AAAS Delta Force

This in my inbox today from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They are soliciting ideas. The WUWT readership may want to send some along.

Here’s the political spin pitch:

Join the Conversation on the Future of Science

As a part of its efforts to introduce fully open government, the White House is reaching out to the at-large scientific community to discuss America’s national scientific and technological priorities.

Through AAAS, and our new Expert Labs program, the Obama administration wants to draw on the collective wisdom of scientists everywhere in deciding which scientific and technological challenges should be the focus of policy initiatives in the coming years.

In 2009 President Obama provided some examples of what these challenges might be:

  • Complete DNA sequencing of every type of cancer.
  • A universal vaccine for influenza that will protect against all future strains.
  • Solar cells as cheap as paint, and green buildings that produce all of the energy they consume.
  • A light-weight vest for soldiers and police officers that can stop an armor-piercing bullet.
  • Educational software that is as compelling as the best video game and as effective as a personal tutor.
  • Biological systems that can turn sunlight into carbon-neutral fuel, reduce the costs of producing antimalarial drugs by a factor of 10, and quickly and inexpensively dispose of radioactive wastes and toxic chemicals.

Now, the White House wants your help in shaping the federal government’s current and future scientific priorities. As scientists and concerned citizens, we have a great responsibility and a unique opportunity to be the voices that are helping to define the White House’s scientific agenda. Make your voice heard. Submit your ideas today.

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123 thoughts on “AAAS Delta Force

  1. I think climate scientists should learn to calibrate and properly situate thermometers. It may be a greater challenge than the president wants to take on, but I think it worth the effort.
    If that challenges is met, I’m in favor of teaching climate scientists the scientific method. But that may truly be a bridge too far.

  2. The list says more about President Obama than about science. Mostly they just seem like childish fantasy. In particular, “Biological systems that can … quickly and inexpensively dispose of radioactive wastes”. What biological system has the energy concentration to affect the nucleus of an atom? Does he mean “concentrate nuclear waste for disposal”? Probably not.
    “Complete DNA sequencing of every type of cancer”. Does cancer have its own DNA? I thought it was caused by the disruption of the host’s DNA, allowing the host’s cells to reproduce uncontrollably.
    “A light-weight vest for soldiers and police officers that can stop an armor-piercing bullet”? Is this out of a comic book?
    “Educational software that is as compelling as the best video game and as effective as a personal tutor.”???
    “Biological systems that can … reduce the costs of producing antimalarial drugs by a factor of 10”. His greenie friends have murdered a million people a year for twenty years by banning DDT.
    This list is so un-scientific, it must have been dreamed up by a PR hack.
    REPLY: Bingo, which is why I ask…WUWT?

  3. The Great Grand Challenge:
    Research that determines how to get the government to stop raising taxes and stop spending money.
    The Problem: It seems equally likely that Repubs and Dems spend money on bail outs, super duper military equipment to fight somebody’s else’s war, educational mandates that focus on paperwork but not on instruction, and keeping everybody alive with health care no matter what.
    The Null Hypothesis: The guv’mnt will continue to increase.
    It’s like a bad version of “The Blob”. And this crazy scheme is no different. God help us.

  4. On a related item;
    Dr susan Mossman replied to the online e-mail I had sent regarding the research I have of the mechanics of rotation and energy.
    You may be interested to learn that we are opening a new exhibition on Climate Science in November, 2010. As this is related to your research I am copying your email to the team for information. You can also find more information about this exhibition on: http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/climate_science.aspx.
    I hope that this response is helpful.
    Yours sincerely,
    Dr Susan Mossman
    Gallery Content Manager
    The Science Museum
    Exhibition Road
    London SW7 2DD
    Tel: 020 7942 4175
    Fax: 020 7942 4103
    E-mail: susan.mossman@sciencemuseum.org.uk
    Web: http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk

  5. @ Fitzy (17:59:02) :
    Well, that is not politically correct, [snip – not going to open up that can of worms here]

  6. It is not a secret. Obama has intentionally created havoc to the job market. He spent trillions and dishonestly promissed jobs.
    It is very simple. An honest economist with business experience knows. His economuists are as bad as the “pretend climate scientists”
    The first jobs in the business cycle are sales and marketing. The next phase are engineering and design. The next phase are manufacturing and service followed by IT and administrative jobs. Research for research sake doesn’t create jobs. Creates mere spending and busy work.
    Now to the point. Sales, marketing and engineering can go to customers and see what they want changed and want to buy.
    (there is no universal vaccine). MRSA tells us bugs are constantly evolving and becoming ressistant to vaccines. Every time the communists want to run science and research, it becomes a bottomless money pit.

  7. An investigation into the opacity of government. The index of verbal refraction of governmentium, and its spin, are still unknown. The specific debt, that being dollars per gram of government’s constituent particles, bureaucrats and legislation, has also to be brought to light. It was known in historical times but has been lost over the past 50 years.
    Oh yes, and of course space exploration, fission and fusion nuclear energy.

  8. Let’s see, we can reduce the cost of antimalarial drugs by a factor much greater than 10 by reintroducing DDT. It would be interesting to have biological systems that dispose of radioactive wastes … considering that no known biological mechanisms are active in nuclear processes at a level that would affect radioactivity. Solar cells as cheap as paint? Has the president seen how much good quality paint costs??? We have far cheaper solar energy collection systems already: It’s called grass and trees. Better than solar cells, trees both collect the energy and solve the storage system, unlike large solar arrays that can only feed very expensive and inefficient storage devices.

  9. “Educational software that is as compelling as the best video game and as effective as a personal tutor.”
    Sounds about as realistic as Hansen’s 6 meter sea level rise.
    Perhaps combine a MMOG first person shooter with zombies, car crashes and Latin? Kids would love that – everything except the educational part.

  10. Break the link between government funding and science.
    Stop equating scientific opinion with valid policy proposals.

  11. Joe, great proud sponsors for the “climate change” wing of the museum. Next time someone adhoms about big oil supporting the “denihilist’s” just show em that e-mail!
    LMFAROTFP!

