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Introduction: Notes by J. Lederberg

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  • Biology
  • Education


DRAFT July 26, 1964 INTRODUCTIOX Notes by 3. Lederberg "The search for extra-terrestrial life" has perhaps the widest base of appreciation of any space science program. As the explora- tion of Mars, it is also the most ambitious. Paradoxically, the very breadth of scientific interest here may blur its apparent support. Other scientific projects tend to attract a limited circle of enthu- siasts who become uniquely expert on their implementation and will devote their full time energies to them. In exobiology, a much wider range of scientific interests is necessarily represented. Many of its proponents will share their preoccupations in exobiology with interests closer at hand in terrestrial science over the very long time involved in operational plans in space science. The interval is, after all, a significant fraction of a scientific career. T'he same scientists are also accutely awar of their responsibilities as citizens to contribute to the best allocationof natural reso.urces. In these circumstances it is understandable that there has been considerable debate concerning the relative value of biological exploration compared to other efforts that we might make as national enterprises. Most of this discussion, it should be stressed, centers on the larger issue of the National Space program taken as a whoie. It is well recognized that scientific investigation has played a definite but not the primary part among the motifs of the entire program. There has been considerabie criticism of the relative allocation of July 26, 1964 Page 2 our national effort to space, compared to education, natural resources, domestic welfare, foreign aid or budgetary retrenchment. The partici- pants in the present study represent a wide range of views on this question. The most forceful criticism of investment in the exploration of space is negative, fairly directed at our failures elsewhere, and at the frustrati

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