Scientific Universe

OECD Observer

Astronomers have made enormous progress in the past few decades, developing a convincing model of the origin, evolution and distribution of the visible matter in the Universe, from asteroids and planets to the large-scale structure of clusters of galaxies. But the model fails to explain the composition of some 96% of the contents of the Universe (the enigmatic “dark matter” and “dark energy”) and does not explain the origin or distribution of life.

In short, we need to know more about our Universe, but solving these mysteries will require costly new projects, such as giant optical and radio telescopes which must be organised and financed on a multi-national basis.

It also demands a globally co-ordinated scientific vision of the most important big projects for the next 20 years, greater co-operation in the development of key technologies and closer links between planning processes.

These are the key conclusions of a new report from the OECD Global Science Forum, based on discussions at the OECD by policymakers and leading scientists, and now available at Some of the recommendations are directed towards the international scientific community, others press the case to government funding agencies. The field of astronomy is entering a new scientific and organisational era, and the OECD report lays out the challenges for the decades ahead.

To obtain a CD-Rom and colour brochure on the Global Science Forum, contact

©OECD Observer No 245, November 2004

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