United States National Academy of Sciences

United States National Academy of Sciences

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name = National Academy of Sciences
nrhp_type =

caption = National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C.
location = 2101 Constitution Ave., NW.
Washington, D.C.
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architect = Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue
architecture =
added = March 15, 1974
visitation_num =
refnum = 74002168
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The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a corporation in the United States whose members serve "pro bono" as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine."

The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.



The Civil War caused a need for a national academy. The Act of Incorporation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln on March 3, 1863, created the National Academy of Sciences and named 50 charter members. Many of the original NAS came from the so-called "American Scientific Lazzaroni", an informal network of mostly physical scientists working in the vicinity of Cambridge, Massachusetts (circa 1850s) [ [http://www7.nationalacademies.org/archives/nasfounding.html Founding of the National Academy of Sciences] ] .

In 1863 enlisting the support of Alexander Dallas Bache and Charles Henry Davis, a professional astronomer recently recalled from the Navy to Washington to head the Bureau of Navigation, Louis Agassiz and Benjamin Peirce planned the steps whereby the National Academy of Sciences was to be established. Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts was to name Agassiz to the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian.

On the pretext of desiring to discuss his new duties, Agassiz was to come to Washington at government expense to plan the organization with the others. So it was done, bypassing Joseph Henry, who had already made known his reluctance to have a bill for such an academy presented to Congress in the belief that such a resolution would be “opposed as something at variance with our democratic institutions;” (Henry nevertheless soon became the second NAS President). Agassiz, Davis, Peirce, Benjamin Gould, and Senator Wilson met at Bache's house and "hurriedly wrote the bill incorporating the Academy, including in it the name of fifty incorporators."Fact|date=August 2008

During the last hours of the session, when the Senate was immersed in the rush of last minute business before its adjournment, Senator Wilson introduced the bill. Without examining it or debating its provisions, both the Senate and House approved it, and President Lincoln signed it. [cite book
last = Miller
first = Lillian
authorlink = David Mumford
title = The Lazzaroni: science and scientists in mid-nineteenth-century America
publisher = Smithsonian Institution Press
url = http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=76824285
accessdate = 2007-10-26
year = 1972
pages = 121

Although hailed as a great step forward in government recognition of the role of science in American civilization, the National Academy of Sciences at the time created enormous ill-feelings among scientists, whether or not they were named as incorporators. Later, Agassiz admitted that they had “started on the wrong track.”

The Act states:The National Academy did not solve the problems facing a nation in Civil War as the Lazzaroni had hoped, nor did it centralize American scientific efforts.Fact|date=August 2008

Recent history

As of spring 2003, the National Academy of Sciences included about 1,922 members, 93 members emeritus, 341 foreign associates, and employed about 1,100 staff.Fact|date=August 2008 The current members annually elect new members for life. Election to membership is one of the highest honors that can be accorded to a scientist and recognizes scientists who have made distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. More than 170 members have won a Nobel Prize.Fact|date=August 2008

The National Academy of Sciences is an institutional member of the International Council for Science (ICSU). The ICSU Advisory Committee, which is in the Research Council's Office of International Affairs, facilitates participation of members in international scientific unions and is a liaison for U.S. national committees for the individual scientific unions. Although there is no formal relationship with state and local academies of science, there often is informal dialogue.

The National Academy of Sciences meets annually in Washington, D.C., documented in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", the scholarly journal of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academies Press is the publisher for the National Academies, and makes 3600+ publications available for free reading on its website.

The National Academy of Sciences is part of the National Academies, which also includes:
* National Academy of Engineering (NAE)
* Institute of Medicine (IOM)
* National Research Council (NRC)

Presidents of the National Academy of Sciences

The President is the elected head of the Academy. An Academy member is elected by a majority vote of the membership to serve in this position for a term to be determined by the governing Council, not to exceed six years, and may be re-elected for a second term. The Academy has had twenty-one presidents since its foundation. The current president is atmospheric chemist, Ralph J. Cicerone of the University of California, Irvine.

