BOX 1-2

Science: The Endless Frontier

One of our hopes is that after the war there will be full employment. To reach that goal the full creative and productive energies of the American people must be released. To create more jobs we must make new and better and cheaper products. We want plenty of new, vigorous enterprises. But new products and processes are not born full-grown. They are founded on new principles and new conceptions which in turn result from basic scientific research. Basic scientific research is scientific capital. Moreover, we cannot any longer depend upon Europe as a major source of this scientific capital. Clearly, more and better scientific research is one essential to the achievement of our goal of full employment.

How do we increase this scientific capital? First, we must have plenty of men and women trained in science, for upon them depends both the creation of new knowledge and its application to practical purposes. We shall have rapid or slow advance on any scientific frontier depending on the number of highly qualified and trained scientists exploring it….

The government should accept new responsibilities for promoting the flow of new scientific knowledge and the development of scientific talent in our youth. These responsibilities are the proper concern of the government, for they vitally affect our health, our jobs, and our national security. It is in keeping also with basic United States policy that the government should foster the opening of new frontiers and this is the modern way to do it.

—From Vannevar Bush, Science: The Endless Frontier, a report to the President, July 1945.

of 2009 (the Stimulus Act), Congress provided the funding necessary to move forward with the recommendations. (The excerpt from Rising Above the Gathering Storm in Box 1-4 provides a description of the innovation and competitiveness policy context. For the education and workforce recommendations of Rising Above the Gathering Storm, see Appendix E.)

These topics are not new. In Educating Americans for the 21st Century (1983) the National Science Board Commission on Precollege Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology presented a plan of action for improving mathematics, science, and technology education for all American elementary and secondary students and articulated the need for well-trained, highly qualified teachers of mathematics in a technological society.

Nevertheless, critical issues for the nation’s S&E infrastructure remain unsettled, in particular the future strength of our nation’s science and engineering workforce in light of demographic trends in both the U.S. population and the science and engineering workforce. The Gathering Storm provided compelling recommendations for sustaining and increasing our knowledge

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement