Summary of How to Maintain America’s Edge

Increase Funding for Basic Science

Foreign Affairs,

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How to Maintain America’s Edge summary
Federal funding for basic science energizes the economy, but the US government is busy cutting its budget.


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What do GPS, MRI, various cancer treatments and the technologies that drive the Internet have in common? Each emerged from unguided scientific inquiry, funded not by investors greedy for results or even by philanthropic billionaires, but by the US government. Massachusetts Institute of Technology president L. Rafael Reif wishes to remind readers of this and to call attention to how investments in basic science drive the US economy by creating financial and national security. getAbstract recommends this thoughtful essay to policy makers and citizens who want to understand why they should cast their vote for science.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How federal funding for basic science has historically fortified the US economy,
  • Why such federal funding has dried up, and
  • How governments from other countries and private institutions like Massachusetts Institute of Technology are picking up the slack.


In February of 2016, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected a gravitational resulting from the collision of two black holes 1.3 billion light years away from Earth. It was a proud moment in American science, and it wouldn’t have been possible without heavy federal...
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About the Author

L. Rafael Reif is an electrical engineer, a writer and the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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