"Star Lanka Online" Our NEW Web site And Web TV Channel Launched

TFGE , The Future Global Educational Center Has Launched
the official web site, called
*** Star Lanka Online Dot Com ........................

www.starlankaonline.com will be completed in very near future....

*** Star Lanka Online TV Channel,..................

Just One Click ahead ...

Now you can watch "Star Lanka Online TV" channel broadcasts from Matara, Sri Lanka in most part of the day. Still we are keeping a test transmission also. There is a link right side of your hand to watch our TV channel. You can watch (Click On the Box) live channel on this site without going to another site to watch the TV. and also recorded parts, following the below link.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

"Cashews" Season Comes in April - Awa Kaju Ware , Sinhala Awrudde

Cashews Cashews

The delicately flavored cashew nut is a favorite between meal snack that can be readily found in your local market year round. It also makes wonderful nut butter and a special addition to salads and stir-fry dishes.

Cashew nuts are actually the kidney-shaped seeds that adhere to the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree, which is native to the coastal areas of northeastern Brazil. While cashew apples are not appreciated in the United States, they are regarded as delicacies in Brazil and the Caribbean. Cashews are always sold shelled because the interior of the shells contains a caustic resin, known as cashew balm, which must be carefully removed before the nuts are fit for consumption. This caustic resin is actually used in industry to make varnishes and insecticides.

Food Chart
This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Cashews provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Cashews can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Cashews, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

Health Benefits

Heart-Protective Monounsaturated Fats

Not only do cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts, approximately 75% of their fat is unsaturated fatty acids, plus about 75% of this unsaturated fatty acid content is oleic acid, the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Studies show that oleic acid promotes good cardiovascular health, even in individuals with diabetes. Studies of diabetic patients show that monounsaturated fat, when added to a low-fat diet, can help to reduce high triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a form in which fats are carried in the blood, and high triglyceride levels are associated with an increased risk for heart disease, so ensuring you have some monounsaturated fats in your diet by enjoying cashews is a good idea, especially for persons with diabetes.

Crazy about Your Heart? Go Nuts

Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition (Blomhoff R, Carlsen MH), which identified several nuts among plant foods with the highest total antioxidant content, suggests nut's high antioxidant content may be key to their cardio-protective benefits.

Nuts' high antioxidant content helps explain results seen in the Iowa Women's Health Study in which risk of death from cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases showed strong and consistent reductions with increasing nut/peanut butter consumption. Total death rates decreased 11% and 19% for nut/peanut butter intake once per week and 1-4 times per week, respectively.

Even more impressive were the results of a review study of the evidence linking nuts and lower risk of coronary heart disease, also published in the British Journal of Nutrition. (Kelly JH, Sabate J.) In this study, researchers looked at four large prospective epidemiological studies-the Adventist Health Study, Iowa Women's Study, Nurses' Health Study and the Physician's Health Study. When evidence from all four studies was combined, subjects consuming nuts at least 4 times a week showed a 37% reduced risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who never or seldom ate nuts. Each additional serving of nuts per week was associated with an average 8.3% reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

Practical Tip: To lower your risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease, enjoy a handful of cashews or other nuts, or a tablespoon of nut butter, at least 4 times a week.

Copper for Antioxidant Defenses, Energy Production, Bones and Blood Vessels

An essential component of many enzymes, copper plays a role in a wide range of physiological processes including iron utilization, elimination of free radicals, development of bone and connective tissue, and the production of the skin and hair pigment called melanin. For example, copper is an essential component of the enzyme, superoxide dismutase, which is important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. Copper is also necessary for the activity of lysyl oxidase, an enzyme involved in cross-linking collagen and elastin, both of which provide the ground substance and flexibility in blood vessels, bones and joints. Low dietary intake of copper may also be associated with increased fecal free radical production and fecal water alkaline phosphatase activity, risk factors for colon cancer.

Numerous health problems can develop when copper intake is inadequate, including iron deficiency anemia, ruptured blood vessels, osteoporosis, joint problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, brain disturbances, elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduced HDL (good) cholesterol levels, irregular heartbeat, and increased susceptibility to infections. Topping your morning cereal with a quarter-cup of cashews will supply you with 38.0% of the daily value for copper.

Bone Up and Relax with Cashews

Everyone knows that calcium is necessary for strong bones, but magnesium is also vital for healthy bones. About two-thirds of the magnesium in the human body is found in our bones. Some helps give bones their physical structure, while the rest is found on the surface of the bone where it is stored for the body to draw upon as needed.

Magnesium, by balancing calcium, helps regulate nerve and muscle tone. In many nerve cells, magnesium serves as Nature's own calcium channel blocker, preventing calcium from rushing into the nerve cell and activating the nerve. By blocking calcium's entry, magnesium keeps our nerves (and the blood vessels and muscles they ennervate) relaxed. If our diet provides us with too little magnesium, however, calcium can gain free entry, and the nerve cell can become overactivated, sending too many messages and causing excessive contraction.

Insufficient magnesium can thus contribute to high blood pressure, muscle spasms (including spasms of the heart muscle or the spasms of the airways symptomatic of asthma), and migraine headaches, as well as muscle cramps, tension, soreness and fatigue. Given these effects, it is not surprising that studies have shown magnesium helps reduce the frequency of migraine attacks, lowers blood pressure, helps prevent heart attacks, promotes normal sleep patterns in women suffering from menopausal sleep disturbances, and reduces the severity of asthma. Just a quarter-cup of cashews provides 22.3% of the daily value for magnesium.

Help Prevent Gallstones

Twenty years of dietary data collected on 80,000 women from the Nurses' Health Study shows that women who eat least 1 ounce of nuts, peanuts or peanut butter each week have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones. Since 1 ounce is only 28.6 nuts or about 2 tablespoons of nut butter, preventing gallbladder disease may be as easy as packing one cashew butter and jelly sandwich (be sure to use whole wheat bread for its fiber, vitamins and minerals) for lunch each week, having a handful of cashews as an afternoon pick me up, or tossing some cashews on your oatmeal or salad.

Eating Nuts Lowers Risk of Weight Gain

Although nuts are known to provide a variety of cardio-protective benefits, many avoid them for fear of weight gain. A prospective study published in the journal Obesity shows such fears are groundless. In fact, people who eat nuts at least twice a week are much less likely to gain weight than those who almost never eat nuts.

The 28-month study involving 8,865 adult men and women in Spain, found that participants who ate nuts at least two times per week were 31% less likely to gain weight than were participants who never or almost never ate nuts.

And, among the study participants who gained weight, those who never or almost never ate nuts gained more (an average of 424 g more) than those who ate nuts at least twice weekly.

Study authors concluded, "Frequent nut consumption was associated with a reduced risk of weight gain (5 kg or more). These results support the recommendation of nut consumption as an important component of a cardioprotective diet and also allay fears of possible weight gain."

Practical Tip: Don't let concerns about gaining weight prevent you from enjoying the delicious taste and many health benefits of nuts!

  • Spread some nut butter on your morning toast or bagel.
  • Remember how many great childhood lunches involved a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Upgrade that lunchbox favorite by spreading organic peanut butter and concord grape jelly on whole wheat bread.
  • Fill a celery stick with nut butter for an afternoon pick-me-up.
  • Sprinkle a handful of nuts over your morning cereal, lunchtime salad, dinner's steamed vegetables.
  • Or just enjoy a handful of lightly roasted nuts as a healthy snack.


Cashew nuts are actually seeds that adhere to the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree, which is native to the coastal areas of northeastern Brazil. Cashew apples, while not known in the U.S., are regarded as delicacies in Brazil and the Carribean. The seed we know as the kidney-shaped cashew "nut" is delicate in flavor and firm, but slightly spongy, in texture.

You have probably noticed that cashews in the shell are not available in stores. This is because these nuts are always sold pre-shelled since the interior of their shells contains a caustic resin, known as cashew balm, which must be carefully removed before they are fit for consumption. This caustic resin is actually used in industry to make varnishes and insecticides.

Cashews, known scientifically as Anacardium occidentale, belong to the same family as the mango and pistachio nut.


The cashew tree is native to coastal areas of Brazil. In the 16th century, Portuguese explorers took cashew trees from this South American country and introduced them into other tropical regions such as India and some African countries, where they are now also cultivated. The cashew tree has always been a prized resource owing to its precious wood, cashew balm and cashew apple, but the cashew nut itself did not gain popularity until the beginning of the 20th century. Today, the leading commercial producers of cashews are India, Brazil, Mozambique, Tanzania and Nigeria.

How to Select and Store

Cashews are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the cashews are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness. Whether purchasing cashews in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that they are not shriveled. If it is possible to smell the cashews, do so in order to ensure that they are not rancid.

Due to their high content of oleic acid, cashews are more stable than most other nuts but should still be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator, where they will keep for about six months, or in the freezer, where they will keep for about one year. Cashew butter should always be refrigerated once it is opened.

How to Enjoy

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Combining cashews with other nuts and dried fruits makes a healthy snack.

Right before taking off the heat, add cashews to healthy sautéed vegetables.

Healthy sauté cashews with shrimp, basil and green beans for a delightful Thai inspired dish.

Cashews with a little bit of maple syrup make a great topping for hot cereals.

Add cashew butter to breakfast soy or rice milk shakes to up their protein content (a quarter-cup of cashews provides over 5 grams of protein) and give them a creamy nutty taste.

In a saucepan over low-medium heat, mix cashew butter with some tamari, cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger and water to make a wonderful sauce for fish, vegetables, tofu or rice.

To roast cashews at home, do so gently--in a 160-170°F (about 75°C) oven for 15-20 minutes--to preserve the healthy oils. For more on the effect of high heat roasting on nuts, please see the following article.


Cashews and Oxalates

Cashews are among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating cashews. Laboratory studies have shown that oxalates may also interfere with absorption of calcium from the body. Yet, in every peer-reviewed research study we've seen, the ability of oxalates to lower calcium absorption is relatively small and definitely does not outweigh the ability of oxalate-containing foods to contribute calcium to the meal plan. If your digestive tract is healthy, and you do a good job of chewing and relaxing while you enjoy your meals, you will get significant benefits-including absorption of calcium-from calcium-rich foods plant foods that also contain oxalic acid. Ordinarily, a healthcare practitioner would not discourage a person focused on ensuring that they are meeting their calcium requirements from eating these nutrient-rich foods because of their oxalate content. For more on this subject, please see "Can you tell me what oxalates are and in which foods they can be found?"

Nutritional Profile

Cashews are a very good source of monounsaturated fats and copper, and a good source of magnesium and phosphorous.

For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Cashews.

In-Depth Nutritional Profile

In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Cashews is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn't contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food's in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients - not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good - please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you'll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food's nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling." Read more background information and details of our rating system.

Cashews, raw
0.25 cup
34.25 grams
196.60 calories
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
copper0.76 mg38.03.5very good
magnesium89.05 mg22.32.0good
tryptophan0.07 g21.92.0good
phosphorus167.83 mg16.81.5good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
very goodDV>=50%ORDensity>=3.4ANDDV>=5%

In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Cashews


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  • Blomhoff R, Carlsen MH, Andersen LF, Jacobs DR Jr. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov;96 Suppl 2:S52-60. PMID:17125534.
  • Davis CD. Low dietary copper increases fecal free radical production, fecal water alkaline phosphatase activity and cytotoxicity in healthy men. J Nutr. 2003 Feb; 133(2):522-7 2003.
  • Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California 1983.
  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986. PMID:15210.
  • Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York 1996.
  • Hu FB, Stampfer MJ. Nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease: a review of epidemiologic evidence. Curr Atheroscler Rep 1999 Nov;1(3):204-9 1999.
  • Kelly JH Jr, Sabate J. Nuts and coronary heart disease: an epidemiological perspective. Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov;96 Suppl 2:S61-7. PMID:17125535.
  • Resnicow K, Barone J, Engle A, et al. Diet and serum lipids in vegan vegetarians: a model for risk reduction. J Am Diet Assoc 1991 Apr;91(4):447-53. PMID:16190.
  • Tsai CJ, Leitzmann MF, Hu FB, Willett WC, Giovannucci EL. Frequent nut consumption and decreased risk of cholecystectomy in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jul;80(1):76-81. PMID:15213031.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988. PMID:15220.
Link to the original Page

The Next Billion Years and the Significance of the Emerging Global Brain : Arthur C. Clarke Lectures

Arthur C. Clarke Lectures

Washington, DC 2000
The Next Billion Years and the Significance of the Emerging Global Brain

Prof. Joseph N. Pelton

Executive Director, The Sir Arthur Clarke Institute for Telecommunications and Information (CITI) and Deputy Director, Institute for Applied Space Research, George Washington University

Challenges to the Survival of Humanity

The so-called Third Millennium (at least as reckoned in the Western chronology) will be a time of enormous challenge and change. Simply put, how well we meet these challenges will decide how long the species homo sapiens will survive. These potential challenges to survival seem almost endless and suggest to some that even a thousand more years may be difficult for our species to sustain, let alone an eon.

The problems to overcome range widely. They span a spectrum of environmental issues that start with global warming, carbon dioxide and methane build up, and the darkening albedo of the polar ice caps. They also include global pollution, desertification, loss of the rain forests and arable land, and the depletion of petro-chemical energy sources. The problems are more than environmental. They also involve our inability to achieve a steady-state global population and sustain it economically as well as the difficulty of providing universal access to global education and health care. It also includes techno-terrorism, nuclear proliferation, abuses that stem from bio-engineering and cloning, and much more. We seem to have an endless array of new biological and computer viruses attacking humanity's health. Ironically we have made little substantial progress in overcoming known dangers even as new technologically-generated challenges are emerging at an exponentially increasing pace. We have had difficulty vanquishing rampant computer viruses (now over 500 formally recorded and growing strong). Thus is seems that the next century and most certainly the next millennium holds the key to whether humanity can survive as a species. To do this we will have to shift from a maximized economic growth mentality to a maximized human development and survival mentality. This means developing more wisdom rather than blindly developing more information or more technology or more material wealth.

Goal number one must be to sustain a livable biosphere. This is not something we can do quickly. The objective must be to improve the environment at least gradually over the few centuries-a task easier said than done. If our global population hits 12 billion within the next century the challenge will become ever so much larger.

Consider this. So far we have lived at best some a small fraction of the time that the giant dinosaurs that once ruled the earth-a fact that should put our current environmental dilemmas in clear perspective. As Sir Arthur Clarke once said: "The dinosaurs failed to survive due to the lack of a space program". The lesson to be learned from Sir Arthur's observation is not to pursue a space program (although this is certainly a good idea) but rather to plan ahead.

