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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - December 9, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta 4 - THE lETHBRIDGE HSRAID - Wednwday, Dee�mbtr 9, 1970 United States scierwe sailing into troubled and even critical times nv ALTON BLAKESLEE i 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 arc warning insistently. Federal money for basic research and for ti-aining future scientistii has been declining tor four years, with particularly sharp "cuts within the last year, Bui science and the technology it breeds is the underpinning for U.S. progress, security, and economic wellbcing, these scientists iiold. From science comes the fun-dam iital knowledge pointing new wavs to cure disease, to feed the iiungry, to solve some pressing problems of environmental pollution and other difficulties and crisis. Now is the time for more science, not less, tlK\so spokesmen declare. They worry not only about money. They sense a growing anti-science sentiment partly bwause many people are blaming science fw problem.s created by technology, which is the way man uses new knowledge. Bui that kind of rtaction, they say, i.s 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 midcr attack. "With that attack has come a drastic decline in the scale and .scope of our national scientific cndeavor--a fall of perhaps 30 per cent since fi.scal vear 1968." AionAi.ii; i.ow Morale is low and "our national apparatus for conduct of research ... is falling into shambles." he added. A report last Febniary 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 ing the economy pinch and some officials of the National Institutes of Health have said "a dark age of medical scence miglit be in the offing, with a loss also of a generation of potential medical researchers unless suppoi-t is restored. But all this is an overdra\vn, over-apprchcnslve picture, say some government officials and some scientists as well. In their view: -Science had Ijecome rather a fat cat, and should not be exempt from taking its economic lumps at a time when many other endeavors also arc 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 researclv-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 rechicing air pollution, and expanding medical care services to more people. VIEWS REBUriEn 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 sci- 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 it appropriations had held at the same annual level, inflation was a tliief of real dollars. Further, as scientists began exploring ever deeper into Nature's secrets, research became more complex, more sophisticated, demanding ever-more-expensivc equipment. PEOPLE DISENCHANTED All this coincided with a gi'ow-ing 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 bo 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 bo 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 progi-ess. And people, some scientists complain, overlook the good that science and technology have done, as in creating poho 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 b'oublcs tlie 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 manv directions. TOO MANY PhDE Traineeship piogiams were reduced because "we have enough scientists in some fields," says one government spokesman. Tlie number of new PhDs had been doubling every seven years, but now "we simply don't need so many in engi-neering, 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 coi-poration of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says scientists are eager to tackle problems of environment, traffic, housing and urban a-ises, but "we are getting little or no support" financially. Numberous sdentlsta fear that bright young students wlU avoid choosing scientific car* eers when they see science students and graduate student* suddenly cut off from their tl> ancial support. Scientists are calling for mora reseai-ch and more scientists, more ecologists, more occanog-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" forresolTlag problems, ssys Dr. John Piatt, research biophyslcist and associate director of the Mental Health Research InstitutA, University of Michigan. ret^koning for U.S. science and cnce, including fimds for basic foi- the national welllwing. That research and students tlu-ough day may be very near.' Medical research also is feel- the National Aeronautics S'pace Administration. and Imported tractors have draivhacks PRINCK ALBERT. Sask. (CP) - Arc imported Romanian tractors Roing to have a further adverse effect on Saskatchewan's farm implement dealers who arc just starling to battle back from tt)c 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' /\ssociation, "because tlwir impact on total sales will l>e small." Three models of the or-ange-colorersepower nio-y c a r $(� million ma.ster plan for the campus. SIIDV IM)1;K WAV SASKATOON (CP) - Imr�rt-ancp of deer hunting to the Saskatchewan economy is one of I he facets of a study under way ill Ijic I�ni\f'rsitv (if SaskiitclK?-wan. The cxiwoditure generated by deer hunting is more than $5 million annually. Nearly 77,000 iicenci.'S for deer were issucfl in I'M'.!!, tlic latest year for which ffficial figures arc a\ailabk', coniparcil uitli some i:;,(K)(i in 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 Ix! in sci-vicing the imported units and the distribution of parts combined with adequately trained service j)crsonnel. 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" sLx lines of imported tractors in-tro