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Richard Nixon: Remarks on Presenting the National Medal of Science Awards for 1970.
Richard
Richard Nixon
176 - Remarks on Presenting the National Medal of Science Awards for 1970.
May 21, 1971
Public Papers of the Presidents
Richard Nixon<br>1971
Richard Nixon
1971
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Ladies and gentlemen:

Mrs. Nixon and I are very happy to welcome you, all of our distinguished recipients of the Medal of Science and their families and their friends, on this occasion.

All of you know that this medal is one of the very highest that can be awarded in the United States, and in the field of science the very highest, and it is particularly significant that those who. are the recipients today cover such a wide range of disciplines in the field of science.

A few moments will pass before Dr. David will bring each of them up to receive the award, and on that occasion he will read the citation, which will indicate the various studies in which they have been engaged and the breakthroughs and other contributions they have made.

I have read them, and I want you to know that I do not understand them; but I want you to know, too, that because I do not understand them, I realize how enormously important their contributions are to this Nation. That, to me, is the nature of science to the unsophisticated people.

It is why we, as a nation, must always recognize the men of science and the women of science, because of their ability to explore the unknown and to go beyond the limits of knowledge for the great majority of people, their ability to thereby make it possible for a nation to have progress in so many fields, and we hope, in the years ahead particularly, and eventually exclusively, in the field of peaceful pursuits. This is what, of course, has brought this Nation where it is, and many other nations where they are, from the position that we occupied long before.

In that respect, incidentally, when I speak in such awe of scientists, I do so with a great deal of reason. I know that sometimes those of us in the field of politics are called political scientists. Let me tell you something: Politics is not a science. It has been called many things. Some think it is a racket; and others have said that it is an art. But perhaps the best description is that politics is a mystery, a mystery because it deals with those great problems of human relationships, and no one, therefore, can sit down, as the scientist does, and examine this proposition and this fact and that fact and expect that by putting it all together it will come out just the way that his formula indicated it would come out.

If that were the case, we would not have to have elections in this country to determine whether one man was right or another was right.

However, speaking as I do of the men of science and the women of science that we are honoring today, I also should point out that we had an announcement yesterday that, with justification, gives hope to the people of the world, and the people of this Nation particularly, that we are moving forward toward our goal, a goal that all Americans share and that I believe all people in the world share, of a more peaceful world where arms may be limited and where the men and women of science can devote their great energies exclusively to the works of peace and not the weapons Of War.

In this field we cannot promise anything in terms of what will happen on a certain day or a certain month; but we can say that the hopes for peaceful progress are far greater now than they were before this joint announcement was made, and we will continue to give all possible support to this initiative that has now been taken at the highest levels in the Soviet and American Governments.

But having moved in that field, I now come to the recipients of the day. Once we have peace in this world, peace in the sense of absence of war, we have then only the beginning of not just problems, but opportunities that go far beyond, and the question is: What do we do with the peace?

Here, again, the men of science, the men of reason, will have the answer, because for us simply to think of peace as the absence of war, of standing still, would not be worthy of our people, and it would, in the end, be serf-destructive. So we think of peace in a creative sense.

Here I would like to refer to our Nobel prize winner, Dr. Borlaug, who was here a few days ago on our Salute to Agriculture Day. He spoke movingly of the millions of people that he had seen in India and parts of Southeast Asia, and in Mexico and Latin America, and of the great progress that had been made, as a result of developing new strains of wheat and rice, in reducing famine in those areas of the world.

He told those of us who were gathered in a small meeting that that progress would not have been possible except for science, and that also it would not have been possible except for certain chemicals. Then he made the point that we are now going through a process, which all of us can well understand, where many raise questions about the use of chemicals in the field of agriculture, because the use of a chemical may produce a reaction which can be detrimental to the human body.

Then, speaking as a scientist--and he is a scientist he said what we must, however, always weigh is the benefit .that we get, on the one hand, by going forward with the scientific initiative and applying it, and what would happen in the event that we did not go forward--famines sweeping the world, and particularly those areas of the world that have had such enormous difficulties in this respect in the past.

