SCIENCE IN 1990 Survey of science-a new decade begins

At the beginning of the 1990s what more astonishing sight than that of Eastern Europe, a year ago still isolated behind the iron curtain, standing on the verge of reintegration into the common European home of science. The changes in Europe and the , as well as the rapidly-growing importance of international cooperation (and competition) in science will set many of the big science policy issues of 1990.

national scientific projects will almost likelihood that the excitements of 1989 The changes certainly increase (, in par­ will be projected into the year ahead. To ticular, has its sights set on CERN, ESA, be in or near Moscow is absorbing, but in the East and Eureka). will mean lifting inimical to peace of mind. secrecy on environmental issues, and new Lobbying has already begun for the Europe cross-border cooperation to deal with elections to the Soviet Academy, likely in DESPITE the political reforms, material specific problems. In , the spring, with Yu. A. Osipyan, the solid­ relief for Eastern Europe's impoverished Civic Forum has declared its opposition to state physicist, mentioned frequently as a scientific community has yet to arrive. In the controversial Danube hydro-electric likely successor to Gurii Marchuk, the Poland, for example, where the 'semi­ scheme, and has approached the Hungar­ present president. Whether election will democratic' elections last June flooded ians about creating an Austrian-Czecho­ bring reform of the academy's cumber­ the new two-chamber parliament with slovak-Hungarian wetlands reserve. some organization is another matter. scientists and scholars (many of them In the formerly hard-line countries of In the year ahead, and perhaps for the former dissidents), Jan Janowski, the Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and East first time, there will be a restraint on deputy premier with responsibility for Germany, rehabilition of independent­ Soviet research that was hardly ever science and technology, announced minded scientists and scholars expelled apparent in the past - a lack of funds. recently that the "coffers are empty" as far from their positions or censured by the True, hard currency has always been in as applied research is concerned. Party is already under way. East Germany short supply, whence the appalling Research institutes that do not come is revising the statutes of its Academy of general shortage of up-to-date equip­ under either the university network or the Sciences, while Poland will almost certain­ ment, but now there are signs that even Academy of Sciences, he said, will sink if ly end the practice by which the learned Aeroflot tickets to the West are hard to they cannot negotiate contracts with secretary of its academy is a government come by even when there is a willing host industry. Dozens of institutes could close appointee. And Czechoslovakia has set up waiting at the destination. The chances in the next few months and research scien­ a commission to enquire into allegations are that the salaries of researchers will fall tists seem likely to become the first sector of abuse of psychiatry for the repression of even further behind those of, say, taxi­ of the community to seek the planned new political dissidents. drivers. D unemployment benefits en masse. A possible source of funding for science Throughout Eastern Europe, scientists and education throughout Eastern and university lecturers are generally paid Europe would be the resources set free by International at a far lower rate than trained industrial defence cuts. 'Conversion' of military workers. Any wage rises in the coming industry to the civilian sector is a current collaboration year are unlikely to do more than mitigate buzz-word in the Soviet Union, but it is the effects of soaring inflation. Foreign unclear just how much this will affect the US politicians no longer automatically say debts mean a lack of hard currency for smaller Warsaw Pact countries. Unlike that American scientists must do big foreign journals and equipmen•, and there the Soviet Union, where military and civil research projects on their own; whether it are fears that foreign colleagues who have research have always been sharply distin­ be the Superconducting Super Collider, the been generous with gifts and subscriptions guished, the East European countries human genome or the Space Station, the in the past may naively believe that with have encouraged the transfer of tech­ cry is now for international collaboration. the coming of democracy the problems of nology from the military to the civilian But the problem is always that politi­ their Polish, Czech, Hungarian or East sector. And, although East Germany has cians are attracted to international colla­ German colleagues will miraculously be the second-largest army in the Warsaw boration because it is a way of saving US solved. In fact, no immediate improve­ Pact, East German diplomats claim the money. The moment it is suggested that ment can be expected, and, with relaxa­ country has virtually no military industry. foreign partners might themselves benefit tion of travel restrictions a major brain Romania, which had its breakthrough from collaboration, then suddenly the talk drain to the West is likely. to democracy at the very end of the year, is of others gaining a 'free ride' on US Hungary is already losing trained scien­ faces a particularly urgent problem. Its technological expertise. tists at the rate of ten a day while East late 'Conducator' Nicolae Ceausescu and Much of this is misunderstanding. US Germany is dangerously short of medical his wife the "world-ranking scientist and politicians do not understand that in most specialists. Not surprisingly, a number of academician, Comrade Dr Elena collaborative projects, foreigners parti­ eminent visitors to the West during the Ceausescu DSc", during the past two cipate by invitation because the US past few months have stressed the need decades had virtually annihilated funda­ partners want access to foreign technical not for charity but for an infusion of West­ mental research in Romania and yoked all expertise. Times have changed - inter­ ern knowhow that will help create jobs for applied research to the fulfilment of national collaboration is not a subterfuge scientists and engineers. politically inspired planning. A massive by which foreigners gain the benefits of Western participation in joint enter­ rescue operation by Western science US science and technology at low prices. prises is now seen both as an important would seem to be in order. D The Space Station is the largest of all the step to economic recovery and as a means collaborative projects. But 1990 may be of bringing Eastern Europe back into the Soviet Union the year in which the international partners world scientific and economic community. TuRMOIL, even constructive turmoil, is finally abandon attempts to collaborate East European participation in inter- not good for science, and there is every with the in space. When US NATURE ·VOL 343 · 4 JANUARY 1990 5 © 1990 Nature Publishing Group