Evaluating Advances in Science

The "Directions in Science" issue, Jan. 2, is fantastic. The article "New Legal Tools Needed to Preserve Earth," is particularly excellent - exactly on target in its analysis of two major shortcomings in today's political-economic system for dealing with global issues, environmental and otherwise.

The author concludes: "Until those tools are overhauled the environment - and our survival - will remain in peril."Unfortunately, he offers little reason to be optimistic that such an overhaul is forthcoming. The article, in fact, does not portray a very optimistic point of view. I fear that with this viewpoint, the article is accurate as well. Andreas von Flotow, Cambridge, Mass. Assoc. Prof., Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The articles in the "Directions in Science" issue make me wish some of those ivory-towered scientists would take time out for a look at the real world. With our homeless population, AIDS, failing schools, crime, government deficits, drugs, corruption in high office, lack of jobs, etc., should we be thinking of compounding our failures in "colonized space cluttering the entire Milky Way with our mismanaged and irresponsible kind? Frances Wosmek, Magnolia, Mass.

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Haven't we all seen enough of what such curiosity, parading as "pure science," does to our species and others that share this small planet?

What we need is both simpler and infinitely higher on the scale of values: the personally verifiable formulas for real understanding, kindness, and balance. James Opie, Wilsonville, Ore.

The emphasis of these articles is not on the material advances in process, but on the mental and spiritual adroitness of diverse thinking. Wilbur Nystrom, Bainbridge Island, Wash.

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