The Intersection

Happy Sputnik Anniversary


[Words heard round the world on October 4, 1957: “Beep. Beep.”]

Fifty years ago today, the Soviet launch of Sputnik changed the United States forever–propelling science to the center of policymaking and launching a tradition of well-informed governance that, unfortunately, has since been in a woeful decline.

Luckily at least one presidential candidate wants to do something about it: Hillary Clinton, who will be giving a speech today on science policymaking at the Carnegie Institution. According to the AP she plans to unveil the following proposals:

_ Expand human and robotic space exploration and speed development of vehicles to would replace the space shuttle.

_ Launch a space-based climate change initiative to combat global warming.

_ Create a $50-billion strategic energy fund to research ways to boost energy efficiency and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

_ Comply with a legal requirement that the executive branch issue a national assessment on climate change every four years. She would also expand the assessment to reflect how U.S. regions and economic sectors are responding to the challenges posed by climate change.

_ Name an assistant to the president for science and technology, a position that was eliminated in the Bush White House.

_ Re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment.

Cool, huh? Unfortunately I’ll miss Hillary’s speech–Mooney and Nisbet are off to Seattle for this talk. But if you want to get a sense of just how bad the science policy gap is that Hillary hopes to fix, check out this Al Jazeera segment, featuring yours truly, on Bush’s gambling of the planet…


  1. #1 Davin
    October 4, 2007

    Sputnik started the race to space in which United Sates won. However, let’s not forget that sputnik was the first artificial satellite to be put in space.

    Watch Sputnik’s historical launch video

  2. #2 The1Opinion
    October 4, 2007

    Happy 50th Anniversary Sputnik !

    Check out pictures and video

  3. #3 Lance
    October 4, 2007

    Al Jezeera? I guess you don’t mind helping anyone that hates Bush even if they hate America too.

  4. #4 Fred Bortz
    October 4, 2007

    Just after 9/11/2001, I reviewed a book called Sputnik: The Shock of the Century by Paul Dickson.

    The book has been reissued to take advantage of this anniversary. Click my name for my impressions of it.

  5. #5 Emily
    October 4, 2007

    Hillary has picked up Chris’ terminology:

    The pledge, which she laid out under a banner that read Reclaiming Our Commitment to Science & Innovation, was part of an agenda Clinton laid out to end what she called the Bush administration’s “war on science.”[emphasis added]

    Way to go, Chris!

  6. #6 Emily
    October 4, 2007

    Forgot to add the link for the news story quote! Sorry about that.

  7. #7 Ms. Krieger
    October 4, 2007

    If Hillary Clinton truly supports expanding the space program, reestablishing the Office of Technology Assessment and meaningfully addressing our nation’s contribution to climate change, well–that raises my opinion of her quite a bit.

    And, I suspect, many other voters’ opinions too.

    It would be outstanding if this election were actually fought on the issues (science and space funding, healthcare, foreign policy, intelligent taxation).

  8. #8 DeeDubya
    October 4, 2007

    I too made note of the Sputnik I anniversary in my blog >>

    We wouldn’t be blogging today if it wasnt for those scientists and the politians trying to out do each others advancements. Paople complain about how much space exploration costs but take a look at the governments speding on paperclips and tell me which is more important.

  9. #9 Inoculated Mind
    October 4, 2007

    I dunno. Don’t you need paperclips to do science too?

New comments have been disabled.