So to the men in science and the women of science today, I would say we honor you for exploring the unknown, for making progress possible, and we ask you to help create among the people of this Nation an understanding of your disciplines; to remove the fears, the unreasonable fears that some people may have of any kind of progress, recognizing that there is not always all good in any advance, scientifically or otherwise, that this is a problem of balance, because the men and women of science, above everything else, are men of balance, men who can think rationally, men who can think reasonably.

This world, and this Nation, needs that kind of leadership, that kind of thinking, that kind of education, at this time when we tend to go overboard one way or another because of "hypo-ing" a particular issue that may be in the public press or the public mind at a particular time.

During the French Revolution, the great French chemist Lavoisier was put on trial, and chalked on the wall just above his head was the slogan "The Republic has no use for scientists." He was guillotined.

In every age there are men of violence and men of fury and men of ignorance who say, "The nation, the world, has no use for the men of science and the men of reason." This is not such a time in this country, and may it never be such a time, because as these citations are read, all of us as Americans, and all of us as citizens of the world, will be proud that America produced these people--these award winners--who, through their work in the field of science, through their work in the field of exploring the unknown, have contributed to the works of peace and a better world for all of us.

[At this point, Dr. Edward E. David, Jr., Science Adviser to the President, read the citations, the texts of which follow. Fred G. Brauer accepted the medal on behalf of his father, Richard D. Brauer; James Wheeler accepted the medal on behalf of his father, John A. Wheeler; and Mrs. Saul Winstein accepted the medal awarded posthumously to her husband.
BARBARA MCLINTOCK--For establishing the relations between inherited characters in plants and the detailed shapes of their chromosomes, and for showing that some genes are controlled by other genes within chromosomes.
ALBERT B. SABIN--For numerous fundamental contributions to the understanding of viruses and viral diseases, culminating in the development of the vaccine which has eliminated poliomyelitis as a major threat to human health.
GEORGE E. MUELLER--For his many individual contributions to the design of the Apollo system, including the planning and interpretation of a large array of advanced experiments necessary to insure the success of this venture into a new and little known environment.

RICHARD D. BRAUER---For his work on conjectures of Dickson, Cartan, Maschke, and Artin, his introduction of the Brauer group, and his development of the theory of modular representations.
ROBERT H. DICKE--For fashioning radio and light waves into tools of extraordinary accuracy and for decisive studies of cosmology and of the nature of gravitation.
ALLAN R. SANDAGE.---For bringing the very limits of the universe within the reach of man's awareness and unraveling the evolution of stars and galaxies--their origins and ages, distances and destinies.
JOHN C. SLATER--For wide-ranging contributions to the basic theory of atoms, molecules, and matter in the solid form.

JOHN A. WHEELER--For his basic contributions to our understanding of the nuclei of atoms, exemplified by his theory of nuclear fission, and his own work and stimulus to others on basic questions of gravitational and electromagnetic phenomena.
SAUL WINSTEIN--In recognition of his many innovative and perceptive contributions to the study of mechanism in organic chemical reactions.
After the presentation of the medals by the President, he resumed speaking as follows:]

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the official ceremony, and now, at this time, we would like to invite all of you to join Mrs. Nixon in the State Dining Room for coffee and other refreshments, for those who are not on diets, and I would like to say that I would like very much to join you also, but the Secretary of State and I will have to leave this meeting for an 11: 30 meeting at the State Department which, incidentally, does involve science to an extent.

After over 2 years of negotiations, the INTELSAT agreement, covering 79 nations with regard to communications satellites throughout the world, is being signed and initialed by the various nations, so we are going there for that purpose. S% if you will excuse us for leaving, Mrs. Nixon will be very happy to receive you. And we hope you enjoy this house. It belongs to all of you as much as it does to us. Thank you.


Note: The President spoke at 11:10 a.m. in the East Room at the White House.

The National Medal of Science was established in 1959 by act of Congress (73 Stat. 431) "to provide recognition for individuals who make outstanding contributions in the physical, biological, mathematical, and engineering sciences." Awards are based on recommendations of the President's Committee on the National Medal of Science.

A White House announcement of the National Medal of Science recipients for 1970 was released on January 27, 1971, and is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 7, p. 124).


Citation: Richard Nixon: "Remarks on Presenting the National Medal of Science Awards for 1970.," May 21, 1971. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=3017.
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