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Letter from the Editor

bridges vol. 24, December 2009 / Letter from the Editor

By Caroline Adenberger


Dear Reader,

A few more days to go and this decade, the 2000s, will come to an end. After a full decade of discussion, no agreement has been reached on how to refer to the first decade of the 21st Century – suggestions range from the nougthies and the aughts to the You Decade or the iDecade.  Personally, not believing in nomen est omen anyway, I think it is much more exciting to look at all that has actually happened in this decade than to engage in the quest of finding the proper name for it.

And a lot has happened:

In the life sciences, the international scientific research project The Human Genome Project gained worldwide acclamation in 2000 by cracking the code of life for the first time in human history.

Emerging technologies, particularly in the ICT area, have drastically changed the world we live in. Today broadband Internet usage provides the majority of people in industrialized countries with whatever information or service they are looking for, within the blink of an eye. To google has even become an official verb that, since 2006, can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary or Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. The hype around Facebook and Twitter, or the widespread use of VoIP communication like Skype or JAJAH no longer require detailed explanations; by now, they have become part of our daily life. In the introduction of Markus Wagner , an Austrian serial entrepreneur turned business angel, we look more closely at the business side and the lucrative opportunities that ICT offers innovative entrepreneurs.

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Environmental awareness and the search for sustainable solutions were another area that reached new prominence in the 2000s. Previous bridges guest contributor Alan D. Hecht, director for sustainable development at the Office of Research and Development at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), co-authored an excellent article on the occasion of EPA’s 40th anniversary, including EPA’s history and current challenges and coming to the conclusion that effective environmental protection requires an integrated systems approach. Another feature in this issue tackles the policy framing of electric mobility in the US and Europe, which should also aim at more responsible and sustainable system-integrated solutions. What has started in this decade with hybrid cars is only a small taste of the good things that will come with the further technological advancement of the smart grid, alternative energy sources, and our more responsible handling of the resources of the planet we live on.

Speaking of policy making: This decade marked an extremely important step forward for the European Union, towards the goal of a unified European research area in which people and ideas can move freely, in accord with the fact that science knows no borders. Launched in 2000 in Lisbon, the European Research Area, or ERA, has come a great way over the past ten years. In October, the 2nd ERA conference was held in Brussels, with more than 600 attending from all parts of Europe and other countries like Canada, China, Egypt, Israel, South Africa, Taiwan, and Turkey. In his guest column for the Letter from Brussels , Manfred Horvat analyzes the status quo of ERA and which steps need to be taken to further develop this great undertaking. Also, Norm Neureiter, who attended ERA and was the US speaker on the agenda, used this opportunity to underline once more the importance of international cooperation in science and technology. His column outlines the grand challenges we all face and why transatlantic cooperation is more important than ever. Also, our third columnist , Roger Pielke, Jr., stresses the importance of building stronger bridges in Science and Technology Policy across the Big Pond, and draws attention to the biannual Gordon Research Conference on S&T Policy, which will next be held in August 2010, this time in New Hampshire.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to point out that with the April issue of 2009, bridges celebrated its 5th year of publication. While we didn’t put on a gala celebration, we did continue to strive to provide you with up-to-date information on transatlantic science, technology, and policy issues. This can only be done as a team, and I sincerely thank all the editorial team members, both permanent staff as well as the members who joined us only temporarily, all the people “behind the scenes” who make sure the web site stays fully functional, record the audio files for the bridges podcast, and copyedit the articles before publication; and last but not least, of course, the numerous guest contributors who were willing to take the time to write for bridges and to share their expertise with the bridges readership.

I wish all of you a peaceful holiday season and look forward to an exciting new year, and the new decade, that are awaiting us.

With kind regards

Caroline Adenberger 
Editor {/access}

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