  12. After 35 yrs I recently decided to leave the AAAS because it has become the essentially a union mouthpiece for US research scientists with the most important product being continuing employment, not the truth based on the facts. Several months after I allowed my membership to lapse I was sent a recent issue of Science, to entice me back into the fold, with a major article on guess what – GW. The reports were of excellent quality, as one would expect, BUT they were based on the same old homogenized temperature data from CRU, GISS, and NOAA. Not one of the researchers thought to question how or why the data was diddled. So, grants for several years, researchers got paid, grad and post-grad students got experience and financial support, nice looking reports were generated and published in Science, and they were all meaningless because of the judiciously manipulated data.

  13. Carl Chapman said it. Fantasy Island, with government grants.
    Why didn’t Obama call for the development of a biodegradable cold fusion personal jet pack or a solar-powered fountain of youth or a time machine that also recycles Pampers?
    Or how about a global thermostat to control the climate so that the weather can be maintained at optimum levels, everywhere, all the time, as per UN agreements?
    If it wasn’t so seriously dangerous it would be hilarious.

  14. None of the proposals are realistically feasible. They sound more like a dream list and they certainly are not a scientific priorities.
    I am reminded a little of the Russian efforts to develop Lysenko’s ideas.

  15. I like the part where the White House wants submittals linked via Facebook and Twitter!!
    What’s wrong with MySpace? Better bands and music!
    *sigh* Jimmy Carter’s “Moral Equivalent of War” energy program was bad enough, nothing of real value came out of that. This stuff is comic-book material as others have pointed out. What are they smoking up there?
    Thanks, Anthony! I’m sure glad I filed my patent for my “Biological system that can turn sunlight into carbon-neutral fuel” in March! You wouldn’t believe the claims we packed into that thing!

  16. Funny I see two items on energy, but I don’t see sustainable nuclear fusion, which would be a much more useful than solar cells as “cheap” as paint, and biological agents that can turn sunlight into carbon neutral fuel.

  17. I like the time machine idea except I’d ship CO2 and nuclear waste into the future. Someone in the future will probably find a good use for it. If you send it far enough into the future, it probably won’t make much difference.
    Now how do we make that time machine thingy again? 😉

  18. @[snip – not going to open up that can of worms here]
    Rats. That was hilarious. I understand, though.

  19. If you all think this is both serious and sincere you are crazy. Obama wants to take us back to the train era. The air Force fueler/tankers are 50 years old and in 8 years they can’t figure out a modern upgrade. Obama tossed out space spending.
    This is just for show. Dem Lobbyists have the input and no one else. Years ago the feds let out for bids on laptop computers. After long negotiations and changes they finally approved the Osborne computer. It has been out of business 2 years when they finally got the contract.

  20. The list provided is limitation on what topics they will accept as priorities. If your priority falls outside it is deleted. Then when the feedback is reported, the consensus will again be reinforced (re-enforced?).

  21. A number of years ago I would have been naive and thought this was a scientific endeavor. Now I’m more inclined to believe it is just one more example of overeducated intellectuals toadying up to the Obama administration because of a shared political affinity. It sounds like a press release from the White House, as much as a scientific call to arms. It reminds me of the National Endowment for the Arts call to artists to produce work in support of specific Obama administration policies (a political no-no with publicly entrusted money). How much publicly entrusted money is going to be spent on this endeavor?

  22. “Solar cells as cheap as paint, and green buildings that produce all of the energy they consume”
    Hell, if we can do this, maybe we should repeal the second law of thermodynamics, too.

  23. I got one! I got one!
    Biological systems that can turn sunlight into carbon-neutral fuel
    Trees! You can burn them and they produce exactly as much carbon as they consumed when growing! Totaly neutral!
    Aw crap. I was supposed to get the grant BEFORE I told them the answer, wasn’t I.

  24. Here’s an idea, why not have the government back off and let science explore what it wants to?
    It is not as if scientists are in their labs thinking: “Screw cancer, I want to replace Kevlar”, research takes time and usually the breakthroughs come from unrelated research.
    Look at all the money we’ve poured into the research of specific cancers, and then look at where the real breakthroughs came. Few breast cancer breakthroughs came from breast cancer research. The only good thing the government can do is raise standards for primary school-age students so that they can smell BS when someone tries to sell them wrinkle cream or carbon credits.

  25. Pamela Gray (18:03:13) :
    The Great Grand Challenge:
    Research that determines how to get the government to stop raising taxes and stop spending money.
    —————————-
    Reply:
    Glenn Beck is spending this whole week on exactly those two items, Pamela. Yeah, I know to some Beck isn’t popular, but he’s got a thing or two going for him:
    1) He isn’t a Republican or Democrat hack (he hates ’em both).
    2) He isn’t running for office.
    So check it out; use an open mind, and consider realistic alternatives to the death spiral our government is currently going down. Because if we don’t solve these two problems, these two problems will destroy us.

  26. I often feel like I am treading where I am not entitled when I venture an opinion on US politics. Although this article deals with what purports to be a call to “scientists” I again get that uneasy feeling that I am commenting on US politics. Funny that. Nevertheless, I sit here in Canada and find myself terrified that the nation I so denigrated as a lefty twit, is crumbling, and the consequences for the world are beyond measure. How I wish I could take back all the stupid things I said in my idiocy! Europe went insane at least twice in the past century, and America was there to put an end to the madness. (Canada was there along side) This time I fear that America won’t be there anymore to save us from ourselves as she is being dragged down the hall and beaten into a pulp from within. I think Ms. Gray states it most eloquently; “God help us”.
    Indeed. God help us all. And God Bless The United States of America!

  27. I got another one!
    green buildings that produce all of the energy they consume>>
    A tent! Produces exactly as much energy as it consumes!
    That’s TWO for me! This science stuff is easy!
    Aw crap I blew the grant thing again.

