Box: The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) |
This initiative is one of the federal government's premiere ventures into cooperative civilian technology development. In it, we are tackling a technological challenge as tough as putting a man on the moon -- that is, to develop within 10 years a car with 3 times the efficiency of today's automobiles with no sacrifice in cost, comfort, or safety. If the project succeeds, the payoff to the public will be huge in terms of less dependence on foreign oil and lower emissions of greenhouse gases. The project also holds the promise of an extremely attractive car for world markets in the 21st century and a thriving U.S. auto industry to produce them. The government (in this case, a consortium of 7 federal agencies) and industry (the Big 3 automakers -- Ford, GM, and Chrysler -- and many suppliers of materials and equipment) are working closely on a cost-shared basis to break highly challenging technological bottlenecks where the benefits are as much societal as commercial. PNGV's research priorities are:
Over the life of this partnership, funding will be shared roughly equally between government and industry, with the government contributing a greater share to basic research and to technologically riskier projects, and industry putting up a greater share as practical results get closer.
Education and training. The most important measure of success of this Administration will be its ability to make improvements in the lives of Americans. Few enterprises touch the lives of as many people as do those concerned with education and training. High-quality education and training benefit the individual whose knowledge and skills are upgraded, the business seeking a competitive edge, and the Nation in increasing overall productivity and competitiveness in the global marketplace. It is essential that all Americans have access to the education and training they need and that the teaching and learning enterprise itself becomes a high-performance activity.
The Administration has developed a research and development initiative aimed at using the power of modern information technology to achieve the Administration's lifelong learning goals -- specifically the Goals 2000 and School-to-Work programs. We believe computer and multi-media technology will make individualized, learner-centered, exploratory learning possible at affordable prices. And by using communication systems to connect homes, schools, and workplaces, we enhance the potential for learning outside of school. Current opportunities include:
Education and training markets are fragmented and difficult to reach since the advantages of the new technology require major changes in learning strategies and pedagogic techniques and therefore extensive training for teachers and instructional staff. This program will support research to accelerate development of what promises to be a large, and vigorous commercial enterprise supplying America's growing demand for learning.
Federal investment priorities include 5 main areas. Demonstrations that test advanced concepts in learning technologies will expand the state of the art in curriculum design, learner-centered and exploratory instructional strategies, and use of advanced software design. Fundamental research on the way people learn will focus on the way new technologies can be used to enhance learning. Development of learning tools will ensure availability of tools for synthetic learning environments, collaborative problem solving environments, software interfaces, instructional software development tools, interactive instructional systems, intelligent learning associates, and tools for searching multimedia data bases and digital libraries. Development of assessment tools will undoubtedly change our expectations about learning and about the kinds of skills that can be measured. Digitization of federal resources will provide key resources for commercial developers interested in marketing interactive systems to both education and entertainment markets.
While virtually all other sectors of the economy have been transformed by technological innovation and accompanying structural reorganization in the 20th century, methods used for education and training look much like they have for generations. By accelerating the development and adoption of information technologies in education and training, we hope to ensure all Americans access -- anytime and anyplace -- to quality education and training tailored to their needs.
Our primary and secondary school and job training programs are in serious need of repair and modernization, but our system of higher education and post-baccalaureate training leads the world in quality and access. Even as we respond to the fiscal realities of the times, we must nourish the "seed corn" of our future. Thus we must maintain our commitment to training the next generation of scientific leaders and continue to forge partnerships to support this effort.
Information technology. Our Nation leads the world in developing and applying information technology that can revolutionize the way we live, learn, and work. Because of the strategic value of these technologies and their potential for fostering economic growth, nations around the globe are investing heavily in the development and deployment of computer systems and telecommunications networks. Our vision for federal investment in information technology is to accelerate the evolution of existing technology and to nurture innovation that will enable its universal, accessible, and affordable application to enhance America's economic and national security in the 21st century.
Geographic distance, time to accomplish tasks, separation of people from resources, and outdated organizational structures have traditionally been barriers to progress. Information technology has an unprecedented ability to remove these barriers. Never before has there been an opportunity on such a grand scale to harness such a diverse range of technologies and to integrate them into a truly global interconnected information infrastructure. This emerging system will benefit not only all Americans, but people everywhere.
Box: Advanced Distributed Simulation Enhances Military Readiness
The constant tension between safety and realism in the military training environment can be eased by simulation. In the early days of simulation, for example, the Link trainer taught basic airmanship without ever leaving the ground. More recently, simulation technology has become a central component of the training regimen of U.S. military forces.
Today a quiet revolution in simulation is underway. A key technology links discrete simulations across wideband communications channels, making possible interactive operations among people and systems at widely dispersed geographical locations. Called Advanced Distributed Simulation (ADS), this technology offers the possibility of integrating manned simulators, weapons systems from instrumented ranges, and computer generated simulations into a "synthetic battlespace" that provides a more realistic, tactically relevant, and comprehensive training environment than ever before.
In late 1994, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), in conjunction with the Services and the Defense Modeling and Simulation Office, demonstrated the value of ADS in an actual NATO exercise, Atlantic Resolve 94. Up to twenty-one hundred entities from sixteen sites on two continents were linked. It was the first time that the services successfully linked simulators with live ships, tanks, and aircraft in a wartime scenario. So transparent was the integration that operational commanders in the exercise could not detect the difference between live and simulated forces. ADS will have a vital role in preparing our forces for warfare in the future.
The federal government supports:
Specific research and development activities include research in components, communications, computing systems, support software and tools, intelligent systems, information management, and advanced prototype applications. The ultimate customers for information and communications research and development are the users of tomorrow's systems. We have identified three broad classes of user-driven applications which focus on removing barriers to progress:
National Security. Science and technology support the Administration's national security strategy in 3 important ways.
Technology is central to our efforts to: prevent and counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means of their delivery; verify and monitor existing and prospective arms control agreements; and ensure the safety and reliability of our reduced nuclear weapons stockpile.
Maintaining a strong military. During the Cold War, technological superiority allowed us to counter a numerically superior adversary. Now, although the threat has changed, we remain committed to technological superiority because it allows us to field the strongest military at the lowest cost--both economic and human.
A strong domestic science base supporting a robust national security science and technology program is critical to preserving technological advantage. But racing for the lead in all areas is not a sufficient investment criteria. Our strategy is to apply resources broadly at the basic research level and make further investment decisions as emerging technologies reveal the most promising payoff areas. We are giving priority to programs that improve our warfighting capabilities, such as applications of information technology; to programs that address affordability, such as manufacturing and producibility technologies; and to technologies for new missions, such as counterproliferation, that are growing in importance.
Strengthening the industrial base. The long-term sustainment of our industrial capability is crucial to maintaining technological superiority. What we had during the Cold War -- a defense industry that was distinct from civilian industry -- will not serve us well in the future. Our strategy is to break down the barriers between the defense and commercial industrial sectors so that we have access to the best of both for our military applications. Many of the technologies we need for advanced military capabilities are available in the commercial sector, and in some cases they are more advanced and cost less. We are working to enhance our relationship with private industry through partnerships that enable us to capture those commercial technologies that offer the greatest military application. The long-term payoff will be better military capabilities at lower cost, and a strengthened economy.
Technology to control weapons of mass destruction. Science and technology play key parts in our national strategy to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery. Arms control is an integral component of our strategy to promote U.S. national security. Verification and monitoring of compliance with arms control agreements is made possible by unique abilities provided by American basic and applied science in fields as diverse as chemistry, optics, and solid state physics. Technology also supports our policy goals of discouraging accumulation of weapons usable fissile materials, strengthening controls on those materials, and reducing global stocks. Science and technology also make vital contributions to the safe stewardship of our own nuclear weapons. With the current moratorium on underground nuclear testing and the Administration's commitment to a verifiable Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, we have structured a science-based stockpile stewardship program that will apply scientific understanding, predictive capability experiments, and simulation to ensure the safety, security, and reliability of our enduring nuclear stockpile.
