strengthening the fabric of science and, with it, the entire science and technology enterprise. By advancing all frontiers of knowledge, creative American scientists and engineers, along with their students,
enrich the present and shape the future.
The diversity of Federal sources of basic research funding, and the variety of institutions and organizations conducting the research contribute to U.S. leadership across the scientific frontiers spanned by the Federal scientific and technical
In this time of constrained resources, some have argued that less emphasis should be placed on basic research, since its results are typically available to anyone in the world. Japan, for example, h
as developed strong market positions for some products, particularly consumer electronics, for which American scientists did much of the original research and development. The Administration rejects this simplistic argument. The dominance of our basic res
earch enterprise is a core American strength that must be preserved. This enterprise, in addition to producing new knowledge that is indeed appropriable by others, generates the physical and human infrastructure that underlies our national innovation syst
em and our society's resourcefulness in the face of rapid technological change.
We also must remember that basic research repays society in the near term through newsworthy discoveries that inspire our children and society at large. This ability to uncover and understand nature
's secrets is a uniquely human accomplishment. Only the Federal government can supply the truly "patient capital" for the long-term investment in basic research.
The human infrastructure - creative scientists and engineers, trained at the research frontier and able to move boldly in response to new opportunities and challenges - positions America at the fore
front of the "brainpower industries" of the future. Such industries - high technology, health-care technology and biotechnology, business technologies, multimedia technologies, and others - increasingly support expansion of our export economy. America's e
conomic resilience, as demonstrated in the rapid recovery of our leadership in semiconductors over the last five years, is clearly tied to our strength in science and technology, especially the basic and applied research capacity and human capital that sp
ring from our research universities. Indeed, it is noteworthy that Japan's decision to dramatically increase research funding emphasizes strengthening its research universities.
Competitive advantages clearly accrue to nations fashioning the future through investments that return new, basic knowledge. Although our total investment in non-defense research and development rem
ains the highest in the world, it is only 75 percent that of Japan and 85 percent of Germany's as a fraction of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). We must not let our position erode and thus compromise our future.
The nondefense R&D/GDP ratios of both Japan (2.7 percent) and Germany (2.4 percent) considerably exceeded that of the United States (2.0 percent) in 1993 and have done so for years. The nondefense R&D ratio of France matched the ratio of the Un
ited States; the ratios of the United Kingdom (1.9 percent), Canada (1.5 percent), and Italy (1.3 percent) were somewhat lower.
America's Best: Our 1993-1996 Nobel Prize Winners
In each of the last four years, American scientists funded by the U.S. government have won Nobel prizes. These awards reflect the enormous dividends of specific research investments included years ago in our national research and development portfolio by
the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense.
Nobel Prize Winners 1993-1996
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NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS awarded to:
Russell A. Hulse, Princeton Univesity, Princeton, NJ and
Josheph H. Taylor, Jr., Princeton, NJ,
for the discovery of a new type of pulsar, a discovery that has opened up new possibilities
for the study of gravitation.
NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY awarded for contributions to the developments of
methods within DNA-based chemistry with one-half to:
Kary B. Mullis, La Jolla, CAm for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
method and one-half to:
Michael Smith, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, for his fundamental
contributions to the establishment of oligonucleiotide-based, site-directed mutagenesis and
its development for protein studies.
NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE awarded jointly to:
Richard J. Roberts, (U.K.), New England Biolabs, Beverly, MA, and
Phillip A. Sharp, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA,
for their discoveries of split genes.
BANK OF SWEDEN PRIZE IN ECONOMIC SCIENCES IN MEMORY OF ALFRED NOBEL awarded jointly to:
Robert W. Fogel, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, and
Douglass C. North, Washington University, St. Louis, MO,
for having renewed research in economic history by applying economic theory and
quantitative methods in order to explain economic and institutional change.
1 9 9 4
NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS awarded for pioneering contributions to the development of
neutron scattering techniques for studies of condensed matter with one-half to:
Bertram N. Brockhouse, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada, for development of
and one-half to:
Clifford G. Shull, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Cambridge, MA, for the development of the neutron diffraction technique.
NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY awarded to:
George A. Olah, University of Southern California,
for his contribution to carbocation
NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE awarded jointly to:
Alfred G. Gilman, University of Texas Southwest Medical Center, Dallas, TX, and
Martin Rodbell, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park,
NC, for their discovery of G-proteins and the role of these proteins in signal transduction
BANK OF SWEDEN PRIZE IN ECONOMIC SCIENCES IN MEMORY OF ALFRED NOBEL awarded jointly to:
John C. Harsanyi, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA,
John F. Nash, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, and
Reinhard Selten, Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms Universitat, Bonn, Germany, for their
pioneering analysis of equilibria in the theory of non-cooperative games.
1 9 9 5
NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS awarded for pioneering experimental contributions to lepton
physics with one-half to:
Martin L. Perl, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, for the discovery of the tau lepton, and
Frederick Reines, University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA, for the detection of the
NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY awarded jointly to:
Paul J. Crutzen (Netherlands), Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany,
Mario J. Molina, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, and
Sherwood F. Rowland, University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA, for their work in
atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone.
NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE awarded jointly to:
Edward B. Lewis, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA,
Christiane Nusslein-Volhard, Max Planck Institut fur Entwicklungsbiologie, Germany, and
Eric F. Wieschaus, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, for their discoveries concerning the
genetic control of early embryonic development.
BANK OF SWEDEN PRIZE IN ECONOMIC SCIENCES IN MEMORY OF ALFRED NOBEL awarded to:
Robert E. Lucas, Jr., University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, for having developed and applied
the hypothesis of rational expectations, and thereby having transformed macroeconomic
analysis and deepened our understanding of economic policy.
1 9 9 6
NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS awarded jointly to:
David M. Lee, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY,
Robert C. Richardson, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and
Douglas D. Osheroff, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, for discovery of superfluidity in
NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY awarded jointly to:
Robert F. Curl, Jr., Rice University, Dallas, TX,
Richard E. Smalley, Rice University, Dallas, TX, and
Sir Harold W. Kroto, University of Sussex, Brighton, U.K., for their discovery of
NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE awarded jointly to:
Peter C. Doherty (Australia), St. Jude's Hospital Memphis TN, and
Rolf M. Zinkernagel, University of Zurich, Switzerland, for their discoveries concerning
the specificity of the cell mediated immune defense.
BANK OF SWEDEN PRIZE IN ECONOMIC SCIENCES IN MEMORY OF ALFRED NOBEL awarded to:
James A. Mirrlees, University of Cambridge, U.K., and
William Vickrey, Columbia University, New York, NY, for their fundamental contributions
to the economic theory of incentives under asymmetric information.