  28. Obama has no intention of listening to anyone. You may recall that after passing health care, the first thing he said was “We heard the people.” Since the majority were against it, I wonder what people he was talking about. Anyway, asking for research ideas is just a smoke screen for him to squander more money on some pet project or some group he owes a favor to. The only thing consistent about Obama is obfuscation.
    During the health care debate, Obama made medical recommendations (irregular heart beat, give her a pain pill), and now he thinks he’s a scientist.

  29. while i find the content rather naive to the point of amusing, most of it is trite – as in pretty much nothing new. I’m not worried about it as it is not any more genuine than the call for assistance for academics in helping design the Next computer. That was merely a marketing ploy to get a bunch of people ‘invested’ in that new gizmo in order to sell a bunch of them, principally to academics in order to get students (future customers) hooked on the unit.

  30. can we use nuclear waste on mosquitos?? Then heat buildings with radioactive mosquitos, will plutonium stop bullets?? and after all that who cares about the flu??

  31. My idea for carbon capture and storage. Massive new levels of government paperwork. Carbon Dioxide is captured by trees, processed into paper then used for useless forms to be filled out with worthless data. These forms are delivered to the government where they are stores in cavernous warhouses.
    And I think the Obama administration is just the one to pull it off!

  32. I got the same email. Notice that every single one of the initiatives is an engineering project. Not one of them involves curiosity-driven science or basic science. AAAS is not an engineering society.
    If the AAAS wanted to be true to their calling and to their constituency they’d be politely reminding the government that science is not engineering, and that particular list ought to be distributed to American engineering societies through the National Academy of Engineering.
    The list of projects is extremely short-sighted, given the mandate to foster innovation. All of our innovation has sprouted out of the rich soil of curiosity-driven science. That has spawned all of the technological and engineering breaks-through that have powered our industry and has created our prosperity. No one knows what project will open the door to a landscape of unexpected opportunity.
    The AAAS has lost its vision. So has the government. They should consciously foster blue-sky science, knowing that the pay-off will always come. All this social-needs research is stultifying to our creative expansion.

  33. I’m with stan (17:53:12) :
    I think climate scientists should learn to calibrate and properly situate thermometers. It may be a greater challenge than the president wants to take on, but I think it worth the effort.
    Carl Chapman (18:02:02) :
    snip…
    “Complete DNA sequencing of every type of cancer”. Does cancer have its own DNA? I thought it was caused by the disruption of the host’s DNA, allowing the host’s cells to reproduce uncontrollably.
    Cancer cells frequently have large sections of a chromosome or an entire chromosome missing. This last thing is called aneuploidy. Needless to say, this results in altered DNA content. I think the writer who described the goal of DNA sequencing was oversimplifying the problem. The current problem facing cancer researchers is the use of something called linkage analysis to track down which odd portions of DNA are associated with which cancers (in a probabilistic sense). They use this to build up a map of genes of interest across multiple individuals. A more modern method of linkage analysis uses Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) to track the offending DNA. This is a complex way of saying that researchers look for DNA that has a single change in a base pair and by induction conclude that anyone who inherited this mutated DNA also inherited mutated genes responsible for the cancer. Sequencing the actual genes for every cancer patient is currently prohibitively expensive, and, that is exactly what they’re proposing to do.
    Personal chemotherapy is the up-and-coming treatment option for cancer. It will allow you to predict which drug(s) will work against your particular cancer, and, since cancers mutate over time, there may be some time-dependence on which drugs will work best. Hope that makes the White House’s proposal seem like less of a joke.

  34. I am inspired by D. Hoffer’s ideas and I have one too (although it isn’t nearly as good as his are.) “Solar cells as cheap as paint,” OK, here we go… Tax paint until it is just as expensive as solar cells. Now solar cells are just as cheap as paint. Kind of an Obamian slight of hand, if you will.

  35. Now just hold on a gosh darned minute! There’s no push to develop warp drive on that list. Doesn’t the Obama adminstration know that we are seriously behind the Star Trek timeline for making rapid interstellar travel a reality.
    The Klingons could be lurking just beyond the astreroid belt this very minute, and we wouldn’t even know it!

  36. {JAE (19:20:17) :
    “Solar cells as cheap as paint, and green buildings that produce all of the energy they consume”
    Hell, if we can do this, maybe we should repeal the second law of thermodynamics, too.}
    Jae, the funny thing about this, is that way back when, most people in europe lived in these types of buildings. A lot of sod was used, and the animals were stabled in what would now be called the basement. With a little fire to cook and for some heat, most of the heat during the winter was produced by the animals from below. In the warmer summers, the animals were pasturized (no not that pastureized!) and the living quarters were moved to the cooler basement/stables.
    Of course back then, most europeans thought that if you took a bath, you’d get pneunomia!

  37. No joke, never under estimate the insanity, greed for power and raw stupidity of our governments and their cling-ons.There is no way to hide the decline on this front.

  38. After reading the list more carefully, I would say that about half that list is already being accomplished. Many of the things that “harumphers” on this blog think are fiction are actually completely defensible goals, just not that original.

  39. “Educational software that is as compelling as the best video game and as effective as a personal tutor.”???
    Read ‘Diamond Age’ by Neal Stevenson

  40. Due on April 15th? If the Administration thinks they’ll get enough tax money to restart the Carbon Exchange through this there are a few problems: 1) interest will wipe out the revenue; 2) the Mints can’t print enough money fast enough to continue CE subsidies; 3) no more problems needed.
    Anti-malarial drug? DDT.

  41. They’ve left the perpetual motion machine off their list. Don’t these AAAS guys know anything about science?
    Thank God the CIA is spending our tax dollars trying to farm zero-point energy. At least someone in the government knows first-rate science when they see it.

