TH’s recent Sunday article on Nobel science prizes held an important message. Nobel Prizes are awarded for “slow and steady” basic research into physical, chemical and biological processes, without necessarily anticipating uses for that research. Scientists can now map the coronavirus DNA, then assemble molecules into sections of that DNA to create potential vaccines.
This is the result not of common sense or brainstorms, but of rigorous molecular science and DNA research over the last few decades, and of the education, infrastructure, and funding that supports that research. Per the article, “the coronavirus was sequenced in a matter of weeks, testing became available quickly, and vaccines that would normally take years may be developed in a year or less.” More broadly, technologies propelling our economy — electricity, crop yields, cell phones, GPS, the internet — have been fostered by basic research.
Unfortunately, many Americans see scientists as out-of-touch “elites.” Our president regards scientists in government as a “deep state” shackling his superior instincts. Over 175 years of publication, Scientific American has not endorsed a presidential candidate. This year it endorsed Joe Biden because Donald Trump has ignored scientific advice, costing many lives and a lurching economy. He has undercut the messages of his pandemic team and even attacked their expertise. He has pushed to slash research budgets and has appointed political operatives to oversee research organizations and filter and stifle key research.
America has the greatest scientific infrastructure in the world, but we are losing it. Please vote for science.