ADVANCING THE FRONTIERS
OF SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE
Maintaining U.S. leadership across the frontiers of scientific knowledge is achieved through investments by numerous Federal agencies that span all fields of science and engineering. Diverse combinations of expertise and approaches, along with teamwork an
d collaboration, contribute to the steady progress and major breakthroughs advancing today's frontiers. By bringing specialists together to tackle problems that transcend disciplinary boundaries, we cross-fertilize scientific fields and spur further advan
The five thrust areas discussed below typify the breadth of Federal investments and the multidisciplinary character of today's frontiers of knowledge. Many other examples could be chosen; indeed, ma
ny others are discussed throughout subsequent chapters. Taken together, these five research thrusts convey the varied, vibrant, and active character of science: simultaneously satisfying our curiosity, leading to new technologies, and serving our overarch
ing national goals.
Each theme listed below represents an area of emphasis in our Federal research portfolio:
In each area, several Federal agencies bring to bear powerful capabilities and complementary perspectives. The research enlists the talents and institutional resources of the best university faculty
and students, government and national laboratory scientists and engineers, and industrial researchers throughout the nation. Priority goes to efforts that are judged most worthy of taxpayer investment on the basis of merit review and that also serve the
missions of the Federal agencies. The competition for resources is fierce. Annually our nation's scientists and engineers submit some 70,000 proposals just to the NSF and NIH for scientifically sound and worthwhile studies - easily three to five times mor
e than can be funded.
ORIGINS: SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS
TO FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIRTH AND
DEVELOPMENT OF GALAXIES, STARS,
PLANETS, AND LIFE
At present, scientists can claim a rudimentary understanding of the physical evolution of the universe from about 10-35 seconds after the start of the Big Bang to today. Recent discoveries by space-based instruments, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, by NSF's ground-based observatories, and by a new generation of large privately funded telescopes, have made recent years outstanding ones for astronomy.
We now have strong observational evidence for formerly exotic theoretical concepts such as black holes, one of which may lie at the center of our own galaxy. Most scientists now agree that modern di
scoveries confirm that there was a cataclysmic moment of creation - the Big Bang - that gave birth to the universe. And at about the same time the fundamental structure of matter was being determined, small breaks in the otherwise uniformly smooth fabric
of the universe were setting the stage for the formation of galaxies. NASA's COBE satellite observed the effect of these inhomogeneities by looking back to a time w
hen the universe was about a million years old. Primordial gases cooled and somehow collected together - perhaps influenced by concentrations of dark matter - to become the first galaxies, and then smaller clumps of gases within them became the first star
s. Now we can observe stellar nurseries, like the Eagle Nebula (see photo).
This eerie, dark pillar-like structure in the Eagle Nebula in this Hubble Space Telescope image is actually cool interstellar hydrogen gas and dust incubating new stars. Stars are born when clouds of dust and gas collapse because of gravity. As
more and more material falls onto the forming star, it finally becomes hot and dense enough at its center to trigger the nuclear fusion reactions that make stars, including our Sun, shine.
While we have answered many age-old questions, the progress of the past several years has forced new questions upon us. We do not know the exact paths along which galaxies, stars, and planetary syst
ems evolve. Only within the past two years have we discovered possible planets around other stars. We do not completely understand the Sun's impact on processes here on earth. We are only beginning to explore the detailed features of our nearest planetary
These new questions have prompted a natural shift to an "origins' perspective. Because understanding the evolution of the universe, including the life within it, takes the combined contributions of
astrophysics, space science, particle physics, nuclear physics, exobiology, and chemistry, the broad questions of origins now connect many of the nation's scientific efforts in a highly complementary way.
For example, while astronomers using NASA spacecraft and NSF observatories are focusing on large-scale galaxy formation and planetary studies, complementary work in particle and nuclear physics is b
eing conducted at DOE and NSF accelerators to understand the structure of matter at its most fundamental level and how that structure was manifested in the first few minutes of the universe. Such studies will continue in the future with American scientist
s working at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe and at new U.S. facilities such as DOE's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collid
er on Long Island and its B-factory in California.
New Administration budget initiatives also strengthen NASA's research efforts to look for earth-like planets and nascent galaxies by advancing the launch of the Space Infrared Telescope Facility and initiating preparations for interferometry, both on earth and in space. And because every prior improvement has revealed unanticipated astronomical wonders, the Administra
tion is supporting even more advanced facilities, such as NSF's twin Gemini Telescopes and Phase 1 of the Millimeter Array, and NASA's Advanced X-Ray Astronomical Facility and the Next Generation Space Tele
In parallel with this research to understand the evolution of the physical universe, the quest to understand and explore the staggering diversity of life on earth is bringing together experts in bio
logy, chemistry, earth sciences, oceanography, polar studies, astronomy, and ecosystems. More and more, we find life forms thriving in extreme environments, with water in some form being the only apparent necessity. Only last year scientists decoded the g
enetic material of an archaeon, confirming that it represented a third and previously unknown branch of life - the Archaea - on our own planet. Collectively these di
scoveries provide insights into the possibility for life elsewhere in the universe.
The analysis last summer of a putative Martian meteorite found 20 years ago in Antarctica has whetted the public's interest to find solid evidence of life on other worlds. Now two new probes are off to Mars, and more are planned, including the retrieval of appropriate samples from Mars. Clearly, a discovery of life beyond earth will provide a landmark in mankind's millennia-old qu
est to understand our place in the universe.
LEARNING HOW TO ENSURE
EARTH'S LONG-TERM HABITABILITY
Because of both natural and manmade causes, our earth undergoes local, regional, and global changes on time scales ranging from momentary to geological. Humans and other creatures affect earth's habitability by just living. In fact, over eons, photosynthe
sis by early plants on the ancient earth created the oxygen-rich atmosphere we and other animals breathe. Now, to maintain our high standard of living we convert vast quantities of energy and raw materials into forms we desire, consume, and often discard.
This consumption has adverse effects on the earth's air, water, weather, landforms, and agricultural productivity. The U.S. Global Change Research Program coordinates the efforts and invest
ments of 13 Federal agencies and collaborates with international partners to study these problems.
A fundamental challenge of our age is to understand how numerous natural and human phenomena interact to influence global habitability. Earth's orbit, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanism, ocean
currents, storms, drought, erosion, fires, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, electricity generation, and transportation are among the processes that affect the environment. Our goal is to understand - even predict - the natural phenomena, and to learn h
ow to maintain - even enhance - our standard of living and that of people in developing nations while sustaining earth's habitability for future generations.
Today, scientists use observations, models, and the geological record to answer questions such as the following: How fast and why does climate change? What role do carbon dioxide and methane cycled
through ecosystems play in global atmospheric changes? How do plants, soils, and ocean plankton amplify or reduce climate change through their chemical interactions with the atmosphere? What is the role of bacteria in geological processes, such as rock-w
eathering, oil formation, and the clean-up or aggravation of pollution in soils? What role do oceans play in year-to-year and long-term climate change? How can we accurately predict catastrophic earthquakes? How do changes in the land, ocean, and atmosphe
re affect human systems and vice versa?