  42. Items #3 and #6 on Obama’s list:
    No need to spend $$$ on those science intitatives when one can easily hire a herd of perpetual motion machine experts. The job couldn’t get any greener than the ink on the bills.
    As for the armor-piercing bullet proof vests, Kevlar was the answer until a plastic-coated bullet (Teflon) came along and defeated the Kevlar. He does not understand the leapfrogging of weaponry that is never-ending.
    Universal vaccine for Influenza?? He needs to sit down and watch Jurassic Park again. Life (Influenza bug included) always finds a way.
    The perfect software=based teaching game needs the perfect video game running on the perfect game computer made by the perfect game programmer modeling the perfect teacher….
    Dream on.
    Does the President even realize that cancer can mutate because it’s alive?
    None of this can be solved permanently without defying the laws of physics or halting nature, and that is where Obama is errant.
    Yes, it is quite the dream list.

  43. Obviously, the correct climate for the planet should be determined for us, and then guaranteed to us, via multiplying government actions and fees.
    This all should be based on “incontrovertible” evidence and absolute “consensus.”
    Now put that in with all of the other answers you got from second grade school children.

  44. Jesse Gump (19:08:58) :
    I like the time machine idea except I’d ship CO2 and nuclear waste into the future.

    We are doing that even as we speak.

  45. Oh! Oh! I have a few:
    1. Create low-cost emission-free personal transporters for everyone that don’t use any energy.
    2. Finally develop those undersea bubble cities we were promised in the 1950s. And make plankton a tasty substitute for steak.
    3. Find ways to eliminate the need for mathematics and logic, thus making careers in science and engineering “more accessible” to our students.
    4. Figure out how to manipulate the multidimensional universe on the quantum level so that all our President has to do is say “Make it so” and whatever it is happens.

  46. Well, on this I think I have a solution…
    “Educational software that is as compelling as the best video game and as effective as a personal tutor.”???
    Pueblo Colorado School District 60 has a small (10 meter) planetarium. A recent upgrade to digital gives it video game excitement. A friend of mine and I are planning on volunteering to save the district (funding short) some money, and empower the students at the same time. We’ll see,,,
    The technology is available and ready now. All that’s needed is a bit of help from the rest of us.
    O’course it’s not something that will elect a politician – but it has good merit..
    Mike

  47. I don’t have a problem with any of these initiatives and I’ve always voted conservative Republican (only stated due to the political creep in some of the previous posts).
    (complete DNA sequencing of every cancer)
    Yes, this would be useful and would keep our top biology scientists gainfully employed.
    (universal vaccine for influenza)
    Relies on the first point, and would save uncountable lives each year.
    (solar cells as cheap as paint and buildings able to sustain themselves)
    Paintable solar cells are available now, and why not view buildings as machines able to produce as well as provide?
    (light weight bullet proof vests)
    Spider silk is already providing the answers. We perhaps need a better way of weaving this in three dimensions. Perhaps if each two dimensional layer was woven in a fractal pattern, and overlayed offset, we could guarantee that successive layers superimposed on each other would not overlap in such a way that bullets and/or knives were able to easily slide the threads apart, which is the current problem.
    (educational compelling software)
    My son loved his Green Eggs and Ham CD when he was 3, and played it over and over on his PC; now he enjoys Battlefield 2 and has learned all the guns, vehicles, and physics that govern the game. His attitude hasn’t changed: learn it. We’re visual creatures, learning should take advantage of this fact.
    (biological systems that can…)
    (a) turn sunlight into carbon-neutral fuel
    We call these “plants” Obama, they then pass this fuel to “animals”, which in turn pass this fuel back to “plants” and the cycle repeats.
    (b) reduce costs of antimalarial drugs
    Genetic engineering of the female mosquito into a flightless creature does this by reducing the amount of drug that needs to be purchased. This has been discussed here before, alternatively: here.
    (c) quickly and inexpensively dispose of radioactive and toxic chemical waste
    Yes, please fund development in this, we have identified some organisms and processes that will do some of this, get us to the point where we can do it all.

  48. This isn’t about science it is about politics. It is simply the smoke and mirrors of democracy, which by the way, is the same smoke and mirrors of the authoritarians.

  49. What is being proposed by the AAAS is that the government should now take the place of the free market.
    How is that working out for North Korea and Zimbabwe?

  50. Is this the same administration that killed the return to the moon program?
    I wonder how much money Goldman Sachs intends to make off these new BS science policies?
    Here is the biggest challenge that America and America’s children and grandchildren and great grndchildren and great great grandchildren face:
    http://www.usdebtclock.org/
    Modern Western Politics disgusts me.

  51. “Educational software that is as compelling as the best video game and as effective as a personal tutor.”
    They’ll be needing this one since the Administration would like to eliminate summer vacations.
    ‘An “exascale” supercomputer capable of a million trillion calculations per second – dramatically increasing our ability to understand the world around us through simulation and slashing the time needed to design complex products such as therapeutics, advanced materials, and highly efficient autos and aircraft.’
    They’ll be needing these powerful state-of-the-art computer simulations to prove the green sustainable government subsidized garbage will actually work.

  52. Bloody hell, and I thought Australia had problems handling science. By comparison, all we have to really worry about are the usual Greenie anti-GM army, and a government which thinks the greenhouse debate is over, on the basis of a document which gives a range of 1.5-4.5 deg C rise, i.e. a 300% difference between a probably tolerable and in some ways beneficial lower value and a really worrying upper value – if the document is correct. At least no-one in government wants a 21st century version of Aladdin’s cave. Not so far anyway. They may try to imitate this latest overseas fad, a favourite pastime for progressive Australia, so please put it out of its misery quickly!

  53. Here’s one:
    Research on how to prevent childless scientists from studying, saying or writing anything about parenting.
    In fact, the next book that comes out with yet another version of the title “How to have perfect children in 20 seconds” ought to be relieved of his day time job and relegated to herding stray cats at night.

