In This Issue
The Bridge: 50th Anniversary Issue
December 20, 2020 Volume 50 Issue S
This special issue celebrates the 50th year of publication of the NAE’s flagship quarterly with 50 essays looking forward to the next 50 years of innovation in engineering. How will engineering contribute in areas as diverse as space travel, fashion, lasers, solar energy, peace, vaccine development, and equity? The diverse authors and topics give readers much to think about! We are posting selected articles each week to give readers time to savor the array of thoughtful and thought-provoking essays in this very special issue. Check the website every Monday!
Articles In This Issue
  • Thursday, January 7, 2021
    AuthorJohn L. Anderson

    In theory there is no difference between theory
    and practice, while in practice there is.

    The intention to “do good” is not always realized in the engineering of artifacts, processes, and systems. Innovations have led to many improvements in health, security, and quality of life, ...

  • Thursday, January 7, 2021
    AuthorSheila Jasanoff


    Chemistry, physics, and biology took turns shaping the frontiers of industrial development from the mid-19th century onward, but this century’s future belongs squarely to engineering.

    This is an era of unprecedented convergence across multiple fields, propelled by breakthroughs in ...

  • Wednesday, January 6, 2021
    AuthorJoseph G. Allen and John D. Macomber

    Fifty years seems a very long time in the future for most industries. Not so in buildings and real estate; built structures routinely last decades if not hundreds of years, as long as they are economically competitive. Any discussion of the 50-year future has to consider existing stock as well as ...

  • Wednesday, January 6, 2021
    AuthorTom H. Byers and Tina L. Seelig

    Now more than ever it is critically important for engineering graduates to be prepared to evaluate the consequences of the technologies they invent and scale.

    In the past the impacts of new technologies—from nuclear power to genetic engineering—emerged over decades, and government ...

  • Wednesday, January 6, 2021
    AuthorArup K. Chakraborty and Bernhardt L. Trout

    Human history is inextricably linked with infectious diseases. Smallpox and plague pandemics and epidemics have afflicted humans since antiquity. As recently as the 19th century, roughly one in 100 people living in New York City died of tuberculosis.

    To an inhabitant of the 19th century, the early ...

  • Thursday, December 24, 2020
    AuthorAnita Goel

    The consciousness with which science is pursued plays a critical role in shaping scientific worldviews, the fundamental questions asked, and the technologies created and their ultimate impacts on society.

    My childhood exposure, while growing up in the rural landscapes of -Mississippi, to ...

  • Thursday, December 24, 2020
    AuthorIk-Kyung Jang, Monica S. Jang, and Ronald M. Latanision

    Over 4 million people are admitted to hospitals annually with a diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome (ACS), which includes unstable angina and acute heart attack. The three most common underlying mechanisms for ACS are plaque rupture (40–60 percent), plaque erosion (40–60 percent), and ...

  • Thursday, December 24, 2020
    AuthorDaniel Metlay

    In 1973 the German philosopher Hans Jonas posed the central ethical test for modern technological society. He observed that previously the “good and evil about which action had to care lay close to the act, either in the praxis itself or in its immediate reach,” whereas a new ...

  • Tuesday, December 22, 2020
    AuthorKentaro Toyama

    About 5 years ago the number of mobile phone accounts in the world exceeded the total human population (ITU 2019). Nomadic pastoralists in East Africa and tribal communities in South Asia make fluent use of cellphones, even where life is otherwise preindustrial, even preagrarian. As measured by the ...

  • Tuesday, December 22, 2020
    AuthorSihong Wang

    Over the past few decades information technology (IT) has suffused every corner of society and reshaped the way people live, communicate, work, and entertain themselves. The next 50 years are likely to yield another generational change in electronics, and corresponding changes in people’s ...