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Making a World of Difference: Engineering Ideas into Reality (2014)

Chapter:1989 The Shrinking Globe

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Suggested Citation:"1989 The Shrinking Globe." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Making a World of Difference: Engineering Ideas into Reality. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18966.
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1989 The Shrinking Globe The phenomenon known as globalization—the growing interconnectedness of the world’s peoples, economies, and cultures—has been accelerating since the 1970s, spurred by engineering advances in transportation, production, communication, and, most of all, in computer and information technology. By 1989, as the National Academy of Engineering celebrated its 25th anniver- sary, more than a dozen countries had connected to the fast-growing Internet, and the birth of the World Wide Web was just around the corner. When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, signaling an end to the Cold War, the lowering of travel, political, and economic barriers between East and West raised the likelihood of more international cooperation on matters of both planet-wide and national concern. Just the month before, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States had launched the Human Genome Project. Within a few years the project would grow into an international collaborative effort to decipher the human genetic code governing heredity and its consequences, including hereditary diseases. As the world shifted to the idea of international partnerships and engagement, engineers grappled with global issues such as improving energy efficiency and coping with climate change. It was becoming increasingly clear that no country—not even one as powerful as the United States—could remain secure and prosperous or solve far-reaching global problems, such as air pollution, on its own. “Just as pollutants flow from nation to nation, so capital and technological knowledge flow across national borders,” remarked Robert White, NAE president, at its 25th annual meeting. “In short, our national interests can be served only by global bargains of interdependent nations—economic, industrial, and environmental bargains.” 18 Making a World of Difference

J. C. R. (“Lick”) Licklider envisioned a network of connected computers that gave users access to programs and data anywhere. In 1969, that ancestor to the Internet consisted of just four nodes (below), but was poised for rapid growth. Building the Digital Highway I nterdependence, connection, and collaboration were values that drove the engineers who created the Internet. J. C. R. Licklider, the visionary first director of the Information Process- ing Techniques Office (IPTO) at DOD’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) in the early 1960s, was chief evangelist for a radical new idea: connecting computers in such a way that all users could have access to data and software from anywhere. During his tenure at IPTO, Licklider funded research for three seminal developments in information technology—creation of computer science and engineering departments at several major universities, time-sharing, and networking. His ideas and the work of the many people he sponsored led, directly or indirectly, to the interconnected information age we live in today. Licklider called his idea the “Intergalactic made its debut at the International Conference Computer Network”—a tongue-in-cheek on Computer Communication (ICCC) in recognition of how far-fetched a widespread Washington, DC, demonstrating the viability of computer network seemed at the time. “We its new packet-switching network technology didn’t really expect to get at that right away,” by connecting 20 computer “nodes” located at he remembered later. “It was all we could universities and other sites around the country. possibly do to make time-sharing systems Engineers working on advancing what would work.” Time-sharing—letting multiple people become the backbone of the information age connect to the same mainframe and use its suddenly had a new and powerful tool that power seemingly simultaneously—was still in its could make it happen. infancy. This was, after all, the era of “batch Soon a number of commercial enter- processing,” which often meant waiting in line prises as well as various academic computer (sometimes for days) for your job to be run on research centers were developing computer a big mainframe. Creating a network connect- networks of their own. Each of these ing two or more mainframes with time-sharing networks had its own set of largely incom- capabilities was radical science fiction. patible languages, operating systems, and It took a decade, and the efforts of protocols, so former ARPANET designers numerous teams of engineers working on both Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf began laying hardware and software, but in October 1972, the foundation for the Internet-to-come by science fiction became reality. ARPANET, built developing two sets of protocols (usually and deployed by Bolt, Beranek, and Newman, referred to jointly as TCP/IP, for Transmission Engineering Ideas into Reality 19

Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) that allowed computers and networks to communicate with one another regardless of what software or hardware they used. The burgeoning network led, in the early 1980s, to the Domain Name System (DNS), a kind of automatically updated phone book of host computers and their numerical addresses, which created the original domains of .org, .gov, .com, .edu, .net, .mil, and .us. In 1985, the National Science Foundation was a surge in demand. By 1992, more than 100 needed a way to send a message to a particular In late 1971, Ray Tomlinson used (NSF) announced the creation of five super- countries and more than 6,000 networks were address. In the hectic months leading up to the “at” sign—now computing centers to meet the U.S. research connected—and one-third of those networks ARPANET’s debut in October 1972, its develop- such a familiar community’s growing need for access to were located outside the United States. In 2001, ers were looking to improve communication part of e-mail addresses—and massively high-speed computers. A key part of Cerf, Kahn, Kleinrock, and Roberts were and coordination among themselves. sent the first e-mail this initiative was creation of NSFNET, which awarded that year’s NAE Draper Prize “for the Thus, in late 1971, the first “killer app” for message to himself, the NSF envisioned as a general high-speed development of the Internet.” the Internet was born—the electronic message from one computer to another over network connecting the supercomputing Building the Internet was an example of software that we know today as e-mail. Ray ARPANET. By 1991, centers to regional networks, local academic phenomenal collaboration among engineers in Tomlinson, who worked for ARPANET contrac- the volume of traffic networks, and ARPANET—creating, in other academia, government, and the private sector. tor Bolt Beranek and Newman, wrote the first on the backbone and regional networks words, a “network of networks” or “inter-net.” And one of the keys to this collaboration was simple send-and-read software. He also of NSFNET (above) Moreover, NSF decided to make NSFNET the ability—from the earliest days of time- devised the convention of using the @ symbol was being measured available not just to users at supercomputing sharing—to use computers not just for compu- to signify sending messages from userA@ in billions of bytes, ranging from zero center but to all academic users. Before the tation but also for communication among computerX to userB@computerY and sent the bytes (purple) to 100 end of the decade, the Internet would go colleagues. Because “dumb” terminals had no first message to himself, from one computer to billion bytes (white). international. memory or storage, people would leave simple another. The two machines were side by side in Traffic on the Internet grew so quickly that text messages in each other’s directories on the the same room but connected to one another NSF soon realized it needed more capacity. At time-sharing system, rather like leaving a note only via ARPANET. the same time, NSF sought the participation of on someone’s desk, which message recipients Within a few months, others were writing the private sector, opening the digital highway would see when they logged on. This worked software to organize and enhance e-mail to commercial traffic in order to support fine for colleagues using the same computer features and soon e-mail made up 75 percent networking, build volume, and bring costs but was no help for colleagues at different of all ARPANET traffic. Today it remains the down for everyone. Of course, with every facilities. As soon as the first ARPANET began most commonly used application by hundreds upgrade to the infrastructure backbone, there connecting computers over networks, users of millions of people around the world.  20 Making a World of Difference

