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Since 1967, Photonics Spectra magazine has defined the science and industry of photonics, providing both technical and practical information for every aspect of the global industry and promoting an international dialogue among the engineers, scientists and end users who develop, commercialize and buy photonics products. Stay current with a FREE subscription to the digital or print edition.

EDITORIAL COMMENT
Latest Issue
Mar 2021

Evidence-based thinking is not rhetorical

DANIEL MCCARTHY, SENIOR EDITOR [email protected]
DANIEL MCCARTHY, SENIOR EDITORA few days before his inauguration, U.S. President Joe Biden nominated Eric Lander to be his administration’s science advisor as well as the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. In doing so, Biden took the additional and curious step of elevating the role of science advisor — which had historically been a nonofficial function — to a Cabinet-level position.

The move was largely a symbolic gesture. It brought no new influence or responsibilities to the title. And yet the scientific community should welcome such gestures as a reaffirmation of the validity of models and methodology in an environment where evidence-based thinking has somehow become viewed as a political position.

Scientific evidence was never intended to prove absolute truths. Rather, it presents models to be tested and challenged. Models either stand up to testing or they don’t. They either work or they fail to work. The point is that you can invest in and build upon tried and tested scientific models with a reasonable level of confidence that they’ll yield a positive return.

What sort of returns does science yield?

As Marie Freebody reports in this issue, the market for pharmaceutical testing and analytical services was valued in 2019 at nearly $3.5 billion, according to a report on MarketWatch, and is now predicted to grow by another 11% by 2027. Freebody’s article goes on to detail the role and value that spectroscopy is contributing to the pharmaceutical market.

Flow cytometry, which Farooq Ahmed explores in a feature here, represents a market projected to reach $8.9 billion by 2026, according to Grand View Research. A growing number of laser wavelengths, fluorescent probes, and analytical techniques are fueling this trend, Ahmed reports.

Lacking discrete components, embedded vision technology doesn’t easily lend itself to market reports. What it does lend itself to is high-volume production and application on a mass scale, as anyone who owns a smartphone can attest. In a feature appearing here, Hank Hogan surveys the latest advancements and challenges influencing adoption of embedded vision systems.

These and the other technologies that we cover in this issue provide ample evidence that scientific evidence is not rhetorical. It may be open to alternative interpretations, but not to alternative facts — and that’s something this industry can take to the bank.
Mike Wheeler
As editor-in-chief, Michael Wheeler oversees Photonics Media's editorial operations — spanning print, web, and podcasts. He also serves as editor of Vision Spectra, chronicling advancements in the rapidly expanding machine vision/inspection sector.
Dan McCarthy
Senior editor Dan McCarthy manages editorial content and production for Photonics Spectra. An award-winning writer and editor, he has communicated the progress and practical value of advanced technologies for over two decades.
Doug Farmer
Senior Editor Douglas Farmer has been a journalist for nearly 20 years, winning awards for health and education reporting. He has a master's degree in journalism from Ball State University. He is editor of EuroPhotonics and BioPhotonics magazines.
 
Sarah Weiler
As Webinar & Social Media Coordinator, Sarah Weiler organizes and produces all Photonics Media webinars and manages social media content. With a background in writing and editing, she also contributes to the print publications.
Valerie Coffey
Science writer Valerie C. Coffey holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s in astronomy. She has covered optics, photonics, physics, and astronomy for a variety of industry and academic publications since 2000.
Hank Hogan
Contributing Editor Hank Hogan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He worked in the semiconductor industry and now writes about science and technology.
 
Marie Freebody
Contributing Editor Marie Freebody is a freelance science and technology journalist with a master’s degree in physics and a concentration in nuclear astrophysics from the University of Surrey in England.
Farooq Ahmed
Farooq Ahmed has covered the physical and biological sciences for over a decade. He has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Brown University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Columbia University.
 
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