More on Patrick Kennedy’s Moon Shot Idea

First, I think this dovetails nicely with the entire Decade of the Mind Project as it was conceived at Krasnow, back in 2007. Congressman Kennedy was a tireless champion of neuroscience while he served in the House of Representatives and on the occasions that I met with him, I was incredibly impressed with his enthusiasm and integrity on this issue among many others.

Second, I worry that frankly, where the United States is politically right now, the notion of another US “owned” Moon Shot is not in the cards. Congress seems entirely deadlocked over the structure of the US budget on virtually every substantive component: revenue, entitlements, and discretionary spending. That ideological gridlock seems to be mirrored, both in the media and in the polity itself. At the same time, in my conversations with economists, the issue of the debt limit and its ramifications in terms of sovereign default are both unclear and potentially very consequential.

All of this, at a time when the US science R&D budgets are under incredible stress.

Much as I have been a champion of something like Decade of the Mind myself, I find myself increasingly engaged in the more proximal fight to both preserve and protect America’s on-going investments in science and education.

Any real progress towards a “Moon Shot” in the neurosciences will necessarily have to be international in nature. This is also true of large-scale physics projects such as the Large Hadron Collider as it is true of the International Space Station.

I would also argue, that the globalized private sector has a very important role to play–as it is now beginning to play in Space commercialization and exploration.

I’m impressed then with the notion of making mankind’s most significant scientific quests, universal–not the property of any one nation state, but rather the product of collective human endeavor.