Part I

This overview is divided into several sections. The context in which the report was prepared is described in the ''Introduction." AMO science touches on the most basic aspects of the physical world. It also makes extensive contributions to societal needs and serves as the underpinning for a number of other areas of science. At a time when society is increasingly interested in understanding the benefits and returns of basic research, this field is able to give an impressive accounting of itself. The nature of the field is described in the next section, "A Basic and Enabling Science." Some of the fundamental questions addressed by AMO science are discussed, and its role in enabling other sciences, applications, and technology is explored. In "Benefits of AMO Science," the field's contributions to scientific and human resources, to economic productivity, to medical science, and to the nation's technological infrastructure are described. "Highlights of Scientific Advances" reviews some of the achievements of the science, including cooling, trapping, and manipulation of individual atoms and molecules and measurements of the course of chemical reactions as they occur. The U.S. research program in this field is described in the next section. Two priority areas identified by the panel are discussed: control and manipulation of atoms, molecules, charged particles, and light, and the development of new light sources. The case is made that support of the basic research program will continue to yield rich dividends in such areas as economic competitiveness, health care, energy, the environment, and others. The final section of the overview outlines the findings and recommendations of the study panel.

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