21 October 2007

Science in the US Presidential Race

Primary Sources:
4 October 2007
Scientific Integrity and Innovation: Remarks at the Carnegie Institution for Science

Finally, with only fourteen months to go, a US Presidential candidate in the running has spoken about their intended science policies, and guess who it was...yep, Ms. Hillary something something Clinton, former first lady and current Democratic Senator from New York. I believe her husband is at home doing the dishes right now...oh, wait, he's been out campaigning and at rallies for his wife. What a guy...

There were a couple of quotes worth noting here, the first a handful of campaign promises that I think we should hold her to, should she become the 44th President of the US: "I'll fully fund NASA's earth sciences program, launch a new, comprehensive space-based study of climate change..."

There was another autobiographical quote that was telling as well: "Some of you know that I even wrote to NASA asking how I could apply to be an astronaut and got back an answer saying that they weren't taking women...I have lived long enough to see that change!"

So Mrs. Clinton had ambitions in science as a kid! I wonder who squashed that, other than NASA itself, and whether he's still teaching in grade school. As for NASA, they finally saw the light and recognized that anyone can be a space monkey and work for a week on the shuttle or the ISS, but it takes certain special people to draw wider attention and foster the ambitions of younger generations. I, for one, was far more inspired by the female astronauts than the rest of the program, and I remember it being that much more poignant when the Challenger exploded in 1986 that there was a woman and mom on board, and only slightly less so that she was a teacher too.

So, should Mrs. Clinton re-enter the White House, should we expect a mandate for more women in space? I doubt it. But will we see better attention to girls in classrooms and women in science? I think you can bet safely on that.

Now, before you jump on me as a Hillary supporter or a Democrat or even (God forbid) a "liberal" in any sense of the word, first note that I'm just passing along the news here. This post and anything in it that could be misconstrued as an opinion should be reconsidered as neutral, and I'm registered as an "undeclared" voter. I'll make my decisions when the right time comes, and it's a long way to next November.

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