Box 1.1 Examples of Benefits Derived from Scientific Research

New scientific understanding and its applications are yielding benefits such as the following:

  • Improved diagnoses, pharmaceuticals, and treatments in medicine;
  • Better and higher-yielded food production in agriculture;
  • New and improved materials for fabrication of manufactured objects, building materials, packaging, and special applications such as microelectronics in the production arts;
  • Faster, cheaper, and safer transportation and communication;
  • Better means for energy production;
  • Improved ability to forecast environmental conditions and to manage natural resources; and
  • More powerful ways to explore all aspects of our universe, ranging from the finest subnuclear scale to the boundaries of the universe, and encompassing living organisms in all their variety.

today by the same forces that have impelled humans for thousands of years: curiosity to understand the natural world; desire to pass that understanding to succeeding generations; self-aggrandizement; and personal or national power.2 Data challenge us to develop new concepts, theories, and models to make sense of the patterns we see in them. They provide the quantitative basis for testing and confirming theories and for translating new knowledge into useful applications for the benefit of society. The assembled record of scientific data is both a history of events in the natural world and a record of human accomplishment.3 The international availability of these scientific data for fundamental research on a full and open basis and issues associated with ensuring global access are the primary concerns of this report.

Technological advances in recent years have led to an exponential increase in the amount of data collected, stored, and transmitted. New, ever more sophisticated sensors record observations on objects ranging from the smallest particles of matter to the largest objects in our known universe. It is now commonplace to control such large instruments as telescopes remotely, during the observation of an event, from a point hundreds or thousands of miles from the instrument. Satellites in orbit around Earth provide us with electrooptical observations, collecting billions of bits of data about our planet on a daily basis. Powerful machines unravel genomes to reveal the genetic code of life and help us decipher the secrets of heredity. In addition, rapid advances in computing, data processing and storage, and, most recently, in global telecommunications have given us the power to communicate and share the information produced by these remarkable observational and experimental tools, almost as quickly as it is generated. The



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