R E VO L U T I O N ! From Batch Processing To Time-Sharing Using the resources of the first commercial computers was a painful process. Users keypunched program commands and data on to paper cards and then submitted the stack to a computer operator, who loaded them into the computer’s card reader when nothing else was running. Your job might Birth of the World Wide Web E take only a few seconds of actual computer time, but it -mail was both an essential tool in the collaborative work needed to create the could be hours, or even days, before you got back your Internet in the first place and a new model for person-to-person communication. results, usually printed on green bar computer output paper. But for Tim Berners-Lee, a software engineer at CERN, the European Organization A mistake as simple as a misplaced comma meant that for Nuclear Research in Switzerland, e-mail was not sufficient. instead of meaningful results those pages would contain a “core dump”—an incomprehensible printout of the comput- In 1989, Berners-Lee shared the frustration of Protocol—HTTP—formed the basis for what er’s core memory after your program failed. You then had many of his colleagues at the difficulty of would become the World Wide Web, which to find the error, punch a new card, and resubmit your job. keeping track of experiments and information they described as a web of hypertext docu- Time-sharing took advantage of the fact that any single in their fast-paced world. In his observation, ments that “browsers” could view. user made inefficient use of a computer—entering informa- people responding to an article posted by one In December 1990, they demonstrated tion in bursts followed by long pauses. But if many users scientist might refer not just to that message or prototype software for a basic Web system at worked at the same time, the computer could turn from one topic but also to each other’s messages or CERN. Each file was tagged with the prefix job to another during even brief pauses. Users interacted topics, creating a dense web of digital informa- “http,” followed by “www” (World Wide Web) with the computer through terminals that gave them almost tion in which researchers found it increasingly and a uniform resource locator (URL) identify- immediate feedback. The sense of being the only user fore- difficult to locate material relevant to their own ing the site’s physical host along with the name shadowed the personal computer revolution to come.  research. The best way to access and share that and location of the file in the host’s directory. store of knowledge, Berners-Lee concluded, Visitors to the first Web page—at CERN—could was to use the technique known as hypertext, learn about hypertext and the Web project Office workers at time-sharing terminals connected to a PDP-8. with links that let a reader jump from the itself, as well as find technical details for mention of a document to the document itself, creating their own Web pages. allowing users to navigate CERN’s huge store Berners-Lee had set out to solve a of information in any direction. problem for a few thousand specialists who That March, Berners-Lee submitted a plan wanted a way to access information in their for “information management” to his boss at own organization. But very quickly people CERN, who called it “vague but interesting.” outside the organization were accessing the Given the go-ahead to flesh out the proposal, Web, and in 1993 (“badgered” into it by Berners-Lee and Belgian systems engineer Berners-Lee and Cailliau), CERN’s directors Robert Cailliau grafted the hypertext idea onto made the Web freely available to the general the Transfer Control Protocol (TCP) and public. The free Web soon outstripped a rival Domain Name System (DNS) already in use on that charged a fee. “The whole web had always the Internet. The resulting Hypertext Transfer been done by people who were very interna- Engineering Ideas into Reality 21

tionally-minded, very public-spirited, and very excited about the outcome,” Berners- Champaign. During his senior year in 1992, he Lee would say years later. In 2007 he would be took a part-time job at NSF’s National Center awarded the Draper Prize “for developing the for Supercomputing Applications, where he World Wide Web.” gained access to the World Wide Web. Before so that purchases could be made safely over Tim Berners-Lee, Using the World Wide Web requires Andreessen graduated, he and others at the the Internet. Other innovative “dot-com” shown at CERN with the NeXT software called a browser to retrieve, present, center, including fellow student Eric Bina, companies founded in the 1990s included the computer he or navigate information resources on the devised a graphically enhanced Web browser Internet retailer Amazon and the search engine used to invent Web. Berners-Lee’s browser was called called Mosaic, which was released free over Google, which intended to make all information the World Wide Web, wrote his WorldWideWeb because at the time it was the Internet in 1993. Mosaic proved hugely publicly available over the Internet. Both revolutionary the only way to see the Web. “Much later it was popular and led to an explosion in Web use. companies would expand far beyond the United proposal for the renamed Nexus,” he would recall, “in order to Jim Clark, a successful computer program- States, relying heavily on engineering advances Web in March 1989. The cover save confusion between the program and the mer and entrepreneur, then teamed with in data storage to pack ever-increasing amounts of the proposal abstract information space (which is now Andreessen to launch Netscape, a company of data into ever-shrinking hard drives. (above) sketches spelled World Wide Web with spaces).” that adapted Mosaic for commercial purposes. The Internet, the World Wide Web, and how hypertext links would allow The original Web and browser dealt Netscape Navigator was released in 1994 and search engines promoted globalization and the users to follow only in text. One of the earliest browsers to was the dominant Web browser for that decade. rewards and risks that came with it. Today the their interests introduce static images (video was still years Among Netscape’s innovations were so-called term “web” describes more than just the cyber from source to source. away) was developed by a young computer cookies, which track visits to websites, allowing universe of information resources. It is an whiz named Marc Andreesen, an engineering advertisers to identify user interests, and a increasingly apt description of how the world student at the University of Illinois at Urbana- technique for encrypting credit card numbers is knitted together.  22 Making a World of Difference

