America's Best: Science & Medicine
I was thrilled to see scientists and doctors highlighted so prominently in a national magazine [AMERICA'S BEST, Aug. 20]. Too often they are overlooked, despite the fact that they make some of the greatest differences in our lives. CHRISTIE COLSTAD Aurora, Ill.
Your feature on America's Best in Science and Medicine was about as useful to me as the endless credits at the end of movies and TV shows. I care as much about the efforts of those working in genomics and biology as I do about key grips and transportation coordinators. Let these people bask in the adulation of their peers. Don't burden TIME readers with them. RAY WIEMER Rocky River, Ohio
I enjoyed your excellent article. These are the types of people who should be making decisions on stem-cell research and other scientific matters, not the clergy or a bunch of "Bush leaguers." RUSS CARDWELL Fort Myers, Fla. Your list reflected a rather anthropocentric view of the scientific world. More than half the awardees work directly on questions about humans. But many of America's best scientists are not studying human-centered questions. Why no scientists whose research focuses primarily on plants or fungi? Why no inorganic chemists? There is a persistent notion that the science that most directly applies to humans is intellectually superior to less human-centered endeavors. Your unrepresentative cross section of scientists is symptomatic of society's failure to value all of science. TERRY O'BRIEN Pitman, N.J.
Here are the people our society needs to idolize, not the sports stars who are all too often put on pedestals undeservedly. Have you thought about introducing a line of trading cards featuring these intelligent and driven people? Thanks for introducing them to America and showing that being smart is not as bad as all that. DIANA MANDT GREGG Brunswick, Ohio
--We gave you "The Best," but predictably some of you weren't satisfied, particularly self-selected spokesmen for sectors seen as slighted. An M.I.T. scientist chided us for overlooking physics-related fields other than astrophysics. Labeling the series "ludicrous," a Ph.D. in Boca Raton, Fla., bewailed the absence of a computer scientist. "Are not computers one of the most important developments ever?" A frustrated engineer fumed, "I find the promotion of those who use technology created by engineers and physicists and who take all the credit very disappointing. Without those thousands of engineers developing the technologies that the medical and biological communities use for their work, the world would still be in the 19th century."
Straddling Two Tracks
One can hardly admire the way President Bush reached his shortsighted stem-cell conclusion [THE STEM-CELL DECISION, Aug. 20]. That he brought politics into it at all is deplorable. Manipulating the human genome is a runaway train gathering speed by the minute, but instead of jumping on and inviting global debate, the best Bush could do was to straddle two tracks, hoping Ol' Engine No. 2004 would pick him up. KATHRYN H. HOLLEN Leesburg, Va.