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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - December 9, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta 4 - THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD - Wednesday, December 9, 1970 United States science sailing into troubled and even critical times Bv ALTON BLAKESLEE NEW YORK (AP) - United States science is sailing into troubled and even critical times, and that spells danger for the nation's welfare, leading scientists are warning insistently. Federal money for basic research and for training future scientists has been declining for four years, with particularly sharp cuts within the last year. But science and the technology it breeds is the underpinning for U.S. progress, security, and economic wellbeing, these scientists hold. From science comes the fun-dam utal knowledge pointing new ways to cure disease, to feed the* hungry, to solve some pressing problems of environmental pollution and other difficulties and crisis. Now is the time for more science, not less, these spokesmen declare. They worry not only about money. They sense a growing anti-science sentiment partly because many people are blaming science for problems created by technology, which is the way man vises new knowledge. But that kind of ri action, they say, is like killing the messenger who brings bad news. Dr. Philip Handler, president of the National Academy of Sciences, says scientists are close to great new discoveries but "we find science and technology under attack. "With that attack has come a drastic decline in the scale and scope of our national scientific endeavor-a fall of perhaps 30 per cent since fiscal year 1968." MORALE LOW Morale is low and "our national apparatus for conduct of research ... is falling into shambles," he added. A report last February of the national science board, a continuing presidentially-appointed group, said the "U.S. science effort is currently threatened with possible mediocrity ... it is clear there will be a day of reckoning for U.S. science and for the national wellbeing. That day may be very near." Medical research also is feel- ing the economy pinch and some officials of the National Institutes of Health have said "a dark age of medical scence might be in the offing, with a loss also of a generation of potential medical researchers unless support is restored. But all this is an overdrawn, over-apprehensive picture, say some government officials and some scientists as well. In their view: -Science had become rather a fat cat, and should not be exempt from taking its economic lumps at a time when many other endeavors also are feeling the frost of economy. -The country has enough scientists, at'least in certain fields. Some major programs in the space field, in atomic energy and defence have been completed, and this reduced the need for a continuing large supply of engineers and specialists. -Much basic research-that aimed at determining fundamental facts about nature-has been wasteful, poorly chosen, duplicatory. -Science has not been relevant enough to critical national needs. Research should be focused more upon goals, such as reducing air pollution, and expanding medical care services to more people. VIEWS REBUTTED Scientists counter-attack most of these views. But both sides in such debate agree the posture of science vis-a-vis government is changing, with a 25-year honeymoon about over. Science became a Second World War hero, making tremendous contributions to victory, as with the atomic bomb, the proximity fuse, radar, other weapons. After the war, science began to win increasing federal support. With the launching of the first Soviet Sputnik, there came another surge of enthusiastic and almost frenzied support for science, including funds for basic research and students through the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Patterns of support and expectations of continued beneficence were established. By fiscal 1968, says Dr. Handler, the federal government was providing more than $2 billion for fundamental research >and about $13.8 billion for applied research and development, "and the results were superb-American science led the world in virtually every discipline." Then the winds changed. The enormous expense of the Vietnam war forced budget cuts, and science came under the same scalpel. Even if appropriations had held at the same annual level, inflation was a thief of real dollars. Further, as scientists began exploring ever deeper into Nature's secrets, research became more complex, more sophisticated, demanding ever-more-expensive equipment. PEOPLE DISENCHANTED All this coincided with a growing disenchantment with science. Some congressmen began questioning the value of basic research. There rose an increasing feeling science should deal more directly with society's problems. Does this country, some also asked, have to be first in every field? Science was blamed as immoral for having made possible the threat of nuclear annihilation and environmental decay. To some people, science was found wanting because they had somehow expected it to be capable of waving a wand and producing magical answers to problems, and it hadn't. Science had few defenders in Congress, nor did it have the ear of the public to tell its story. Numerous scientists contend there is no clear or well-considered national science policy. Some leaders agree with an accusation that scientists in general had been aloof, not being active in a politics of science, not convincing the public that basic research was a great touchstone of human progress. And people, some scientists complain, overlook the good that science and technology have done, as in creating polio vaccines, computers, electronic labor-saving devices, a raft of benefits. Dr. Handler and others object to some of their scientific com- patriots who, they charge, have exaggerated some troubles the U.S. faces, and have over-promised what science might do about such problems as environmental pollution. The dollar squeeze for science began late in the Lyndon Johnson administration, and