W or k ing in S pace Still Above and Beyond The period from the late 1960s to the early 1990s was a time of extraordinary engineering accomplishments in the space program. Following the successful Apollo moon landing, aero- space engineers transformed the space program from a series Soaring prices and long lines for of one-time launches to a mature program with frequent gasoline in the flights into space. That work gave mankind a permanent orbit- early 1970s led to ing laboratory at the International Space Station (ISS). As of federal requirements 2014, the ISS has been continually occupied for 14 years. doubling average Five U.S. Space Shuttles flew 135 missions, collectively fuel mileage to 27.5 miles per gallon spending more than three and a half years in orbit. Dozens within 10 years. of these were in support of the ISS, but others performed important science. One shuttle experiment demonstrated that dangerous bacteria get even more dangerous in low gravity. By investigating the process involved, biomedical researchers have been able to develop a Salmonella vaccine. Research Clean and Efficient Energy with other disease-causing microbes may lead to similar B breakthroughs in the future. In the course of the 135 missions, y 1989, engineers had made notable progress in designing motor vehicles that were two shuttles were lost, indicating what a daunting systems both less polluting and more fuel-efficient. Those advances were prompted by engineering challenge going into space was and still is. growing awareness of the health risks of air pollution and the need for Americans One of the most exciting and productive eras in space- to conserve oil and gasoline, which was largely imported and increasingly expensive. based science began with the deployment of the Hubble Actions by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in the early 1970s Space Telescope in 1990. Earthbound engineers worked to restrict supply had caused U.S. gasoline prices to soar, prompting Congress in 1975 to with astronomers to build an instrument that would spend require that the average fuel efficiency for cars be doubled to 27.5 miles per gallon within decades in orbit to give us pictures of the furthest corners of 10 years. At the same time, clean air laws went into effect on new cars that strictly limited the universe. Hubble has given us a close look at the planets harmful exhaust emissions, including carbon monoxide and other compounds that can within our Solar System, and found planetary bodies orbit- cause serious damage to human health and the environment. States required periodic ing distant stars. Its observations have also shown that the inspections of cars to ensure that they met tailpipe emissions standards. expansion of the universe is accelerating, which astronomers now believe is evidence of “dark energy.” The ISS, the Hubble Space Telescope, and many smaller Automotive engineers responded to those emissions. In 1981 an engineering team led by probes and spacecraft embody the engineering that has challenges by developing new techniques Carl Keith and John Mooney at Engelhard made it easier to reach outer space while producing tech- and improving devices that processed vehicle Corporation designed the three-way catalytic nologies that benefit the Earth below.  exhaust. Building on the 1950s pioneering converter, still used today to reduce auto work of French engineer Eugene Houdry, emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, who had used catalysts to turn unburned and nitrogen oxide (a gas that contributes to The space shuttle Endeavour, hydrocarbons from car exhaust into carbon smog and acid rain). The three-way catalytic docked at the ISS, as viewed dioxide and water, American engineers converter significantly improved public health. from a departing Russian created the first practical commercial, As one EPA official said when Keith died in Soyuz spacecraft. two-way catalytic convertors in the 1970s to 2008, “Billions of people around the world reduce hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide breathe cleaner air because of this invention.” Engineering Ideas into Reality 23

