Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page 350
350 1980's. We believe that such an approach would be pref- erable to the perpetuation of postdoctoral positions. Without vigorous astronomers, the best space- and ground-based facilities will not give the optimum return We regard our proposed program for the maintenance of research vitality as being of the highest priority. III. OTHER ISSUES IN THE PRACTICE OF ASTRONOMY These issues we group into matters concerning personnel, education, and the organization of astronomy: A. Personnel , — 1. Minorities in Astronomy. The number of U.S. astronomers who are members of ethnic minorities is dis- turbingly small: they apparently represent fewer than 2% of the AAS membership. The small number of Black and Hispanic astronomers is particularly a matter of concern, since these groups represent 11.6% and 5.6% of the U.S. population, respectively. Orientals represent 3.3% of the population. American Indians are also an important minority. Given the difficulties many astronomers are currently experiencing in finding satisfactory employ- ment, we do not wish to encourage, unrealistically, large numbers of young people to try to become astronomers. On the other hand, no one should be denied the opportunity to study astronomy, or become an astronomer, because of his or her ethnic background. We make the following recommendations, similar to those made by the AAS Committee on Ethnic Minorities, to encour- age young members of ethnic minorities in the study of astronomy: (a) Observatories should undertake programs tar- geted at ethnic minorities that bring high school and college students to the observatory to work with indi- vidual astronomers. Programs at Kitt Peak National Laboratory and the Summer Intern Program operated for several years by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are good examples of this type of activity. (b) Astronomy departments should contact institu- tions in their area with large minority enrollments and invite them to participate in activities such as open nights and public lectures. (c) Astronomers are encouraged to visit colleges
OCR for page 351
351 and universities with large minority enrollments, to provide role models and to seek out students who are interested in studying astronomy. 2. Women in Astronomy. We endorse the report of the Committee on the Status of Women (CSW) accepted by the AAS in 1980. In particular, we endorse the following recommendations: (a) flexibility in hiring and tenure procedures, (b) equal opportunity for all in the astro- nomical community, (c) drawing the attention of small colleges and other institutions to the advantages of hiring astronomers, and (d) elimination of sex and racial bias in educational materials and acknowledgement of the contributions to astronomy made by women. In the 1970's the employment and status of women in astronomy became a major issue. The reports of the AAS's CSW indicate that while the status of women in astronomy is improving in some cases, it is still not equal to that of men. Increasing the pool of available talent benefits the astronomical profession as a whole and ensures the maxi- mum opportunity for new, innovative ideas to be brought forward. Furthermore, some of the recommendations of the CSW, such as encouragement of small institutions to hire astronomers and the call for flexible hiring and tenure procedures, would benefit many astronomers in the job market, particularly those looking for an alternative to the traditional full-time, tenure-track position. 3. Dual-Career Couples. When both members of a mar- ried couple are attempting to pursue careers, they face special difficulties. Our survey of opinions in the com- munity resulted in replies ranging from jocularity to anguish. This problem would be alleviated, of course, by implementation of our primary recommendations, simply through creating more jobs. However, we further recommend (a) appropriate modification of any remaining nepotism rules, (b) that part-time persons be permitted to act as Principal Investigators, and (c) that institutions follow a liberal policy on shared jobs. B. Education 4. Public Communication. We recognize the need for, and encourage astronomers to devote a suitable portion of their time to, the communication of astronomical results
OCR for page 352
