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IACCGH Monthly Programs
 
IACCGH HOSTS DR. NEAL LANE,Science Advisor to President Bill Clinton

Dr. Neal Lane, formerly the Director of the National Science Foundation and until most recently the Science Advisor and assistant to Ex-President Bill Clinton for Science and Technology in the White House was the featured speaker at the IACCGH luncheon held at the J.W. Marriott Hotel on April 17 2001.

Mr. Subroto Mukerjee, program manager for the IACCGH invited Dr. Krishna R. Dronamraju, a member of the IACCGH to introduce the speaker of the afternoon.

Dr. Dronamraju gave a brief outline on Dr. Lane�s distinguished career. Before becoming the Director of the National Science Foundation in Washington, Dr. Lane was the Provost of Rice University and also held other distinguished positions like Chancellor of the University of Colorado. He was a fellow of the American Physical Society and a recipient of the George Brown prize for superior teaching at Rice University. Dr. Dronamraju said that they had both accompanied Ex-President Clinton to India last year and had been present when the President gave his important speech on Information technology and Science and Technology policy. He invited Dr. Lane to share with the IACCGH his firsthand impressions of science and technology and how India and USA can collaborate in a mutually beneficial manner.

Dr. Lane started off his talk by saying that one of the activities he had enjoyed most in his time in the White house had been the chance to work on co-operative endeavors involving India and the U.S. He said that the U.S. and India have been important partners in Science and Technology since the early 1970�s. He recognized that India has a long tradition of excellence in science, mathematics and more recently, technology. He said that the world knows of great names such as: C.V. Raman, Hargobind Khorana, Subrahmanayam Chandrasekhar, Amartya Sen, S.N.Bose, H. Bhaba, M.N.Saha, Ramanujan, and others. He said he had the great pleasure of meeting Dr. Sen in Stockholm when he received his Nobel Prize in 1998. He noted that the enormous contributions made by men and women from India who came to the U.S. to study, teach, do research, practice medicine, set up businesses are one of the reasons of this nation�s success in science and technology and extraordinary growth in the new economy.

Dr. Lane remarked that with President Clinton�s visit to India last March, we entered a new phase in Indo -US cooperation. President Clinton talked about "getting our own economic relationship right". He said: "The private sector will drive this progress, but our job as governments is to create the conditions that will allow them to succeed in doing so."

Dr. Lane added that science and technology continues to need more attention, particularly government funding of R & D. A very important outcome of the trip had been the agreement signed between our two governments on the US-India S&T Forum. This agreement puts more teeth in future co-operation in S&T and he believes will stand the test of time.

While in New Delhi, he said he had been privileged to meet the Minister of Human Resources Development and S&T, Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi who is also a fellow Physicist and also had the opportunity to visit the Tata Energy Research Institute and had a tour of the Indian Institute of Technology. He also had the great honor of meeting with Prime Minister Vajpayee during his visit to Washington past September.

Dr. Lane added that in course of his extensive touring around the country he finds that three areas seem to be on everyone�s list: information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology. Nanotechnology though not really a mature technology yet, has immense promise for the future.

Nanotechnology, he said is a vision, maybe not too far off, that we will be able to manufacture materials and devices starting from the molecular level, the scale of one billionth of a meter, with just the properties we want and with minimal waste. Significant further advances in IT are likely to require nanotechnology, to get the scale and energy down and the speed up. Companies are being formed right now to develop and market molecular switches and computer memories. The implications are as fantastic as the mind can imagine. And also in biotechnology and medicine, opportunities are limitless. Researchers have already shown that cancer cells in mice can be sought out and selectively killed using nano-scale shells of gold, without harming the healthy tissue. This work is being done at Rice University and clinical trials are expected soon in partnership with the Texas Medical Center.

He added that the vision that such a technology could ever be developed was that of the legendary Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman, in a famous 1950�s talk "There is Plenty of the Room at the Bottom." It took us a while to catch on and to develop the necessary tools. But, nano-scale science has progressed far in the last decade or so, producing such breakthroughs as: quantum dots; nano-wires, nano-grain metals, fullerenes and carbon nanotubes, nano catalysis, nano-fabricated thin films, nano-tweezers; single-electron transistor and tuning materials to specified hardness, melting point, color, magnetic properties and much more. Nanotechnology is all about working in a very tiny world.

President Clinton included in his last budget (for FY01 that began last October) an initiative to double the Federal investment in nanoscale science and technology.

Dr. Lane talked about the interest in India in nanotechnology. It was one of the issues of possible expanded cooperation he discussed at the second high-level meeting in Washington. In spite of recent cooling off and genuine downturns in U.S. markets, he said he is optimistic about the future, both for science and technology and further Indo-U.S. cooperation. Some barriers remain, e.g., in the areas of intellectual property, export controls, non-proliferation and perhaps others. He said there should be no turning back from the new partnership that was launched during President Clinton�s Administration.

He said cooperation between the U.S. and India should become stronger � in both the public and private sectors. That is important for both nations. We need to work together to get a happy outcome here as well, he said.

He thanked the Chamber for the opportunity to give this presentation.

Dr. Vishnu Hade, the Deputy Consul General of India thanked Dr. Lane for a very informative and interesting overview on Nano technology.

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