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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

Support for this project was provided by the National Research Council's Basic Science Fund and the National Science Foundation.

International Standard Book Number 0-309-04592-4

International Standard Serial Number 1065-3082

Cover: View of Earth as photographed from the Apollo 17 spacecraft (courtesy of NASA). Magnetic resonance image of a patient's head indicating the shape and location of a tumor (reprinted, by permission, from H.E. Cline et al., 1990. Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography 14(6):1037-1045). A young star in the Orion Nebula as shown in a photograph made with the Wide-Field/Planetary camera on the Hubble Space Telescope (courtesy of NASA). Magnified fragment of the Mandelbrot set (courtesy of J.H. Hubbard, Cornell University).

Copyright 1992 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America



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