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Scientific Research

August 28, 1994

Your perceptive editorial of Aug. 1, "Always Let a Thousand Scientific Flowers Bloom," brings attention to an immediate crisis.

The support of science contributes to our welfare through discoveries we cannot easily anticipate. As you note, this is best achieved by a multiplicity of funding mechanisms. Rep. John Murtha's (D-Pa.) retaliation toward Rep. George Brown (D-Colton) wholly overlooks the fact that the Defense Department has generally been quite imaginative in the types of long-range basic research supported. Loss of this funding not only would result in the drastic reduction of overall support, but elimination of some of our finest long-range research.

Even more devastating is the potential loss of future scientists who will make discoveries to save lives and improve our existence. Young people are motivated to become scientists because of the contribution that they can make to society, but they can only do this if stable support is given to scientists by society. When science is reduced to a mostly unsuccessful hunt for research funds, we will see a further reduction in interest in science. Our goals to become "best in science education by the year 2000" will surely fail if science support further withers.

K. N. HOUK

Professor of Chemistry, UCLA

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