Box: Cooperating to Control Bomb Materials
The Cold War may be over, but thousands of weapons and hundreds of tons of plutonium and highly-enriched uranium (HEU) must still be effectively controlled. Recent seizures of smuggled plutonium and HEU -- the essential ingredients of nuclear weapons -- demonstrate the urgency of this global problem. We have responded with a comprehensive, four-part plan that lies at the core of our efforts to stop nuclear proliferation and ensure that nuclear arms reductions are truly irreversible:
International science and technology cooperation. We can contribute to important U.S. interests through mutually beneficial international cooperation. International science and technology cooperation encourages development of free-market economies, creates and expands markets for U.S. goods and services, and helps to build peaceful relations. Science and technology cooperation also helps build stability by addressing global stresses, such as overpopulation, poverty, migration, environmental degradation, resource depletion, and infectious disease.
Expanding international markets. Scientific and technological cooperation with other countries, particularly the emerging markets in which three-fourths of the growth in world trade is likely to take place, also helps to foster the development of export opportunities for American goods and services. Important fields for cooperation include information infrastructure, environmental technologies, and standards. Our cooperation, while building commercial opportunities, also builds the relationships that form the basis for dealing with issues such as nuclear nonproliferation and intellectual property protection. Our extensive cooperation with Russia provides an example of building mutually beneficial technology cooperation while assisting in the establishment of market and democratic institutions.
Promoting regional and global stability. The end of the Cold War fundamentally changed America's security imperatives. Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction poses a continuing threat, as do infectious disease, large-scale environmental degradation, depletion of soils and other resources, and other stresses that undermine economic progress and political stability in many countries and regions. Science and technology cooperation can assist in ameliorating such stresses, thus contributing to sustainable development. For example, preserving global biological diversity resources is important for food and health goals in all countries, including our own. Monitoring and containing emerging and reemerging infectious diseases is a common challenge. Through science and technology cooperation, nations and regions can work together to meet such challenges. The establishment this year of the Interamerican Institute for Global Change Research is an excellent example of such cooperation.
World leadership and cooperation in science, mathematics, and engineering. Since the end of World War II, the United States has been an unquestioned world leader in science. We have made distinct advances in the exploration of the physical world at the extremes of distances and scale: the repaired Hubble Space Telescope reveals the continuing evolution of the universe, while the world's highest energy particle collider, the Tevatron at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, enabled the first direct observation of the elusive "top" quark.
Box: The Footprints of the Quark
In April 1994 the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory announced the first experimental evidence for the subatomic particle called the top quark. The search had not been easy. Experiments, indeed entire particle accelerators, in Europe, the U.S. and Japan, had come and gone, and still physicists had not found the top quark. Yet far from concluding that they were chasing a moonbeam, most physicists remained confident of the existence of this fundamental particle of matter. They were so certain of their quarry because of their confidence in the model they had built to describe the way the universe works. The model describes the structure of matter at its ultimate level, inside the protons and neutrons of the atomic nucleus. Finding direct evidence for this last undiscovered quark would provide critical support for this model, a theory known as the Standard Model of Particle Interactions, or the Standard Model for short.
The top quark eluded discovery for so long because of its large mass in comparison to other subatomic particles--more than 30 times greater than the next-heaviest quark, the bottom. Of all the particle accelerators now operating anywhere on earth, only Fermilab's Tevatron particle accelerator has enough energy to produce top quarks in collisions between protons and antiprotons, their antimatter counterparts. When proton and antiproton collide at nearly the speed of light, they create a tiny fireball of pure energy. Some of the energy turns into matter, according to Einstein's famous equation E = mc2, yielding sprays of exotic particles. Huge particle detectors have the job of sorting through trillions of such collisions to find the half-dozen that show evidence for the top quark.