*1863-1867 Alexander Dallas Bache
*1868-1878 Joseph Henry
*1879-1882 William Barton Rogers
*1883-1895 Othniel Charles Marsh
*1895-1900 Wolcott Gibbs
*1901-1907 Alexander Agassiz
*1907-1913 Ira Remsen
*1913-1917 William Henry Welch
*1917-1923 Charles Doolittle Walcott
*1923-1927 Albert Abraham Michelson
*1927-1931 Thomas Hunt Morgan
*1931-1935 William Wallace Campbell
*1935-1939 Frank Rattray Lillie
*1939-1947 Frank Baldwin Jewett
*1947-1950 Alfred Newton Richards
*1950-1962 Detlev Wulf Bronk
*1962-1969 Frederick Seitz
*1969-1981 Philip Handler
*1981-1993 Frank Press
*1993-2005 Bruce Alberts
*2005-"present" Ralph J. Cicerone


*David Blackwell was the first African-American elected (1965).
*Edward C. Pickering (1846-1919) was the youngest scientist elected.

Joint declaration on global warming

In 2005 the national science academies of the G8 nations (including the National Academy of Sciences) plus science academies of Brazil, China and India (three of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the developing world) signed a statement on the global response to climate change. The statement stresses that the scientific understanding of climate change had become sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. [ [http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/document.asp?latest=1&id=3222 Joint academies statement on climate change] ] [ [http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/displaypagedoc.asp?id=20742 Joint science academies’ statement: Global response to climate change (Adobe PDF File)] ]


The Academy gives a number of different awards:

* General
** NAS Award for Initiatives in Research
** Public Welfare Medal

* Astronomy/Astrophysics
** Henry Draper Medal
** J. Lawrence Smith Medal
** James Craig Watson Medal

* Behavioral/Social Sciences
** NAS Award for Behavior Research Relevant to the Prevention of Nuclear War
** Troland Research Awards

* Biology and Medicine
** Alexander Hollaender Award in Biophysics
** Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal
** Richard Lounsbery Award
** NAS Award in Molecular Biology
** NAS Award in the Neurosciences
** Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal
** Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology

* Chemistry
** NAS Award in Chemical Sciences
** NAS Award for Chemistry in Service to Society

* Earth and Environmental Sciences
** Alexander Agassiz Medal
** Arthur L. Day Prize and Lectureship
** Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal
** Mary Clark Thompson Medal
** Charles Doolittle Walcott Medal
** G. K. Warren Prize
** NAS Award of Scientific Reviewing

* Engineering and Applied Sciences
** NAS Award in Aeronautical Engineering - aeronautical engineering
** Gibbs Brothers Medal - naval architecture, marine engineering
** NAS Award for the Industrial Application of Science

* Mathematics and Computer Science
** NAS Award in Mathematics
** John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science

* Physics
** Arctowski Medal
** Comstock Prize in Physics
** Alexander Hollaender Award in Biophysics

ee also

* List of members of the National Academy of Sciences
* Library of Congress Digital Library project
* National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program
* National Science Foundation
* Presidents of the National Academy of Sciences
* "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences"
* National Academies Press
* US National Academy of Sciences' Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy


External links

* [http://www.nasonline.org "National Academy of Sciences"]
* [http://www.nap.edu/books/0309071445/html/ LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress]
* [http://www.loc.gov/library/libarch-digital.html The Library of Congress, Digital Collections and Programs]
* [http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/ The Library of Congress, Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program]
* [http://feinstein.senate.gov/04Releases/r-df-boxer-perch.htm "Boxer And Feinstein Concerned About Impartiality Of National Academy Of Sciences Perchlorate Committee"] , 14 May 2004
* [http://www.vega.org.uk/video/programme/119 Freeview Video Interview 2006] Sherwood Rowland, NL, discusses Climate Change. This and other programmes on members of the National Academy of Sciences can be found on the Vega Science Trust's website.
* [http://www.nationalacademies.org/arts National Academy of Sciences' Office of Exhibitions and Cultural Programs]

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