Monday, October 8th, 2007
Chris Mooney asks some good questions
As a prerequisite, the next president must grasp how science flows into a democracy at all levels. Whoever wins the election—man or woman, Democrat or Republican—will face profound science-based challenges and questions. Will space become militarized, or remain a neutral zone of unfettered international access? Will we successfully protect our populations and cities from the threats of nuclear and biological terrorism, as well as from emerging pandemics? Can we bring the AIDS crisis in Africa under control? How can we foster continuing biomedical advancement without crossing moral lines?
Will there be enough jobs available to employ the nation’s scientists? If foreign researchers are better qualified for those jobs, will they receive visas so that US companies can benefit from their skills? And what of research in areas of pure science? As Europe’s Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva—the world’s most powerful particle accelerator—heads toward a slated May 2008 startup, will the US revisit the idea of building its own collider, and willingly take on that next phase of research into the very nature of matter? More important, will the next president understand the significance of such scientific questing? And if so, will he or she also know how to tell that story to the public?