Studies combining biological, earth, ocean, and atmospheric sciences will help us understand the feedback loops among earth's systems. On time scales ranging from a few years to centuries, variation
s in ocean circulation modulate climate, but we do not know what drives the changes in ocean currents. For example, El Nino currents in the Pacific Ocean bring war
m surface waters to the coast of South America, and apparently disrupt weather patterns dramatically in many parts of the world on an irregular three-to-ten-year cycle. Scientists suspect that El Nino figured in flooding of the Mississippi River Valley i
n 1993 and in California two years later. Trying to determine whether this seemingly extreme weather is part of a normal or unusual climate fluctuation requires a combination of approaches. We are now amassing a very impressive data set through the flight
of radar altimeters, such as TOPEX-Poseidon, international programs such as the World Ocean Circulation Experiment and the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere program, painstaking studies of historical records of floods, droughts, and fishing, along with climate clues from corals, glaciers, and tree rings, and novel proxy measurements of past ocea
n currents. Taken together, these measurements provide sensitive indicators of ocean temperature and rainfall over several centuries, which can tell us if the weather extremes of the past few years are consistent with normal patterns.
This multifaceted basic research portfolio to understand climate and other global phenomena utilizes field and laboratory experiments, new global networks such as the Global Seismic Network created by DOD and operated now by NSF and DOI's U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), remote-sensing measurements from NASA'
s Mission to Planet Earth and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) weather satellites, NSF's
Long-Term Ecological Research Network, and new computer models able to simulate complex processes with increasing realism.
Breakthroughs have occurred. The discovery of the "ozone hole," for instance, derived from atmospheric chemistry research in the 1970s and 1980s and was recognized by the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry. A pressing problem now is to understand climate change, notably through the greenhouse effect, since further warming of only 3 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit could imp
act society in unknown ways. Basic research to monitor, understand, and mitigate the natural and human-induced changes to our planet can produce the discoveries and insights needed to help us enhance humanity's standard of living while keeping earth and a
ll its ecosystems healthy.
DESIGNING MATERIALS FOR BUILDING
A PROSPEROUS FUTURE
From the ancient Bronze and Iron Ages to the Information or Silicon Age of today, materials have been at the heart of technological revolutions. Advances in communications, computers, medicine, transportation, energy, and defense technology are all made p
ossible by new materials and materials-related phenomena.
In recent years we have seen spectacular improvements in the performance of materials. Compared with 1970, we now have permanent magnets with magnetic strengths three times greater, superalloys that
operate at temperatures 500 degrees Centigrade higher, semiconductor chips one-thousand times denser, and optical fibers so many orders of magnitude more transparent that they have become the backbone of modern communications and computer networks. Mater
ials research provided the scientific underpinning for these advances, and gave rise to the communications revolution, more efficient turbine engines, personal computers, smaller electric motors, and many other technological advances with multi-billion-do
llar economic impacts.
As we enter the twenty-first century, materials research is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary, with progress often occurring at the interfaces with other disciplines such as biology, chemistry
, civil engineering, and atomic and molecular physics. Fullerenes - the hollow carbon molecules recognized by the 1996 Nobel Prize for chemistry - are being made no
w in fiber-like tubes that are excellent conductors and likely to be 100 times stronger than steel at only one-sixth the weight. One can imagine this research leading to fullerene wires, precise delivery of catalysts, and novel instruments for materials r
esearch and other applications.
Modern materials research spans a broad spectrum, ranging from the manipulation of individual atoms to the performance of construction materials for bridges, roadways, and buildings, from the physic
s and chemistry of complex fluids to the structure and synthesis of biological materials, from high temperature superconductivity to materials for lasers and optical fibers, and from nanoscale systems for microelectronics and sensors to new alloys and cer
amics for extreme conditions. The field encompasses the synthesis, processing, and characterization of materials for present and future technologies; the physics and chemistry of metals and alloys, ceramics, composites, polymers, semiconductors, thin film
s, glasses, complex fluids, and biomaterials; and the development of fundamental knowledge to help us tailor new materials and exploit materials properties and phenomena. Recently scientists even used theoretical supercomputer calculations to develop a su
ccessful recipe for crystals that are harder than diamond.
Neutrons penetrate deeply into materials, allowing structure determination at the atomic level for a wide variety of materials,
from high temperature superconductors to large biological molecules. This image from the High Flux Isotope Reactor at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory
shows two-dimensional magnetic ordering in a particular lutetium compound. With a next-generation neutron source, U.S. scientists and engineers will be able to resolve currently inaccessible, important features associated with the motion and ordering of
atoms in useful materials.
In another example of the cross-fertilization so prevalent (and necessary) to modern science, research techniques in materials science now require innovations first seen in the accelerators of high
energy and nuclear physics. Over the last decade, the emergence of national facilities, from atomic-resolution microscopes to powerful synchrotron and neutron facilities, has transformed the cutting edge of materials science. Together with high-performanc
e computing, these state-of-the-art facilities (e.g., DOE's Advanced Light Source, its recently completed Advanced
Photon Source, and a needed next-generation neutron source now being designed) will provide unprecedented opportunities to expand our knowledge of the increasingly complex materials and phenomena essential for the technological breakthroughs of the fu
Partnerships across disciplines and involving universities, government laboratories, and industry have become essential to the assembly of the resources and diverse skills necessary to continue adva
ncing the field. Nine major Federal agencies invest in materials research of various types. New developments in quantum engineering, nonlinear phenomena, advanced ceramics, and biomaterials hold the promise of future breakthroughs with impacts comparable
to those of the transistor, optical fiber, and solid-state laser. Continued progress and innovation in materials research lies at the heart of our scientific and technological future.
The human genome is the complete set of genetic instructions found in the nucleus of most cells on 23 pairs of chromosomes that are long strands of DNA. Each gene is a segment of DNA that carries the blueprints for a specific molecule, usually a protein.
When there is a mistake in the order of chemical bases that comprise the DNA coding for a specific protein, that protein may be altered, missing, or ineffective in the family members carrying the error. The methods for locating such disease genes include
the construction of detailed maps to identify the position of the gene on a chromosome, sequencing the DNA in the area where the gene is localized, and comparing the gene sequence in individuals who have the disease with those who do not. For a newly isol
ated gene, the researcher can quickly gather from on-line databases everything that has already been determined about its identity, function, and protein product.
"Visible Humans" have transformed the teaching and pract
ice of medicine. A 59-year-old female and a 39-year-old male donated their bodies to science, and became immortalized as the first digitized cadavers, available to the public and the medical community over the Internet. Images obtained from comput
erized tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and high-resolution photographs were compiled into a database, providing complete, anatomically correct, three-dimensional views. The uses of these "recyclable" bodies include rehearsal of surgery, repeated d
issection, computerized crash testing, and numerous other medical simulations.