  54. Carl Chapman (18:02:02) : & R. Craigen (18:28:43) :
    ——————————————-
    -1 for inaccuracy and inane claims
    DDT was never banned globally for use against Malaria vectors EVER even tho it’s ban was proposed by UN agencies in early 2000s
    http://www.malaria.org/DDTpage.html
    “OUR CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT A BAN OF DDT FOR MALARIA CONTROL HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL! ”
    read the laws dood
    “Public health, quarantine, and a few minor crop uses were excepted”
    http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/ddt/01.htm
    “allows countries to continue using DDT for malaria control”
    http://www.ciel.org/Chemicals/Stockholm_DDT.html
    DDT has been used numerous times in the USA since its crop permit was withdrawn in 1972 for control of bubonic plague and typhus.
    DDT use for insect vector control is allowed by the EPA and by law in the Stockholm Convention for insect vector control and always has been.
    “Today, 4-5,000 tonnes of DDT are used each year for the control of malaria” – http://www.answers.com/topic/ddt

  55. Sharon (20:05:52) :
    Now just hold on a gosh darned minute! There’s no push to develop warp drive on that list. Doesn’t the Obama adminstration know that we are seriously behind the Star Trek timeline for making rapid interstellar travel a reality.
    The reason that is not on the list, is that a space warp drive might be possiable.
    This list was made up by people who no idea of reality. So what is new about that?

  56. Or a programmable peer review machine.
    No, wait, that won’t be necessary. And it would cost a lot of distinguished jobs.
    Or how about a way to create trillions of computer generated U.S. dollars?
    No, wait, they are already doing that too.
    Or how about developing a global atmospheric system that will grow and shrink Arctic ice caps within a range of normal variation, with a few erratic extremes just to keep evolution interesting?
    If they could somehow link it to the oceans, land masses, heck, even the ice, and throw in that big ball of fire in the sky and some planetary movements, it could work. Given enough funds I’m confident that they could do it, or at least monitor the situation. We’ll also need the UN for this, of course.

  57. >Of course back then, most europeans thought that if you took a bath, you’d get >pneunomia!
    Of course, this remains the operational assumption in the UK where plumbing* dates back to pre-roman times and because of global warming it is very cold most of the time.
    * e.g. it is civil offense to allow hot and cold water to mix in a pipe. Hence baths, showers, and hand basin are designed to either scald or freeze (your choice) the user/victim.

  58. I have an idea for the list!
    Amplifier gain block, unconditionally stable from DC to Daylight, infinitely adjustable gain, and guaranteed not to rust bust or collect dust!
    >Smokey (20:50:29) wrote :
    >What is being proposed by the AAAS is that the
    >government should now take the place of the
    >free market.
    And replace it with the pipe dreams of the technologically naive…

  59. Free market science will help us deal with the problems of the future if it is allowed to exist then. I haven’t seen too many things the gov’t does well and/or effectively, and probably never efficiently. I worked with some guys from NIST twice over a few years. They seemed competent, and up to speed on the cutting edge of some silicon industry equipment needs and process control. Many don’t know about SemaTech, funded by the gov’t with donations from the major IC players of engineers & equipment in the 80s to keep control of that industry in the US. I don’t remember any overlying directives, people just contributed what they knew. A lot of good science was being done and shared openly. (yes, the context of the need for SemaTech was much more convoluted than that alluded to here) If climate science as implemented by the gov’t is an indication of the quality of science going forward, I have little hope, & they can keep their Δ.

  60. Heather (20:35:53) :
    Oh! Oh! I have a few:>>
    A for effort Heather, but you are not allowed to have ideas of your own. I’m sorry, but you must choose from the List the Government gave you.
    Eric Naegle (20:01:26) :
    I am inspired by D. Hoffer’s ideas and I have one too (although it isn’t nearly as good as his are.) “Solar cells as cheap as paint,” OK, here we go… Tax paint until it is just as expensive as solar cells. Now solar cells are just as cheap as paint. Kind of an Obamian slight of hand, if you will.>>
    Excellent Eric! Nice use of PNS! The rules didn’t say we couldn’t use PNS!

  61. Ok – this is slightly off topic – but I believe that the UK plumbing nightmare may have been solved by a refugee Kurdish doctor’s invention:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/leeds/altogether/through_my_eyes/sangar.shtml
    Not sure what effect this will have on the White House science initiative, global warming, recycling, or soap sales in the UK. However, eventually news of this innovation will filter through to East Anglia.
    I imagine this removes the top item from Downing Street’s list of technological challenges.

  62. Solar cells as cheap as paint…
    Government plan results in very expensive paint, via very high taxes…
    Paint taxes will float in line with the cost of solar cells.
    Any paint purchased will require a stamp, like a liquor store stamp,
    to assure proper taxes have been paid.
    Government will expand the Department of Drugs, Alcohol, Firearms
    and Paint for enforcement. IRS staff will be expanded for extra
    work regarding tax code violations.

  63. INGSOC (19:31:52) :
    Europe went insane at least twice in the past century, and America was there to put an end to the madness. (Canada was there along side) This time I fear that America won’t be there anymore to save us from ourselves as she is being dragged down the hall and beaten into a pulp from within.>>
    All kidding aside, I would like to second this. America has twice turned the tide in a world war, faced down a nuclear armed Soviet Union, and though having taken some missteps along the way, has been much maligned despite giving far more to the world than she recieved.
    God bless America. May she soon wear once more with pride the title that is rightfully hers. Leader of the free world.

  64. Missing from the energy sector is the most important item and one that is necessary if solar or wind is to become practical:
    It is an Energy Storage System with an in/out efficiency of over 70% and capable of retaining 95% of its energy over a 100 hour period. It should be profitable (capital and operating costs) in buying 6 hours of off peak and delivering 6 hours of peak power with a 0.5 to 1 cost to sale price ratio.
    Pumped water can do this now, but it is virtually impossible to build any more in the US because of environmental, aesthetic and siting issues. Superconducting rings, and pumped air come to mind, but none have demonstrated the efficiency or even the capability to store and deliver the massive amounts of energy to make intermittent solar and wind useful

  65. What is a ban? Many African countries had to stop using DDT since they couldn’t get aid funds if they did… effectively a ban surely?

