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A new model of American research is required today (opinion)

Published Apr 27 2021 at 7:00 AM GMT
Key
Points
  • More than a century after Thomas Newcomen, a miner, and John Calley, his plumber assistant, invented the first useful steam engine, the French scientist Sadi Carnot developed the theory of thermodynamics to explain it.
  • And in 1903, the bicycle makers Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first powered flight, but the underlying mathematics of aerodynamic theory were explained by a university scientist -- Ludwig Prandtl at Hannover University -- almost two decades later.
  • These examples from The Code Breaker, by Walter Isaacson, convey an important lesson about the relationship between application and theory that is relevant for future technological innovation -- and for research in universities in the United States.
  • Vannevar Bush, the director of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development in the 1940s, articulated the inverse relationship between basic and applied research: universities play a critical role in developing the fundamental science that industry deploys to create products.
  • Bush’s linear approach, which led to the establishment of the National Science Foundation, has powered innovation in the United States for decades.



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  • Published Apr 27, 2021 7:00 AM GMT