Over many years, the list of human diseases that result from known defects in a single gene has grown to about 4,000. Many of these conditions are rare and afflict only a fairly small number of peop
le; sickle cell disease is an exception, affecting more than 50,000 individuals in the United States. However, it has also become clear that many complex afflictions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, some forms of cancer, and
other diseases, have a strong genetic component. By developing and making widely available the tools for locating and rapidly sequencing genes, the Human Genome Project - an ambitious
international research effort - is accelerating the progress of molecular medicine.
The Human Genome Project, funded by NIH, DOE, and several international partners, is helping scientists gain a genetic understanding of disease and also of healthy processes, such as growth, develop
ment, and how the immune system recognizes a foreign invader. Once the genetic basis of a disease is discovered, scientists have a better chance of defeating it. One example is prevention based on detection of a genetic predisposition to an inherited diso
rder such as colon cancer. Individuals who inherit certain mutations on chromosomes 2 or 3 have a 70 to 80 percent chance of developing a particular type of colon cancer. They may benefit from eating a high-fiber, low-fat diet and from scheduling annual c
olon exams starting at age 30, an age considerably younger than that recommended for the general population.
Another disease that can now be detected by testing a blood specimen is cystic fibrosis, the most common lethal hereditary disease among Caucasians. The first human gene therapy trials are under way
in Federally approved clinical trials. Understanding the course of cystic fibrosis at its most elementary level already has led to the development and approval of a drug that dramatically lessens its severity and improves the quality of life for those su
ffering from it.
The ethical, legal, and social issues associated with human genome research are being addressed in parallel with the scientific exploration and in a manner that encourages maximum public involvement
. In addition, President Clinton established the National Bioethics Advisory Commission and charged it to consider as one of its first priorities the appropriate use and management
of genetic information. Our policies and regulations need to keep pace with knowledge that promises such great rewards in disease prevention and cure.
LEARNING AND HUMAN POTENTIAL
The current revolution in information and communications technologies is creating demands for new human learning skills and interaction modes. Merely being able to read, write, and calculate is no longer sufficient. Everyone needs to master the skills req
uired to extract and integrate relevant information and use it for complex decision-making and problem-solving.
The Federal government has supported much of the research on how humans learn, process information, and then use that information to solve problems. Recent decades have seen dramatic advances in our
understanding of human learning, from the level of neurochemistry and brain structure to the whole person. Neuroscientists, engineers, and computer scientists have developed new tools to provide insights into how human memory organizes different kinds of
information. Psychologists and linguists are characterizing cognitive phenomena and mental processes ever more thoroughly. Artificial intelligence researchers have replicated mechanisms for learning and decision-making that have widespread applicability.
Education researchers have developed cognitive-based methods that significantly improve students' thinking skills through research-based teaching. Engineers and computer scientists have developed intelligent systems that can learn from their environments
and operate complex systems safely and reliably. All this progress has applications in education reforms, medicine, psychotherapy, and management.
The NSF is now emphasizing the need for coordinated, interdisciplinary research that integrates knowledge about human and machine learning, creativity, communication, real-time feedback, and decisio
n-making. With the introduction of educational technologies into schools, it is urgent that we develop a solid research base for educational strategies and pedagogy, and learn how to use modern tools to increase the learning of all students.
A broad Administration initiative will tackle the development of children from infancy to adulthood, as this period is extraordinarily important to giving each person the best start in life. Key res
earch questions at this knowledge frontier include: What relationships exist among learning, intelligence, and creativity? How can we use technology effectively to optimize each child's ability to learn and create? What effects do multimedia technologie
s have on children's development? What role does nutrition play in enhancing a child's ability to learn? What nutrients are required for optimal cognitive development and peak functioning? Contributions will come from research sponsored by the NIH, the De
partment of Education, USDA, NSF, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Understanding gained will help us optimize the learning, nutrition, and health of our children in the twenty-first century.
INVESTING IN MODERN SCIENTIFIC
FACILITIES AND INSTRUMENTS
Just as Olympic-caliber athletes need the finest equipment and training protocols to triumph in their events, so do scientists, engineers, and their students need the most modern research instruments and facilities with the best capabilities, the farthest
reach, and the finest accuracy and resolution. As we push beyond the frontiers of our current knowledge, research facilities, instruments, and enormous databases serving the social sciences must evolve to support ever more complex research. These major f
acilities and laboratory tools require continuous modernization, upgrading, and, ultimately, replacement.
Thanks to farsighted, bipartisan investments, the United States today has an array of major scientific facilities that are the envy of the world. Federally funded facilities serve tens of thousands
of scientists and students performing world-class experiments in widely diverse fields. NASA provides the Hubble Space Telescope, numerous other satellites, and space probes carrying specialized devices for astronomy, astrophysics, and observations of our
own and other planets. The NSF supports sea-going research vessels for study of the world's oceans, ground-based observatories for astronomy, diverse facilities for physical science and materials research, supercomputers for university researchers, widel
y shared data sets for the social and behavioral sciences, and research stations in Antarctica. The national laboratories of DOE build and operate leading-edge particle
accelerators, neutron sources, supercomputers, and numerous specialized instruments for research in physical, chemical, materials, environmental, and biological sciences. The DOC supports a fleet of research vessels for oceanography, provides access to u
ndersea research platforms, and operates a cold neutron source as well as the tools needed to develop new precision standards. Two unique biocontainment facilities for research on emerging pathogens are operated by DOD. The NIH sponsors
Regional Primate Research Centers, an Internet-accessible archive of genetic code sequences, the "Visible Human" digital library, and other shared resource networks and biomedical research facilities. The USGS operates a data center that archives and makes available all land remote sensing data gathered by Federal agencies. The Administration's commitment to scientific infrastructure renewal is demonstrated by the number and diversity of facilities recently completed or under construction with NSF or DOE support. (See box on new facilities.)
Exceptionally intense x-rays open new vistas of research in materials science, chemistry, physics, biotechnology, and medicine.
The environmental, geological, agricultural, and planetary sciences also benefit from the Department of Energy's Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago. With this third generation x-ray source, researchers can study objects thousands of times smaller than can be seen with conventional optical techniques. Exposure times are fast enough to produce images of chemical and biological molecules as they react. Scientists can
gain new knowledge to create new materials tailored to specific applications in such areas as superconductors, semiconductors, polymers, pharmaceuticals, and catalysts.
Via a dynamic synergism, the creation and operation of these state-of-the-art facilities is a multidisciplinary, state-of-the-art science and engineering challenge in its own right. In most cases, a
ccess to these facilities is awarded to qualified scientists and engineers on the basis of peer-reviewed competitions, where the proposed research is judged for its quality and importance.