It is possible that we may fail to survive because we developed high technology but failed to develop from it systems designed to grow our species rather than simply to expand economic production.

The 21st century may thus spell "Do or Die" for humanity. Here are some of the issues to consider with regard to our aspirations not to survive another millennium but indeed to thrive and continue to evolve for an entire eon.

Coping with the Challenge of Future Compression

The rate of technological change is not so much accelerating but in a state of "jerk"-an increasing rate of acceleration. The future is approaching us much faster than the past is receding. Technology is a one-way gate. We cannot easily "un-invent"our technology. Human civilization cannot go back to earlier conditions without catastrophic results. We are headed toward the Age of the Global Brain at astonishing speed. The question is whether we can survive our own intelligence?

In the 1960s Marshall McLuhan forecast the development of the so-called "Global Village" based on television and satellite distribution that allowed billions of people to experience world-wide events like the Olympics. Today in the age of modern digital information systems and INTERNET, the global broadcast mode that allowed us to listen in common is giving way to a new paradigm: The Global Brain. Now we do not "listen" in common, but "think and interact" in common. This amazing new capability is growing at an amazing rate. The cumulative aggregate growth of INTERNET is 80% in Africa, 85% in North America, 90% in Europe, 110 % in Asia and 125% in Latin America. The problem is using this amazing ability to "think in tandem" to aid the progress and survival of our species rather using it to expand commerce and entertainment. It is a subtle but important distinction.

The spiral of technological advancement thus becomes an opportunity and a threat.

Using the Global Brain As A Survival Tool

Most of the great challenges to preserving a livable biosphere on our fragile planet will require not only new and enlightened social, economic, political and cultural policies, but technological innovation as well. Significantly, most of the great global challenges in terms of pollution, global warming, clean energy, improved education and health care, etc. depend not only on technology but, in particular, on space, telecommunications and information technology. Social and economic challenges, trade confrontations, loss of personal liberties, labor disputes, ethnic and religious differences-these will complicate the problems even more. Those who did not think that the mix of technology and trade was a treacherous combination before the breakdown of the trade negotiations in Seattle in December of last year, are perhaps more convinced of this today.

Can Humanity Survive Another Century or Perhaps Another Millennium? Can We Dare To Aspire To Last An Eon?

Our greatest challenges to survival will likely come in the course of the 21st century. A host of key technical, economic, regulatory, and trade issues will need to be overcome in the course of the next century. The challenges are everywhere, but as Barbara Tuchman the historian has observed: "The March of Humankind is largely the March of Folly." A yet we can hope. We can aspire to wisdom. We can start to build new institutions that can help design plans for survival rather than simple-minded economic growth. We can build new interdisciplinary research entities such as the International Space Agency, the new "Clarke Institute", or the Santa Fe Institute that can provide us key insights into the future.

We need such new educational and research institutions to help us shape better ways to cooperate between so-called advanced and developing economies. This is to realize not only increased global prosperity, but also more importantly to achieve the survival of the species. We have begun to shape not a Global Village, but a Global Brain to help us think more clearly, plan more synergistically and even employ more serendipity. Serendipity is a word many scientists seek to avoid. Yet, this is a word of some historical distinction and I invoke it in honor of Arthur C. Clarke. It is not widely known that the ancient island of Serendib is the ancient historic name of Sri Lanka. Serendib is, in fact, the root word for serendipity and the chance combination of chromozones produced the brain of Albert Einstein. And James Burke with his public television show and book Connections have shown that chance and circumstance has given our world some of its most important breakthrough discoveries and inventions.

Let's spend a few minutes to explore seriously the ambition of humanity to seek to survive another billion years. Let's start with a jerk.

JERK !!!!

The pace of modern innovation and technological change has gone from swift to super-exponential. If one were to pretend that the entirety of human civilization were only one Super Month in length where every second represents two years. In the speeded up world of the "Super Month", we would see a rather remarkable image of the development of the species known as Homo sapiens. The phase we would know as that of the hunter/gatherer would consume virtually the entire month. This stage would last 29 days and 22.5 hours. This last hour and half, the time of movie, would represent the time of agriculture, towns and cities, and the birth of technology. The last 4 minutes of our artificial "super day" would be the Renaissance. The last two minutes would be the industrial age. And what about the time of television, lasers, satellites, biotechnology, super computers, robotics, artificial intelligence and spandex? This "age of high technology" which consumes us so thoroughly in the late 20th century would occupy about 20 second of this "Super Month" that represented the entirety of human existence. Within the next few super minutes of time-if we survive as a species-we could achieve remarkable things. We could colonize and terra-form planets, convert to clean and limitless energy, create von Neumann machines to search the universe for other intelligent life and much, much more. Time in our age of technology is increasing as a forth order exponential. This transformation of the meaning of time in the age of information technology can be explained by examining these changes in terms of two buildings each 10,000 stories high. One of these represents conventional passage of time as revealed by chronological history. The second building represents the building of technological knowledge.

Human development and the evolution of technology do not represent a steady series of progressive steps with continuous and steady evolution. The review of these two "buildings" shows how different our current age is from that of the time of ancient ape-men.

No we increasingly live in a period of "future compression". In physics, an increasing rate of acceleration is called "jerk" and this is what we are experiencing in contemporary times. Just since the time of Ancient Greece, human population has increased about 57 times from 100 million to 5.7 billion, but during this same time period global information has increased some 10 to 100 million times. This is to say that information is mushrooming at least 200,000 times faster than our population growth. This is like an agile turtle trying to catch the Space Shuttle. In trying to catch up, our education and information systems have tried to speed us up faster and faster on more and more specialized conveyor belts.

The opportunity to become Renaissance People or solve complex problems in interdisciplinary teams has been increasingly lost. Ph.D. research has become so narrow and deep it has almost become invisible. The future challenge in telecommunications and information systems is not faster throughput. It is coping with information overload and creating new ways of learning and sharing information.

To date humanity has been around, at most, only about 5 million years-this is much, much less than the 35 million years that represented the Age of the Dinosaurs when they were the masters of the world.

The survival of our species on the planet Earth for the long haul is actually in question in part because of our exploding technology and a Niagara of specialized and unconnected data. The ability of Homo sapiens to create not only an effective electronic global village, but to create humanized smart cities and ultimately a viable "global brain" will require better telecommunications, information and energy systems than today's experts are now planning.

The truth is that the 21st century can be one of two things. Either it can be a vital connecting link to the future in which we use our most advanced information, telecommunications and education tools to create a viable economic, industrial, political and ecological system for human survival or we don't make it as a species. Not only do we not realize the unimaginable achievements that one billion years of continuous human culture could bring-we simply do not make it. We, in the next single century, have the potential to use our information and telecommunications technology and systems much too unwisely. We can indeed fail as a species. In the 22nd century our planet will still be here, but we humans may not make it or find ourselves a dying breed.

The challenge of the 21st century are not whether we will live better or worse than our forebears, but rather can we use our 'smart' telecommunications, information, energy, and transportation systems to create a viable econiche for homo sapiens.
How can we fail in the crucial 21st century? There are really lots of choices:

1. We can change the albedo of our polar caps through oil spills and pollution and flood our towns and cities. (Once melted the seawater will be enormously difficult to freeze again.
2. We can create enormous holes in the ozone layer and mutate our selves, like today's frogs, ultimately risking our very existence.
3. We can develop a steady state global population but not adapt our economic systems to such limited growth. (The problems of the Japanese economy may well be sending us such a warning today).
4. We can fail to use our best tele-education and tele-health systems to provide for global equity of learning health care in our increasingly seamless worldwide economy.
5. We can allow the process of desertification, destruction of our wetlands and rain forests to continue unabated. This will reduce our food supply while also raising the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere to dangerous levels. (To cope, our remote sensing and information processing systems need major changes to become much "smarter" and user friendly).
6. We can continue levels of energy consumption of hydrocarbon based fuels to higher and higher levels until the cost of fuels reach disastrous levels.

The experiment with Biosphere II in the Arizona desert proved that human kind is not yet smart enough to create a livable planet of our own design-even one a few city blocks in size. We don't need huge amounts of new technology so much as we need new and better ways to apply it to society in interdisciplinary and "knowledge rich" ways. For the new millennium the challenge in developing and applying new technology is not to increase economic growth and adding material wealth, but rather to find ways to sustain our species within a recyclable bio-sphere as well as to move our species into the cosmos beyond our planet. This is a common mission for all humankind and it must involve all countries and all people.

In rising to meet this New Millennium Challenge it will increasingly be recognized that space-related technologies and applications, information and communications technologies and effective use of artificial intelligence and expert systems that are the keys to success-or failure. Only these "smart" systems can allow us to think and act synoptically on a planetary scale and create the tools to establish global cooperative behavior-that I call the Global Brain.
The primacy of space in coping effectively and comprehensively with planetary problems such as pollution, education, health care, communications, "smart" transportation and navigation.

Tele-education and Tele-Health as A Critical Step

At the opening session of the International Programme for the Development of Communications, organized by UNESCO in the 1970s, Sir Arthur C. Clarke explained that our emerging computer and communications technologies will eventually produce some he called the "electronic tutor". It would be portable, cheap in cost and contain a vast encyclopedia of information that could be electronically updated or connected via satellite. When asked was this "electronic tutor" going to replace teachers he sensibly replied. No, of course, not we will always need teachers, but come to thing about it: "Any teacher that can be replaced by a machine probably ought to be."

Today this technology seems less than a decade away. Tomorrow's developments are with us today. There are already "anytime, anywhere" satellite hand-held transceivers to be bought at under a thousand dollars and soon these will be broadband and support multi-media services. There will soon be 50 "smart" virtual reality arcades from Disney strewn about our globe. We can buy Dragon software today (that lets spoken word be transferred to written text).

Info-Technology is sweeping us quickly ahead. The latest developments in Ka, Q, V, and even W band frequency satellite communications promise us the ability to provide megabit/second messages to hand-held "tele-computers" that can tell us where we are, access any library, and calculate any problem that Eniac would have taken hours to have solved. Soon when we learn to cope with "rain fade" problems that affect radio waves the size of amoebas we can have almost unlimited communications to portable electronic "tele-computer" units with memories many times the Encyclopedia Britannica. Of course, in time these might become even more portable as they shrink to the size of implanted chips and "worn" phased array antennas.

Such technology can revolutionize our global educational and health care systems, by making these universally available and much lower in cost. Experiments carried out under the INTELSAT Global Satellite System's Project SHARE in 1986 and 1987 showed the potential of space-based tele-education and tele-health in many dozens of countries. The Chinese National Television University started under the Project SHARE tests and demonstrations and it now has over 3 million students and over 90.000 operational terminals. The so-called SITE experiments that started with the ATS-6 satellite in India have likewise stimulated the operational tele-education programs now carried on the INSAT satellites.

There is phenomenal amount of new space segment capacity planned on a global basis (with a combined capability of some 5 terabits/second in the new millimeter wave bands alone). These new satellite systems contains sufficient margin to create multi-channel video, audio and INTERNET multi-media education systems and health care networks on a planetary basis. Fiber optic systems will represent at least ten to hundred times more raw transmission capability. The key is to use our extraordinary new technical capabilities to achieve "better" rather than simply faster.

Despite the increasing global available of low cost, broad-band satellite capacity, there are key challenges that remain. One challenge is the broad-based deployment of low cost, battery or solar powered terminals on

Even more challenging than new fiber and satellite hardware, therefore, is the issue of the content and the software we need to meet social needs. The concept of a single global health care or educational system for the world is fatally flawed. The demands of language, culture, local economic and agricultural needs cannot be met from a single source. We need a diverse and complex source of programming that responds to local needs. It is here that space cooperative ventures can combine strength to strength. Project SHARE showed that space based tele-education and tele-health succeed succeeded not on the basis of sophisticated technology but on the basis of local initiated programming that respond to locally-defined needs.

Mission to Planet Earth

A second potential Asian space initiative would clearly involve the practical application of Space Geomatics. If we are to begin to save the earth's biosphere we need new tools to undertake more effective urban and transportation planning, better uses of our land and resources, conserve our energy and contain pollutants. This is really not as difficult as it sounds. Already one can see how this can be done and the evidence is now viewable from outer space. The Indian province of Uttar Pradesh has, through the long-term application of space-based remote sensing, has been transformed from semi-arid desert to a "green and agriculturally productive area. Amazingly this process of replanting forests, re-channeling streams and rivers, and re-development of arable lands has also served to create new industries and jobs, empower women cooperatives and improve education and health care systems as well.

There is no reason why the lessons learned in Uttar Pradesh cannot be repeated again and again in Sri Lanka, Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, and so on throughout the so-called developing world. The powerful new information tools that emerge from the use of Global Information System (GIS) are only beginning to be understood.

Today there are plans for integrated development and modernization projects that combine solar electrification, information and telecommunications systems, tele-education and tele-health, micro-banking, micro-enterprises, etc. being coordinated through the World Bank, INTELSAT, the Solar Electric Light Foundation and the new Clarke Institute for Telecommunications and Information. The point of such projects is to create a model that generates sufficient revenues to sustain the capital investment and is also environmentally sound as well.

It is likewise important to try to develop new economic and technological models for developed countries as well to sustain their longer-term steady state technological, economic and environmental development.

Satellite technology and applications will provide critical solutions in the areas of education, tele-medicine, reduced air pollution, sustainable and productive fishing, recycling of arable land, reversal of desertification, conservation of wetlands and mountainous regions, and coping with ozone depletion. In the third millennium we can use space, telecommunications and information systems to deploy "smart transportation" systems, provide interdisciplinary urban planning, promote effective use of telecommuting, and create new "clean" jobs in industry and service corporations. Extensions of these projects could seek to utilize global information systems in new and innovative ways, create effective disaster warning and recovery systems, provide effective search and rescue, connect to electronic libraries and museums, as well as provide job re-training, professional re-certification, etc. In recognizing how basic and widespread space applications can be to key planetary needs of the general public, the political leaders and the public officials of Asia thus have a wonderful opportunity. This

The examples of what could be done to create a better world environment in the 21st century abound. In China, the National TV University now operates with over 90,000 satellite terminals and over 4 million students. The Uttar Pradesh region has been economically and environmentally restored. The launch of the Triana environmental satellite into the L-5 Lagrangian point a million miles from earth next year could answer basic questions about the energy exchange budget between the earth and the sun.

The key is as simple as seeking a "win-win" approach that advances knowledge, improves the environment and creates an economic system that contributes to a "spiral of improvement" rather than to a "spiral of blind growth and expansion within our evolving Global Brain.

