These are troubling times for academic scientists. The uncertainties of post-Cold War restructuring of research have yet to be resolved. Federal science policy appears in disarray. Young scientists face the most dismal career prospects in two decades. And the public face of science has been besmirched by widely publicized cases of misconduct. The immediate future looks gloomy indeed for academic science and, thus, for basic research, as well.
But even if conditions prove constraining in the short run, a long-run view of American science should provide some cause for hope. However, finding a path out of the predicament in which the basic research community currently finds itself will not be easy, nor will the results be inevitable. Rather, it is likely to depend on decisions being made right now by university leaders. It also may depend to a great extent on the influence exerted by academic scientists involved in basic...
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