Today I just wanted to note, at the eve of the "mother of all bailouts" in the financial industry, that somehow, we need to continue to remain focused on the fact that we don't spend enough time or energy or money working at or thinking about science or technology based projects. I amazes me that for us to have "invented" the internet, not as Al Gore has stated, but literally out of DARPA work so long ago... and the funding for major portions of the infrastructure came out of the budget for the NSF...
Today (and for many of the last 8 years) we are ignoring, as a matter of public policy, money invested in topics such as
- Stem cell research (think about growing your own bone graft for your own spine, the far right has been successful in creating FUD around this topic)
- Solar electricity generation (I just installed solar PV on my roof, but it could have been so much less expensive, because Moore's Law effects are not being seen in this industry in spite of the fact that the manufacturing technology is the same as in CPUs and Memory)
- Solar electricity generation #2 (having read about small solar powered steam generators for the home - they generate electricity) is this worthwhile?
- Algae that make bio-diesel as a byproduct of "eating" the excrement of fish farms. Did you know that this fish poop stuff is terribly bad for the environment? This would clean it up and provide a stepping stone to getting off oil from countries that politically are not aligned with sensible policy
I am truly speaking investment, because the business climate is bad enough, particularly in solar, that you won't find companies in this country making research decisions along these lines. Just as in sales compensation, you need to provide the incentive to the salesman to sell a product by compensating him to do so, in R&D, sometimes a kick in the pants is needed to get things moving, particularly if the R&D is in the private sector...Surely, if we can modify the tax code to provide a tax credit for a light truck (or SUV's classified as such) and thus provide the incentive for the small business owner to make that investment in his business, something smarter can come from Washington; like say an investment in PV manufactoring technologies, thus assuring growth rather than stagnation.
I know, the current administration is just about done, what with it's "faith based" initiatives and all, but what are the replacements suggesting? You don't know?
here are links (click here and here) to get you started, from a recent post from none other than Phil Plait on the ScienceDebate2008.
It’s hard to say if this is honesty from them, or whether we should chalk it up to pre-election empty promises. Both say some good things about science policy...