Why the top quark is so heavy remains a mystery that may, in fact, open a new frontier of particle physics. No one expected to find the tiny particle weighs more than an entire atom of gold. Because the top quark is so massive, it may shed light on the origin of mass, one of the most urgent unanswered questions confronting physics today.
We reaped great rewards from this position of leadership. From intriguing questions about the magnetic resonance properties of individual atoms, chemists developed tools for analyzing the chemical structure of a material. That led, in combination with fundamental advances in electronics and mathematics, to such forefront medical diagnostic tools as magnetic resonance imaging and positron-electron tomography. From basic research on genetics, came the forensic applications of DNA fingerprinting. Relying on the tools of molecular biology, the polymerase chain reaction and recombinant DNA techniques, new statistical methods, and the application theories of population genetics, DNA fingerprinting is a means to identify DNA from crime scenes. These are but two examples of the consistently high return the federal investment in fundamental science yields for the American public.
As a nation, however, we find it increasingly difficult to underwrite research at the forefront in all areas of science. As research facilities grow more sophisticated and expensive, in some cases our best option is to internationalize the construction and operation of the required research tools. As an example, we are actively discussing greater U.S. participation in the planned Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, which will be the world's highest energy collider.
World leadership in fundamental science must, in the near term, be accomplished for the most part by realigning the existing investment. We have strengthened the federal investment in fundamental science by emphasizing research conducted in academic institutions and merit reviewed research. When research is conducted in an educational setting -- universities, medical schools, and other educational institutions -- it has a multiplier effect. New knowledge is created, and new scientists and engineers are trained. Experience has also taught us that merit reviewed research -- research where scientific peers evaluate competing proposals -- improves the quality of the scientific enterprise.
The Administration is committed to a federal-university partnership that enhances the continued health of our major research institutions. This includes continuing to maintain the Nation's research infrastructure. The federal government currently participates by financing a share of this infrastructure through direct grants to universities for construction, and reimbursement to universities for research costs associated with renovation, construction, operation, and maintenance of research facilities. The basis for the calculation of the reimbursement of these costs has been a matter of public misunderstanding, congressional inquiry, and continuing friction between universities and federal agencies. In the spirit of the National Performance Review, the Administration, working in concert with the private sector, announced several important changes in how government pays for research and development. These changes will simplify administrative and accounting procedures; promote predictability, stability, equity and consistency in federal payments for research; and make the federal investment in research more understandable to Congress and the public. In the long run, the changes will also generate cost savings since the new system will be more efficient and uniform. The savings will be invested in high priority research and development.
Box: Mouse Model Leads to Discovery of Obesity Gene
In perhaps the greatest discovery in obesity research to date, researchers have isolated a defective mouse gene that results in profound obesity and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. The scientists located the gene by studying a strain of mouse that can weigh up to five times more than normal. Their studies suggest a mechanism for how the obesity gene controls the amount of fat deposition. The normal mouse gene appears to be switched on in fat tissue, where it generates a protein that is secreted into the bloodstream and, once it reaches the appetite-controlling area of the brain, acts to regulate food intake. A defective obesity gene may produce little or no protein, and so the brain would not receive the proper message about the status of body fat stores, and appetite control would be lost. Investigators used their knowledge of the mouse gene to pinpoint a nearly identical obesity gene in human DNA. Because of the close similarity between the human and mouse genes, it is likely that they perform similar functions. Scientists are now investigating whether the gene is mutated in obese humans. It is likely that human obesity will be much more complicated than obesity in the mouse, possibly involving multiple genes and proteins. Nonetheless, this landmark research may eventually lead to more effective medical therapies for weight problems, and to testing for genetic predisposition for obesity early in life, when dietary modification might help prevent obesity and reduce the prevalence and ultimately the cost of many chronic obesity-related diseases, including non-insulin-dependent diabetes.
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