There are within the history of Western philosophic and political thought at least four important schools of thought. These are those of Idealism ( Plato, St. Augustine….), Realpolitick (Machiavelli, Hobbes, Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx….), Democratic Liberalism (John Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham….), and Scientific and Technological Objectivism (Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, Rene Descartes, Norbert Wiener, Buckminster Fuller….).

Some believe that the key to future in the 21st century and beyond involves simply
turning the crank of technological progress ever faster. This is the view of so-called
"Extropism" or "Extropists". These are those who believe that humanity is the intelligent force in the universe that will prove Isaac Newton and the Second Law of Thermodynamics wrong. They believe that with sufficient technology we can halt entropy and solve every problem that humanity faces. This is almost certainly wrong!

We must call on a balanced approach in our philosophic approach to survival as long as an eon, let alone attempt to change the course of history on a galactic scale. We must draw on the wisdom of all the above historical schools of thought to survive. Balance not speed is the answer. This philosophy of survival over growth, of wisdom and knowledge over information, and of global systems and quality over technology is some of the fundamental changes that are key to building a successful planetary culture in the 21st century.

These are not changes that can be made in a year or even a decade. As the Third Millennium begins there are some 23 active armed conflicts occurring around the world that in parallel with Internet are shaping a global economic network. We humans are a complex group of beings at once magnificent and munificent but also monstrous and malignant. Building a global village and ultimately a planetary electronic culture seems to be our destiny. In short if our descendants evolve continuously on this planet and go on to settle other planets and star systems over the next billion years, this future will hinge on the steps we take in this new century of a new millennium. The first step will be to develop a global consciousness. This might be called "The Global Brain".

Attachment No. 1

Next Billion Year-Timeline

Formula for Calculating Super Month:

1 super second = 2 years
1 super month (equivalent to history of humankind) = 5 million years
1 super year = 60 million years
100 super years equals 6 billion years

The view of the Universe in Supermonth Time is as follows:

Some 250 years ago in supermonth time (15 billion years in the past) a "Singularity" creates the Universe with the "Big Bang".

Puzzles of the Universe?

The Universe holds many puzzles such as did this singularity begin expanding in as many as 27 different dimensions? Are there more than the four known basic forces represented by electro-magnetic, gravitation, weak nuclear and strong nuclear forces? Is there enough mass in the Universe so that it will eventually contract back on itself? Is the Universe smaller than we thought? Does distortions of space allow light to be reflected back on itself. Thus, is our view of the universe equivalent to seeing a "wall of mirrors" illusion of distance?

Is there a process that is the reverse of entropy? Is Newton's Second Law of Thermodynamics correct? This law states that in any closed system, entropy (or the tendency toward "disorder" or the "arrow of time") will move systems or behavior toward chaotic behavior.

Can there be instantaneous communications across the Universe by modulating "gravitons"? Could there be intergalactic communications of advanced civilizations using neutrinos, quasars, etc.? What should the newly discovered "walls of galaxies" throughout the universe mean? What do "black holes" truly represent? Is there intelligent life throughout the Universe?

100 super years ago (6 billion years): The second generation or "Type 2" star systems and galaxies were formed from the "stardust" of first generation or "Type 1" galaxies of which the Milky Way and our Solar System was formed.

80 super years ago (5 billion years in the past) the Earth and the planets of the Solar system took shape

16 super years ago (1 billion years in the past) the Earth began to evolve the simplest types of life forms (alga, kelp, etc.)

1.5 years to 6 months ago in supermonth time (i.e. 90 million to 30 million years in the past) the Age of Dinosaurs

1 month ago (5 million years in the past) The earliest of Early Ape Men

1.5 hours ago (10,000 years in the past) the Age of Agriculture and towns and villages

4 minutes ago the Renaissance (500 years in the past)

2 minutes ago the Industrial Revolution (240 years in the past)

20 seconds ago (40 years in the past) the Age of Computers, Satellites, Lasers, Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, Television and Spantex

15 seconds ago the first humans walk on the Moon (30 years)

Now-The Start of the Third Millennium and the Age of Cloning and DNA engineering

7 super seconds from now (15 yeas from now): wearable, multi-purpose antenna and computer systems for mobile communications, entertainment, navigation and information processing

15 super seconds from now (30 years in the future): Artificial islands, Colonies under the oceans, Mag Lev hypersonic tunnels between the Continents, Molecular level Quantum Communications and Digital Processing (a billion times faster than today's 1GHz processors)

20 super seconds from now (40 years in the future): Permanent colonies in space and space tourism

25 super seconds from now (50 years in the future): Eco-Economics begin to evolve from Capitalism (A New Synergy of Consumption, Production and Recyclable Products and Services)

30 super seconds from now (60 years in the future): Cybernetic Organisms and Smart Robots. Bio-to-Bio Modems via Alpha Waves.

40 super seconds from now (80 years in the future): The Von Neumann Machine (Artificial Machine Evolution) and 200-year life spans for "Homo Electronicus"

50 super seconds from now (100 years in the future) Earth Guard in place (i.e. a Space Program to divert asteroids or comets from direct impact on Earth.

1 super minute from now (120 years in the future): The space elevator in Geosynchronous Orbit and Solar Power Colonies

2 super minutes from now (250 years in the future): Terra-forming of Mars and Venus and space based mining and manufacturing on Moon and Asteroids.

5 super minutes from now (625 years in the future): Intergalactic Communications possibly via "graviton waves" or "modulated neutrinos" and discovery of other intelligent life in the universe

10 super minutes from now (1250 years from now) Realization of GUTS (i.e. Grand Unified Theory of the Space-Time Continuum)

1 to 2 super hours from now (7500 to 15,000 years in the future): Discovery of how to reverse the arrow of time (i.e Discovery of a "Reverse Entropy" Force which has been called in concept "Extropism" ) or discovery of another dimension of the universe or a "positron universe".

1 super year from now (60 million years into the future): Colonization of the Milky Way?

16 super years from now (1 billion years into the future): Sun, Earth, and Solar System Civilization at Risk from a Solar Nova?

Biography - Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Biography - Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Sir Arthur C. ClarkeThe achievements of Arthur C. Clarke, unique among his peers, bridge the arts and sciences. His works and his authorship have ranged from scientific discovery to science fiction, from technical application to entertainment, and have made a global impact on the lives of present and future generations.

Arthur C. Clarke is the son of an English farming family, born in the seaside town of Minehead, Somerset, England on December 16, 1917. In 1998, his lifetime work was recognized by H.M. The Queen when he was honored with a Knighthood – formally conferred by Prince Charles in Sri Lanka two years later.

After attending schools in his home county, Arthur Clarke moved to London in 1936 and pursued his early interest in space sciences by joining the British Interplanetary Society. He started to contribute to the BIS Bulletin and began to write science fiction.

As with so many young men at the time, World War II interrupted in 1939 and he joined the RAF, eventually becoming an officer in charge of the first radar talk-down equipment, the Ground Controlled Approach, during its experimental trials. Later, his only non-science-fiction novel, Glide Path, was based on this work. After the war, he returned to London and to the BIS, becoming its president in 1947-50 and again in 1953.

In 1945, a UK periodical magazine “Wireless World” published his landmark technical paper "Extra-terrestrial Relays" in which he first set out the principles of satellite communication with satellites in geostationary orbits - a speculation realized 25 years later. During the evolution of his discovery, he worked with scientists and engineers in the USA in the development of spacecraft and launch systems, and addressed the United Nations during their deliberations on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

Clarke's work, which led to the global satellite systems in use today, brought him numerous honors including the 1982 Marconi International Fellowship, a gold medal of the Franklin Institute, the Vikram Sarabhai Professorship of the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, the Lindbergh Award and a Fellowship of King's College, London. Today, the geostationary orbit at 36,000 kilometers above the equator is named The Clarke Orbit by the International Astronomical Union.

After leaving the RAF in 1946, he resumed his formal studies and was awarded a Fellowship at King's College, London where he obtained first class honors in Physics and Mathematics in 1948.

In 1954, Clarke wrote to Dr. Harry Wexler, then chief of the Scientific Services Division, U.S. Weather Bureau, about satellite applications for weather forecasting. From these communications, a new branch of meteorology was born, and Dr. Wexler became the driving force in using rockets and satellites for meteorological research and operations.

At the same time, Clarke has been the author of many books, articles and papers. The first story he sold professionally was "Rescue Party", written in March 1945 and appearing in Astounding Science in May 1946. He went on to become a prolific writer of science fiction, renowned worldwide and with more than 70 titles to his name. Among his many non-fiction works, “Profiles of the Future” (1962) looked at the probable shape of tomorrow's world and stated his “Three Laws”.

In 1964, he started to work with the noted film producer Stanley Kubrick on a science fiction movie script. Four years later, he shared an Oscar nomination with Kubrick at the Hollywood Academy Awards for the film version of “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Then, in 1985, he published a sequel, “2010: Odyssey Two” and worked with Peter Hyams on the movie version. Their work was done using a Kaypro computer and a modem, linking Arthur in Sri Lanka and Peter Hyams in Los Angeles, leading to a book “The Odyssey File - The Making of 2010.”

In television, Clarke worked alongside Walter Cronkite and Wally Schirra for the CBS coverage of the Apollo 12 and 15 space missions. His thirteen-part TV series Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World in 1981 and Arthur C. Clarke's World of strange Powers in 1984 has been screened in many countries and he has contributed to other TV series about space, such as Walter Cronkite's Universe series in 1981.

Clarke first visited Colombo, Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) in December 1954 and has lived there since 1956 pursuing an enthusiasm for underwater exploration along that coast and on the Great Barrier Reef. In recent years, he has been largely confined to a wheelchair due to post-polio syndrome, but his output as a writer has continued undiminished.

NOTE: the authorized biography by Neil McAleer - Arthur C. Clarke - The Authorized Biography - was published by Contemporary Books, Chicago, in 1992.

* Wikipedia
* Official web Site

Sundown with Sir Arthur C Clarke

Sundown with Sir Arthur C Clarke

Jeff Greenwald

Daily News

When last I saw Arthur C. Clarke, in March of 2005, his memory was already fading. It was late afternoon. We sat on the patio of the Galle Face Hotel, one of Arthur's favourite spots in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It had been nine years since my last visit to his adopted island.

Now I was back working with Mercy Corps, an international aid agency, on a tsunami relief project. Clarke sipped his tea and stared West, where the Indian Ocean stretched in an uninhibited arc to the coast of Somalia.

"I don't remember anything about working with Stanley (Kubrick) on 2001," he said, "or my months at the Chelsea Hotel. I don't remember my last scuba dive, or what my mother's face looked like. The only thing I remember with any real clarity is the first kiss with the love of my life and our last words, before we parted."

Sir Arthur with his private satellite dish, one of the first in Sri Lanka

Clarke hadn't remembered me, either, at our reunion two months earlier. Despite our 35 years of friendship, he'd glanced up in bewilderment when I entered his library and approached the desk that served as his command center. But Arthur was never one to relinquish the upper hand, and opened with an aggressive challenge.

"Have you heard the Titan wind?"

I shook my head dumbly, a gesture Clarke met with a look of total exasperation. "Well, then, come here, come on, hurry up..." His impatience was immediately replaced with glee. "Listen to this," he said, clicking his mouse. A static hiss sighed from the speakers. "That's it! Just as I'd written, 30 years ago ...."

A NASA scientist someone who'd read Imperial Earth as a kid, and remembered a reference to the winds on Saturn's largest moon had sent Clarke a recording, just in from the Huygens probe, of the gales blowing across Titan's surface. I had no idea such a recording even existed; to Clarke, it was just another example of life imitating art.

I first met Arthur C. Clarke in 1970, as a geek of 16. A year or so earlier, I'd spent an entire afternoon (and much of the evening) in a Long Island movie theater, watching 2001: A Space Odyssey three times in a row.

Afterwards, I began to plow my way through every science fiction book Clarke had written. When I thought I was sufficiently steeped in his work, I wrote him a fan letter. Clarke, who was in New York completing the manuscript for Rendezvous with Rama, responded with a postcard. "I'm at the Hotel Chelsea," he wrote. "Give me a call!"

The result of that meeting was one of the longest, and most important, friendships in my life. During the four decades that followed, Arthur and I would stay in close touch, both of us passionate advocates for a human presence among the stars. I'd send him the latest U.S. space stamps, and news of my science studies.

Arthur, who often co-hosted coverage of the space missions at Cape Canaveral, would sometimes pass a picture postcard around a briefing table, and ask everyone present to sign. One of the cards I received bears greetings from Neil Armstrong and Wernher von Braun, among others. (Many years later I was able to return the favour by introducing Arthur to a fellow cosmology buff, the Dalai Lama.)

Arthur C. Clarke was one of the most generous writers, and scientists, of this or any age. His novels and essays hold out hope not just for the survival of humanity, but for our transcendence. He was a devoted humanist, and rarely refused a request to meet a fan even casual visitors who simply wished to shake his hand. (His generosity did have its limits. Once, in one of my own books, I remarked that Arthur had displayed consummate selflessness by refusing to patent the communications satellite.

I sent him a copy, thinking he'd be pleased. "You can't patent an orbit," he dryly informed me. "And the only reason I didn't patent the Comsat was that I didn't know how to build one.

Had I been a bit smarter, I'd be a trillionaire.") But his full contribution will be impossible to evaluate. Clarke was so influential a visionary, and contributed so much to technological culture, that one can hardly tell where his imagination ends and our reality begins.

From geosynchronous orbits to space elevators, from The Sands of Mars to The Songs of Distant Earth, Clarke's vision is marbled through the bedrock of today's scientific zeitgeist.

During the four decades of our friendship, I visited Clarke in Sri Lanka four times: in 1983, 1993 (for Wired 1.03), 1996 (for a book about Star Trek, which blossomed out of Gene Roddenberry's admiration for Clarke) and 2005.

Each visit to his "technoasis," in the suburbs of Colombo, was a nonstop encounter with the latest gadgets, books, video clips, toys and jokes on Clarke's radar. On one occasion, he spent hours showing me time-lapse animation of the terraforming of Mars; on another, he turned on a monitor and used a video hookup, connected to his powerful new telescope, to provide the illusion of a trip to the moon.

A master of the lightning joust, a lover of practical jokes and a shark at table tennis, Clarke was one of the most animated people I've known. A few days before our last meeting at the Galle Face Hotel, I'd been riding along the Colombo waterfront with Arthur's close friend, Valerie Ekanayake. We'd spied his vintage Mercedes by the beach, and pulled up alongside.

This would be our second meeting in a week. Valerie knocked on Clarke's window, and pointed to me. "Do you remember Jeff?" Clarke rolled his eyes. "I'd just this minute managed to forget."