The growing National Information Infrastructure and High Performance Computing
and Communications programs are now making possible the remote use and operation of facilities, and also the nearly instantaneous distribution of data to scientific collaborators around the nation and world. Even students and teachers in school class
rooms can now use the Internet to access fresh data sets, images, and information. Development of the Next Generation Internet and other technological innovations is bringing experiments at m
ajor scientific facilities into the home laboratories and offices of the user scientists.
Such amazing computational power and interconnectivity were made possible first by fundamental scientific advances, from which high technology resulted. Now, in a compelling example of how science a
nd technology reinforce each other, these computers are used in the creation of new science in diverse fields - from materials and drug design, to the internal structure of protons and neutrons, to the large scale structure and dynamics of oceans and atmo
Over the years, Federal budget pressures prevented some scientific facilities from operating fully and effectively. To improve our national research productivity, this Administration launched, with
bipartisan support, the Scientific Facilities Initiative in FY 1996. As a result, investments in research at the targeted DOE facilities, together serving more than 15,000 scientists and engineers, are buying substantially more science operations than in
previous years. Full utilization enables maximum benefit and continuing returns from our sizeable national investment.
As we near the twenty-first century, there are important areas of the scientific frontier where American facilities have fallen behind, or where no adequate tools now exist. For example, with our ne
utron science facilities aging, we need to upgrade current facilities and to construct a next-generation neutron source to advance our materials research agenda. To continue unraveling questions associated with understanding the origins of the universe and our place in it, new ground-based telescopes, space observatories, and planetary missions are needed. Our
South Pole research station supports unique and crucial research programs for several scientific fields, but needs renewal. At many universities throughout the country, research equipment is inadequately funded to keep pace with the state-of-the-art. Both the caliber of the research, as well as the education of students, suffers.
When budgets get tight, infrastructure investments tend to be deferred. But shortchanging these needs erodes our capability and performance in the long term, and handicaps America's scientists and engineers. Sustaining leadership across the frontiers of knowledge requires investments to maintain and renew our research infrastructure. With projected budget constraints, it will take time to satisfy all the needs indicated above. Nevertheless, we must
commit to continued renewal through strategic planning that phases our facilities investments to maximize research productivity.
THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION'S NEW MAJOR SCIENTIFIC FACILITIES
National Nanofabrication Users Network (Nodes in California; New York; Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.); operational in 1994. Network providing electronic access to fabrication equipment
and expertise on nanoscale materials and devices.
Gemini Observatories (Hawaii, Chile); to be completed in 2000. New-generation 8-meter optical/infrared telescopes with matching facilities in Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory/ Greenbank Telescope (West Virginia); to be completed in
1998 World's largest and most versatile steerable radio telescope.
National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO)/WIYN Telescope (Arizona); completed in 1993. Telescope for optical and infrared astronomy.
NOAO/ Global Oscillation Network (worldwide); completed in 1995. Network of telescopes to monitor the Sun.
National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (Puerto Rico); to be completed in 1997. Upgrade for planetary astronomy and upper atmosphere studies.
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (Florida; New Mexico); began operations in 1993. Science and engineering research on materials.
Cornell Electron Storage Ring (New York); to be completed in 1999. Upgrade for high energy physics and synchrotron radiation experiments.
Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (Louisiana and Washington); to be completed in 2001. Will study gravitational waves to test Einstein's theory of gravitation a
nd to open a new type of astronomy.
THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY'S NEW MAJOR SCIENTIFIC FACILITIES
Advanced Light Source (California); completed in 1994. Provides soft x-ray beams.
Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Virginia); completed in 1995. Makes it possible to explore the innermost structure of the atom's nucleus.
Advanced Photon Source (Illinois); completed in 1996. Produces exceptionally intense hard x-rays.
Environmental and Molecular Sciences Laboratory (Washington); to be completed in 1997. Advances the fundamental science essential to develop more cost-effective environmen
tal clean-up methods.
Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider ( New York); to be completed in 1999. Will provide ultra-relativistic heavy-ion collisions to study matter and energy at extremely high densi
ty and temperature, as it existed in the early universe.
B-Factory (California); to be completed in 1998. Will explore why antimatter is so rare in the universe.
Fermilab Main Injector (Illinois); to be completed in 1999. Will determine the properties of the newly discovered top quark.
PARTNERING TO ADVANCE
THE FRONTIERS OF SCIENTIFIC
Within the United States, many players sharing common goals in these times of constrained resources are partnering to sponsor or pursue research programs in their area of mutual interest. The Administration has enthusiastically encouraged and supported re
search partnerships of all types. Such collaborations combine the resources of industry, academia, nonprofit organizations, and all levels of government to advance knowledge, promote education, strengthen institutions, and develop human resources.
The compact between government and universities aimed at advancing science and technology in the national interest goes back well over a century, when the Land Grant universities were founded. In the last 50 years, this partnership has become the core of
our world-class science and technology enterprise. Over half of the Federal investment in basic research goes to universities, where it supports the training of young scientists and engineers and the creation of new knowledge.
American research universities are recognized internationally for the quality of advanced education of the next generation of scientists and engineers. Our professors, courses, and research opportun
ities are unsurpassed in all fields of science and technology. International students flock to our campuses to obtain their scientific degrees, some remaining here to enrich our workforce, and others returning home to launch their careers. The human netwo
rks created in this way crisscross the globe, maintained and enhanced through advanced electronic communications links.
Research and education lie at the heart of this Administration's investment in America's future. These investments are essential for our nation's prosperity, security, and quality of life in the kno
wledge-driven society of the twenty-first century. The Administration's investments in this area are significant, with about $13 billion annually awarded to U.S. universities for research, in addition to considerable support provided directly for technica
To sustain our national level of innovation over the long term, we must become more focused and thus more efficient, and we must prioritize our activities. The changes needed to effect such improvem
ents stress our societal institutions, including higher education.
Consequently, the Administration has initiated a review, to be completed in Summer 1997, of the university-government partnership to be conducted under the auspices of the National Science and Technology Council. In the research arena, the focus is to ass
ess how budgets, programs, policies, regulations, and the availability of scientific facilities serving university communities have affected university research.
PERSONNEL EXCHANGE PARTNERSHIPS
Exchange of personnel is probably the most effective vehicle for transferring research results among institutions and disciplines and converting them into products and markets. Graduate student and post-doctoral fellowship programs bring bright young peop
le from universities into national laboratories. Faculty exchanges bring industrial or national laboratory scientists and engineers into universities, while faculty members move into industry or Federal laboratories. The NSF's Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry, for example, stimulates a mix of industry/university linkages. This initiative targets high-risk, high-gain fundamental research; developmen
t of innovative, collaborative industry/ university educational programs; and direct transfer of new knowledge between universities and industry.
