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By putting people at the center of product development and combining their different perspectives, artists and scientists can create better products and ultimately more jobs, experts said at the AAAS Forum on Science & Technology Policy.

Undergraduate physics students generally don’t delve into string theory until they take upper-level courses. And it’s rare, at best, to find them doing highly esoteric research in a field that explores the very essence of physical reality. But Jim Gates, one of the world’s premier string theory scholars, has been using undergraduate research assistants for over a decade, and their work has contributed to papers published in refereed journals.

The United States needs to take steps quickly to remain competitive in the global economy, Charles M. Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering, warned in a lecture at the annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy.“A national nightmare could be unfolding,” Vest said during the annual William D. Carey Lecture on 5 May. “It doesn’t have to happen. It is the 11th hour, however, but this nightmare still need not materialize. Indeed, I actually don’t believe it will materialize. But we must get started now on a strategic agenda for the long haul.”

A strong manufacturing sector that can convert discoveries and ideas into new products and processes is a necessary ingredient of strategies to maintain the nation’s global competitiveness in science and technology, said National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Director Patrick Gallagher.

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Tanzania and Zambia are petitioning to downgrade the conservation status of elephants and allow the sale of tons of stockpiled ivory, but researchers are warning that such a ruling could endanger the mammoth mammals by encouraging more illegal poaching.