During our final encounter, though, Clarke seemed melancholy and circumspect. There was no way to avoid a comparison with the beleaguered HAL, who remains self-aware as his magnificent consciousness is slowly dissembled. As the sun lowered toward the ocean, I understood that Clarke who never believed in any notion of an external god, heaven or hell - knew that his own mind would soon be going, dissolving into an even larger sea.

We sat in silence, aware that the world was turning, and that this might be our last moment together. Suddenly, Arthur reached over the table. "Give me your sunglasses," he demanded. "Quick, quick!" I did. He grabbed them, and slipped them on over his own. "This," he declared, leaning back, "is the best time to see sunspots if there are any."

Though it had been 12 years, I clearly remembered the last line of our 1993 Wired interview. It was Clarke's chosen epitaph, which he shared with gleeful pride: "He never grew up but he never stopped growing." I watched my old friend as he stared at the sun, studying its face with undiminished curiosity.


The final goodbye from Colombo

I have never had so many lumps in my throat on a single day as on March 19, 2008 - the day that my long standing friend and mentor Sir Arthur Clarke died.

Yet there was no time for grief or tears in solitude. Literally dozens of media outlets from Sri Lanka and around the world were calling. Radio and TV channels wanted soundbytes...some of them live on the air.

And as his spokesman for nearly a decade, I had to be presentable, clear and cooperative.

My day started at 3 in the morning, barely two hours after his passing away, with the North American media calling. The news had gone round the world at the speed of light. Everybody wanted to know more - how exactly did he die (respiratory complications), did he suffer (not for long), was he conscious to the end (yes, though he couldn't speak due to breathing tubes), etc, etc.

As the planet rotated, other regions of the world came in. The big wire services were all there: Reuters, AP, AFP, as were the big broadcasters - BBC, CNN among them. And then, of course, the Sri Lankan newspapers, websites, radio and TV channels for whom Sir Arthur was a celebrated local hero. Everybody wanted exclusive quotes and soundbytes.

And in an 18 hour mediathon, I ensured that everybody did (and kept them happy, I hope), even if it left me exhausted in the end. I'm back at it after a few hours of sleep. The process will continue until after his funeral, now fixed for Saturday March 22 afternoon at Colombo's main cemetery.

Sir Arthur would have approved. He believed that the show must go on, no matter what. He also wanted us to celebrate, not mourn his passage. And that's the tone of what I have been saying and doing. He left behind an imaginative yet plausible and sometimes daring vision for the future - and now it's up to his fans, admirers and the rest of us to create that future.

I've been too close to the unfolding events to blog about them, but I've just written up the story about Sir Arthur's last video message to the world that I directed last December. Other reflective pieces would follow.

In that last video, which is online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qLdeEjdbWE, he signed off in his usual style: This is Arthur Clarke, saying Thank You and Goodbye from Colombo!

And this is Nalaka Gunawardene, saying Thank You and Goodbye to Sir Arthur. It was the greatest privilege of my life to have worked with you.

Vote nere ! Sinharaja Forest for "New 7 Wonders of Nature

Vote Sinharaja Forest for "New 7 Wonders of Nature"

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has called upon all Sri Lankans to vote for the Sinharaja Forest to be included in the "New 7 Wonders of Nature".

How to vote...*****************

******** Click the links below as follows

* Select the region (asia)

* Select Singharaja Forest from the nominee list

* click Vote Now...

* Fill in the essential info, you have seven votes so select asia from the drop-down box

* then Singharaja forest from the consequent drop-down box

* Finally submit...

Sources - Daily Mirror

New 7 Wonders of Nature

Welcome to the election of thenature_logo_landing 290x162

Please browse through the list of nature sites nominated to date by a click on the world map below. Or select one of the following options:

To see a list of nature sites nominated to date, click on the map.


What is "The New 7 Wonders of Nature"?
Read more about the new campaign of the New7Wonders!

Voting procedure for the New 7 Wonders of the World

flow_chart_12_2007 600x

Stop Tibet violence or I will quit: Dalai Lama

Stop Tibet violence or I will quit: Dalai Lama

By Jonathan Allen

Daily Mirror

DHARAMSALA, India, Tuesday (Reuters) - The Dalai Lama said today he would resign as Tibetan leader if the situation veers out of control in Tibet and denied accusations from China that he was inciting riots.

“If things become out of control then my only option is to completely resign,” Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, told a news conference at his base of Dharamsala in northern India.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks to the media in Dharmsala, India, Tuesday, March 18, 2008.

Today, China's premier Wen Jiabao accused the Dalai Lama of orchestrating riots in which dozens may have died and said his followers were trying to “incite sabotage” of Beijing's August Olympic Games.

The Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959, denied Chinese accusations that he was masterminding protests and said he was against violence, whether from Chinese or Tibetans.

“Even if 1,000 Tibetans sacrificed their life, not much help,” he told reporters. “Please help stop violence from Chinese side and also from Tibetan side.” The Dalai Lama said he had nothing to hide from the Chinese.

“Investigate thoroughly, so if you want to start investigating from here you are most welcome,” he said. “Check our various offices.

“They can examine my pulse, my urine, my stool, everything,” he said with a laugh, miming as he talked.

The Nobel peace laureate reaffirmed that he wanted autonomy for Tibet within China but not outright independence.

Asked by Reuters what the Dalai Lama meant when he talked of resignation, Samdhong Rimpoche, the exiled government's prime minister, said he would still remain as Dalai Lama, if not as leader of his people.

“If the Tibetan people are involved in violence and unable to be in a non-violent way, he would not be in a position to lead the Tibetan people,” Rimpoche said.

Monk-led anti-China protests in Lhasa, the biggest in almost two decades, turned ugly on Friday, weighing uncomfortably on the Communist leadership anxious to polish its image in the build-up to the Olympic Games.

India hosts the Dalai Lama in the India city of Dharamsala, seat of the self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile and the scene of daily protests in the past week.

More than 2,000 Tibetans gathered on Tuesday from all over northeastern India for their biggest rally in the area in years, demanding the United Nations investigate reports of killings of protesters in China.

Led by hundreds of shaven-headed Buddhist monks in maroon robes, some as young as eight, they waved Tibetan flags and marched through the streets of Siliguri, chanting: “We want justice, we want freedom”.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bill Gates: Testimony before the Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives

Bill Gates: Testimony before the Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives

Remarks by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates before the Committee on Science and Technology
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.
March 12, 2008


MR. GATES: Thank you. It's a privilege to be here. Chairman Gordon, ranking member Hall, members of the Committee, I'm Bill Gates and I'm the chairman of Microsoft. With my wife, Melinda, I'm also the founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And it's an honor to be here to commemorate your 50th anniversary.

During these 50 years incredible advances in science and technology have revolutionized the way people around the world communicate, run business, find information and much more. I'm optimistic that over the decades ahead, information technology will continue to transform business productivity and have a profound positive impact on our day-to-day lives. It will also help us address important global challenges related to education, healthcare, energy, and other issues.

Many of the key advances of these 50 years were pioneered by researchers working in U.S. universities and for U.S. companies. U.S. pre-eminence in science and technology and this nation's unmatched ability to turn innovation into thriving business have long been the engine of job creation and the source of our global economic leadership.

I know we wall want the U.S. to continue to be the world's center for innovation. But our position is at risk. There are many reasons for this but two stand out. First, U.S. companies face a severe shortfall of scientists and engineers with expertise to develop the next generation of breakthroughs. Second, we don't invest enough as a nation in the basic research needed to drive long-term innovation.

If we don't reverse these trends, our competitive advantage will erode. Our ability to create new high-paying jobs will suffer.

Addressing these issues will take commitment, leadership, and partnership on the part of government, private, and non-profit sectors.

Let me start by saying that business has a critical role to play. The private sector must contribute to building a workforce that has the skills to innovate and compete. That's why Microsoft is committed to improving educational quality and encouraging young people to study math and science through programs like Partners in Learning, which has reached more than 80,000 teachers and 3 million students.

Non-profit organizations also have an important role to play. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for its part, has invested almost $2 billion to help establish or improve nearly 2,000 U.S. high schools, and provided over $1.7 billion for college scholarship programs.

But organizations like these cannot address the issues alone. Only government has the resources to effect change on a broad scale. If this nation is to continue to be the global center of innovation, Congress, the current administration, and the next president must act decisively.

It starts with education. Today, graduation rates for our high school students and their level of achievement in math and science rank at the bottom among industrialized nations. Thirty percent of ninth-graders and nearly half of African-Americans and Hispanic ninth-graders do not graduate on time. Fewer than 40 percent of high school students graduate ready to attend college.

As a nation, we must have a fundamental goal that every child in the U.S. should graduate from high school prepared for college, career and life. To achieve this, we need metrics that reflect what students learn and the progress they make. Such metrics may be difficult to develop, but they provide the essential foundation for deciding which programs best improve outcomes in our public schools. Better data will also help us identify the most effective teachers, and adopt better policies for recruiting, training and retaining these teachers for our public schools.

If the problem with high schools is one of quality, the issues at our universities is quantity. Our higher education system doesn't produce enough top scientists and engineers to meet the needs of the U.S. economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we are adding over 100,000 new computer-related jobs each year. But only 15,000 students earned bachelor's degrees in computer science and engineering in 2006 and that number continues to drop.

One of the most important steps Congress can take to address this problem is to fully fund the America COMPETES Act. Introduced by this Committee, this act would significantly increase funding for the National Science Foundation's Graduate Fellowship and Traineeship programs.

As bad as the disparity between supply and demand looks, these numbers understate the severity of the problem. Today, our university computer science and engineering programs include large numbers of foreign students. In fact the science and engineering indicators report showed that 59 percent of doctoral degrees and 43 percent of all higher ed degrees in engineering and computer science are awarded to temporary residents. But our current immigration policies make it increasingly difficult for these students to remain in the United States. At a time when talent is the key to economic success, it makes no sense to educate people in our universities, often subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, and then insist that they return home.

U.S. innovation has always been based, in part, on the contributions of foreign-born scientists and researchers. For example, a recent survey conducted by several universities showed that between 1995 and 2005, firms with at least one foreign-born founder created 450,000 new U.S. jobs. Moreover, as a recent study shows for every H-1B holder that technology companies hire, five additional jobs are created around that person.

But as you know, our immigration system makes it very difficult for U.S. firms to hire highly skilled foreign workers. Last year, at Microsoft, we were unable to obtain H-1B visas for over a third of our foreign-born candidates.

An example is the story of our Arpit Guglani, a talented young man who graduated from the University of Toronto. He graduated in 2006 and we offered him a job, but he has not been able to obtain an H-1B visa for two straight years and we were forced to rescind his job offer. He's exactly the type of science and engineering graduate that we need to continue to add jobs and drive innovation.

There are a number of steps that Congress and the White House should take to address this problem, including extending the period that foreign students can work here after graduation, increasing the current cap on H-1B visas, clearing a path to permanent residency for high-skilled foreign-born employees, eliminating per-country green card limits, and significantly increasing the annual number of green cards.

I want to emphasize that to address the shortage of scientists and engineers, we must do both -- reform our education system and our immigration policies. If we don't, American companies simply will not have the talent they need to innovate and compete.

Finally, we must increase our investment in basic scientific research.

In the past, federally funded research helped spark industries that today provide hundreds of thousands of jobs. Even though we know that basic research drives economic progress, real federal spending on research has fallen since 2005. I urge Congress to increase funding for basic research by 10 percent annually for the next seven years. I fully support Congress's efforts to fund basic research through the American COMPETES Act.

I believe the country is at a crossroads. For decades innovation has been our engine or prosperity. Now economic progress depends more than ever on innovation. Without leadership from Congress and the President to implement policies like those I've outlined today and the commitment of the private sector to do its part, the center of progress can shift to other nations that are more committed to the pursuit of innovation.

I'm going to conclude by again congratulating the Committee on its 50th anniversary, and to thank you for this opportunity to share my perspective. I'd be happy to respond to any questions you may have on these topics.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: Thank you, Mr. Gates. And I now yield myself five minutes.

I went the other day to a rollout with OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) on -- they had a report called the PISA Report on education of 15 year-olds, and mainly the EU countries and the United States. As usual, we do very poorly there. And I was trying to find some common denominators. Really it was Finland that almost just overhauled their whole educate system a few years ago, which has overhauled their whole standard of living and improved it on a national basis. And I was trying to, you know, get common denominators, you know, what are the things they do?

And they really emphasized that they want to have national standards, but they want to have a contract in essence with the students, the parents, and the student to work in whatever is the best way to get there. So there wasn't just one common road. And in your testimony -- and let me say to those folks -- I know there are lot of people that couldn't get in today -- and Mr. Gates shortened his testimony, but it really is -- his full testimony is going to be on our website, www.housegovernment.com, which is an award-winning website. You can find links to a lot of other things. But I think that it really will be beneficial if you want to read his full scale of work. You'll learn a lot more than was just said there.

And in your statement when you talked about secondary education, he talked about transparency. He talked about having student performance data as formation of measures for impact in making decisions and also developing that national scope. And this -- I want to see if you could help me get through this -- is that our teachers now at concerned that they have these national tests, that they're having to teach to the test and other things are falling off the table. From what you've seen and studied and around the world, how do we best combine those standards so you can measure teachers, students and their success versus the problem of just teaching to the test?

MR. GATES: Well, the tests largely are about fundamental skills, math skills and reading skills. And these are exactly the qualifications that employers are interested in people having. And if you look at the other nations that do well on PISA, they're very serious about viewing tests as the metric and then looking at individual teachers, at schools, at systems, based on how those test results are coming about. The United States and PISA we're actually among the best at the 4th-grade level, we're in the middle at the 8th grade. It's only by senior year that we drop to the bottom of those results. And so clearly in the high school period, there's some level of rigor that exists in these other nations' systems that isn't as strong in our systems. The background of the teachers, comparing techniques.

And so we would say that data that look at these results and learning from that data is of great importance. In fact, there is funding for these data systems that are part of the America COMPETES Act. You know, we are gathering more data as a country. That's a great thing. Now there's a tendency when that data doesn't come out well to say, "Okay, who's problem is it?" and even a temptation to say, "If the data are so bad, let's stop testing, because it's really depressing to keep looking at these numbers. In fact, the amount of investment required to fix those numbers is very high, and it's a top problem. Where do you get the local, state, and federal level the resources to do those things?

