Back to basics


  • Michael Carlowicz


In an effort to educate the public about the long road from obscure experiment to life-changing discovery, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has been enlisting prominent researchers, science writers, and scientific organizations such as the AGU. More than two years in development, the NAS basic science initiative “Beyond Discovery: The Path From Research to Human Benefits” is an attempt to translate peer-review-quality science papers into general-interest science articles and booklets.

As conceived by NAS vice-president Jack Halpern and a host of representatives from the scientific community, the Beyond Discovery initiative will “develop case studies that identify and trace the origins of important technological and medical advances.” These case studies will be written by scientists in a style publishable in a journal such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The articles are intended to be understandable to educators, college students, and the scientifically literate public. The case studies then will be further distilled by science writers into articles for a wider audience of policy makers and the general public.