has since intensified, in many directions. TOO MANY PhDs Traineeship programs were reduced because "we have enough scientists in some fields," says one government spokesman. The number of new PhDs had been doubling every seven years, but now "we simply don't need so many in engineering, math and the physical sciences." Despite all the cuts, some offi- cials in the office of science and technology, which advises president Nixon, feel "we are in good general shape." "There will be some short-term dislocations, but I don't see any great danger of our losing our leadership in science," one official remarks. "But there's certainly not a lot of fat in the system now-we're pretty close to the bone." Other scientists and university administrators are not quite so sanguine about the future. Dr. James R. Killian, chairman of the corporation of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says scientists are eager to tackle problems of environment, traffic, housing and urban crises, but "we are getting little or no support" financially. Numberous scientists fear that bright young students will avoid choosing scientific careers when they see science students and graduate students suddenly ait off from their financial support. Scientists are calling for mare research and more scientists, more ecologists, more oceanog-raphers who usually train first in chemistry, physics and biology and social scientists to seek remedies for social afflictions. "I think that nothing less than the application of the full intelligence of our society is likely to be adequate" forresolviag problems, ssys Dr. John Piatt, research biophysicist and associate director of the Mental Health Research Institute, University of Michigan. Imported tractors have drawbacks PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. (CP) - Are imported Romanian tractors going to have a further adverse effect on Saskatchewan's farm implement dealers who are just starting to battle back from the sales decline of the last two years? "Not really," said Leo King, executive secretary of the Saskatchewan Implement D e a 1 e r s' Association, "because their impact on total sales will be small." Three models of the orange-colored Romanian-manufactured tractors were demonstrated in the Birch Hills area 20 miles southeast of here. Their distributors say the cost, $3,400 for a 40-horse-power model and $4,800 for a 65-horsepower model, is almost half that of comparable North America-manufactured equipment. Ted Puskas of Westport Importers Ltd., Provost, Alta., said about 1,000 orders have been received so far for the Romanian units. He said there now are 30 dealerships in Alberta and the firm hopes to establish a similar number in Saskatchewan. Unveil plans for new art building CALGARY (CTM - Plans were unveiled here for a new $7 million Alberta College of Art building at the southern Alberta Institute of Technology. The three-storey building will cover 200,000 square feet and will house 600 full-time art students , while allowing the college to expand its continuing education program and gallery facilities. It will take two years to complete and is part of a 15-y e a r $68 million master plan for the campus. STUDY UNDER WAY SASKATOON (CP) - Importance of deor hunting to the Saskatchewan economy is one of I he facets of a study under way at the University of Saskatche- | wan. The expenditure generated by deer hunting is more than $5 million annually. Nearly 77,000 licences for deer were issued in I9f>3. the latest year for which cfficial figures are available, compared with some 13,000 in I !,>:.0. Mr. Puskas said the Imported diesel tractors, made by Romanian Autotractor Equipment Ltd., will force the American tractor manufacturers to lower their prices. But Mr. King said the key will be in servicing the imported units and the distribution of parts combined with adequately trained service personnel. He said one drawback to the imports is their lack of matching equipment, such as plows and balers. "Dealers need a rounded-out line." Mr. King said "at least" six lines of imported tractors introduced into Canada since the mid-1950s "never got off the ground." In Saskatchewan, Mr. King said there were between 650 and 70n dealers estimated in 1968 compared with about 540 today. While the association had 475 members in 1968, there now are 450 dealer-members. Mr. King said business declines during the last year will result in "a more realistic number of dealers, and we'll experience a much-improved standard of dealership." Prospects are improved from last year and "we look for a good upswing in 1971." SALES DOWN IN '70 The Dominion Bureau of Statistics, in figures for the first six months of 1970, said estimated farm implement and equipment sales, including repair parts, in Saskatchewan declined 34.6 per cent compared with the same period in 1969. In Manitoba thus year the decline was 25.5 per cent compared with a year ago, and Alberta showed a 35.7 per cent decline. During the six-month period Prairie dealers this year sold 3,203 tractors compared with 5,089 during the previous year while combine sales this year dropped to 149 units from: 520 in 1969. The association, in its newsletter, said the Canadian wheat board announcement that it is committed to move 400 million bushels of grain by the end of the year will provide "a real boost" to the farming economy. 'The immediate response to dealers should be better re-s p o n s e to collections, increased activity in shop work and repair sales, along with some movement of both new and used machinery." "This country always comes back," Mr. King said. is good enough to be "Certified Perfect" and sold at Peoples Credit Jewellers. That's right, approximately 1 out of every 40 diamonds isgood enough to be classified'.'Certified Perfect" at Peoples Credit Jewellers. If you fee! it's' important that the diamond you give is flawless in clarity... pure in color... unsurpassed in brilliance.... then you'll want a "Certified Perfect"' diamond from Peoples Credit Jewellers ... the only kind we carry. 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