But, you know, I don't think reducing the availability of the data and understanding that data really is the right way to go.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: When you mention depressing, what is, I think most depressing about that, is that our students in the elementary level come out pretty well. Then at the middle school not quite as well. And then it starts to fall off the table in high school. And I think what we're talking about is not trying to produce just a lot of elite Ph.D.'s, but rather those folks who are the high school graduate or junior college or college graduate that can work at that higher technological level.

And as we looked into it, what we found was that on the middle school level, 63 percent of the math teachers have neither a certification to teach math or do they have a degree in it. Ninety-three percent of the physical science teachers have neither certification or a degree. So it's hard to be able to teach something that you don't have that core background, as good a teacher as you might be. And that's one of the things we want to try to do in COMPETES.

I'm from Tennessee and the home of country music, and we say that, you know, the song all starts with the words, and I think school all starts with the teachers, and we're going to try to get a better educated teacher.

As I looked over your resume, I noticed I got a little bit of a head start, but we're somewhat contemporaries in terms of age. And you think of Bill Gates as a sort of measuring stick not too many people measure up to well. So I was trying to look at common measures here. I notice that you are a billionaire and I'm not.


CHAIRMAN GORDON: I notice that you're a college graduate, and you're not.


CHAIRMAN GORDON: But also noticed that we both have 7-year-old daughters, and I suspect you're a little bit obsessed, as I am, in making sure that she gets the best education so that she can be able to compete.

And as we were growing up, sort of a national world but very much an international world now. And, you know, so this is a little personal question that I suspect other folks would like to know. Outside of good schools, good parenting, in terms of hardware and software, what are those items now that you would recommend for us that want to help our 7-year-olds and older children to be able to adapt to this new technology in this new world?

MR. GATES: Sometimes I envy kids who are growing up today that to the degree they're encouraged and get a chance to use the new tools, the ability to pursue your curiosity is really phenomenal today. And I was growing up, you know, the best you do is read the World Book.


MR. GATES: Kind of alphabetical and not very enticing. Today if you have access to the internet online, which either home or through local libraries, through a program that Microsoft and my foundation was involved in, most kids do have some way of getting access. The breadth of information out there, whether it's things like Wikipedia, Encarta, or now the greatest teachers being videotaped, and so you can go up and watch courses. Even as an adult now I can go up. I just watched an MIT course that was quite phenomenal in terms of updating me on some science advances.

So my kids, you know, out on the Internet, and my son or daughters often ask questions, that my answer's "Hey, let's go study that, and learn about the stars," or whatever it is they're curious about; whereas when I grew up, my parents had to say they didn't know the answer and it wasn't easily at hand.

So, you know, there is a huge advantage in having the internet widely accessible that people should take advantage of.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: And I think we have to recognize if we don't, somebody is somewhere else.

MR. GATES: And that's right. This is a global tool. And you know, in absolute it's great that they're able to educate people as well. We always have to think there's you know, improving the whole pool of the world's knowledge and innovation, and then making sure the U.S. gets its share. But those are both valuable things. And I'd say the one that's most at risk is our relative share.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: Which means first to market, and that's R&D.

Thank you, Mr. Gates.

Mr. Hall is recognized.

MR. HALL: I thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Gates, you mentioned engineers, and with China and India graduating record numbers of engineers with skills -- I guess the question I really want to ask is:What skills are going to be required by the future U.S. science and engineering workforce in order for them to compete with the foreign scientists and engineers? And in asking that, I have to ask you how do you recommend that we change our education system, if you do so recommend, to produce graduates with the skills necessary to fit the new competitive environment and the evolving needs of industry?

And my final question on that is whether or not Microsoft employs scientists and engineers from foreign universities, primarily China or India? And if so, what's the quality of these engineers versus those graduated in the United States? You can take any or all of those, or none of them.

MR. GATES: The United States preeminence is -- today is still very, very strong. That is if you in science and engineering looked at what are the top 20 universities in the world anywhere, from 15 to 19 of those people would probably agree are U.S. universities and so the quality of our top schools and their engineering and computer science departments is very, very high. Now over time other countries see that. They're trying to match that you know, in China there's one university that Ching Wa that is nearly as good as the best U.S. universities, but still if you look at the raw number of engineering - graduated, that over - that would overstate the current status.

The very top engineers the U.S. universities still have a strong position but as I have said the majority of the students in the computer science department are foreign born. And so we educate them. We provide the worlds very best education and the research funding and various things are a major factor there. And then those are the students who are not allowed to stay and work in the country because of the limits we have and that's where we create jobs around them.

So the U.S. universities are still the best and the kind of funding that the government's provided really is a huge part of that. Also the ability of U.S. universities to work in corroboration with business. That's a practice whether it's information technology or biology. The U.S. has been a leader in that. The (inaudible) that incents universities to get their research out into the marketplace, that's been a fantastic thing that's driven these university business corroborations. And so you know, the preference of a company like Microsoft is very much to take these graduates of U.S. institutions and hire them and employ them here in the United States because all of the complementary jobs - management, testing, the various things we can find the best candidates here in the country but unfortunately, the job's going to go where the engineering talent is and the other jobs around it will follow where that engineering talent is.

In terms of improving the high schools, both Microsoft and my foundation have been involved in this. There's a number of new high schools that have as a theme science and technology. They kind of have projects to get kids enthused about those topics. Overall, we see the numbers dropping and the numbers of women and minorities are also very low in these fields despite a lot of good effort that's being put into that. So we think it's at the high school level that you can kind of develop a fascination and understanding of these topics and make them far more engaging. And we are seeing good results in a number of these schools, which are mostly charter schools taking a different approach to education. We think we can get a lot more people to stay in science and technology.

MR. HALL: Then in quality we're there, but in quantity we're not?

MR. GATES: Well, if you take - if the quality is the quality of the graduates of our top universities, we are number one by a lot still. If you take the broader picture of the quality of all our high school graduates that's where this piece I studied comes in and says that broad numbers - the U.S. does not measure up very well, but the people who get the best public school education and some of the people get a private school education, those people go into these top universities you know, about 40 percent of the computer science departments are U.S. born students and they come out and they are the best. They are the most attractive - those graduates are the most attractive. So we have a piece that absolutely is still the best.

MR. HALL: And if we educate them we ought to try to keep them?

MR. GATES: Absolutely. All of those people are graduating from these top universities are going to get job offers of high paying jobs in many, many different countries so they have a choice of where they end up being employed.

MR. HALL: We're not doing too well with our immigration situation in general so we can try to do a little better in the quality of our education. I yield that and I thank you.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: Thank you Mr. Hall. Our university system was or is the magnet for the best and brightest around the world. They would come in and beside our home grown we would bring in the best for that innovation and jobs that are created. Unfortunately, we're not quite the magnet that - there's alternatives now and hopefully we can get back to bringing the best and brightest and keeping them and helping them to produce jobs in this country. Mr. Baird, the chairman of our community overseas National Science Foundation is recognized.

MR. BAIRD: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Gates, thank you for your comments. I just want to follow up on two issues. One, thank you for your recognition for the Chairman's America COMPETES Act.

I want you to know that we'll pass a budget today that allows for precisely the kind of expansion that you have called for. The Democratic budget allows for a substantial expansion for science and math research and education and then we'll hope our friends in the appropriation side can support that effort as well. I also share your concern about how difficult it can be to bring international scholars here for either work or education purposes.

To the extent that our research and education subcommittee can, we've already had two hearings on this general topic and we will do everything we can to try to facilitate that arrival of scholars and the retention of scholars who have trained here. In your technical expertise, I'd like to ask you a broad question about a technical issue.

One of the great merits of technology because it changes so fast that it brings us better and better things but it also creates problems with legacy information and I'm particularly interested in the issue of Open XML and the broader question about standards and your belief about how things like Open XML and standards, international standards for the Internet - the pros and cons of those and where you see those heading.

MR. GATES: Well thank you. That is an important area because we're building up more and more records that you want to be able to access and understand and you want to be able to preserve those records over a period of time. In fact, these digital archives will cover a lot of people's activities and parents who want to be able to go back and get essays for children or researchers who want to be able to go back and get the data from different experiment and even libraries -- a lot of their collections will be in this digital format and you want to be able to access that. Microsoft is very engaged in the standards process.

There's a new standard we put in front of the International Standards Organization called Open XML and it uses XML in a way that means that anybody using our software or other software that meets a standard will be able to access it out into the future. So it's very important to us that Open XML become an ISO standard so that families and researches and archivists will be able to access information from the past and use it to interact in the future, and it's by mining data like this that I think a lot of the advances in understanding how education is best done or understanding what should be in the medical field, so it's both an important thing for innovation and an important thing for citizens to have access to information.

MR. BAIRD: I appreciate that. I actually have, believe it or not, some old 5 1/ inch floppy disks in the CPM format which if I'm ever achieve anything of note, some poor librarian is going to have to go find an old CPM machine and dig out my great works from back then, which will be hard because there will be very few, but I think your point is well -aken and I applaud Microsoft for its leadership in this area and the whole issue of standards.

One of the issues on H1Bs that I particularly want to compliment your company on is I hear from constituents: “Hey, wait a second. Why are we doing more to let folks international train either stay or come into our country? Shouldn't we be doing more to educate our own people?” and Microsoft really has been a leader in that. Schools throughout this country have benefited from Microsoft's leadership.

One of the thoughts I've kicked around a little bit - I know there's a small fee for an H1BV set and that goes back again in the education system but is there a way we should actually put companies a little more skin in the game, if you will. Through internships or other things. In other words, if you're applying for an H1B position in your company, then your company must demonstrate -- not yours per se -- but one's company because you've already done it. But many companies I don't think have followed the example of Microsoft. But what are the pros of that and how might we do that?

MR. GATES: The importance of being able to retain and hire these world top engineers is super important. And you know, the fact that there's this limit, you know, I can't overstate the impact that has, not only on the decision of the people who are educated here to stay here, but also on their decision to even come to the United States in the first place. You know, if you wanted to say, "Okay, how do we compete with Asian countries?" The fact that their smartest people often want to come here has been a huge advantage to us, and in a sense we're kind of throwing that away.

You know, to be honest, if there was a way that we could get the freedom to hire these people that set a threshold for the companies involved to be concretely involved in giving back education, you know, I think that would be acceptable, you know, as long it's concrete and it really solves the problem that we're all facing here. You know, I think even without that though, it's a total win-win situation for the economy and job creation to not force these people to be employed outside the United States. We at Microsoft, partly because of the current U.S. immigration policies, we created an office up in Vancouver, Canada, because that government, like virtually every government other than the United States, recognizes that competing for talent and encouraging talent, particularly talent educated in a country, getting them to stay, that that's very, very important.

And so just across the border you have quite a contrast in terms of how high-skilled workers are treated. Thank you.

MR. BAIRD: I appreciate that. I think we need to impress upon this Congress and the Administration the urgency of this matter for our competitiveness. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: Thank you, Dr. Baird.

Mr. Rohrabacher, I'm not picking on you, but I want to remind the members that Mr. Hall and I agreed that Mr. Gates can leave at 12:00. He has appointments, so we're going to try to keep everybody for five minutes, again not picking on you, but rather I noticed the rule was just employed at this moment, though.


MR. GATES: I'll try to be more succinct.

MR. ROHRABACHER: All right. Well, thank you very much. And again, thank you for coming here to help us celebrate this 50th anniversary. I've been on this committee 20 years and I've been a very proud member of this committee -- this is the most bipartisan committee that you will find in the United States Congress, although I am not the most bipartisan guy that you'll find in the United States Congress.

A couple things that I have learned over these last 20 years is that when the fundamentals of the economics of the solution are wrong, sort of like programming a computer, if the fundamental programming is wrong, in the end there's going to be problems. You have to go to the fundamentals. And just to be frank, I think some of the things you're suggesting are not going to the fundamentals, but instead -- going way after the programming problems.

For example, in education let me note that the hearings that we had on education were very enlightening for me, but what I learned seemed to be different than what my other members learned, and that was that math and engineering and science teachers have no difference in pay in our public education schools than do basket-weaving and English literature teachers. And do you believe that we need to pay our science and mathematics teachers more money in order to attract higher-quality people to be science and mathematics teachers?

MR. GATES: I definitely think that you want to set high standards, and you want that those standards should be based on how well you do for the students, which we need to come up with ways of measuring that that people view as very, very reliable.

MR. ROHRABACHER: Because I've only got five minutes, maybe I should go directly to the issue. Should science and math teachers be paid more than other teachers in order to attract higher-quality people in public education to those parts of the education system?

MR. GATES: Yeah. If you're measuring these teachers' ability to really improve the students' capabilities, in selecting for those people to do it, you'll find that there's a supply shortage, and because of that supply shortage, you'll probably have to pay this group somewhat more.

And there are various experimental --

MR. ROHRABACHER: So you do believe that if you pay more money, you actually will attract more people to a profession and get more of it?

MR. GATES: If you tie it to an ability to really look at --


MR. GATES: -- the improvement that they derive --

MR. ROHRABACHER: Right. Well, also if you improve the basket-weaver teachers, it's less important than if we improve the science and mathematics. Now let's relate that directly to the other issue that you brought up today, which was the immigration. And let me just note that if we bring in more people from the outside, realizing that we're bringing the most talented people from other countries, will it not hurt those countries, and will it also not depress the wages in our own country that people like yourself would have to pay your employees in order to get quality people or in order to train people within our own society?


MR. ROHRABACHER: It wouldn't? Okay.

MR. GATES: These top people are going to be hired. But just a question of what country they do their work in --

MR. ROHRABACHER: I'm really not talking about top people here. You know, the --

MR. GATES: -- These ---

MR. ROHRABACHER: There are a lot of other people in the society rather than just the top people.

MR. GATES: That's right.

MR. ROHRABACHER: It's the B and C students that fight for our country and kept it free so that people like yourself would have the opportunity that you've had. Those people, whether or not they get displaced by the top people from another country is not our goal. Our goal isn't to replace the job of the B student with A students from India.

MR. GATES: That's right. And --

MR. ROHRABACHER: And the B students deserve to have good jobs and high-paying jobs.

MR. GATES: That's right. And what I've said here is that when we bring in these world-class engineers, we create jobs around them.


MR. GATES: And if we don't -- so the B and C students are the ones who get those jobs around these top engineers. And if these top engineers are forced to work, say in India, we will hire the B and C students from India to work around them.

MR. ROHRABACHER: Okay. But, according to “BusinessWeek”, there are almost 150,000 programmers have lost their job in this country since the year 2000. Now my reading of all of this is that there are plenty of people out there to hire, but people want to have the top-quality people from India and China and elsewhere, and they're willing to let these 150,000 American computer programmers just go unemployed.

MR. GATES: Actually, “BusinessWeek” doesn't do surveys. I think you're referring to a quote in “BusinessWeek” from an Urban Institute study --

MR. ROHRABACHER: That's what I said, according to “BusinessWeek”, yeah.

MR. GATES: Well, they quote -- it's not according to “Business Week”.


MR. GATES: There was a study that a group at Urban Institute did that was deeply flawed in terms of how it defined what an engineer is. When we say that these jobs are going begging, we're in business every day.


MR. GATES: We're not kidding about it. These jobs are going begging, and the result is that in a competitive economy --

MR. ROHRABACHER: You'd have to raise wages.

MR. GATES: No, no --

MR. ROHRABACHER: -- if the job is going begging, you raise wages, now in --



MR. GATES: It's not an issue of raising wages. These jobs are very, very, very high-paying jobs.


MR. GATES: And we are hiring as many of these people as we can.

MR. ROHRABACHER: Let me give you one example --

CHAIRMAN GORDON: Mr. Rohrabacher, if you don't mind, we'll finish this on the second round.

MR. ROHRABACHER: You know, I am one of the guys that helped Kosovo become independent, and I'm on the Foreign Relations -- hearing there. Maybe at the reception tonight, which you're going to be at, maybe we can continue this discussion.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: I'm sure he's excited to know you'll do that.


CHAIRMAN GORDON: Thank you, Mr. Rohrabacher. And Ms. Giffords is one of our new members from Arizona. And I'll warn you, somehow she's going to work Arizona into her question. I don't know how it's going to be, but that's what will happen. Ms. Giffords is recognized.

SPEAKER: And this witness won't forget Rohrabacher.


MS. GIFFORDS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Gates, for coming before our Committee today. The first question I have is one that I struggle with serving as a new member on the Science Committee, a new member coming from the great State of Arizona --


MS. GIFFORDS: -- about you know, I hear my colleagues and had a chance to face these portraits of a former chairman, several of the portraits that face me have images of the shuttle program or the space program. I happen to be married to an astronaut, which also makes NASA and the issue of the space race that we had with the Russians more relevant probably than most people. But even today's testimony when I hear the Chairman and also ranking member Hall talk about what it was like to look up into the sky and see Sputnik, or to listen the words of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, it moved people in a way that I don't think has any comparable type of experience in today's world.

I know what we did here as Americans was something unique, and I know that it generated a new generation of engineers and scientists and mathematicians, kids that we so inspired. So my question to you, Mr. Gates, is -- what today is comparable? I mean I believe it's energy, but sometimes I don't see that, that transition going to kids in terms of being excited about solar technology, new ways of moving vehicles around, heating and cooling our homes. But, you know, you have a chance to work with a lot of kids. You work in a lot of different countries. What's going to be that thing that is really going to make relevant a lot of the stem education focus that we're talking about?

MR. GATES: Well, I would think that the direct use of advanced technology and the chance to participate in making breakthroughs in those technologies is in some ways more evidence today than ever in the past. You know, if we look at the frontiers of science that we have today, teaching computers to see, teaching them to hear; the kind of modeling of the world that's very important for all the energy challenges we face; or the kind of software we need to make health breakthroughs, you know I think that it's more exciting even now, you know, that you can say "Here's what you're learning that will help you make an energy breakthrough."

You know, you just look at one group. Blind people historically only had access to a few books that many years after they were available were put into Braille. Today, because of speech synthesis and capabilities that we built into our software, blind people can browse the Internet and have same access to information that you have. And to me, you know, there's just dozens of examples like that where technology has empowered people to work in new ways, and in some ways it's less abstract even than, you know, going to the moon. You can go and meet those people and talk about how their life was changed; or you can look at diseases that we haven't yet conquered and see what impact that's having.

And clearly, by advances in biology and information technology are absolutely the reason why we can be optimistic than in the next generation, whether it's the diseases of the poor countries or the diseases that are prevalent here, we're very likely to have breakthroughs for virtually all of those things.

Now given, you know, that I think there are so many reasons that that would draw people into science, I have to admit it's a surprise to me how few students choose to pursue the fields.

MS. GIFFORDS: The high tech industry in my state of Arizona depends a lot on our ability to recruit and retain scientists and mathematicians. In terms of the exports in the high tech field, it totaled about almost $9 billion in 2006, which was an increase of almost $2 billion from 2005.

We have a lot of high-tech clusters, particularly in southern Arizona, and, you know, I am personally working on H1B visa reform because I think that's really the key. I think at the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, we're not producing those students.

So I ask you, because you mentioned in your earlier testimony, aggressively, what could our country do to compete with other specific nations around the world to make sure that we can retain these students who want to come here, who are the best and the brightest from wherever they come from wherever they come from, and have them be part of this work that we're dedicating ourselves to?

MR. GATES: Well, there are some things in terms of the process that they go through and the uncertainties of the process that are daunting to them. But at the end of the day, by far the key thing right now is they are being told they cannot stay and work here. That is, the backlog on green cards is longer than ever, the H1B visa thing was by far the worst this year where in the first day they were all gone. So anybody who graduated in June couldn't even be part of the process because they didn't have their degree, and you have to have your degree to get into the pool.

I will say that this is an issue that the technology industry has a very strong consensus, very clear message on. So if you take an employer like Intel, who is very present in Arizona, they depend at the top of their research activity on having the very best scientists. And they're a good example, like Microsoft, where if they get those, they create the manufacturing plants and things that reach out and drive fairly substantial numbers, that it's easier for them to site those activities here in the United States.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: Thank you, Ms. Giffords. And now our resident physicist, Dr. Vern Ehlers, is recognized.

MR. EHLERS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And also I'd just like to comment. Don't feel too sorry for Arizona. Most of the wealthy people in Michigan have moved down to Arizona.


MR. EHLERS: Clearly, we need more help than they do. First of all, before I get into my questions, I want to thank you for more or less loaning Ms. Stonesifer to the Smithsonian Board. She has done yeoman work. You know, we've had some problems there, and she has done more than any other person that I know of in trying to straighten out this problem. She's a real gem. I was very sorry to hear that she's leaving your foundation. But she was -- she's just a marvelous person, and I'm sure she has served you there, too.

I have spent most of my life in education. I have spent a great deal of my life, over 40 years now, trying to improve math science education in this country, both before I got here and after I got here. And I very much appreciate your comments about scientists and engineers serving as role models.

In all my speeches to scientific and engineering groups, I encourage them to visit their nearest school, volunteer to speak to the classes, even better, volunteer to take students on field trips through their own laboratories, their workplace, or if they're civil engineers, the nearest bridge they're building, things like that.

A hundred years ago, students learned these things on the farm. Today they come to school without a lot of practical experience. And your comments were right on. The more we can get the engineering and scientific communities to interact with the students, the best. I always enjoy it when I'm invited to speak to high schools. Most of the students don't know much about my background. When I tell them I'm a nerd, there's some disbelief there until I show them my plastic pocket protector.


MR. EHLERS: But I also tell them that in high school they have a very important choice to make, and that choice will determine whether they someday will be a nerd in the workplace or working for a nerd, and they have to make the choice between being one or working for one. That really just tends to wake them up a bit to why they should study science in high school.

I totally agree with the comments you've made, and I hope that through your foundation -- and you do marvelous work in your foundation -- that through your foundation, we could work together on this problem in our elementary and secondary schools. Your comments were right on about PISA and what happens there.

Somehow we have to get the picture changed in America. I find it fascinating, for example, that surveys of parents, the parents will say, yes, we need better math and science in the schools. When you ask them about their school that their kids are in, they say, oh, our school is fine. They just don't recognize the depth of this problem. And I'd appreciate any comments you might have about how we can do a better job of waking up America, both the parents and the school boards.

The teachers, in my experience, and I've worked with a lot of teachers, I never blame them. They have not had the proper education in science or math and have not been taught how to each it properly, but they are very eager to do it and very eager to do it well. So here I've concentrated my efforts on professional development programs.

I would be interested in ideas you might have about other ways that either business and government together or just government can actively get involved with this problem and helping the teachers in meaningful ways to help them become better math and science teachers.

MR. GATES: Well, I think the most stunning data I've seen in many years related to education are how the huge difference in the very best teachers versus the teachers who don't do as well. And the willingness to look at that data and say, okay, what is it that those teachers who are doing very well, you know, what techniques are they practicing versus the other students?

And some of the assumptions that, you know, about, okay, it's the ones that are certified are going to do better or the ones that have been there a long time, some of those as you really get into the data, you know, some of those assumptions don't play out and you really look, okay, what are those differences?

So I think these -- gathering the data and really looking at who's doing well and seeing that students who are far behind, if they're lucky enough to have good teachers, they can be brought all the way up to be well above average. The difference of having a good teacher is very, very dramatic. And yet, in terms of figuring out what those things are and investing in them, and using data to drive that, I'd say we are way behind other countries in being able to do that.

One other comment about Patty Stonesifer, you know, I appreciate your comments. She's done a fantastic job at the foundation. And fortunately, she'll stay involved some special initiatives, although she'll step down after 11 years of being CEO. So, we'll still have her -- some of her efforts.

MR. EHLERS: Well, I appreciate that, and I certainly hope that your foundation will continue its efforts in math and science education as well, because government is by its very nature limited in what it can do. It can't coerce. It can entice. Foundations can do a much better job of coercion.

MR. GATES: Our biggest partnerships have been where you get one person who's really taken responsibility for improving the education system, like, you know, the mayor of New York said, okay, he'll base his record on that or the mayor of Chicago, where you have a clear level of responsibility that the right tradeoffs are being made. Those are some of the systems where the willingness to make tough changes is taking place. And we're seeing very, very good results in that type of structure.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: Thank you. And Dr. McNerney is recognized for five minutes.

MR. McNERNEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You'll be glad to know that your members are getting exercise this morning running back and forth. Thank you, Mr. Gates, for appearing this morning. I want to say that I appreciate your innovation and its effect on our nation, and the world, and your generosity both with education and with health.

One of the things I really am concerned about is how to inspire the next generation. What do you think the Fed should do? I mean, some earlier members talked about the Russian satellite and Ms. Giffords asked about the next big thing. What do you think we can do as a Fed to actually inspire kids to take advantage of what education is being offered?

MR. GATES: I think what we owe to the kids is to have teachers who, you know, have proven that they can make the subject engaging. You know, that's where you see the big difference is, you know, does the subject really come to life in a very strong way?

As you get up to our university systems, there the right things are happening. That is, these universities compete for talent vigorously with each other. They compete for federal research funding. They compete for students. And that's why the vibrancy of these top universities has really been incredible and such a big asset. You don't have, in terms of measurement and, you know, that kind of competition, you don't have it in other levels of the system.

And, you know, so one of the tools that's been used in many states is charter type approaches where you can experiment and give teachers some more freedom in terms of how they do things and try out new approaches. And that's, you know, really a lot of where the innovation is coming from is those new types of schools.

Still, you know, I am amazed at how the numbers in science and engineering are going down, and that is not true in Asia. The numbers are going up in Asia and they're going down everywhere else. It's all -- there's no rich country, assuming you take Korea out of the picture, that all -- Europe and the U.S. are experiencing the same phenomena of less and less students going into science and technology. So there's no simple government policy, given the variety of policies that are used, there's no simple policy thing that explains that decline.

MR. MCNERNEY: The way we view engineering and science and anything you can do to help us inspire that generation would be very deeply appreciated. I'm especially interested in your foundation’s work to establish stem education at the secondary level. Could you describe the criteria -- I'm sorry, the curricula -- at these schools? In particular, what subjects the stem differs from normal schools?

MR. GATES: There's two things there. One is to take the normal schools and try to make it more approachable, and the other is to then actually have specific schools that are designed from the beginning to have stem excellence. So there's a number of things. There's a program in Ohio, a program in Texas. A lot of these charter schools in different cities where they really thematically decide that they're going to bring the students into science by using projects and that the traditional boundaries of biology is different than chemistry, is different than math -- that they break across those boundaries to take some project activity to make it clear to the student why they should learn a little bit of math or a little bit of chemistry or biology to be able to achieve something very interesting. And in the best of these schools, the number of kids, including woman and minorities, who show an interest in math and science, has more than doubled what we have in the traditional public schools.

So there is some good data that says by changing the curriculum you can start to take the drop off in interest which is very pronounced at the high school level in stem that to some degree. Now there's further drop off once you get up into the university and there are also some universities at how they do the curriculum and I'd say it's the same thing. It's more project-based and cutting across the boundaries that have existed between the different science subject areas.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: Thank you and now we've turned to Dr. Bartlett. You're recognized for five minutes.

MR. MCNERNEY: I yield back.

DR. BARTLETT: Thank you very much. In education our society faces two huge challenges which you mentioned. One is the quality of education in our K through 12 as you know our third graders score about even with third graders around the industrialized world, but the longer kids stay in our schools the poorer they do. And so when they graduate from high school they're at the bottom or near the bottom of any industrialized nation. And the other huge challenge we face is the challenge of getting more of our best and brightest into careers as science, math and engineering. Increasingly as I talk to audiences and ask our kids what degrees they're going to pursue - they're pursuing what I tell them are potentially destructive pursuits. They're becoming lawyers and political scientists.

We've got enough of both - of each of those, thank you. I think that both of these maladies are the symptoms of a common disease and that is that a society gets what it appreciates. Our society just does not appreciate academic achievement and as a society we do not appreciate scientists, mathematicians and engineers. I will believe that this culture is changing and it needs to change, sir, despite of the best efforts of organizations like yours.

The culture really needs to change and I'll believe it's changing when the White House invites academic achievers and scientists, mathematicians and engineers and slobbers all over them they way they do entertainers and sports figures. What can we do, sir, to change the culture out there?

MR. GATES: I still think there's a strong element in the culture of this country that is very positive towards science and innovators and if you look at the interest in you know, Steve Jobshas done, or the work that the guys in Google have done, or the work that I and my colleagues have done, there is a fascination with science and engineering and certainly the opportunities are pretty vivid.

You know, even young people get a chance to play around with Windows PCs or the different technology advances that have been created. So I'm not sure that we fail on that front. It's somehow along the way, particularly for women and minorities, these science jobs just don't seem as interesting. There's a lot of outreach we do to bring kids in and show them that these are very social jobs. They're very interesting jobs that the next several decades will be the most interesting. So there's a component of it even knowing that the curriculum should be a lot better.

There's a component that's surprising to me and we did see that during the late ‘90s. We had an increase of people going in what some people call the internet bubble and then as that went away, the number of applicants went down quite a bit. If we smooth it out we ignore that bold share, there still is a decline that has continued. But if you look at the figures going only back to 2001, you get an even worse impression because there was an - right before that and that dropped off a bit. You know, maybe some of all the bright minds that are going into finance will now go into science and engineering with their bubble, perhaps, not being as big as it was in the past.

