Nobel Scientists and Tech Leaders Create New Group,
Accuse Bush of Distorting Science for Political Ends
WASHINGTON – Concerned that critical issues involving the management of science and engineering are being drowned out in the election debate, leaders in the scientific and engineering communities including Nobel Laureates, a former Science Advisor to the President and the “father of the Internet” today launched Scientists and Engineers for Change. They are concerned by mounting evidence that scientific integrity has been compromised and scientific priorities shortchanged by the Bush Administration.
The founding members of the new group, organized under section 527 of the tax code, include Nobel Prize winners Peter Agre (Chemistry, 2003), Sidney Altman (Chemistry, 1989), Dudley Hershbach (Chemistry, 1986), Douglas Osheroff (Physics, 1996) and Arno Penzias (Physics, 1978), former National Science Foundation director and head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Neal Lane, former OSTP head Jack Gibbons and ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) chairman and National Medal of Technology winner Vint Cerf, widely recognized as the principal architect of the Internet. Today’s launch teleconference featured Cerf, Osheroff and Margaret Hamburg, MD, former Assistant Secretary, Health and Human Services.
The purpose of the new committee is to ensure that public policy issues affected by science and technology are widely discussed, and to mobilize the nation’s scientists and engineers to participate in the political process. The group is organizing lectures in 10 battleground states (Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, Wisconsin) by prominent members of the science and engineering communities. It has an office in Washington, DC and is on the Internet at http://www.scientistsandengineersforchange.org.
Dr. Sidney Altman of Yale, one of the Nobelists who is a founding member of the new organization, said, “Research on stem cells, which is an exciting opportunity for us to investigate new clinical applications, is a promising intellectual adventure. John Kerry is very much in favor of this initiative and so am I, unlike the attitude of the Bush Administration which has been attempting to make such research illegal and, in their terms, immoral.”
The first speaking events organized by Scientists and Engineers for Change begin this week with lectures by Osheroff at the University of Oregon tomorrow and lectures by Agre at the University of Wisconsin on Wednesday, at St. Olaf’s on Thursday and at the University of Minnesota on Friday. Osheroff, the G. Jackson and C. J. Wood Professor of Physics at Stanford, was a researcher at Bell Labs for 15 years and won the Nobel in Physics in 1996. His research focuses on superfluid and solid He3, and he has developed a program to study the low temperature properties of amorphous solids. Agre, professor of biological chemistry and medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of long-sought “channels” that regulate and facilitate water molecule transport through cell membranes, a process essential to all living organisms.