  66. Allow me to address the ‘answers’ to the suggested challenges:
    [1]Complete DNA sequencing of every type of cancer.
    Ludicrous! Virtually all cancers are the result of the body fighting itself.
    The better solution would be to figure out WHY the body does such and seek to reduce or eliminate those causative agents from the environment. An ounce of prevention …
    [2]A universal vaccine for influenza that will protect against all future strains.
    MORE baloney! Stay away from sugar, i.e., added sugar. Sugars cause the suppression of the immune system. People who eat lots of it are less healthy, and get sick more often. Evidence: Have you ever noticed that at the times of Halloween, ThanksGiving and Christmas when LOTS AND LOTS of candy is consumed, that there’s an epidemic of colds and flu? End of story.
    [3]Solar cells as cheap as paint, and green buildings that produce all of the energy they consume.
    Yeah, right. And it never rains in Seattle either …
    That’s not even considering the physical impossibilities of such energy production and transfer.
    [4]A light-weight vest for soldiers and police officers that can stop an armor-piercing bullet.
    Talk about putting the cart before horse …
    I have a better idea: Why not mitigate the reasons that people shoot at cops? When 100% of the idiot laws which create criminals to begin with are eliminated, guess what? And then there’s the idea itself: For every strategy, there’s an effective anti-strategy. Think: Back to square one.
    The corollary: The immovable object meets the unstoppable force.
    [5]Educational software that is as compelling as the best video game and as effective as a personal tutor.
    Yet MORE nonsense! If instead of relegating the teaching of things to inanimate objects, why not instead motivate parents to get involved in their offspring’s education? There’s absolutely nothing like ‘personal attention.’
    Obama’s solution: Here, kid, take the computer, go play in the corner and stay out of my hair … Yeah, use computers to raise your kids.
    [6]Biological systems that can turn sunlight into carbon-neutral fuel, reduce the costs of producing antimalarial drugs by a factor of 10, and quickly and inexpensively dispose of radioactive wastes and toxic chemicals.
    Wow! Does anyone else here smell ‘BOONDOGGLE’ in the making?
    Here, I’ve a better idea: Instead of government spending our hard-earned money (which is essentially worthless now anyway) on hair-brained schemes, why not just let private enterprise seek what it figures is the most important thing and stay OUT OF THEIR WAY?

  67. “A light-weight vest for soldiers and police officers that can stop an armor-piercing bullet.”
    For the vopos to wear?
    “Educational software that is as compelling as the best video game and as effective as a personal tutor.”
    And will teach our children to sing “Onward, Youth for Socialism” and “Forward Together With the Party and the People.”
    This list is, at best, science-fiction, at worst, the shopping list of a tyrant.

  68. This is a prince looking out for ever more flatterers. People with genuine original ideas and approaches are unlikely to get a look in.
    Not the way scientific and technological discovery advances, methinks.

  69. In 2009 President Obama provided some examples of what these challenges might be:
    * Complete DNA sequencing of every type of cancer.
    He obviously believes cancer is a virus.
    * A universal vaccine for influenza that will protect against all future strains.
    Good luck with that.
    * Solar cells as cheap as paint…
    Watch for paint to get more expensive.
    * A light-weight vest for soldiers and police officers that can stop an armor-piercing bullet.
    Comic book stuff. Dissipating the force of the dual impact of the round and the AP core without the shock killing the wearer is tough enough with a *heavy* vest with composite armor inserts.
    * Biological systems that can turn sunlight into carbon-neutral fuel…
    Trees.
    …and quickly and inexpensively dispose of radioactive wastes and toxic chemicals.
    Until someone invents a molecular disintegrator powered by radioactive waste, you’ll have to choose between quickly *or* inexpensively.

  70. Couple points:
    1) So WUWT has degenerated into a political, anti-Obama blog now? I thought you were all against mixing politics and science.
    2) Its refreshing to see the level of optimism towards scientific development here and the fact that everyone here is an expert on every subject makes reading comments very insightful and thought provoking. But seriously, who pissed in your cheerios?
    3) Just an example, for the item “A light-weight vest for soldiers and police officers that can stop an armor-piercing bullet,” work is already well underway this. See http://www.sc.edu/news/newsarticle.php?nid=876, http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123314249/abstract Luckily for the rest of us, there are people out there doing serious science and engineering instead of sitting around on blogs moaning about what can or cant be done.

  71. Well, time-machine and FTL-drives were already mentioned, but I still miss anti-gravity, it would make life easier for the children working in some third-world mines..
    And forget about fusion. I want matter-to-energy conversion through mini black holes. We could “fuel” it with radioactive wastes and toxic chemicals and thus also get rid of that.

  72. The last bullet point is actually 4 proposals of which the one to produce a biological system that will eat radioactive material & make it inert sems to show an ignorance of the laws of physics & biology.
    The big thing missing is space industrialisation. This could be done by putting up considerably less than NASA now eats as a jobs creation programme put into an X-Prize foundation.
    I could add a way of producing unlimited electricity at under half the present price but we already have the capability to do that through nuclear & refuse to use it.

  73. magicjava (20:20:10) :
    They’ve left the perpetual motion machine off their list.
    Actually, the oceans are a vast storage of energy and the deeper you go, the more pressure. All you need is to break the bonding water has that prevents just dropping a pipe down and have instant fountain.
    Now as for Time machines, transporters, etc.
    Totally bogus for one reason. Need a point to point exact location. Since the solar system is moving, the planet is orbiting and the planet is rotating, there is no point that is not stationary.
    This is why I laugh at Quatum mechanics as scientists can produce this in the lab with lights and waves as a substitute.
    Try space where there is no stationary points!

  74. With an auditorium full of Mensa Society members President Obama would be more intelligent than all combined, don’t believe me ? ask him !

  75. Dear AAAS,
    We simply MUST develope Warp Drive capability in the next few months, and a functional onboard toilet!
    signed –
    Every Member of Congress
    Every Member of Parlement
    PS: “We gotta get out’a this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do!
    “We gotta get out’a this place, girl there’s a better life for me and you!”