352 to the general public. Such efforts should be recognized and encouraged by funding agencies, academic institutions, and professional organizations, as a necessary and bene- ficial service activity. Astronomy is a highly visible example of the physical sciences. Current astronomical results are astonishing. Astronomers have the obligation to communicate up-to-date research results to the public. In so doing, astronomers can instill an appreciation for science, the application of reason, and the scientific method to the pUbllC. · ~ Communication of astronomical Ideas, both to the public at large and to key persons such as teachers and community leaders, will play a pivotal role in the health of the field in the 1980's. Public communication is an obligation of the astronomers to those who have helped astronomy to progress--the tax- payers. It is an essential prerequisite to the develop- ment of broad-based interest in astronomy--interest that can then result in increased governmental support. Pri- vate funding of astronomy is also often enhanced by pub- lic communication. We include as part of public communi- cation the teaching of astronomy courses to nonmajors; at current enrollment rates, at least 2 million potential voters will take astronomy courses during the 1980's. They should remember the astronomy course for conscience majors as a stimulating intellectual experience, not just as the least painful way to satisfy a science requirement. Implementation of this recommendation requires initia- tive on the part of individual astronomers and, most importantly, recognition from their department chairmen _ . . and group leaders or the value of this type of activity. Our questionnaire results indicated that department chair- men virtually unanimously regard public communication as beneficial and that most recommend that junior faculty, who have the greatest incentive to use their time wisely, do spend some time on this activity. Their attitude needs to be forcefully communicated, so that there is broad, extensive participation by astronomers in the communication of astronomy to the lay public. 5. Training of Astronomers. General: severely limited. m e job market for astronomers is (Later sections show that, approxi- mately, half of the persons who received a Ph.D. in astronomy in 1970 found permanent employment in astron- omy.) Training astronomers so that they can compete favorably with physicists for academic and other post
OCR for page 353
353 Lions partially addresses this problem. Computer scien- tists are currently in great demand, and a good background in that field opens additional opportunities. Other interdisciplinary approaches should be encouraged. Astronomy graduate programs should re-examine their curricula, to assess the extent to which their students are trained for diverse job options. The required courses, both in astronomy and other areas, should be carefully designed to provide rigorous training on which students may build for future work in new areas. We recommend that the training of astronomers include the acquisition of skills in such specialized areas as electronics, electro-optical devices, mechanical systems, computer software, and systems engineering; these skills are not only relevant to the development of astronomical instrumentation but also make astronomy graduates more attractive to industry. Care and Nurturing of Instrumentalists: Continued training of instrumentalists will be vital to the next 10 years of astronomy. Astronomers capable of developing instrumental concepts, designing new equipment, and overseeing the construction of instruments are important to astronomy. They have the ultimate purpose of the instrument--the acquisition of theoretically interpret- able scientific observations--firmly in mind. And they are responsible for many of the major advances in instru- mentation used for astronomy in the last two decades. We recommend the following steps to maintain the ~ , _ production of instrumentalists: (a) Training in experimental physics should be encouraged for instrumentally minded astronomers. Expo- sure to a wide range of techniques that may not be used at present in astronomy will give the best kind of cross- fertilization. (b) Support should be maintained at a good level for productive university telescopes. In addition to being scientifically productive, the best ones are the test beds for new developments that are difficult to carry out at National Centers. (c) Balloon and rocket programs should be main- tained. In addition to continuing to provide excellent science return, they are a fine training ground for graduate student experimentalists. (d) Some of the Space Shuttle flights should carry small, short-lead-time experiments that will augment the balloon and rocket programs.
