Author Archives: Lewis M. Branscomb


This article is in Better U.S. Health Care at Lower Cost, Winter 2010

U.S./Russia nuclear cooperation Linton F. Brooks’s “A Vision for U.S.-Russian Cooperation on Nuclear Security” (Issues, Fall 2009) is devoted to one of the most important issues between Russia and the United States, the resolution of which is essential to our joint future and the future of the world in general. The article correctly underscores the […]

From Technology Politics to Technology Policy

This article is in Where is Information Technology Taking Us?, Spring 1997

The nation needs–and can have–a multifaceted bipartisan policy to promote innovation. One of the most contentious issues in the 1995-96 congressional session was the Clinton administration’s technology policy priorities and programs. Although one might expect Republicans to support efforts aimed at improving the performance of U.S. companies, many conservatives opposed these programs as “corporate welfare,” […]


This article is in The Need for Geoengineering Research, Fall 2010

University futures In “Science and the Entrepreneurial University” (Issues, Summer 2010), Richard C. Atkinson and Patricia A. Pelfrey remind us of the extent to which the U.S. economy is increasingly driven by science and technology and the central role the the U.S. research university plays in producing both new knowledge and human capital. Although policymakers […]

The False Dichotomy: Scientific Creativity and Utility

This article is in Rethinking What Research Government Should Fund, Fall 1999

Congress and the executive branch must change the way they make budget decisions to create a powerful new form of federal research. The call by Gerald Holton and Gerhard Sonnert in the preceding article for government support for Jeffersonian research that is basic in nature but clearly linked to specific goals raises several practical questions. […]

Exposing Fracking to Sunlight

This article is in Immigration Policy, Fall 2014

The public needs access to reliable information about the effects of unconventional oil and gas development in order for it to trust that local communities’ concerns won’t be ignored in favor of national and global interests. The recent expansion of oil and natural gas extraction from shale and other tight geological formations—so-called unconventional oil and […]


This article is in Can We Cope if the Lights Go Out?, Spring 2002

Nuclear missile defense In his article, “Keeping National Missile Defense in Perspective,” (Issues, Winter 2001-02), Dean A. Wilkening considers the utility of a limited national missile defense system and concludes that its principal benefit would be “to reduce the risks associated with regional intervention against states armed with nuclear-tipped ICBMs, especially if these conflicts turn […]

What’s Next for Technology Policy??

This article is in Looking Back, Looking Forward, Summer 2003

By the summer of 1991, there was no doubt that the Cold War was over and the United States was unchallenged militarily. But the nation’s commercial high-tech industry was still facing a decade-old struggle to compete with innovative Japanese products of superior quality, lower cost, and faster time to market. How would the U.S. government […]

Science, Politics, and U.S. Democracy

This article is in Ocean Policy: Time to Act, Fall 2004

Unless scientists and policymakers learn to work together effectively, both domains will suffer. Political manipulation of scientific evidence in the interest of ideological convictions has been a commonplace of the U.S. democracy since the end of World War II. In 1952, the incoming secretary of commerce, Sinclair Weeks, fired Alan Astin, director of the National […]

The Challenge of Protecting Critical Infrastructure

This article is in Information Technology and the Research University, Fall 2005

To deal with terrorist threats, the government must engage in more deeply rooted collaboration with the private sector. In protecting critical infrastructure, the responsibility for setting goals rests primarily with the government, but the implementation of steps to reduce the vulnerability of privately owned and corporate assets depends primarily on private-sector knowledge and action. Although […]


This article is in Energy Conundrums, Summer 2006

Nuclear amnesia Jack Mendelsohn is certainly right about “nuclear amnesia” (“Delegitimizing Nuclear Weapons,” Issues, Spring 2006). Even in official administration documents, there is a rather casual attitude about the possibility of using nuclear weapons in limited conflicts. I hope his article will be widely read. The threat of nuclear-armed terrorism is real and it must […]

Book Review: Risky business

This article is in Global Tour of Innovation Policy, Fall 2007

Risky business The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters by Charles Perrow. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007, 388 pp. Lewis M. Branscomb There are three classes of disasters, distinguished by their cause: deliberately initiated disasters, such as the 9/11 attacks; natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005; and […]


This article is in Ending the Inertia on Energy Policy, Winter 2008

Post-scientific society In “The Post-Scientific Society” (Issues, Fall 2007), Christopher T. Hill correctly observes that science-based commercial innovations must increasingly satisfy users’ functional needs. This trend has increased with the power of software and services to customize product performance to those needs. Globalization and the Internet make this possible and competitively necessary. This is not […]


This article is in Practical Pieces of the Energy Puzzle, Winter 2009

Budget doubling defended Richard Freeman and John Van Reenen (“Be Careful What You Wish For: A Cautionary Tale about Budget Doubling,” Issues, Fall 2008 ) provided a thought-provoking analysis of the budget doubling for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They raised an important point that we must view future research funding increases in terms […]