Carl Keith (far left) and Homes, offices, apartment buildings, and John Mooney received hospitals produce their share of emissions, the 2002 National Medal of Technology mainly from heating. More significant sources and Innovation from include industries and power plants, many President George W. fueled by coal, which often contains significant Bush for the invention of the three-way amounts of sulfur. Historically, the combustion catalytic converter. of coal in industrialized countries produced both major economic benefits and serious health and environmental risks, creating smog Increasing mileage to meet government so thick in some cases that it proved deadly. standards required further engineering Environmental concerns and laws spurred advances, including the use of sturdy but engineering solutions to those problems. In lightweight construction materials such as 1985 the Department of Energy (DOE) launched Airbags were among aluminum, duralumin (a strong aluminum the Clean Coal Technology Program, which many engineering innovations that increased alloy), engineered plastics, and fiberglass. sponsored research that made coal burners automobile safety. Reductions in weight tend to make cars less more efficient and reduced emissions of crash-resistant, but engineers compensated pollutants. Existing technologies such as coal with design techniques that improved crash scrubbers were improved and installed at many tolerances. Along with other safety measures, power plants, where they captured significant such as road safety engineering and speed amounts of sulfur dioxide, the major contributor regulations, the incorporation of devices such to acid rain, before the exhaust was released as seatbelts, airbags, antilock brakes, and into the atmosphere. Emissions of nitrogen running lights helped make driving less oxides were also reduced using improved coal dangerous, even as autos became lighter on burners and scrubbers. Since 1990, those average and more fuel-efficient. Between 1970 advances—combined with cleaner exhaust from and 1990, U.S. traffic fatalities decreased 57 cars, trucks, and other sources—have helped percent, from an annual rate of 4.85 deaths per cut annual emissions of sulfur dioxide in the 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 1970 United States by 75 percent and annual to 2.08 deaths per 100 million VMT in 1990. emissions of nitrogen oxides by 50 percent. To meet clean air standards, engineers had By the late 1980s, another environmental to reduce pollution not just from cars and challenge was emerging for engineers and for trucks but also from other major sources. the world at large. The Clean Air Act more than

By 1992, 110 nuclear power plants were contributing nearly 22 percent of electricity produced in the United States—a figure that has changed little since. two decades earlier had addressed the energy had been under way at DOE since the generation of pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, oil crisis in the 1970s, when several national nitrogen oxides, and particulates from the laboratories began to research alternative, burning of fossil fuels. Now atmospheric largely naturally renewable sources such as accumulations of greenhouse gases carbon solar, wind, hydropower, and geothermal dioxide and methane were linked to a disturb- power. For example, the National Renewable ing long-term increase in global temperatures. Energy Laboratory (NREL, established in 1977 (Greenhouse gases are so named because the as the Solar Energy Research Institute) in historical record shows that their excess Golden, Colorado, has long conducted research presence in the atmosphere blocks the escape and promoted development of solar energy of heat from the planet.) and other renewable sources. Solar photovol- On February 22, 1989, Rep. Claudine taic power has been enhanced through Schneider of Rhode Island introduced the development of more efficient solar cells and of Global Warming Prevention Act, which called engineering systems that use lenses to intensify Technology first developed in the mid-1990s at for the United States to reduce carbon dioxide the sunlight charging the cells. Two solar projects such as Solar Two (above) in the Mojave Desert demonstrated that solar heat stored in emissions 20 percent by 2005. According to thermal demonstration projects were launched thermal towers could be used to produce steam the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, in California’s Mojave Desert. Solar One (1982) to power turbines to generate electricity. carbon dioxide emissions (as carbon) from and Solar Two (1996) used mirrors to construct energy use—including gasoline for automo- a solar amplifier and focus sunlight on receivers biles, natural gas for home heating, and various in thermal towers. The receivers stored heat in fuels for generating electricity—totaled about a liquid medium and then used it to produce 1.4 billion metric tons in the United States in steam to power turbines and generate electric- concerns about the safety of nuclear power 1989, roughly 20 percent of the world total. ity—methods now used to provide electricity to following a partial meltdown at Three Mile Regulations to reduce emissions would power grids. Research by the NREL also helped Island in Pennsylvania in 1979, the U.S. Nuclear have required disruptive changes in energy engineers design modern wind turbines that Regulatory Commission and the industry’s systems across the country, however, and many generate 15 times more electricity than did the Nuclear Energy Institute raised design stan- political leaders resisted. Even with bipartisan average turbine in 1990. dards for reactors and improved training and support from 144 congressional cosponsors, Nuclear power plants, although not a emergency-response measures. Engineers met the Global Warming Prevention Act did not get source of renewable energy, produce no carbon the new design standards, and by 1992, 110 out of committee and to the House floor. dioxide or other air pollution. In 1979, 72 nuclear power plants were contributing nearly Although reducing carbon emissions was a licensed reactors produced 12 percent of the 22 percent of electricity produced in the United nonstarter, efforts to find cleaner sources of nation’s electrical output. Responding to public States—a figure that has changed little since.  Engineering Ideas into Reality 25

