Above: C. Paul Robinson Below: Mark Yudof echoed Robinson’s proposal, saying, “In discussing the compact between science and government, [Stokes] writes that the ever pragmatic American `… public values science not for what it is but what it’s for.’ The work done at Sandia is an important part of realizing that belief … and validating the American people’s faith in the power of science and human creativity.” The use of Stokes’ argument in order to conflate independent, academic science and more productoriented research conducted for commercial interest irks some critics. “Pro commercialism people like to point to Stokes’ book Pasteur’s Quadrantas proof that enhancing university-industry alliances is a good thing,” said Jennifer Washburn, author of University Inc., a book on corporatized universities. “Much of the research that is done in the academy is what is known as ‘useoriented basic research.’ On this point, Stokes is absolutely right. But it is inaccurate to conclude, on this basis, that there is no differ ence between research done in the academy and research done in industry. Each contributes something distinctive and vital to our national innovation system. As university-industry alliances growand the university itself grows more commercially orientedthere is a danger that this distinctive academic culture will disappear.” But in the case of Los Alamos, it’s not as simple as industry vs. university. Robinson and Yudof seem to propose a model where the research interests of the military, the university, and the corporation are bundled together at the national laboratories. Conspicuously absent in this swelling military-industrial-academic complex is consideration of what makes the academic culture unique and valuableacademic freedom; the ability to engage in wide-ranging, even oblique, inquiry; opportunities to work toward the public good free from the demands of profit and the narrow technical concerns of nuclear technology. “Traditionally, the univer sity played a vital role in performing open, pub lishable research,” wrote Washburn, who once debated Yudof on NPR’s On Point. “This research was non-proprietary and continually served to replenish the public domain for knowledgethe wellspring for all future invention and creativity” At an April 28 UT Board of Regents meeting called to discuss a possible Los Alamos bid, Phil Wilson, deputy chief of staff for Gov. Perry, made it clear that whatever academic role UT might have in the national laborato ries is secondary to a larger business and political agenda. “Peer review and research and technology can lead Texas and New Mexico universities into Tier 1 levels in research and consequently into commercialization of these technologies,” Wilson gustily told the regents. He went on to link President Bush’s push for a revival of the nuclear power industry to Los Alamos. “Los Alamos provides a true opportunity to acceler ate and commercialize nuclear opportunities for our country.” UT officials have couched the Los Alamos bid primarily as a way to enhance research science for UT students and faculty and to serve the “national interest.” But even more than the UT-Sandia collaboration, “science” at Los Alamos is in the eyes of the beholder. Nuclear weaponstheir maintenance, design, and perpetua tionare the fundamental concern continued on page 30 SEPTEMBER 9, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13
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