  76. There’s no mention of a timeline anywhere. Is this going to be a 5, 10, 30 year or longer programme, remembering that a politician’s idea of the future is as only the time to the next election.
    Imagine what the ‘wish list’ would have been 100 years ago. I doubt that anything we have now would have been on that list. As others have mentioned, many developments come from serendipitous events and there is no way of determining when they will occur.
    What happened to more grand plans such as getting to the moon within 10 years. Look at the spin offs we have now due to the space programme.

  77. Matt (02:20:52) :
    But seriously, who pissed in your cheerios?
    3) Just an example, for the item “A light-weight vest for soldiers and police officers that can stop an armor-piercing bullet,” work is already well underway this.

    As I said before, you need to dissipate the impact forces from the *two* hits an armor-piercing round imparts — and you’ll need to dissipate it almost instantly — otherwise, the shock is likely to stop the soldier’s/policeman’s heart. A rifle bullet (non-AP) hitting you in your thick, kevlar-protected chest, even with an improved SAPI plate insert, *will* knock you down — and it *will* leave a bruise the size of a dinner plate.

  78. This administration is fundamentally a bunch of street operatives from Chicago. They really have no interest in science. Can’t even fake it.
    Find a technology to convert lithium car batteries to lithium tabs. Save a lot of trips to the pharmacy to treat bipolar issues and recycle the batteries so they don’t have to go to the dump.

  79. How about finding a way to teach people not to elect representatives who systematically steal from them?
    Oh, sorry. I thought I was at tAV. 😉

  80. The White House should should get out of the science policy business, just like they should get out of the education business, the healthcare business and the interfering with and controlling every aspect of our lives business.

  81. interesting how the apologists defend things by saying half the initiatives are already well under way. What’s the point of making it an initiative now? The WH should have made a strategic list of desires, not a tactical list of specific items more suited for an R&D department of a medium to large company and half of which appear to already be done.

  82. Well, here’s what ~I~ think we should be working on:
    1. Practical fusion (I like polywell or IEC)
    2. Nanotechnology
    3. Human genome and genetics
    and last but not least…
    4. Lightsabers. (come ON, you ~KNOW~ you want one.)
    Doc

  83. Since they’re looking for ideas, I want my own Robot Monkey. That would be really kewl, and I think everyone who wants their own Robot Monkey should have one. We can put a man on the moon, why can’t we give everyone their very own Robot Monkey???

  84. Matt (02:20:52) :
    Couple points:
    1) So WUWT has degenerated into a political, anti-Obama blog now? I thought you were all against mixing politics and science.
    2) Its refreshing to see the level of optimism towards scientific development here and the fact that everyone here is an expert on every subject makes reading comments very insightful and thought provoking. But seriously, who pissed in your cheerios?
    3) Just an example, for the item “A light-weight vest for soldiers and police officers that can stop an armor-piercing bullet,” work is already well underway this. See http://www.sc.edu/news/newsarticle.php?nid=876, http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123314249/abstract Luckily for the rest of us, there are people out there doing serious science and engineering instead of sitting around on blogs moaning about what can or cant be done.

    Matt: last I heard, the White House is a political entity and what the government does and how programs are funded are political concerns, not scientific concerns.
    With a political topic, the comments are also political in nature. My comments did not involve the scientific merits of the various concerns, but the role of the government.
    For the record, the federal government does have a mandate for national defense.

  85. I don’t support many of the present administrations efforts, and think much as being misguided, but don’t be too quick to reject this call. The examples given were not all realistic, but some were very desirable. In particular, the idea of educational software that is as compelling as the best video game and as effective as a personal tutor, is an idea I have long thought as needed. Keep in mind the examples shown were not necessarily limiting, they were just examples. Neither political party has moved this country in near ideal directions. If we try to be idealistic on all issues, we will never do the best for the country. The parties will swing us from one extreme to the other. We should try to do as much of the right things as we can despite the political situations.

  86. “Educational software that is as compelling as the best video game and as effective as a personal tutor.”
    Like Forza 3 or the maybe, possibly, “soon” to be released Gran Turismo 5?

  87. @ Gary (06:22:11) :
    A “Civilization” game that demonstrates how free markets and laws that respect the individual’s rights prosper while totalitarian and socialist regimes are doomed to fail would be cool and educational.

  88. Other than the light-weight bullet proof vest for soldiers and maybe the influenza vaccine (since it could be construed as a defense of the nation) why is the government getting involved in such efforts? Every one of them would be a huge money maker for a developer and so if they could be done they would be done. They undoubtedly will be done when the science and the technology reach the point at which they can be done.
    Unless the effort is in support of defending the nation from enemies domestic and foreign the government should stay out of it. This smacks of an effort to take over and/or control areas of science as they are doing with finance, education, medicine, housing, energy, and communications.

  89. If he puts the development of zero calorie chocolate cake onto that li’l old wish list of his he’ll be onto a winner…

  90. Where to focus science & engineering going forward?
    Hands down winner: Synthetic Biology
    The article says this is a new field but it really isn’t. Back in 1986 I read the seminal work in nanotechnology, K. Eric Drexler’s Engines of Creation hot off the press. I’ve been watching the roadmap he laid out unfold over the intervening 25 years. We’re getting close to the “tipping point” now. The big milestone is the ability to custom design bacteria mixing and matching capabilities already extant in the biological realm and programming them to accomplish given tasks. The leader at the forefront of this effort currently appears to be Craig Venter
    If my attempt to embed the video in a comment doesn’t work here’s the link to Venter’s talk at the 2008 TED conference.
    This technology will have a greater impact on civilization than fire, agriculture, metallurgy, medicing, and electrical engineering combined – although these were all prerequisites to it. I’m not exagerating.

  91. Obama and those advising him prove once again that they are functionally illiterate about science, history and economics. God help us if the GOP fails to win control of at least one house of Congress in the November elections.