Partnerships are also a means for building scientific instrumentation and facilities. Increasingly, the Federal government is providing the resources to build major new scientific user facilities, and other partners are sponsoring and developing user-rese
arch stations. In other cases, the entire research device comes into being only with the combined support of state and local government, industry, private foundations, universities, and the Federal government, none of which individually could shoulder the
entire burden. The Administration has actively promoted innovative investment partnerships that collect the required resources from several sources to develop leading scientific capability. A few recent examples include:
- Sloan Digital Sky Survey (Sloan Foundation, NSF, DOE, U.S. Naval Observatories, and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science)
- Laser Processing Consortium Free Electron Laser (U.S. Navy, DOE, Commonwealth of Virginia, City of Newport News, twelve companies, and eight universities)
- Beam Lines at federal synchrotron light and neutron sources (DOE, NSF, NIH, DOC, DOD, USDA, state governments, universities, and numerous companies)
- National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NSF, DOE, State of Florida, and two universities)
The Federal role in forging research partnerships to enhance U.S. competitiveness or economic development is well proven. Numerous examples exist, where a small amount of federal seed money has created partnerships that can grow to thrive without further
federal resources. For example, NSF's Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers, and its St
ate/Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers encourage highly leveraged cooperation among the indicated players on research topics of interest both to industry and the university. Within five years, full support of such centers must come from
the non-federal partners. The DOD Government/ Industry/University Cooperative Research Program promotes the creation of a knowledge base to enhance national security and domestic economic growth. The program capitalizes on co-funding by industry and go
vernment of university research centers to conduct long-term, goal-oriented research in areas of mutual interest. The Sea Grant and National Estuarine Research Reserv
e programs of DOC/NOAA leverage Federal resources by requiring state matching funds and encouraging partnerships with industry.
IN FUNDAMENTAL SCIENCE
In many research fields the path to scientific advances increasingly involves international collaboration. International partnerships allow us to pursue important elements of our research agenda, even when financial, human, infrastructure, or other facto
rs are limiting. For nearly 40 years, scientific activities in Antarctica have been inherently international, with the United States assuming leadership responsibilities in some arenas, and relying on other nations for hospitality and support elsewhere. S
ome major research endeavors, such as space missions, giant particle accelerators, astronomical observatories, the quest for fusion energy, and mapping the human genome, are so resource intensive and necessarily one-of-a-kind that international cost-shari
ng, exchanges, or in-kind contributions have become commonplace. Recent examples include NSF's Gemini Telescopes and several detectors for DOE's high-energy and nuclear physics facilities. Collaborations with individual investigators in other countries, occasional use of specialized foreign apparatus, multi-year international experiments, and participatio
n in facility or device development and construction routinely make state-of-the-art capabilities in other countries available to American scientists and their students, and vice versa.
The United States is about to join an international collaboration to build a major facility that will define the high energy frontier in the next decade. Such a collaboration is a very cost-effectiv
e way to pursue our fundamental research agenda. At U.S. laboratories and universities, scientists, engineers, and students are participating in the design and planning for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) now being built at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), and scheduled to be completed in 2005. Public funds invested in the LHC will largely be spent in the United States, however, and will include contracts for American co
mpanies to build state-of-the-art LHC components. In this manner, our national competitiveness gains both in technology development and in fundamental science.
Looking ahead to the twenty-first century, international partnerships for the design, implementation, and operation of billion-dollar research tools - some located within our borders and others loca
ted elsewhere - will become increasingly common. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) established the Megascience Forum in 1992 to facilitate the i
nternational discussion and exchange of information about large science projects and programs. Initially, the Forum helped OECD countries analyze international project planning issues and promote international cooperation. Currently, the Megascience Forum
fosters cooperation in specific scientific disciplines and general policy matters. Technical working groups are focusing on neutron sources, bioinformatics, nuclear physics, and radioastronomy. Policy working groups are currently addressing obstacles to
international collaboration, such as administrative barriers and access to research facilities. The outcome should be greater cooperation in specific scientific disciplines and agreements or mechanisms that help all OECD nations improve international scie
nce and engineering cooperation.
Beyond the substantial scientific opportunities provided via international collaboration, there are also "spin-off" benefits for global stability and cultural understanding. The scientists, engineer
s, and students from the participating countries who work together and live near the facility promote intercultural understanding and appreciation. The national governments involved also gain, as they frame and manage successful collaboration protocols an
d agreements focused on advancing the frontiers of knowledge for the benefit of all humanity.
TO BASIC RESEARCH
This Administration has a policy of protecting Federal investments in basic research across all major scientific fields. These investments are essential to our strategy for reaching our overarching national goals. It is impossible to predict which areas o
f science and engineering will yield ground-breaking discoveries, what those discoveries will be, or how they will impact other disciplines and, eventually, our daily lives. Who can foretell what will be needed to maintain our national security and our st
rong economy, and to clean up the environment and develop a healthier, better-educated citizenry? By sustaining our investments in basic research, we ensure that America remains at the forefront of scientific capability, thereby enhancing our ability to
shape and improve the world's future.
WINDOW INTO LIFE'S ORIGINS
In a stunning scientific advance that contributes to our fundamental understanding of the origin of life, in August 1996 a team of researchers announced that they had decoded the first complete genetic blueprint of a microorganism from the third major bra
nch of life on earth. The finding will allow scientists to understand more about the operation and function of the cell, while bringing them closer to understanding the nature of the ancestral cells from which life stemmed early in the planet's history. I
n the years ahead, the sequence holds dramatic prospects for commercial applications in biotechnology, development of renewable energy sources, and for cleaning up the environment.
The microbe, Methanococcus jannaschii, belongs to the kingdom of organisms known as the Archaea, which me
ans "ancient" in Greek. The idea that the Archaea are a separate domain was first proposed 20 years ago by Carl Woese of the University of Illinois. A team under J. Craig Venter of The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, condu
cted the chemical study of the microbe's genetic structure, with support from the Department of Energy, which funded the research as part of the Microbial Genome Project.
Seen from the submarine Alvin's porthole over 8,000 feet deep on the Pacific Ocean floor is this 185 degree Fahrenheit thermal v
ent where the archeon, Methanococcus jannaschii - a member of the third major branch of life on earth - was collected. This stunning scientific advance contributes to our fundamental understanding of the origins of life. Inset: This electron micrograph (0
.5 micrometers is 20 millionths of an inch) shows two bundles of flagella that propel the organism.
"These findings represent the scientific equivalent of opening a new porthole on earth and discovering a wholly new view of the universe," said Venter, who is director of TIGR. He said he and his c
olleagues were "astounded to find that two-thirds of the genes do not look like anything we've ever seen in biology before," and that many of them have no known function.
On the tree of life, the Archaea, formerly called archaebacteria, are alongside the Prokarya, cell-like bacteria that have no nucleus, and the Eukarya, plants and animals that have nucleated cells.
