At 72, I am almost half the age of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and belong to the generation that made the 20th-century revolution in biology. We have lived through a century of important changes, both in science and society, and more is still to come.
In the grim days of the Cold War, with the threat of global nuclear war hanging over us, who could have imagined that Communism would undergo a total collapse, that the Soviet Union would disintegrate, and that Russia would rapidly become a poor country? Our world now has an immediacy of contact never experienced before. Technology has brought all of humanity together, and nearly everything can be watched live ? war in the Middle East, ethnic* cleansing in Bosnia, and people dying of starvation and disease in Africa. Whereas it once took days or weeks for news to travel and a year for an influenza epidemic to spread, news can now be transmitted instantaneously and a new virus can spread all over the world in 24 hours.
All around l see evidence of the impact of science on society. This is so obvious and so well known that little more remains to be said about it. (ア)Science and the technologies it has created form the basis of all human activity, from the houses that we live in, the food that we eat, the cars that we drive, to the electronic equipment in almost every home that we use to remain informed and entertained.
Yet, despite these technological innovations, the paradoxes that I noticed when I was young are still with us: in advanced societies an increasing proportion of national wealth is now spent on health and recreation and large sums of money are devoted to military enterprises, while in the underdeveloped world famine and pointless wars still exact a terrible toll of human lives, malnutrition* and disease are still very common, and even the basic necessities of life such as food and shelter cannot be provided for all. There is no doubt that great advances could be made in the treatment of malaria and other parasitic* diseases that afflict more than half of the world’s population, but the people who have these diseases also have another called MDD ? money deficiency disease. There are many problems that science and technology, by themselves, are unable to solve given the economic structure of the world that we live in. So when we speak of the impact of science on society we are speaking about the more advanced countries, and when we speculate on the future, it usually concerns the same areas of the world.
Following the advent of molecular* biology came the technologies and their applications. (イ)For many years it was widely held that molecular biology was a conifpletely useless subject, a ‘fundamental’ science of no interest to those working on practical matters. Then suddenly it came to be viewed as dangerous, and genetic* engineering was considered an almost evil activity. Biological scientists became suspect and trust (a)in this science diminished, as fantastical scenarios were played out to anlaincreasingly terrified public. Our times are characterized by a view that we can accomplish everything in this generation, especially if we can find and apply the right technology. Thus when a newspaper journalist accused me of being one of the scientists who is going to make people in a test tube, I had to reply that I could think of a much more pleasant and cheaper way of making people than genetic engineering. The fixation on technology gives us a biased view of human existence. For example, immortality may be a futile notion, yet some believe that through the use of high technology (b)it might nevertheless be brought off.
The history of the last 25 years teaches us the profound lesson that it is necessary for scientists to communicate to society at large not only the content, use and misuse of scientific discoveries, but also what their work tells us about the natural limitations of our bodies and minds. This is not an easy task, especially in a science whose content becomes more complicated every day.
I do not know whether I want to speculate on what impact science will have on society in the next 150 years. I wish I could say that we will banish hunger and war, and I wish I could reassure readers that we will still have a planet to live on. As everybody knows, this does not depend on science alone but on economic forces and political wills, something that scientists do not control.
However, there is another subject that is not often discussed in this context, namely the impact of society on science. Much like the evidence for the impact of science on society, the evidence for the impact of society on science is all around for everyone to see, mainly in the form of the large (but never sufficient) funding that science enjoys in the more advanced countries. Society and its arm of action, government, understand that science has developed powerful methods for solving a large number of problems. What distinguishes science from all other kinds of problem-solving activities is the demand that the answers it discovers work in the real world. It is why rulers gave up slaughtering animals to examine their insides: magic does not exist in any world at all. However, in stimulating and supporting science, (ウ)society, as the paymaster, has taken a much shorter?term view of research than most scientists would like.
There has been much discussion about the different kinds of science. We call one pure, another applied*, and a possible third, strategic ?? it could also be called 'apploid’-that is pure but destined to become applied. Then there is mission-directed as opposed to curiosity-driven research, a distinction that I find particularly unacceptable because one can almost see the word "idle" in front of curiosity. Actually, the answer to the question of which type of science to fund is quite simple: since all science is problem driven, it should be judged by the quality of the problems posed, and the quality of the solutions provided.
Governments support research because its findings contribute greatly to social ends such as the health and wealth of citizens, causes that get politicians re-elected and for which people pay taxes, Of course governments indulge in other activities that cost much more than scientific research, and one can always find military expenditures that could keep a lot of labs going for a long time. The increased funding for scientific research in recent years, especially in the health fields, has resulted in a great expansion of the number of scientists and thus in increased competition for academic and research funds.
We have established an elaborate system of peer* reviews to deal with this competition, and a similar process is in force for the publication of scientific results. All of this has subtle consequences for the scientific enterprise. lf you know what sort of research is wanted by a committee, you write your grant application to satisfy those expectations, and if you know what the scientific authorities believe is the correct view of a subject, you give your paper that angle. Ironically, all of this was originally introduced to ensure fairness and to eliminate the older system where powerful people got all the money, appointed who they liked to their laboratories, and published only papers written by their friends. Both the old feudal system and the new bureaucracy have consequences for scientific innovation; (c)the former narrowed its pursuit to only a few, while the latter discourage;) its pursuit by all. But there are also more harmful effects because in most countries research and education are now linked almost exclusively to universities: postdocs* learn from professors, students learn from postdocs, and the art of surviving is very quickly transmitted. It is only through using cunning methods such as applying for money for work already done that innovative research can be freely pursued.
We need to take these matters seriously, otherwise science will lose the independence of thought required for innovation that (d)it has cherished for centuries. ln my own subjects, genetics and molecdilar biology, research has become so directed toward medical problems and the needs of the pharrnaceutical* companies that most people do not recognize that the most challenging intellectual problem of all time, the reconstruction of our biological past, can now be tackled with some hope of success. I hope it is not too much to ask that rich societies provide more support for this and other fundamental fields of biology. We need to assure the future of biological research and prevent it from becoming stiff and boring. We can only do this by attracting new young minds to our science and offering (e)them problems as challenging as those that excited my generation. (B)
Adaptedfrom Sydney Brenner
post doc 博士課程を終了した研究者
What do the following words and expressions, which are underlined in the text, refer to? Answer in English.
(1) this science
(3) the former
Decide wheter the following statements are true(T) or false(F) and write T or F in the brackets:
1) Every day new viruses are spreading all over the world.
2) In developed countries many people are dying from hunger and disease.
3) The writer believes molecular biology and genetic engineering are dangerous.
4) ln recent years the number of scientists has been increasing.
5) Few people realize that scientists are now close to being able to reconstruct our biological past.
Answer the following questions in English.
1) What paradoxes does the writer find between advanced societies and the underdeveloped world?
2) Why does the writer feel unable to predict what impact science will have on society in the next 150 years?
3) Give one example from the text of the subtle consequences of the present system of peer reviews.
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