  92. Well I thought that President Obama had Stanford prof John Holdren as his science advisor; he’s a fellow traveller with Dr Steven Schneider, and Dr Paul Erlich, some of the other Stanford luminaries.
    Wel You don’t see a whole lot of the calibre of Prof Frederick E. Terman around that institution anymore.
    I can’t remember if Nobel Laureate; Energy Secretary Dr Steven Chu, is also a Stanford emissary.
    If the government would just get off the backs of industry; so they have money to do their own research; it wouldn’t be necessary for AAAS to be looking for ideas on what science to do.
    You can trace a lot of the science rot back to that wonderful government project to bust up The telephone Company, which resulted in the essential destruction of the Bell Telephone Laboratories; one of the former great research institutions of the world.
    Government needs to get out of the driver’s seat, and then get out of the way of the industrial research labs that once were perfectly capable of handling advanced scientific research.
    Yes I know there’s a lot of folks out there; who just have to swill at the public trough in order to maintain their life style, in the manner to which they have become accustomed.

  93. The political nature of the AAAS has caused me to drop my membership this year after being a member for about 30 years. Agenda driven drivel is not advancement of science, it is usually suppression of science.

  94. “Obama’s” list of science projects appears to be very inward looking: how to deal with the problems of fixed and, in some instances, diminishing resources amid an ever growing population and demand. It appears to look at sciences that will homogenize society and control the environment through eventual control of people. DNA sequencing, exa-scale computing, polyglot transformation; all are laudable goals ripe for political (ab)use.
    Obama has cut expenditures for the most critical area of outward vision and focus: exploration of space and the development of off world colonies. It is these areas where we can develop technologies for agriculture with limited water, land and energy resources, study disease and human body adaptation, augment our rapidly constrained and depleting resources of raw materials, create new trading partners, jobs, and, if history holds up, countries and governments. Migration has been the key to human development since our appearance in central Africa.
    Constrained on this planet, the cancer that is the human species will eventually choke on itself and die. It must be allowed to spread and contaminate other worlds and in this way continue consuming, mutating and growing.
    Ok over the top on the last paragraph but ….

  95. (CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration’s top science and technology official, who has argued for the economic de-development of America, warned science students last Friday that the United States cannot expect to be “number one” forever
    So they do lower expectations and standards.
    This whole topic is political and i suspect in the domestic case, Obama wants to fund friends of the regime. As for patents, give the technology away to foreign friends and destroy the company incentive to guard their own patents.

  96. Sean Peake (08:34:36) :
    I want to know it is is possible to employ sheep’s bladders to prevent earthquakes.
    I did that on the moon…see no quakes, no volcanoes, no nuttin.

  97. rbateman (20:27:11) :
    (…)
    As for the armor-piercing bullet proof vests, Kevlar was the answer until a plastic-coated bullet (Teflon) came along and defeated the Kevlar. He does not understand the leapfrogging of weaponry that is never-ending.
    (…)

    Bad Science Alert. “Teflon bullets” is nonsense. The light Teflon coating was to keep the barrel cleaner longer (reduce bore fouling), just an experiment. The “armor piercing” came from a steel core in the slug. Teflon is not needed for ammunition to be armor-piercing. Actually any good hunting round suitable for at least deer will defeat a normal “bulletproof” vest. (Note that “bulletproof” means as much as “stainless,” indicates a high resistance but not true imperviousness.)
    Meanwhile wherever they are still doing legal big game hunting (Alaska, certain parts of Africa, etc), they are having good results with solid copper bullets, they punch through thick hides rather well. So, you do not even need a specially-designed bullet with a penetrating core to have “armor piercing ammunition.”
    Remember this next time helpful politicians talk about completely banning armor-piercing ammo solely for the protection of police officers, perhaps a worldwide ban that protects soldiers as well. I’m sure PETA would approve.

  98. I am horrified to learn of the imminent catastrophic rise in the cost of paint.
    I am however pleased with that Green House initiative. Perhaps my federal research grant application will be approved, investigating buildings that self-generate all the heating needed, since they are made of decomposing dung. “The Future Is Here! Houses That Are Green And Biodegradable! Be The First On Your Block To Own One!”

  99. Transporter beam (ala Star Trek).
    Think of the changes this would make to society (any of them).

  100. Al Gored (18:42:39) :

    Or how about a global thermostat to control the climate so that the weather can be maintained at optimum levels, everywhere, all the time, as per UN agreements?
    If it wasn’t so seriously dangerous it would be hilarious.

    Imagine elections for setting the thermostats. Hanging chads and all. It would be hilarious. We would have the ‘hot flash’ contingent. The ‘let’s keep all the little babies warm’ bunch. How about the winter sports people versus summer sports?
    It would an insane asylum fighting over the temperature settings.

  101. Friends:
    Development of a cheap material that exhibits superconductivity at room temperature is the one single technological development that would revolutionise developed economies and societies.
    The bulk of all electrical energy is lost as heat induced by electrical resistance.
    A cheap room temperature superconducting material would reduce existing electricity demand to at most a third of that now needed. It would reduce electricity costs by probably more than half. It would enable a world-wide electricity grid. And it would solve the potential problem of anthropogenic (i.e. human-made) global warming (AGW).
    Hence, if the kind of monies now being spent on climate research to consider AGW were spent on material science to develop a cheap material that exhibits superconductivity at room temperature then the result could be many immense benefits including a solution to the AGW issue.
    Richard

  102. Just make research tax deductible, then get out of the way. The government should not fund general research directly, maybe defense research is an exception.

  103. Richard is 100% correct. Either superconductivity or Fusion would be really big game-changers (not only for AGW (imaginary or not), but for cheap energy – such that hydrogen powered vehicles would be realistic and not totally dependent on natural gas). We should make them both THE number one research funding priorities of the government. Progress continues to be made on both, but at a snail’s pace. If we did the Manhattan (~$20B in year 2000 dollars) and Moon projects (~$141B in Y2K$), spend $17B/yr on the Shuttle, and have spent over $300B on DOE since its inception (and probably at least the same or more on EPA), we should be able to organize and accomplish such efforts. It just takes long term vision, conviction and commitment – something that does not appear to exist at either the Federal or private levels anymore.

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