OCR for page 354
354 We further urge that credit for the development of observatory instrumentation should be given, especially in terms of tenure and promotion decisions. A good in- strument is invaluable if it enhances the productivity of Such a contribution the rest of the observatory staff. warrants acknowledgment. 6. m e Astronomical Community. Teachers at 2- and 4-year colleges, many of whom are not full-time astrono- mers, make a significant contribution to astronomy educa- tion in the United States. A survey of 35 participants in a workshop on effective astronomy teaching (Hoff, 1980 indicates that half of these college faculty do not have doctorates, and fewer than 10% hold degrees in astronomy or astrophysics. Approximately half of the Participants held physics degrees. Their formal education in astronomy is slight; 40% had no college course work in astronomy, and 70% had fewer than 10 semester hours in astronomy. For most (62~), astronomy makes up less than half of their teaching load; yet, collectively these 35 people teach introductory astronomy to more than 3800 students per year. We estimate that there are at least 600 people teaching astronomy at 4-year colleges, of which 300 have astronomy Ph.D.'s. If the faculty surveyed by Hoff are representative of the remaining 300, they teach introduc- tory astronomy to more than 30,000 students per year. There are perhaps 300 people currently engaged in communicating astronomy to the public via planetaria in the United States. The annual attendance at planetaria is many millions, testifying to astronomy's popularity with the general public. There are large numbers of amateur astronomers in the United States. Five organizations of amateurs actively involved in observing projects [American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), American Meteor Society, Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers, Inter- national Occultation Timing Association, and Problicom] have a collective membership of 2260 (Mercury, May-June 1980, p. 80). Tree national organizations of amateur astronomers, the Astronomical League, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and the Western Amateur Astrono- mers have memberships of 7000, 5000, and 3000, respec- tively. While there are undoubtedly some overlapping memberships, particularly in the larger groups in which some members may be more active than others, it is clear that the number of serious amateur astronomers probably exceeds the number of professionals
OCR for page 355
355 These energetic and enthusiastic observers perform major services to astronomy. By hosting star parties, public nights, and similar activities, they help to edu- cate the general public. The monitoring of variable stars by amateur astronomers active in the AAVSO provides impor- tant supplemental data for the work of many professional astronomers. With the coming shortages in academic positions more astronomers will be employed outside astronomy. However' most of these people will maintain a love for the field and may even, where possible, carry out limited amounts of research. We recommend that research astronomers make efforts to increase communication with these other astronomers, who contribute so strongly to the general health of the field. 7. Small Telescopes. Small and medium-sized tele- scopes, many associated with university departments, are an important resource for U.S. astronomy. Many important programs do not require ideal observing conditions. Year- round availability and scheduling flexibility make pos- sible long-term survey and continuous-monitoring programs that cannot easily be carried out at national facilities. Thanks to proximity to the astronomers and students, these telescopes are readily available for student training and research, instrument development, and training of future experimentalists. Observers using local telescopes exper- ience less pressure to produce quick, guaranteed results than do visitors at national facilities, so the former can risk speculative, innovative observing programs. Local university telescopes are also a major asset for public nights and other events that inform the public of current astronomical discoveries. We believe that federal support for these telescopes and associated instrumentation should be awarded on scien- tific merit, as judged by the peer review system. We urge proposal referees, the federal funding agencies, and non- federal sources of financial support to keep in mind also the many needs served by these facilities. C. Organization 8 Classified Data and Technology. . The continued advancement of astronomy depends in large part on the development of technology, including that related to detectors, structures, antennas, and optics, as well as
OCR for page 356
356 to the processing, analysis, and handling of data (espe- cially data archiving and retrieval). Some of the tech- nological challenges now facing astronomy appear similar to those faced by national security agencies. Realizing the practical limitations of security clear- ances and need to know, we recommend that both the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) maintain a con- tinuing awareness of the needs of astronomy and transmit those needs to the proper government agencies. Some form of positive feedback is desirable, even on a limited basis, to assure that consideration of declassification or utilization proceeds in a positive manner. A suggested forum for that exchange would be the National Academy of Sciences and the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy. Similarly, data acquired for defense purposes may oc- casionally contain scientifically useful data that can be separated from classified data without divulging classi- fied technology. The key to recognition of that possi- bility lies with NASA, NSF, and the Department of Defense. To enhance the probability of discovery of useful, exist- ing scientific data, we recommend that NASA and NSF estab- lish mechanisms by which the astronomical community can participate in the search process. 