Researchers from TIGR last year reported that they had completely mapped the genetic sequences of two different bacteria and, working with international partners, of one eukaryote - a yeast. Until the last few years, biologists described life forms on the
basis of observable traits. Now, with points from each of the three domains, scientists can compare the archaea genes to those of bacteria and humans, triangulating backward to learn about ancestral cells from which many scientists believe the three doma
ins diversified about three billion years ago.
Researchers are captivated by the new sequence because it shows that the archaea may be a present-day cousin of the missing link between the eukaryotes and earlier life forms. Microbiologist Gary Ol
sen, also at the University of Illinois, says, "The way the archaea express their genes is fundamentally different from the way a typical bacterium does it. In fact, the archaeal system is structurally like the eukaryotic system. It has the same component
ry." The archaea also are easier to study than the eucaryotes, Woese notes, because they have millions fewer nucleotides than, for instance, the human genome.
When the archaea were first collected from a deep-sea hot spring by an NSF-sponsored expedition to a sea-floor spreading center, scientists thought they lived only in such extreme environments. Now,
they believe the microbes are far more common and constitute a significant part of the world's biomass. Archaea may even play significant roles in important processes, including the carbon and nitrogen cycles.
Woese said he and colleagues recommended M. jannaschii for sequencing because it does not require oxygen or external organic materials for growth, and it produces copious amounts of methane of inter
est because of its potential as a renewable source of energy. In its native environment, in a thermal vent 8,060 feet beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean, the microbe thrives at temperatures just below the boiling point of water, and at a pressure ex
ceeding 500 atmospheres - a pressure that would crush an ordinary submarine as if it were made of papier-möach.
How M. jannaschii thrives without oxygen, sunlight, or organic carbon as an energy source is of great interest to the biotechnology, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries. Its stability a
nd biological activity in its harsh natural environment offer the prospect of developing heat-resistant products such as detergent additives or stable enzymes for use in other high-temperature processes and biotechnological applications. It also appears t
o produce metal-binding proteins that transport toxic compounds out of the cell. This quality heightens interest in its potential for cleaning up heavy metals and other toxic wastes.
STOPPING MATTER IN ITS TRACKS
For a few seconds in June 1995, several thousand rubidium atoms coalesced inside a tiny glass vial in a laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. As rapt scientists observed the fleeting video image of a gassy super-cooled blob of molecules, a state of matter neve
r observed before joined the ranks of physical wonders. The short-lived phenomenon elegantly established a long-standing but elusive hypothesis and opened an uncharted realm of scientific research that may prove as significant as the discovery of the lase
r to industry and society.
The new entity is known as a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). Albert Einstein predicted its existence 70 years ago, based on the work
of Indian physicist Satyendra Bose. Physicists dreamed of creating it ever since, but to do so, needed to super-cool atoms to near absolute zero. Technical advances in recent years brought such cooling within reach, and 15 years ago the race to produce
the condensate began in earnest.
Eric Cornell (one of the 1996 Presidential Early Career Award winners) and Carl Wieman spent six years trying to create the condensate in their laboratory, which is a j
oint operation of the University of Colorado and the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Along with their team of postdoctoral, graduate, and undergr
aduate students, they finally achieved a temperature of about 170 billionths of a degree above absolute zero - a temperature 30 times lower than had been reached before. They accomplished this extreme cooling by bouncing laser beams off the atoms to slow
them down. "It's like running in a hail storm so that no matter what direction you run the hail is always hitting you in the face," Wieman said. "So you stop."
The researchers further slowed the atoms by applying external magnetic fields to keep the atoms tightly packed, and then removing the most energetic atoms (much as 'energetic' molecules leave a coffee cup as steam). Cornell suggested spinning the magnetic
fields. This ingenious step kept the least energetic atoms from getting out of the trap. These atoms became supercold, allowing the experiment to reach the record-breaking temperature required for the condensate to form.
A new state of matter opens an uncharted realm of scientific research that may prove as significant as the discovery of the las
er. The new entity is known as a Bose-Einstein condensate. All of its atoms are stopped. They have close to zero velocity. These images were made by photographing the shadow of the atom cloud after it was allowed to expand for a few thousandths of a secon
d. These three snapshots were taken as the rubidium condensate was forming. Color, or height, shows the density, or number, of atoms having a particular velocity. Before condensation begins (left), the rubidium atoms have a range of velocities, as expecte
d for a gas in thermal equilibrium. The condensate appears in the middle measurement, with a large fraction of the atoms having velocities close to zero (blue/white peak). Continued evaporation of the fastest atoms (green/yellow) leads to a nearly pure co
ndensate containing about 2,000 atoms.
The Bose-Einstein condensate is not a new molecule, but its atoms, cooled to a virtual standstill, behave as a single entity. Rather than buzzing around as atoms usually do, the cold atoms move in l
ockstep - at identical speed and direction - much as photons do in a laser beam. These atoms are as different from normal rubidium atoms as an ice crystal is from cold water. "It really is a new state of matter," Wieman said. "It has completely different
properties from any other kind of matter."
Wieman believes that the most immediate value of the research will be the insights it allows into how the laws of quantum mechanics affect the behavior of matter when atoms (or electrons) are contai
ned in a volume not much bigger than the atoms themselves. This type of physics, which is increasingly important because electronic components are getting so small, is traditionally studied by making extremely small structures. In making the Bose-Einstein
condensates, researchers in effect make incredibly big atoms. "These atoms enable researchers to study the same physics while working with much larger containers," Wieman explains, and should allow them to carry out novel studies and gain new insights in
to this area of physics.
Learning just what the properties of the BECs are and how they may be applied will keep physicists busy for years. Knowledge of the laws that govern matter in this ultra-cold, organized state may yi
eld insights into the mysteries of superconductivity and superfluidity. Wolfgang Ketterle's group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has already succeeded in using a BEC to make the world's first "atom laser," that fires a narrow beam of coheren
t "matter waves" with about a million atoms per pulse. Coherent beams of atoms could eventually allow much finer measurements and manipulations - such as moving atoms around one by one or "writing" atoms into semiconductors.
Other researchers hope the discovery will help them learn why certain materials manage to conduct electrical current without resistance. Astrophysicists are looking into a possible connection betwee
n Bose-Einstein condensates and the distribution of matter in the early universe. While the initial condensate consisted of rubidium molecules, and Ketterle's "atom laser" uses sodium, in principle three-quarters of the elements could exist in the Bose-Ei
nstein condensate state. Researchers in Randall Hulet's lab at Rice University have already found evidence of a BEC of lithium.
