National Academy of Sciences

National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C.
Location: 2101 Constitution Ave., NW.
Washington, D.C.
Architect: Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue
NRHP Reference#: 74002168
Added to NRHP: March 15, 1974

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

The National Academy of Sciences is part of the National Academies, which also includes:

The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.

Contents

Overview

Origin

The Act of Incorporation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln on March 3, 1863, created the National Academy of Sciences and named 50 charter members. Many of the original NAS came from the so-called Scientific Lazzaroni, an informal network of mostly physical scientists working in the vicinity of Cambridge, Massachusetts (circa 1850s).[1]

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences headquarters and the Marian Koshland Science Museum are located in the Keck Center of the National Academies in Washington, D.C.

In 1863, enlisting the support of Alexander Dallas Bache and Charles Henry Davis, a professional astronomer recently recalled from the Navy to Washington to head the Bureau of Navigation, Louis Agassiz and Benjamin Peirce planned the steps whereby the National Academy of Sciences was to be established. Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts was to name Agassiz to the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian.

Agassiz was to come to Washington at the government's expense to plan the organization with the others. So it was done, bypassing Joseph Henry, who had already made known his reluctance to have a bill for such an academy presented to Congress in the belief that such a resolution would be "opposed as something at variance with our democratic institutions;" (Henry nevertheless soon became the second NAS President). Agassiz, Davis, Peirce, Benjamin Gould, and Senator Wilson met at Bache's house and "hurriedly wrote the bill incorporating the Academy, including in it the name of fifty incorporators."[2]

During the last hours of the session, when the Senate was immersed in the rush of last minute business before its adjournment, Senator Wilson introduced the bill. Without examining it or debating its provisions, both the Senate and House approved it, and President Lincoln signed it.[2]

Although hailed as a great step forward in government recognition of the role of science in American civilization, the National Academy of Sciences at the time created enormous ill-feelings among scientists,[2] whether or not they were named as incorporators. Later, Agassiz admitted that they had "started on the wrong track."

The Act states:

[T]he Academy shall, whenever called upon by any department of the Government, investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art, the actual expense of such investigations, examinations, experiments, and reports to be paid from appropriations which may be made for the purpose, but the Academy shall receive no compensation whatever for any services to the Government of the United States.
An Act to Incorporate the National Academy of Sciences[3]

The National Academy did not solve the problems facing a nation in Civil War as the Lazzaroni had hoped, nor did it centralize American scientific efforts.[2]

Recent history

As of spring 2009, the National Academy of Sciences included about 2,100 members and 380 foreign associates.[4] It employed about 1,100 staff in 2005.[5] The current members annually elect new members for life. Election to membership is one of the highest honors that can be accorded to a scientist and recognizes scientists who have made distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Nearly 200 members have won a Nobel Prize.[4]

The National Academy of Sciences is a member of the International Council for Science (ICSU). The ICSU Advisory Committee, which is in the Research Council's Office of International Affairs, facilitates participation of members in international scientific unions and is a liaison for U.S. national committees for the individual scientific unions. Although there is no formal relationship with state and local academies of science, there often is informal dialogue.

The National Academy of Sciences meets annually in Washington, D.C., documented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scholarly journal of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academies Press is the publisher for the National Academies, and makes 3600+ publications available for free reading on its website.

There are several books on the National Academy of Sciences and the advice the National Research Council gives the U.S. government, including a critical piece of journalism The Brain Bank of America[6] by Philip Boffey and a sociological study Science on Stage: Expert Advice as Public Drama.[7]

Since 2004, the National Academy of Sciences has administered the Marian Koshland Science Museum, to provide public exhibits and programming related to its policy work. The museum's current exhibits focus on climate change and infectious disease.

Since June 2011, the NAS made a digital copy of most books and reports published by the National Academies Press available for free at their website. The catalog includes more than 4,000 works.[8]

Facilities

The National Academies' Beckman Conference Center, Irvine, California

The National Academy of Sciences maintains multiple buildings around the United States.

The historic National Academy of Sciences building is located at 2100 C Street, in northwest Washington, DC; it sits on the National Mall, adjacent to the Federal Reserve and in front of the State Department. This neoclassical building was dedicated in 1924[9] and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building is used for lectures, exhibits, and symposia, in addition to annual meetings of the NAS, NAE, and IOM. It is currently closed to visitors, with major restoration slated until 2012.[10]

The NAS headquarters is housed in the Keck Center of the National Academies at 500 Fifth Street in northwest Washington, DC. The Keck Center employs more than 1,000 people, provides meeting space, and houses the National Academies Press Bookstore.[11] The Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences – entered at the corner of Sixth and E Streets – hosts visits from the public, school field trips, traveling exhibits, and permanent science exhibits.[12]

Two other NAS buildings are located in northwest Washington, DC: the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences at 700 11th Street and the NAS financial office at 575 Seventh Street.[11]

The NAS also maintains conference centers in California and Massachusetts.[11] The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies is located on 100 Academy Drive in Irvine, California, near the campus of the University of California, Irvine; it offers a conference center and houses several NAS programs. The J. Erik Jonsson Conference Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, is a conference facility.