Building for Safety A round 5 p.m. on October 17, 1989, an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale Historic Oakland shook the San Francisco Bay area, convulsing a region inhabited by more than 6 City Hall was retrofitted after the million people. The quake caused more than 60 deaths, injured nearly 4,000 1989 earthquake people, and caused $6 billion in damage to buildings, roads, and bridges. Still, the using base isolation earthquake indicated how far engineering had progressed in designing for disasters. Except for techniques that placed 112 rubber old masonry structures or those situated atop loose, sandy soil that liquefied, the vast majority and steel bearing of buildings remained unaffected. San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, where fans were awaiting pads between the the first pitch of the third game of the World Series between the hometown Giants and the building and its foundation. Oakland Athletics, was shaken sufficiently to result in an emergency evacuation but remained intact. And the city’s tallest building, the Transamerica Pyramid—constructed in the early 1970s with massive concrete-and-steel trusses at its base to withstand seismic shocks—swayed during the quake but suffered no damage. During the 1970s and ’80s, an effective way to nique, known as base isolation, involves placing buffer buildings of average height against bearings made of rubber or other shock-ab- earthquakes was developed collaboratively by sorbing materials between the ground and the structural engineers such as William Robinson base of a structure. Oakland City Hall (right) of New Zealand and James Kelly of the was among the older buildings retrofitted in University of California, Berkeley. The tech- that manner following the 1989 earthquake. And, in January 1994, a new building incorpo- With each earthquake, fresh data went into rating the same technology—the USC Univer- computer models that use the finite element sity Hospital in Los Angeles—would fare well method (FEM) to predict how designs still on during a 6.7 magnitude earthquake that the drawing board would fare in that quake. damaged other hospitals in the area and Engineers began testing scale models of small caused patients to be evacuated. buildings on “shake tables” that simulate an To avoid loss of life and mitigate the steep earthquake using earlier recordings of earth- cost of retrofitting buildings, structural quake ground motions. They also developed engineers developed even more precise ways probes to determine whether soil would liquefy of predicting and countering the potentially during severe tremors and where construction deadly impact of seismic shocks and other should be avoided or existing structures should stresses on buildings before they are built. In be reinforced. Such safety measures could save many buildings in seismically active zones, countless lives when high-risk zones like the engineers installed instruments to record how San Francisco Bay area suffer major earth- the buildings respond to tremors large or small. quakes in the future.  26 Making a World of Difference

massive Human Genome Project to determine the precise order, or sequence, of the nucleo- tide pairs that link the twin strands of chromo- somal DNA like the rungs of a ladder. The base pairs, as they’re called, come in two combina- tions—A and T (adenine and thymine) or C and G (cytosine and guanine)—and the genome contains about three billion of them. James Watson was named The U.S. government took the lead for the first director Human Genome Project by investing nearly $3 of the Human billion, but it was defined from the start as a Genome Project to determine global research effort. The process of sequenc- the order of ing human DNA originally involved much the nucleotide laborious manual effort, and skeptics warned base pairs that connect the that the project might take several decades to twin strands complete and cost tens of billions of dollars. of DNA that But very soon, innovative engineering—such as make up our chromosomes. using robotic arms to perform meticulous and repetitive lab procedures—helped researchers advance toward the goal of fully automated sequencing techniques, Knowing Ourselves: Biomedical Engineering allowing them to transcribe and decipher I n 1953, molecular biologist James Watson and British biophysicist Francis Crick determined the base pair code much more quickly and the double helix structure of the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) that makes up our chromo- efficiently than predicted. somes, the structures in the nuclei of our cells containing the thousands of genes in the Because sequencing could be done only human genome. That breakthrough led to feats of genetic engineering with far-reaching on short bits of DNA, the results were like tiny benefits. For example, in the 1980s, recombinant DNA technology—which splices together pieces of an immense puzzle that researchers strands of DNA from different species to produce genetic sequences not found in nature— assembled and interpreted using supercomput- yielded new strains of disease-resistant crops. It also led to the creation and manufacture of a ers. Among those who refined such techniques form of human insulin that is less likely to cause allergic reactions when administered medically were Francis Collins, who would succeed James than earlier forms of insulin extracted and purified from the pancreas of pigs or cows. Watson as director of the Human Genome Project in 1993, and J. Craig Venter, who As gratifying as these first uses of genetic example, if DNA sequencing reveals a genetic founded Celera Genomics, a company that engineering were, medical researchers believed predisposition to certain forms of cancer, used a controversial “shotgun” method that that deciphering the human genome would frequent diagnostic testing could lead to expedited sequencing. The public-private have even more profound consequences for early detection of the disease and an competition, which involved interdisciplinary human health care. Decoding the genome opportunity for effective treatment. teams and automated procedures at a few could lead to treatments for many of the more Thus, in November 1989, the NIH estab- major centers, would help complete the than 4,000 genetic diseases that afflict lished the National Center for Human Genome process by 2003, two years ahead of schedule. humanity, as well as for disorders in which Research, choosing James Watson to be its In a fitting nod to the digital age, the full genetic predisposition is important. For first director. Watson’s job was to launch the genome sequence was published on the Engineering Ideas into Reality 27

