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Remarks at the Swearing In of Dr. Edward E. David, Jr., as Science Adviser to the President and Director, Office of Science and Technology

September 14, 1970

Ladies and gentlemen:

We are here today for the purpose of swearing in Dr. David as the President's Science Adviser and as also head of the Office of Science and Technology.

This is a day of, in effect, an end and a beginning. Dr. DuBridge, who for almost 2 years has held this position as the President's Science Adviser, has made a great contribution to this administration and to the Nation.

He has made a contribution in many other ways through the years, but particularly I have been appreciative of the advice he has given me and, also, of the stimulus he has given to all the departments of Government in the field of science.

And now Dr. David takes this position and he will carry on the work of Dr. DuBridge.

I understand that Dr. Goddard, the great expert in rocketry, once said that, "No matter how much progress one has made, there is always the thrill of just beginning." Dr. David is in that position of just beginning in the position, but beginning from a good base from which Dr. DuBridge has, I think, well prepared him.

In speaking about Dr. David, you are aware of the fact that he is known as a very practical man, as one who puts the uses of science to the uses of man, who has had responsibilities in that field.

And I think of the work that he has done, for example, very specific work in terms that involve the hijacking we have been hearing about so much, that we hear about today.

In a sense, when we think about hijacking we can make an argument against science, because if it hadn't have been for science, we wouldn't have had airplanes, if we didn't have airplanes, we wouldn't have had airplane hijacking. And so we could argue, therefore, it would have been better if we wouldn't have had science.

On the other hand, as Dr. David could well point out, without science we couldn't be developing the detection devices that we hope now can be used in the United States in airports and around the world for the purpose of determining whether those who board planes or, for that matter, any other mode of transportation, may be carrying explosives or other dangerous substances.

In this particular field, I also want to emphasize, however, that Dr. David will carry on in a tradition that Dr. DuBridge brought to this office that I consider vitally important. I think the emphasis of most people who are laymen in this field-and I must say that I consider myself a complete layman in the field of science-think in terms of its practical applications. What are we going to learn? What are we going to do with our knowledge?

Dr. DuBridge has put emphasis very properly on that phase of the Government's science activities called basic science. And it is in this basic science field, the support for the National Science Foundation, for example--support which we have continued but which we hope to increase through the years--it is in this basic science field to which this administration has a commitment, a commitment that Dr. DuBridge has strengthened and that Dr. David, despite the fact that he is a very practical man, also has a very deep commitment.

I am reminded of what Benjamin Franklin replied when a balloon was first floated and someone said to him, "What possible use could there be for that?" And Franklin's advice was, "Well, what use is a newborn baby?"

And so it is in terms of basic science. This Nation needs to strengthen its support of basic science so that the practical applications which will benefit us all can be forthcoming.

And because he is a practical man, but a man also devoted to his basic science, we think we have selected for this position a man superbly qualified, Dr. David.

He will be sworn in by Judge Fickling, and Mrs. David will hold the Bible for him.

Note: The President spoke at 3:40 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

Austin L. Fickling was Associate Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

Dr. David's remarks following the swearing in are printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 6, p. 1214).

An announcement of Dr. David's nomination and the transcript of a news conference about the nomination by Dr. Lee A. DuBridge and Dr. David were released by the White House on August 19, 1970.

Richard Nixon, Remarks at the Swearing In of Dr. Edward E. David, Jr., as Science Adviser to the President and Director, Office of Science and Technology Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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