The handwriting for the future of federal science funding is on the wall, and Frank Press has read it as well as anybody.
In his April 26th speech, the National Academy of Sciences president uttered publicly what many have acknowledged privately. The United States cannot afford to pursue at full tilt its Big Science agenda—the superconducting supercoilider, the human genome project, the space station—without cutting into support for the legions of individual investigators representing Little Science.
Press’s statement (The Scientist, May 30, 1988, page 1) has recognized what had already become a fractious debate between proponents of worthwhile Big Science projects and proponents of worthwhile Little Science projects. Indeed, it may have divided the camps even further. But why should scientists squabble over a single small pie when they can collectively bake a large one that feeds and sustains many?
Think for a moment how Derek J. de Solla Price...