9. Access to Foreign Space Missions on the Basis of - Merit. It has been the policy of NASA to make its scien- tific satellites and other flight programs fully acces- sible to foreign participation on a competitive basis. NASA's Announcements of Opportunity (AO) are circulated worldwide, and there are usually numbers of foreign pro- posals submitted, with some eventually selected for flight (we are not considering here cooperative NASA-foreign pro- grams of a joint-project nature, such as the International Sun Earth Explorer, Hellos, the International Ultraviolet Explorer, and the Infrared Astronomy Satellite Explorer). The agreement with the foreign investigator is one of "no exchange of funds." The cost to NASA is thus primarily one of integration of the experiment into the spacecraft and of data acquisition and transmittal to the investigator. For his or her part, the foreign investigator receives a flight opportunity and science data at the cost (to the sponsoring country) of only the experiment plus data analysis and publication. The NASA policy is clearly beneficent. It was devel- oped when the United States and the Soviet Union were
OCR for page 357
357 the only nations with vehicles in space and is certainly in keeping with the apolitical nature of science. Ide- ally, the best science gets done, to the ultimate benefit of all. Changing circumstances in the 1970's--in particu- lar the increased competition caused by fewer flight opportunities and higher costs--have caused some members of the U.S. scientific community to question both the mechanisms of this policy and the desirability of its continuation. However, the Panel believes that opportunities to fly foreign experiments on U.S. spacecraft have clearly been of benefit to foreign nations and are, in addition, po- litically in the best interests of the United States. They have indeed enabled more total science to be accom- plished in those cases where the mission constraint has been budgetary rather than engineering (lower, data, or . . volume, for example); had there been no foreign experi- ment, that piece of science would not have been done. In addition to the increased competitive environment, the major change in the international situation is that the United States and the Soviet Union no longer monopo- lize launch capability and satellite activity but have been joined by the European Space Agency (ESA), by some _ of its individual members, and by Japan, China, Canada, and India. In the scientific arena, ESA dominates, but the activity of Japan is also significant and increasing. However, none of these solicit experiments from outside groups. That NASA has no set mechanism (or policy) to fund such experiments, should one from the United States be selected, is therefore irrelevant at this moment. President Carter's space policy (October 11, 1978) explicitly addressed international cooperation in space science: "Our policy in international space cooperation will include two basic elements: (1) to pursue the best science available regardless of national origin and expand our international planning and coordinating effort; and (2) to seek cooperative support for spacecraft experiments which have been chosen on sound scientific criteria. This space policy recognizes the value of international ~ ~ _ ~ cooperation, and point (1) reiterates existing NASA pol- icy. Point (2), however, recognizes the cost of conduct- ing space research and looks to increasing financial con- tributions by foreign countries. Simply charging each participating country a proportion of all costs is one possible way to increase financial contributions, but the problem of determining a fair share of the costs and of maintaining U.S. management control argues against it.
OCR for page 358
358 Instead, it seems better to maintain the current practice of open AO's and to work with other nations and organiza- tions to receive reciprocal opportunities. (Oddly enough, the Soviet Union has flown U.S. experiments "free" to the United States on its biosatellites, although to date no Soviet experimenters have proposed for flight through the AO process.) We therefore recommend that NASA work to establish the principle of competitive access to foreign scientific satellite missions and that NASA institute a policy and budgetary mechanism designed to encourage the flight of U.S. experiments on foreign satellites. 10. Peer Review. A persistent concern of the OEP Panel, and many correspondents, is the adequacy of the decision-making process within the funding agencies, par- ticularly NSF and NASA. There are, in fact, two processes at work. One allocates money within the agency to various programs. The second, more visible process, allocates funds within a given program to individual scientists and research groups through grants and contracts. This second process is usually conducted through Peer review. · . ~ Concerns regarding the peer review process have been widely raised in contexts outside of astronomy (e.g., Smith and Karlesky, 1977). A sociological study of its functioning was reported by Cole et al. (1977). We con- sidered the concerns of the astronomical community in light of such broader, more detailed studies and did not feel it necessary to make detailed studies ourselves. Our general conclusion is that the Deer review system works quite well. Any system for allocating scarce funds among competing needs is almost certain to generate com- plaints. We call particular attention to the study by Cole _ al. (1977), which "yielded little evidence in support of the main criticisms that have been made of the peer review system." In this study, 10 of NSF's basic research programs were scrutinized in detail. Two hundred and fifty specific research proposals were examined, and the contents of specific referee's reports (including the referee's university department) were subjected to a sta- tistical analysis. In particular, the study invalidated the "old-boy hypothesis," in which eminent scientists were presumed to give high ratings to proposals from their emi- nent colleagues and unfairly low ratings to proposals from less eminent ones. In fact, the proposals of scientists from highly ranked departments received higher ratings from reviewers in low-ranked departments than from review-
