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Title: Physics and Government

Abstract

In defining the powers and duties of the three branches of government, the U.S. Constitution never explicitly referred to Science, except in the patent clause. But many technical responsibilities are implied in references to weights and measures, the census, and the like. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and in particular Benjamin Franklin, were highly literate in science, but it was their disciple, President John Quincy Adams who promoted as a matter of policy a direct role of the government in science--in particular with respect to astronomy, land surveys and navigation--all physical sciences. Some agencies of government--notably the National Bureau of Standards and the Department of Agriculture were founded in the early days of the Republic with scientific and technical missions. Since then the involvement of the government with science has waxed and waned but the major expansion of the interaction between physics and government occurred after World War II when physicists demonstrated the power of their craft during mobilization of science in support of the war effort. In discussing the interaction of physics with government we should distinguish ''science in government''--scientific input into policy making--from ''government in science,'' which is the support and management of that part of the overall scientificmore » endeavor for which the government has responsibility. Let me turn first to the subject of physics in government. An overwhelming fraction of governmental decisions today have scientific and technical components; decisions ignoring these components are wasteful at best and can imperil the nation. For this reason governmental bodies at all levels solicit scientific advice--or at least give lip service to the need for such advice. When such advice was deliberately avoided, as President Reagan did before announcing his Strategic Defense Initiative in March 1983, the technically unattainable goal ''to make nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete'' was proclaimed.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Menlo Park, CA (US)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Research (ER) (US)
OSTI Identifier:
10525
Report Number(s):
SLAC-PUB-8237
TRN: AH200126%%390
DOE Contract Number:  
AC03-76SF00515
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Other Information: PBD: 24 Aug 1999
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
45 MILITARY TECHNOLOGY, WEAPONRY, AND NATIONAL DEFENSE; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY AND ECONOMY; AGRICULTURE; ASTRONOMY; BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE; MANAGEMENT; NUCLEAR WEAPONS; PHYSICS; US NBS; GOVERNMENT POLICIES

Citation Formats

Hendry, Nancy H. Physics and Government. United States: N. p., 1999. Web. doi:10.2172/10525.
Hendry, Nancy H. Physics and Government. United States. doi:10.2172/10525.
Hendry, Nancy H. Tue . "Physics and Government". United States. doi:10.2172/10525. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/10525.
@article{osti_10525,
title = {Physics and Government},
author = {Hendry, Nancy H.},
abstractNote = {In defining the powers and duties of the three branches of government, the U.S. Constitution never explicitly referred to Science, except in the patent clause. But many technical responsibilities are implied in references to weights and measures, the census, and the like. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and in particular Benjamin Franklin, were highly literate in science, but it was their disciple, President John Quincy Adams who promoted as a matter of policy a direct role of the government in science--in particular with respect to astronomy, land surveys and navigation--all physical sciences. Some agencies of government--notably the National Bureau of Standards and the Department of Agriculture were founded in the early days of the Republic with scientific and technical missions. Since then the involvement of the government with science has waxed and waned but the major expansion of the interaction between physics and government occurred after World War II when physicists demonstrated the power of their craft during mobilization of science in support of the war effort. In discussing the interaction of physics with government we should distinguish ''science in government''--scientific input into policy making--from ''government in science,'' which is the support and management of that part of the overall scientific endeavor for which the government has responsibility. Let me turn first to the subject of physics in government. An overwhelming fraction of governmental decisions today have scientific and technical components; decisions ignoring these components are wasteful at best and can imperil the nation. For this reason governmental bodies at all levels solicit scientific advice--or at least give lip service to the need for such advice. When such advice was deliberately avoided, as President Reagan did before announcing his Strategic Defense Initiative in March 1983, the technically unattainable goal ''to make nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete'' was proclaimed.},
doi = {10.2172/10525},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {1999},
month = {8}
}

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