There's an element of this that I do find mysterious because I do think our culture still values innovation and every student understands about the potential for breakthroughs in health and breakthroughs in energy and breakthroughs in information technology. And so you know, it's surprising that we're not getting - that these departments are not over crowded.

MR. BARTLETT: You mentioned half or more in all of these departments are foreign born students.

MR. GATES: That's right. That's based on -- if anything the departments go overboard to try to keep that number low but as they're bringing in the very best students they end up with typically about 60 percent foreign born in the top departments.

MR. BARTLETT: During the decades that we spent putting a man on the moon, the imagination of the American people was captured and our young people were inspired to go into careers in science, math and engineering. I remember a cartoon that showed a red-headed, freckle faced, buck-tooth kid and he said six months ago he couldn't even spell engineer and now I are one. You know, what do we need to capture the imagination of our people again to inspire young people to go into those careers like them?

MR. GATES: I think we need to celebrate the achievements that we've had. I mean we are the envy of the world in terms of the science that's been done here. We are still far ahead. The relative show that we have is going down but we're in a position of great strength and the magic that we've had that other countries haven't achieved is a balance between private industry and universities, and I mean basic research in the universities, and then allowing the formation of companies, lots of which fail but some of which succeed spectacularly to be a well rewarded well thought of thing in this country.

That idea of entrepreneurism, starting new companies, having venture capital, we are still the envy of the world. Having these incredible university departments that need NSF funding and various other government science type fundings to stay strong you know, that is a magic formula that others are on the way to duplicating but it's not something that can be done over night. And so if we renew our commitments to these things, whether it's research funding or the role models.

You know, letting the smartest people who want to come to this country continue to come here. There's no area in science where you'd say that at least a third of what got done got done by foreign born scientists from the creation of medical breakthroughs or you know, the transistor or various things. I mean just think through in your mind who the great scientists are and you'll realize in many cases over half are foreign born.

So a willingness to let those scientists in has been an incredible thing. So I'd say one thing that's unique in this era is this idea that it's controversial to let smart people come to the country and stay and work here. That is really novel -- like there's no time in our history where we've been turning those people away.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: Mr. Gates, for your information, this committee agrees with you in terms of getting the bump in math and science in terms of minorities and women. We have passed a number of initiatives to do that, and we want to continue. That's the best way to grow, I think, new home grown. And Ms. Richardson from California is recognized for five minutes.

MS. RICHARDSON: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Mr. Gates. I am kind of in a unique position in that I've only been in Congress about five months, so I'm what they call a freshman, a newbie here. But I had an opportunity to work for Xerox Corporation for about 14 years, and I attribute a lot of the way I've been able to approach legislation to that, so I admire all the work that you've done.

I have a couple of comments and one question. One, it's noted in our information here your program, U.S. Libraries program, which I commend you for. However, I will tell you the district I represent in California is Watts, Compton, Long Beach, some very challenging communities. And oftentimes we have long waits in the library and all of that.

And I would say that if we really want to reach out to all children, would you be interested in maybe considering expanding such a program to our parks? And the reason why I say that is a lot of kids tend to go to the library. They might be doing their homework or doing some research work.

But if we're going to encourage children to learn the innovative aspect side, the exciting side of science and engineering, I think that's really a missed opportunity, particularly in some of our underserved communities where you have some of these facilities and there's absolutely no resources there for children. So I wanted to get your thoughts on that.

MR. GATES: You're saying the parks?

MS. RICHARDSON: Parks. Yes, parks and recreation.

MR. GATES: Well, I think we shouldn't miss any opportunity to expose kids to these things. What was done in the libraries, you know, it's so impactful that the resources should be made available so that kids aren't waiting in line. The Internet, access to the Internet with a modern personal computer was added to one of the things you could think of having at the library. When Microsoft and the foundation started that program, 25 percent of libraries had computers. And by the time we were done granting over 60,000 machines to 11,000 libraries, we got it up to over 95 percent.

The goal is to make it so that, you know, any kid could into that library and not have to wait too long. Funding for libraries in this kind of technology use often falls off the radar screen, because libraries are of course locally funded, and they're just even in that budget process, they don't get the attention that they deserve. That's a program that's had a huge effect.

There are things going on to expand it into other community centers like Boys and Girls Clubs and, you know, to the degree that you've got indoor facilities in the parks, that's another perfectly great place that you might have some of the equipment and the chance for people to get exposed.

So I agree with you that we should be creative about finding the places where we can create the capacity there. I will also say, you know, Xerox traditionally did a lot of great research that Microsoft and many other companies benefited from that, you know, and that's why things like R&D tax credits and things that encourage R&D have been great. You know, Xerox certainly did its fair share of great R&D contribution.

MS. RICHARDSON: So, sir, I'm just simply suggesting that as you go into your second career here that you consider the Department of Parks and Recs as well.

MR. GATES: Okay.

MS. RICHARDSON: My second question to you is regarding scholarships. You know, there's been much effort of us saying for a student, for example, who decides to go into nursing or teaching, that we would consider having a program that would provide a full scholarship for those students.

Have you had much thought about if we were to provide full scholarships to students who made a commitment to work in the science and engineering field or math? What would you think as a CEO in joining other CEOs to make a commitment to help fund such a program to provide full scholarships for students who would make a two-year, four-year, five-year, whatever commitment might be required to engage them to really take on these positions?

MR. GATES: You know, the federal government plays a very strong role in terms of helping students be able to afford going to universities. The foundation also has a very significant program that's focused on minorities that funds both their undergraduate education and then their graduate education if they're in a number of these areas related to science. And today we have 14,000 students, all minority students, receiving those scholarships.

So I do think when it comes to women and minorities that it's pretty important to have scholarship money available to increase the numbers, and particularly if they saw more scholarship money in these fields, it might be the thing that would make the difference.

I would say overall that in terms of the total numbers in the field, it's partly the attractiveness of the field, you know, the motivation to go into the field. We also have to work on that. So scholarships I think can be helpful, but, you know, I'm not sure that a loan would drive the kind of shift in attractiveness that we need to see here. I do think it can make a big difference in terms of the minority and women percentages in these fields.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: Thank you, Ms. Richardson.

MS. RICHARDSON: If I could, a follow-up question.


MS. RICHARDSON: Sir, though, specifically what I'm saying is, it has been said that due to the Visa situation, you know, corporations, you're spending money of recruitment costs, legal costs, administrative costs, etcetera. I would venture to say if corporations were willing to put that money into full scholarships to ensure that students who came out, they would have to have a commitment. It's very similar, for example, with the military, other positions. You know, yes, excitement is a part of it, but pay is also another excitement. And I think if students had a guarantee that if I completed four years, got a degree, that I would be able to guarantee I could get a job at X, you know, company.

So I'm not necessarily just your foundation alone, but your thoughts as a CEO of do you think other innovative companies would be interested in joining you in making a greater focus in that area?

MR. GATES: Yeah, okay. But I think broadly, it can help the number of people going into the field. But anyone who graduates from the top universities with a computer science degree has five job offers. Now the 60 percent that are foreign-born can't accept their U.S. job offers, but there is just no shortage of jobs being offered to these top students in the field of computer science. They are, you know, highly, highly, sought after. And so I think in terms of the aggregate numbers, the U.S. to get its relative share, the big lever is not saying that the foreign-born students have to leave the country.

As you get to the broader things, particularly minority and women, that's where I think some of these scholarship things can come in. I don't think we have an issue where people get degrees in these fields and then they leave the field. So, you know, they would stay in the field. It's not like asking them to work in a rural area or, you know, volunteer to be a teacher where you may need a commitment in order to make sure you're achieving your goal.

If people are educated in these areas, then, you know, once they graduate from college in these areas, they tend to stay in the areas. The drop-off is further down the line. Once we get them into the workforce, then we have no issue about them staying in the area.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: The gentlelady's time has expired. Mrs. Biggert is recognized.

MRS. BIGGERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Mr. Gates, for being here. Because I agree with you on just about every point that you've made in your testimony, especially with respect to making the R&D tax credit permanent, strengthening science, math and technology education and increasing the funds for basic research, I want to turn to just a little bit different issue.

Free trade agreements such as NAFTA has been the subject of much public debate, as of late. Some members of Congress, even some presidential candidates, believe that free trade agreements threaten U.S. jobs, domestic manufacturing and U.S. competitiveness, and other members believe that free trade agreements simply open foreign markets to U.S. goods and services by bringing down the tariff barriers on U.S. exports, which lead to job creation, encourage companies to remain in the U.S. and actually improve U.S. competitiveness.

And just yesterday in the “Chicago Magazine”, the CEO of Caterpillar said curtailing U.S. free trade policies would be cataclysmically bad for the nation's economy and would derail caterpillar's ambitious sales outlook in the coming years. So I'd appreciate your opinion. How critical to job creation and our nation's competitiveness are free trade, free trade agreements and the opening of foreign markets to U.S. goods and services?

MR. GATES: (Microsoft is) a gigantic -- exporter. That is, we get the majority of our sales outside the United States, and we do the vast majority of all our work inside the United States. And so the openness of markets is actually absolutely critical to use in terms of the people we employ. And we're expanding our employment in the United States at a very rapid rate. The only limit on that is this supply of engineers.

If the free trade system were not to continue the expand, then that would have a very serious effect on Microsoft and other businesses that are engaged in international trade. So, you know, I'm very concerned that people not think that free trade agreements on balance are a bad thing for this country. And in my opinion, they're a very, very good thing for this country, and I think we need to explain that to the voters, because, you know, the biggest winner in the free trade system has been the United States and the companies that have been able to lead in having much bigger markets than ever before.

MS. BIGGERT: Thank you. And then going back to the R&D tax credit, do you have any other ideas or suggestions for the private sector incentives to encourage research and development?

MR. GATES: Well, economists have always known that companies have a hard time capturing the full benefit to society of the result work they've done. And so that's why some basic research needs to be funded by the government. That's why having a clear incentive system, through patents where you're rewarded for the breakthroughs that you make, and some tax policies that give an extra incentive for doing research and development makes sense. And we see many countries putting big investments in, making sure that this takes place.

You know, some of the trends in terms of research in the U.S. are a bit scary. We are still, compared to other countries, in the lead on this, and Microsoft is spending over $7 billion in R&D in the next year. We're one of the biggest R&D spenders. And we speak very openly about what a great investment that's been for us. Even the risky research part of it and the way we've formed great relationships with the top universities, so that we're helping to fund their work and to the degree they make breakthroughs, where simply one way that they can make sure it gets out there and gets --

MS. BIGGERT: If I might ask then --

MR. GATES: Yeah.

MS. BIGGERT: As far as you've mentioned the laws in your testimony and providing universities and other recipients federal funds. But I think that these laws have been very successful, except maybe not so much in the case of energy and energy technologies, and I wonder if you have any suggestions for us to help to move new advanced energy technologies out of the lab and into the market. And maybe your foundation will take up the issue of energy.

MR. GATES: Well, energy is a very exciting area, and there is starting to be a shift of a lot of bright people working on the energy field. There are some aspects of energy that you need that are so difficult and so long-term, you can't expect the private sector by itself to totally solve the problem. And if you look at new approaches to nuclear. If you look at something like geo-thermal, some of these areas the private sector's not going to step in.

We're in a fairly ironic situation right now with respect to the incentives. Many of the incentives are only short-term in nature. And if you want big breakthroughs, the last thing you want is a short-term incentive. And so the way that some things are subsidized right now are probably not the most efficient use of dollars to cause these energy changes to take place. And that's a very urgent thing. You know, I think we can get across the various possibilities of where a breakthrough could take place. The U.S. could do a much better job spreading out the energy research dollars.

MS. BIGGERT: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: The gentlelady's time has expired.

Mr. Gates, one common denominator today has been talking about additional funding of R&D. And so we're going to let you have a chance to talk directly with one of the check-writers now, Mr. Rothman, a member of the Appropriations Committee, from New Jersey, is recognized for five minutes.

MR. ROTHMAN: Fortunately, it's not a personal check -- those projects wouldn't go very far. I happen to serve on the committee that writes the checks with the taxpayers' money.

Firstly, thank you, Mr. Gates, for being here. Secondly, thank you for creating a great American company. And finally, thank you for your work and your wife's work in the foundation and being so conscientious in your philanthropy. You are a role model for anybody whose done reasonably well, and for the rest of us as well.

For better or worse, Mr. Gates, it appears that the H1B visa debate is part of the whole immigration debate in America, and so I'd be interested in your thoughts as to whether, for example, there should be any limits on the numbers of H1B visas issued, or permanent resident status granted. Any limits at all. And I'm being a little bit facetious, but I would love to just plumb the depths of your thinking on this. Do we give them an IQ test before we cut them off? And what about immigration limits as a whole? Do you have views, for example, as to whether their should be any quotas for anyone who wants to come into the United States from any country regardless of their IQ or educational achievement?

MR. GATES: Well, first in terms of writing checks, you know, I've personally written over $5 billion of tax checks to the United States government.


MR. GATES: So maybe that's one of the sources of --

MR. ROTHMAN: We're glad you could afford to pay the tax.


MR. GATES: -- of revenue. But, you know, I don't begrudge it in any way. I'm glad you're all working hard to make sure it's well spent.

In terms of the H1B visa issue, the key focus that Microsoft has here is on highly skilled people. And we're talking about jobs that, you know, starting salary is if you include benefits over $100,000 a year. And the policy that Canada, for example, has says that if a company is offering somebody a job at that type of salary level, then they will facilitate the person coming into the country.

I'd also suggest that if somebody's educated in a U.S. university, that because of the research funding that comes out of the government, you know, basically you've subsidized that education, I think there should be a direct path to permanent residency for --

MR. ROTHMAN: I don't have much time. My question --

MR. GATES: Sorry.

MR. ROTHMAN: Sir, should there be any limits on H1B visas and should there be limits on immigration from any country, regardless of IQ or educational achievement by the applicant?

MR. GATES: Okay. The position Microsoft takes is really focused on a very highly qualified set of people that the numbers in total wouldn't make a huge difference in terms of the overall immigration thing. And so Microsoft doesn't take a position on the broad issue. On the broad issue, I happen to think that immigration has been a great thing for the country and that, you know, if you look at lots of rich countries, they're facing overall population declines, this country is one of the few that because of immigration is actually -- the population will grow.

