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A department of science?

In 1863, Congress took the country’s first step toward more direct federal involvement in the sciences when it chartered the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Although established as a privately administered, honorific body akin to the scientific academies of continental Europe or the Royal Society of London, the NAS was also authorized to respond to requests by government for scientific assistance and advice. Accordingly, Congress would implement an NAS recommendation in 1879 that various federal efforts be coordinated under the new U.S. Geological Survey. And a Joint Congressional Commission, chaired by Senator W.B. Allison from 1884 through 1886, “to study the organization of the surveys of the chief countries of Europe, and to recommend methods of coordinating the scientific branches of the government,” Ibid., 215 was the outcome of another NAS recommendation.

The NAS’s response to the Allison Commission’s request emphasized the principle of autonomy which had long been the bedrock in relations between science and government. Additionally, it sought to establish boundaries around federal involvement in research: “The government should not undertake what ‘can equally well be done by the enterprise of individual investigators.’ It should cooperate with universities but not compete with them, and should also confine itself ‘to increase and systemization of knowledge tending to “promote the general welfare”’ of the country.” Ibid., 216

Accordingly, U.S. Geological Survey head John Wesley Power suggested consolidation of existing federal scientific bureaus—except for those in the military and the Department of Agriculture—into a cabinet-level Department of Science, with its secretary selected by the president in consultation with NAS. Another proposal was to combine most non-military science bureaus under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution.

Non-government scientists were dubious. In his committee testimony, Alexander Agassiz of Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology sounded the oft-invoked themes of pluralism and autonomy, casting his argument in terms of what Dupree calls classical laissez faire political rhetoric: “Moderate centralization, allowing of great competition, is the ideal of scientific activity, and the government should limit its support of science to such work as is within neither the province nor the capacity of the individuals or of the universities, or of associations and scientific societies.” Ibid., 221

In the end, no such consolidation came about, but the Allison Commission's consideration of such a proposal is worthy of note as the first attempt to establish a central institutional basis for a federal science policy.

Rise of the u.s. academic research sector

Aside from the land grant colleges established as a result of the 1862 Morrill Act, the first American universities with faculty expected to engage in research as well as teaching were created after the Civil War. Richard C . Atkinson and William A. Blanpied, “Research Universities: Core of the U.S. Science and Technology System,” Technology in Society 30 (2008), 30-48. The first colleges to become universities were those that had been established during the colonial period. Harvard, for example, created the Jefferson Physical Laboratory—the first American university facility devoted exclusively to research and teaching in a single scientific discipline—in the early 1870s. Newer universities founded after the Civil War soon took the lead. Johns Hopkins, founded in 1876, was the first American university established as a research university from the outset; during its first two decades, it produced more Ph.D. degrees than Harvard and Yale combined. National Science Foundation Division of Policy Research and Analysis, The State of Academic Science and Engineering (Washington, DC: National Science Foundation, 1990), 33. Johns Hopkins was followed by Clark University (1889), Stanford University (1891), and the University of Chicago (1892). By the turn of the century, several state universities had also become leading research institutions. Among them were the universities of California, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois. In 1906, James Cattell counted the top one thousand scientists in the nation. Based on the number of scientists in this group, the fifteen leading American research universities were (in descending order): Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, California, Yale, Michigan, MIT, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Stanford, Princeton, Minnesota, and Illinois. James McKeen Cattell, “A Statistical Study of Men of Science,” Science 24 (1906).

Questions & Answers

what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
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what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
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s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
how can I make nanorobot?
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
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Source:  OpenStax, A history of federal science policy from the new deal to the present. OpenStax CNX. Jun 26, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11210/1.2
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