OCR for page 359
359 ers in high-ranked departments, and proposals from people in low-ranked departments were, in general, judged more reviewers from hinh-ranked departments than Other studies of the system are referred to by Lakoff (in Smith and Karlesky, 1977, Vol. 2, pp. 175-180). We also encountered two additional criticisms of the favorably by ~ , _~ by reviewers from low-ranked departments. peer review system. One is the length of time and amount of paperwork required to process a proposal. We support any measures that can be taken to streamline these proce- dures but realize that increased requirements of account- ability are circumstances beyond the direct control of the astronomical community (Staats, 1979). Also of concern is the temptation to slant research in favor of projects certain to produce immediate results, rather than projects involving greater uncertainty or risk. Even in the cases of innovative proposals, it is hard for an agency program director to fund a project that goes against the currently accepted dogma reflected by the opinions of referees. Yet it is precisely this sort of hunch that has given us the most productive millimeter-wave telescope in the world. It is particu- larly difficult to fund such projects in times of funding shortages. We do recognize the extreme importance of supporting good projects that promise results only far in the future. Gravitational-wave astronomy, currently supported at a modest level by NSF, is an example of such a project. We remind agencies and their program directors that support of innovative and unusual ideas is important to the long- term future of astronomy, even if the short-range payoffs seem relatively small. Other comments regarding the peer review system empha- size the importance of a dialogue between the proposer and the referees after submission of proposals, particularly when instrumental proposals are under review. A proposal cannot include all the relevant details without being unreasonably long, and so it is useful to have some mech- anism by which referees' questions can be addressed. Pro- gram officers within the agencies appear to be sensitive to this need and responsive to problems that arise within particular programs. There is also a need for dialogue when a proposal has been turned down and the proposer wants to be reconsidered. We note that there are oppor- tunities for appeal within the agencies, although such appeals are not often successful. Yet another concern, often voiced by people in smaller
OCR for page 360
360 institutions, is the perception that funding is limited to large, well-known institutions. This perception is incorrect, as discussed above. The main problem, rather, is ignorance of the mechanics of proposal preparation. The AAS newsletter contains much of the information needed by someone seeking funding. The system is open; if an astronomer at a small college wants to propose and has a good project in mind, initiative is all that is required. Program officers will provide the necessary information for proposers, but the initiative must come from the individual scientist. m e second, but less visible, process that signifi- cantly affects astronomy is the allocation of funds within programs. The successful functioning of this process, and the larger question regarding allocation of funds within the funding agencies as a whole (where astronomy is only a fraction of each agency's budget), depends strongly on the ability of individual agency scientists to present the case for their own programs effectively and forcefully. The community needs to remain aware of the existence of this second process and to provide appropriate support. Of central importance in this connection is the quality of scientists working for the funding agencies. m e OEP Panel calls attention to scientists to work for a of time under provisions nel Act. The welfare of the opportunities for individual funding agency for a short period of the Intergovernmental Person- the entire community depends critically on the abilities of agency astronomers in Washington. 11. Advice to NASA and_NSF. Our recommendations are that (1) the agency that funds a "mission" should take particular care that it fund adequate analysis of all of the meaningful data; (2) agencies should identify the mutual impact of new programs before those programs are initiated and take appropriate action. 12. Private and State Support. A considerable frac- tion of the financial support of astronomy is provided by private and state funds. Increasing such support is clearly beneficial for the field; the question is: How? Different situations demand different approaches. In almost all cases, communication with the general public is part of the answer. Public discussion of the successes of individual institutions can help stimulate others and can provide ideas regarding possible approaches in any one institution.
Representative terms from entire chapter: