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March 3rd, 2007
And given the public stakes today, there's a role for what physicist Dr. Neal Lane calls "civic scientists." Lane was director of the National Science Foundation from 1993 to 1998, then President Bill Clinton's science adviser to 2001. He promoted nanotechnology (work at the molecular, atomic or smaller range) in those years. He's now at Rice University in Texas as both a professor and public policy thinker.
Lane told me that while people are generally positive about the benefits of science to add knowledge of the world and guide public decisions, controversial subjects run the risk of blurring into other values, like religion. Still, "scientists have to get involved to help people understand."
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