National Science Foundation director Neal Lane's pursuit of "strategic basic research" was outlined in the interview in the January 10 issue of The Scientist [page 11].

It is difficult to defend the needs of science against the demands of a panicky Congress. The pressure generated by Sen. Barbara Mikulski's (D-Md.) subcommittee is particularly dangerous to our country's future, for it may cause us to reduce funding for that which will bring truly new technologies.

If we look back to the 19th century, we can identify strains that led to important modern technology. To cite one example, the electromagnetic research led by Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell gave us now-familiar devices such as the electric light, telephone, electric motor, radio, and TV. All this work was of no obvious social value at the time.

To give another example, astronomers seeking to understand light coming from the stars built a database...

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