I don't know what it would be like if you didn't have limits, you know. There may need to be limits. I'm not an expert on that --

MR. ROTHMAN: -- Forgive me, I apologize. I have one more question. I'm a father of a bunch of teenagers, and I have to ask this question. I know that there's a different kind of socialization that occurs now on the Web and with computers, and I understand the arguments about the value of them, and there are great advances in that regard. Are there any cautionary tales for us from you -- you are a father as well -- about how to get the best out of the internet, yet not have sacrificed something that's human, that makes us human, or enhances the best of our humanness?

MR. GATES: Well, you know, whenever new technologies come along, parents have a legitimate concern about how it's being used. And the internet had to be high on the list there. You know, my oldest is 11, so we haven't quite gotten into the toughest years in terms of, you know, having Facebook accounts and spending a massive amount of time instant messaging. But I'm sure that's ahead. And we tended to keep our computers at home out in the open, so that as the kids are doing things on the computer, they know we're going to be walking by at any point. And by doing it that way, we've avoided having to have much in the way of hard limits, either in terms of time or specific things. We're just all involved in seeing what's going on and talking about what those things are.

You know, there definitely are things where parents need to stay involved and understanding how their kids are spending their time, including their time on the internet. There are some amazing things out there, in terms of courses and material; but I also think that there can be misuses in terms of how information is shared, and how the kid is prioritizing their time. And you know, that's why I'm going to always have an awareness of what my kids are doing, using these tools.

MR. ROTHMAN: Thank you, sir.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: The gentleman's time is expired.

Mr. Gates, you're my test pilot. I hope your 11-year-old, you can figure it out there, so you can tell us what to do for our 7-year-old when that time comes.


CHAIRMAN GORDON: Mr. Reichert from Washington State is recognized for five minutes.

MR. REICHERT: -So one of the problems with being one of the last members to ask a question is that a lot of the questions have already been asked. so I have a couple follow-up questions. One follow up to Ms. Biggert's question about the importance of the global economy and our global markets that we compete in. What impact does our corporate tax rate have on American companies as you compete across the world?

MR. GATES: It's important to look at how our tax policies are influencing corporate behavior. You know, in the case of Microsoft to the degree that we can hire engineers here and we can still hire a lot, not enough - overall on balance we prefer to do our R & D here and that's despite the fact that there's very attractive tax advantages that are being offered in other places. That is, even though the taxes are higher here, they're still within the range of what's reasonable given the other benefits that are provided. On tax policy, RNV tax credit would be a very top priority to make sure other countries aren't getting ahead of us too much in terms of the generosity they provide in that area. So tax policy does make a difference but companies won't immediately just go to a place that's more advantageous. You'll make a comparison. The U.S. still has a lot of things that are very much in its favor.

MR. REICHERT: Here is another, it may also be another follow-up question, but I think it's been touched on lightly as I bounced in and out of the hearing here. But you stated in your testimony that the public and private sectors are not longer investing in basic research and development to the levels needed to drive long term innovation. Why is the private sector no longer investing in the levels it should be, in your opinion?

MR. GATES: Well, some of the investment that came out of the private sector came out of what are called the semi-private sector. That is AT&T through Bell laboratories was a highly regulated business and one of the things they sort of did in return was do a lot of research that they weren't receiving a direct economic return for but it was one of their great contributions to the country and to the world and as they became more and more a typical private company as it was broken up into the various pieces, the liberty they had to take profits and fund research largely went away. So then that R & D spending coming out of the antecedents of what was the Bell System was quite a bit less than it was in the past.

There's also cases of companies like Xerox who weren't quite as adept at taking them research work and themselves benefiting from it by productizing it the way that they had expected and so that was a cautionary tale and when in fact Microsoft 15 years ago started really going into this pure research area we wanted to make sure we were going to not only benefit society but also be able to get those products out. You know, I can say that that's worked extremely well for us and we are a big advocate when talking with private companies that they're always running a research budget that means that you get very, very high returns from that work.

You know, just last week we had TechFest, where our researchers show their work and all our engineers go and look at it, and that's really the most fun thing during the entire year is to see that new research work. So there are methods that best practices that the private sector needs to spread that will build the confidence that those investments are well worth making.

MR. REICHERT: And you're one of those companies that has succeeded in that and you're sharing your thoughts, ideas and experience. Are there other companies doing the same thing -- sharing that information with others?

MR. GATES: Yes the - well another sector that's been incredibly R&D-intensive is the drug industry and they're of course facing some challenges in terms of the number of breakthrough new advances they've made. So now they're looking at the cost of R&D for their new products as being very, very high and so hopefully we'll get into a period that other advances and the encouragement they're giving will get them back into increasing their R&D budgets. But if you look at the various sectors, a sector that's been huge which is that sector that's at risk now because of a variety of things that don't make it look as attractive to them.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: Jim's time has expired. With Mr. Neugebauer's acquiescent and I'm sure Mr. Hall will agree, what I would like to do is ask the next questioners to try to limit themselves to one question -- so take your best shot so that everybody will be able to participate today. Mr. Carnahan from Missouri is recognized for one question or statement.

MR. CARNAHAN: Thank you again for being here on this 50th anniversary of the committee. You really outlined well in your remarks talking about the last 50 years and the revolutionary advances that have been made and how we've built on those so well. I'd like you to look ahead to the next 50 years when we have the 100th anniversary of this committee and our grandkids or kids being born today are sitting on this committee. What do you think are going to be some of those profound changes in the way we live and work and how technology is going to effect that?

MR. GATES: Well 50 years is an amazing - is a long period of time in the world of technology. Particularly given that we have an accelerating rate of innovation and so it's not just that we'll take what we've done on the last 50 years and do the same. The world at large will do far more and so you know, you'd find me quite optimistic that the breakthroughs that will allow us to have energy that's both cheaper and environmentally friendly, that those breakthroughs will come. In fact there's many approaches that already we can see that there's a good chance that the advances will be there. In information technology, the ability to have computers that are very easy to work with and almost so pervasive we take them for granted will be quite phenomenal. The breakthroughs in diseases you know, even in the next 20 years I'd expect breakthroughs for the major killers around the world so this is the amazing time.

You know, the kind of spirit that got this committee and started like Vannevar Bush who talked about the endless frontier. I wouldn't go back and change anything that he wrote when he talked about the advances and how government encouraging science will be at the center of those. 50 years from now the U.S. may not have the same relative share of innovation it has today but with the right policies we can have the leading share even if you go out into a long timeframe like that. Which is pretty phenomenal given that we have five percent of the world's population that we've been - however you measure it, over 50 percent of the innovation that's taking place and I think if we renew our strengths that same type of preeminent position is not impossible for us to maintain.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: Thank you, Mr. Carnahan. I suspect that the new 50 years will be 10 years and many of this on this committee will be here and if we're going to be successful we're going to need to do our part. Mr. Hall's assured us that he will be here. Dr. Gingrey, you're recognized.

MR. GINGREY: -- and the information we received from the committee basically said that you were going to be here this morning to share your thoughts on efforts needed to further strengthen our country's competitiveness in the global marketplace. You spent the last hour and a half I think doing a pretty good job of that, but I have concerns about -- the entire committee does -- about the lack of stem education in our country.

You see, when you read a local newspaper, as I often do -- I am a former school board, public school board chairman in Marietta, Georgia, and every year they have the start students of all of the high schools that have the best scores on the SAT and their respective teacher that they give most of the credit to.

But when you look at those names, and we're talking about maybe 30 high schools in that area, you see a lot of Asian and Indian names. And it seems like every year it's more and more, a greater percentage. And, obviously, youngsters that look like me are not, as I did, not going on to Georgia Tech and majoring in chemistry and pure science and becoming one of our great engineers working on the space program or whatever. So I have some real concerns about that. I don't know what to do about it. Maybe you can share your thoughts on that particular point.

But let me just cut right to the chase by asking this question regarding H1B visas, because we talked about that a lot this morning. Do you believe that an increase in the H1B visa program -- more, a greater number of them -- increasing the volume then of foreign labor in stem fields could have the unintended consequence of deterring American students in those same fields from pursuing stem education and then ultimately getting those highly skilled jobs? Because that's exactly what the problem is as I see it.

My friend from New Jersey brought that up in a more broad way in regard to overall immigration quotas. But we're talking now about H1B. And also the J1 visa program when we bring college students from Serbia to play basketball or from Sweden to play tennis so that our college teams can win the NCAA championships and you cut out the little kids that look like me that have been taking those tennis lessons all those years and are just one little step below in our ability level.

So this is a real concern. If we expand this program so much, then do our youngsters say, you know, we don't have a shot, we don't have a grasp at the golden ring? Thank you.

MR. GATES: Our youngsters are competing with these students even if we turn them away from this country. That is, no policy related to H1B will impact the percentage of foreign labor that works in computer science. All it will affect is what portion of that is done in the United States and where the surrounding jobs are created.

So if the goal is to have a series of medals or awards that are just about the best in the U.S., yes, you know, shut down immigration. You know, you should have shut it down in 1900. I mean, immigrant families have been achieving very well in this country for a long, long, long time, and that's always been a controversial thing. But H1B does not -- computer science is not a game played only in the United States. It's not like a local competition. It's more like the Olympics where you are, at the end of the day, you are going to compete with the best in the world. And the question is, you know, does that -- is that happening in the United States?

CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Mr. Chandler is recognized for one question.

MR. CHANDLER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Gates, thank you for taking these incoming missiles. Also, thank you very much for what you do and have done for our schools and what you're doing in particular for our high schools. I'm a little bit ahead of both you and our chairman. I have a 14-year-old daughter who's a freshman in high school, and I can tell you the issues are already there for me. So I'll let you know.

I am wondering. I've got a bill that calls for significant federal investment in the infrastructure, first the physical plants of our schools in this country, but also calls for significant investment in technology infrastructure and in training for technology. I'd like to get your idea on where we need to go in that area. Do you have a sense of how much investment we need to make in our schools in this country in those areas? And do you believe that the government needs to make a much more significant investment? Thank you.

MR. GATES: Computers in schools and technology training, you know, that's going up at a pretty rapid rate, and there's certainly some best practices that more funding would help spread more rapidly. We're involved in a so-called school of the future where a group in Philadelphia came to us, came to Microsoft and asked about some ideas of how technology could be used. And what they did was quite impressive. You know, we were just there in terms of providing advice. And I know a number of high schools around the country are looking at some of those same things.

When you get a chance to do new infrastructure, you can do something quite spectacular as a result of that. In terms of requirements in high school, you know, there's already a lot of controversy over a push that really is more the foundation is behind, that encourages states to move away from simply asking for two years of math, to move up to three or four years of math.

There actually has been good progress in that regard, and that is another contrast you'll see between the U.S. and these countries that score well on the PISA exam is that they are requiring -- all the ones that do well require four years of mathematics as part of the high school education.

Some of the states push back on that because of the shortage of teachers and that then comes back into these issues of how do you measure teachers and what -- particularly for the math and science shortage, how do you alleviate that problem that's coming along?

So I do think funding the teachers to get trained on technology and technology in the schools is a very important thing. I don't know what sort of -- I don't think we at this point need to add specific requirements for technology training, because I think if we train the teachers the right way, they'll be bringing that in to all of the different subject matter that they teach.

CHAIRMAN: The gentleman's time has expired. One more nervous father, Mr. McCaul, is recognized for what I am sorry to say will be our last question, to meet our agreement.

MR. McCAUL: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Gates, for being here. Yeah, I have five kids. Three are triplets. And they're six years old, so.


MR. McCAUL: It's great to have you here. Michael Dell is actually one of my constituents, probably my most famous constituent. I know you're good friends. And thank you for the work you do in education with him and his foundation. I also represent UT. I got a tour of the Pickle Center where the largest super computer was unveiled about two weeks ago through an NSF grant, so it's an extraordinary technology.

I just want to focus on two areas that I know we've covered to some extent, but when I see the students at the University of Texas building the computer chips and other things, and then when I found out after we invest and trained in them, we lose them, and they go back to where they came from, usually China or Asia, and work for our competitor.

That seems to be a failed policy, in my view, and that's one reason why I've co-sponsored raising the cap on H1B visas. We're looking at a bill to issue green cards to Ph.D.s, graduates with a Ph.D.. Obviously, we would like to have more home grown talent, but we're losing that, as you have talked about. If you could -- and this is, you know, a broad question, but in terms of prioritizing federal funding, that's what we have to do. We have limited federal dollars. Where do we need to be really focusing that money both from an education standpoint and an R&D standpoint?

MR. GATES: Yeah. I appreciate your points on H1B and your support on those issues. And, you know, I'd just really highlight how urgent this issue is, whether it's short-term relief or long-term relief, you know, this is making a big difference in terms of where jobs are created.

And if you want to grow the pie of, you know, how many taxpayer dollars they have, these are the types of people and jobs that really do add to that and ideally allow the virtuous that the government funds the universities, the universities train the great people. They go out into companies and get money back to you that then in some form gets to those universities. That's that magic cycle that we've had.

I was just in Austin a couple of weeks ago visiting and seeing the great work they do there, including some particularly good things to encourage Hispanics to come into computer science where they've done amongst the best.

You know, where do federal dollars have the biggest impact? I do think the NSF budget -- it's not actually a very gigantic budget, but those dollars are very impactful, and so if COMPETES was appropriated over these next seven years, we would get as a country a very good return on the increase that goes into that amount of money.

You know, I often think if you said, okay, take something like energy. Should you fund, you know, currently using something that's not economic and so you subsidize it versus fund research to make it, and it won't be overnight, but to make it over time economic, the benefit is so dramatically in favor of funding the research to make it economic versus subsidizing the consumption of the thing that's not economic. I mean, you could take, you know, not even a huge percentage of those dollars and get some I think impactful research funding.

So, you know, the theme that research is where it's at, and that's been successful for the U.S., you look at health, you know, and the exploding health costs. How do you deal with that? Research. You look at energy and the challenges there. You know, you come back to research. Unfortunately, the ability to funnel it through the universities that spend it very well, particularly if they have these talented people from all over the world engaged in their activities, that's the, I think the clearest use of federal dollars.

CHAIRMAN GORDON: Regretfully, I have to say that the gentleman's time has expired. Let me also apologize to those members that did not have a chance to directly ask a question today. But the record will continue to be open for statements or questions that you might like to have.

I think -- Mr. Gates, we very much appreciate your being here. I think your concluding statement is a summary for all of us. And that is, if you look at the major issues today before us, whether it's competitiveness, health, energy independence, we have to have a technological bump. You know, more of the same is not enough. Incremental change is not enough. We're going to have to invest in R&D and get that bump.

Thank you for being here, and this hearing is closed.

MR. GATES: Thank you.

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