So begins a new era in condensed matter and atomic physics. Like other epochal scientific discoveries, this one builds on years of basic research by individuals worldwide who are studying the physic
s of using laser light to cool and manipulate atoms, using magnetic fields to confine and cool clouds of atoms, and exploring how atoms behave at ultra low temperatures. Such incremental advances converge at certain points to give insights that change how
we view old questions, generate new ones, and eventually, lead to unforseen products and conclusions. It took years for the laser to transcend its experimental status and evolve into today's ubiquitous tool. We don't know yet how or when Bose-Einstein co
ndensates will affect everyday life, but they are likely to advance science and benefit society significantly.
For now, physicists are delighted to explore the wave nature of atoms. And they can do so economically: Wieman and Cornell cooled their atoms with the same lasers found in ordinary CD players, and t
he whole setup costs only about $50,000. This is a small sum in modern experimental science, and laboratories worldwide are already duplicating the apparatus so they can pursue the research on their own.
BRAVE NEW PLANETS - OR MAYBE BROWN DWARFS
The hopeful notion that worlds exist around other stars yielded to wonderful fact in 1995 and 1996 with the discovery of companions to other Sun-like stars. The finding of stars with possible planets gives scientists hope that planetary systems like the s
olar system may be common. While the newly discovered planets are unlikely to support life, their existence seems to increase the possibility that life, perhaps even intelligent life, exists elsewhere in the universe.
The spate of new discoveries began in October 1995 when scientists at the Geneva Observatory in Sauverny, Switzerland, identified a body with planet-type mass orbiting another Sun-like star. After a
year of monitoring 142 stars to indirectly detect planets orbiting them, the Swiss scientists identified an object with a mass at least half that of Jupiter but closer to its star, 51 Pegasi, than Mercury is to the Sun. In short order, University of San
Francisco astronomers Geoffrey Marcy and Paul Butler, funded by the National Science Foundation, confirmed the Swiss discovery and further reported that they had detected companions orbiting the stars 70 Virginis, in the constellation Virgo, and 47 Ursae
Majoris, in the Big Dipper constellation. Since then, several low-mass companions to other stars outside our solar system have been discovered, and it seems likely that such bodies are abundant in the galaxy.
Discovered using the Palomar Telescope in California, this brown dwarf orbits the star, Gliese 229, which is located in the constellation Lepus about 19 light years from earth. In just the past t
wo years, more than a dozen planetary-like systems have been detected, and the number is growing rapidly. This brown dwarf, called Gliese 229B, is about 20 to 50 times the mass of Jupiter and 100,000 times the diameter of our Sun.
Most of the stellar companions found so far are more massive and revolve in more eccentric - less circular - orbits than our solar system's planets. This means the companions may be failed stars, or
brown dwarfs, or that planets may form or evolve in ways previously unimagined.
This new era in planetary exploration stems from the patience of the astronomers, many of whom spent years faithfully scanning the heavens, and from advances in detection techniques. Most of the new
planets were identified indirectly by spectroscopy, a technique that uses an instrument to disperse starlight into its component colors and then measures changes in the wavelength of the light a star emits as it moves away or toward its observer. Such ch
anges betray wobbles in the star's motion caused by the periodic gravitational tug of a planet.
Spectroscopy is most sensitive to stellar companions like Jupiter or Saturn in close, short-period orbits. Another method, astrometry, measures a zig-zag in stellar positions and is better suited to
detect planets in large, leisurely orbits more akin to, or longer than, Jupiter's 12-year orbit. Direct observation will require new advanced instrumentation, able to discern the faint light reflected by the planet despite the glare from the nearby paren
Some scientists see the recent developments as a natural extension of the Copernican revolution, which 500 years ago so heretically reversed the earth's status as the center of the universe. It is c
lear that the Sun is a star like other stars and that many other stars may also have planetary systems. Astronomers are elated at the prospect of having other planets to compare to those in our solar system.
The discoveries coincide with a Federal initiative to expand astronomy and space science research around the theme of exploring the origins of matter, galaxies, planetary systems, and life. This effort will spur development of innovative technologies, inc
luding a space-based infrared observatory to be called the PlanetFinder interferometer, which will be capable of imaging and studying planets like earth around nearby stars. The spate
of new research in years to come is likely to transform our understanding of how stars and planets form and perhaps may confirm our hope that we are not the lone intelligent beings in the galaxy.
SELECTED SCIENTIFIC ADVANCES AND PROGRAMMATIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN BASIC RESEARCH
- First archaeon genome sequenced, confirming the third major branch of life
- First full genome sequence of a eukaryote (baker's yeast) produced
- Understanding repair mechanism for DNA
- Previously unknown microorganisms discovered thriving in many inhospitable environments
- Discovered that light sets circadian rhythm by regulating key protein of body's clock
- Brain imaging reveals that separate neural systems handle implicit and explicit knowledge
- Human factors research shows hazards can be reduced by including human capability in facilities design
- Modeling how intelligent systems learn provides clues to problem-solving behavior and planning strategies
- Economics and human behavior theory used to create new types of auctions
- Human ancestry pushed further back in time with discovery of Australopithecus ramidus
- Discoveries about Jupiter's moons: Europa may have liquid water; Ganymede has strong magnetic field
- Features in Mars meteorite may provide evidence of fossil microorganisms
- Several planetary-type systems discovered outside our solar system
- Determined that earth's inner core rotates faster than earth's surface
- 500,000-year paleotemperature record discovered in a Nevada cave
- Top quark discovered
- Bose-Einstein condensation first observed and atom laser demonstrated
- World-record 10 megawatts of power achieved by fusion of deuterium and tritium
- "Smart" gels shrink or swell thousand-fold when conditions change slightly
- Femtosecond spectroscopies reveal chemical reaction dynamics in detail
- Scanning thermal microscopy measures temperature at near-molecular spatial resolution
- Fermat's Last Theorem finally proved after 350 years of mathematical effort
- Quantum logic gate created: building block for future quantum computer
- Wavelet theory allows more efficient data compression and storage
- Federally funded scientists won Nobel Prizes each year in all fields from 1993 through 1996
- Scientific Facilities Initiative substantially increased operation of DOE's major research facilities
- Administration initiative for full up-front funding of major scientific facilities
- Provided access to previously classified scientific data and research capability (DOD, DOE, DOC/NOAA)
- Hubble Space Telescope acquiring unprecedented astronomical images (NASA)
- Global Seismic Network implemented (NSF, DOI/USGS, DOD)
- Fully digitized, three-dimensional "Visible Human" male and female available on Internet (NIH)
- Review initiated of University-Government partnership
- Research grant application process streamlined using Internet (NIH, NSF, others)
- GenBank's computer archive makes available over a million DNA sequences from 25,000 organisms (NIH)
- Transitioning to science-dominated fusion program (DOE)
- Federal Laboratory Reform (DOD, DOE, NASA)
TABLE OF CONTENTS | Chapter 2
President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House
White House for Kids | White House History
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