How America Can Take the Lead in Science and Technology

Thursday, May 29, 2008

We look into what the U.S. needs to do to become a world leader in science and technology once again. Brian Greene is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University and host of PBS series “The Elegant Universe”; he also helped put together the World Science Festival, happening in New York May 28-June 1.


Brian Greene

Comments [8]

JT from LI

#7 eva, I think your comments reflect more on the limitations of humans than science. The fact that we misuse or put too much faith in science says more about how greedy and/or naive we are.

I am a science geek so I am biased, but I think people would be much better off if they understood more science and math. If more people understood science we might have been able to prevent global warming by forcing the government to act a long time ago. The sub-prime-mortgage mess might not have happenned if people didn't rely on the mortgage broker for explanations and could run the numbers themselves to verify whether a mortgage made sense for them.

I think science is good, maybe even great, and we aren't always mature enough to handle it.

May. 29 2008 01:24 PM

#5, JT, excellent point.
I do, however, think that science has very real limitations, because science was developed by humans, who have very real limitations, which we seem to prove day after day. Sometimes we view science as "pure" and somehow separated from our own human flaws. A bad idea...
Along similar lines, a Christian might conclude that God is imperfect because, even though much of the system he created is perfect, he also made us, and we are admitted fallible and highly venal creatures.

May. 29 2008 12:40 PM

I think it is important to distinguish between science and technology. Certainly the two work together, but I think science is generally a way of approaching things or of examining how things work. I think many people disillusioned with science are, in reality, disillusioned with technology and some of the ill effects it has had on the environment, etc. Certainly though, the successes of science and technology have far outweighed its ill-effects. But I understand the ambivalence many people feel toward science and technology. Consider the eradication of smallpox against the development of nuclear weapons.

May. 29 2008 12:37 PM
JT from LI


Monsanto's work is actually more about making money than applying science. Maybe you should consider how science has made the computer and internet you just used possible. It's led to a lot of medical advances (MRI, etc) that's made medicine better. And science is what will have to be used to clean up the environment and affect global warming. The reason it hasn't is political and financial. The Bush administration shows what can happen when science doesn't "hold water" with the people in power.

May. 29 2008 12:33 PM
jw from nyc

I love this conversation. Happy to hear about the programs for kids at the Science Festival - Science and Art are inextricably linked - they are both ways of perceiving our world - left and right brain interpretations. Look at the photos from Hubble if you want to see a marriage of the two. Notice how the microcosmic and the macrocosmic have repeated patterns - from the swirl of a galaxy to the arrangement of the pistils and stamens of a sunflower. Whether you are "religious" or not, you can marvel at the wonders of our planet, our universe, and our place in it, the response to which is what is the core of the human need to create Art.

May. 29 2008 12:24 PM
JT from LI

I've always been puzzled by the disdain many people have for science and math. How can you not be curious about how things work? My son is three years old and my wife and I take every opportunity we can to show him something interesting and explain how it works. Everything from a helium balloon to a plane flying to ice melting is another chance to get him curious about how things work and how we can affect it instead of just accepting things as they are. It's easy to do and sometimes you learn something new.

May. 29 2008 12:22 PM
Richard Mitnick from Highland Park, NJ

Hey Leonard Lopate fans-

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Just go to and click on the stream you want next to the HDD symbol.

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Party on.


May. 29 2008 12:17 PM

Science doesn't get that it is only one way of examining a thing. If it were not held that science gets the last word science would hold more water with me.(science is letting Monsanto get away with poisoning the planet for example!!!)

May. 29 2008 12:16 PM

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