J. Craig Venter (below) founded Celera Genomics to find faster ways of sequencing the human genome. Instruments like the one at left are used to break DNA into small pieces for analysis. Internet rather than in materials to create artificial hip and knee book form. Had the replacements, as well as in methods of using sequence been committed electromagnetic signals from muscle contrac- to paper, it would have tions to control prosthetic hands, arms, and legs. filled hundreds of thou- New electronic devices—implanted defibrilla- sands of pages with text tors—were developed to automatically restore consisting of four letters normal heart rhythms to individuals experienc- (A, C, G, and T), repeated ing otherwise fatal fibrillation. Breakthroughs in in seemingly endless tissue engineering led to artificial skin made combinations—a cryptic code containing the from collagen, silicone, and other substances secrets of life. being used surgically to treat those who had One of the project’s significant findings suffered severe burns, but sometimes the was that the human genome contains only patient’s immune system rejected such grafts. 20,000 to 25,000 genes—dramatically fewer That problem was addressed by Eugene Bell of than the 100,000 genes estimated a decade MIT, who founded a company called Organogen- earlier, and fewer than the 30,000 to 35,000 esis that produced Graftskin, which included genes estimated from the rough draft of the cultured human cells and proved successful in genome finished in 2000. According to Project clinical trials. In 1998 Graftskin would become Director Collins, “The availability of the highly the first living engineered tissue approved for accurate human genome sequence in free use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). public databases enables researchers around Other tissues engineered for medical purposes the world to conduct even more precise included bone, cartilage, and even arteries. studies of our genetic instruction book and Before the end of the 20th century, medical how it influences health and disease.” The advances that earlier generations would have Breakthroughs in the 1980s in biocompatible creative engineering that speeded the labori- dismissed as fantasy—the creation of new organs materials and orthopedic biomechanics have led ous task of mapping the human genome also and organisms in laboratories—had become to artificial skin, as well as to artificial hip and knee helped make DNA analysis for individuals more possible. Engineering advances not only in replacements. Meanwhile, with new methods of using electrical signals from muscle contractions efficient and affordable, allowing people to biomedicine but also in public health and safety, people can control prosthetic arms, hands, and legs. research their ancestry, for example, for a few energy efficiency, and digital computing and hundred dollars or less. communications had transformed the world in The 1980s also saw breakthroughs in ways that few of those alive at the start of the orthopedic biomechanics and biocompatible century could have imagined.  28 Making a World of Difference

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Fifty years ago, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) was founded by the stroke of a pen when the National Academy of Sciences Council approved the NAE's articles of organization. Making a World of Difference commemorates the NAE anniversary with a collection of essays that highlight the prodigious changes in people's lives that have been created by engineering over the past half century and consider how the future will be similarly shaped. Over the past 50 years, engineering has transformed our lives literally every day, and it will continue to do so going forward, utilizing new capabilities, creating new applications, and providing ever-expanding services to people. The essays of Making a World of Difference discuss the seamless integration of engineering into both our society and our daily lives, and present a vision of what engineering may deliver in the next half century.

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