Help Make Publicly Funded Science Free to the Public

A new advocacy group created a petition urging the White House to make taxpayer-funded scientific research available to the public.


Much of today's scientific research is funded by the government—in other words, by you, the taxpayer. Science can be too expensive for most private companies, and the rewards are uncertain. But here's the frustrating irony: The results of this publicly funded work are often inaccessible to the public. They're published in academic journals that are available only to those who can pay substantial subscription fees.

How substantial? In a recent memo, Harvard's Faculty Advisory Council concluded that the school's annual subscription fees for scholarly journals add up to nearly $3.5 million, which the council calls "fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive." Harvard has the largest university endowment in the world; if it's saying that journal subscriptions are unsustainable, how are smaller schools (not to mention individual researchers, entrepreneurs, doctors, and patients) expected to keep up?
Access2Research is a new advocacy group that has created a petition urging the White House to create open access policies for federal agencies that fund scientific research. Read the details and sign the petition at the White House's We the People platform. The petition needs 25,000 signatures within 30 days in order to receive an official response from the administration, and it's off to a promising start—in less than three days, nearly 12,000 people have signed.
"Open Access provides federally-funded research to members of the general public who would otherwise be blocked by cost and technological barriers," says Michael Carroll, a professor at American University's Washington College of Law and a co-creator of the Access2Research campaign. "People working to solve problems in science, education and business get more done in an open access environment. Open access also greatly enhances our ability to use technology to search and interpret the research literature."
If you think this cause makes as much sense as we do, help us get this petition to 25,000 signatures. Sign it yourself and then spread the word online. Let's make publicly funded knowledge available to the public.
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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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