Presidents of the National Academy of Sciences

The President is the elected head of the Academy. An Academy member is elected by a majority vote of the membership to serve in this position for a term to be determined by the governing Council, not to exceed six years, and may be re-elected for a second term. The Academy has had twenty-one presidents since its foundation. The current President is atmospheric chemist, Ralph J. Cicerone of the University of California, Irvine.[13]

Highlights

  • David Blackwell was the first African-American elected (1965).
  • Edward C. Pickering (1846–1919) was the youngest scientist elected.

Joint declaration on global warming

In 2005, the national science academies of the G8 nations (including the National Academy of Sciences) plus science academies of Brazil, China and India (three of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the developing world) signed a statement on the global response to climate change. The statement stresses that the scientific understanding of climate change had become sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action.[14][15]

In May 2010, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli served a civil investigative demand on the University of Virginia seeking a broad range of documents from Michael E. Mann, who was formerly an assistant professor there from 1999-2005.[16][17] Mann, who currently works at Penn State, is a climate change researcher, and Cuccinelli alleges that Mann may have defrauded Virginia taxpayers in the course of his environmental research. Climate change skeptics have challenged Mann's work, but a Penn State investigation cleared Mann of charges that he falsified or suppressed data.[18] In response, 255 Academy members signed a letter that was published in Science magazine on May 7, 2010, decrying "political assaults" against climate change scientists.[19][20]

Awards

The Academy gives a number of different awards:

See also

References

  1. ^ Founding of the National Academy of Sciences
  2. ^ a b c d Miller, Lillian (1972). The Lazzaroni: science and scientists in mid-nineteenth-century America. Smithsonian Institution Press. pp. 121. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=76824285. Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  3. ^ An Act to Incorporate the National Academy of Sciences
  4. ^ a b "About the NAS". National Academy of Sciences. 2009. http://www.nasonline.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ABOUT_main_page. 
  5. ^ Alberts, Bruce (2005). "Summing Up: Creating a Scientific Temper for the World". National Academy of Sciences. http://www.nasonline.org/site/DocServer/speech2005.pdf?docID=741. 
  6. ^ Boffey, Philip, The Brain Bank of America (McGraw-Hill, 1975).
  7. ^ Stephen Hilgartner, Science on Stage (Stanford University Press, 2000).
  8. ^ http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=06022011
  9. ^ National Academy of Sciences. "The NAS Building... a Temple of Science". http://www.nasonline.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ABOUT_building. Retrieved 12 October 2010. 
  10. ^ National Academy of Sciences. "Restoration of Historic National Academy of Sciences Building". http://www.nasonline.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Connect_visit_restoration. Retrieved 12 October 2010. 
  11. ^ a b c National Academy of Sciences. "Visiting Our Buildings". http://www.nationalacademies.org/about/contact. Retrieved 12 October 2010. 
  12. ^ "Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences". http://www.koshland-science-museum.org. Retrieved 12 October 2010. 
  13. ^ "Presidents of the National Academies". National Academy of Sciences. 2009. http://www7.nationalacademies.org/archives/Presidents_and_Chairmen.html. 
  14. ^ Joint academies statement on climate change
  15. ^ Joint science academies’ statement: Global response to climate change (Adobe PDF File)
  16. ^ http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/Mann/cv/cv.html Retievd 2010-05-04.
  17. ^ Helderman, Rosalind (May 9, 2010). "U-Va. urged to fight Cuccinelli subpoena in probe of scientist". Washington Post: p. C5. 
  18. ^ Foley, Henry C.; Alan W. Scaroni and Candice A. Yekel (3 February 2010). "RA-10 Inquiry Report: Concerning the Allegations of Research Misconduct Against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Department of Meteorology, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University". The Pennsylvania State University. http://www.research.psu.edu/orp/Findings_Mann_Inquiry.pdf. Retrieved 7 February 2010. 
  19. ^ Helderman, Rosalind (May 9, 2010). "U-Va. urged to fight Cuccinelli subpoena in probe of scientist". Washington Post: p. C5. 
  20. ^ "Open letter: Climate change and the integrity of science". The Guardian. May 6, 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/06/climate-science-open-letter. 

External links

Coordinates: 38°53′35″N 77°02′52″W / 38.893°N 77.0477°W / 38.893; -77.0477


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