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June 2005 (Volume 14, Number 6)
At its April meeting, Council passed three statements expressing the views of the Society on a variety of issues. One statement dealt with research funding for the sciences, another with alleged hazards of electric power lines, and a third with the need for Congress to obtain adequate and timely advice on scientific and technical matters. The text of the statements follows.
Physical Science Research Funding
Federal investments by agencies such as DOE, NSF, NASA, DOD and NIST are indispensable to the vitality of our nation’s research programs in physics and the physical sciences. The investments are essential for maintaining economic growth and generating jobs; ensuring national, homeland and energy security; educating and training the workforce of the future; and contributing to disciplines such as biomedicine and engineering.
The American Physical Society urges increased federal support of the physical sciences. Recent policy reports identify this as a critical need.
The American Physical Society calls specific attention to the following statements embodied in these reports.
Electric and Magnetic Fields and Public Health
On April 23, 1995, the American Physical Society issued a policy statement concerning Power Line Fields and Public Health. The APS concluded that "the conjecture relating cancer to power line fields has not been scientifically substantiated." Since that time, there have been several large in vivo studies of animal populations subjected for their life span to high magnetic fields, and also epidemiological studies, done with larger populations and with direct, rather than surrogate, measurements of the magnetic field exposure. These studies have produced no results that change the earlier assessment by APS. In addition, no biophysical mechanisms for the initiation or promotion of cancer by electric or magnetic fields from power lines have been identified.
Science and Technology Analysis for Congress
Science, engineering and technology are increasingly important components of the issues that come before the US Congress. From long-term energy security to decisions about nuclear weapons policy and the exploration of space, it is imperative that congressional decision-makers have access to good technical advice. However, members of Congress and their staff report gaps in the advice currently available to them. They have identified a need for advice that:
Therefore, the APS encourages Congress to enhance the capabilities of its support organizations or create other mechanisms to carry out timely technical analyses of policy options.
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