Celebrating 150 Years of Service to the Nation

On March 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Act creating the National Academy of Sciences. Throughout its history, the Academy has promoted excellence in science through the election of its members and original research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and has provided independent, authoritative advice on matters related to science, engineering, and medicine—leaving a lasting impact on science, the nation, and the world. In 2013, we celebrated our 150th anniversary with a range of activities that focused not only on the history of the NAS but also in large part on the story of science itself and its role in building and shaping our country and establishing its place in the world.

The National Academy of Sciences Building: A Home for Science in America

A Home for Science in America recounts the history of the National Academy of Sciences Building, which was dedicated in 1924, richly illustrating its architecture and ornamentation, and describing its restoration and renewal for the 21st century. This book is available for purchase online from the National Academies Press.

Featured Video: Freeman Dyson - Let's Look for Life in the Outer Solar System

Physicist Freeman Dyson suggests that we start looking for life on the moons of Jupiter and out past Neptune, in the Kuiper belt and the Oort cloud. He talks about what such life would be like—and how we might find it. Dr. Dyson was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1964.

PNAS Classic: Kathleen Danna and Daniel Nathans - How Restriction Enzymes Became the Workhorses of Molecular Biology

Restriction enzymes have proved to be invaluable for the physical mapping of DNA. The first experiments demonstrating the utility of restriction enzymes were carried out by Danna and Nathans and reported in 1971. This pioneering study set the stage for the modern practice of molecular biology in which restriction enzymes are ubiquitous tools, although they are often taken for granted.

Pictured above: Dan Nathans (left) and Hamilton Smith (right) in the laboratory at Johns Hopkins University (Copyright 1978, Susie Fitzhugh).


Climate Change: Information and Resources
from the Academies

The risks posed by climate change indicate a pressing need for action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare for adapting to its impacts. A website from the Academies provides links to reports, videos, and other resources.

National Academies Press:
More than 4,000 Titles Available Online

The National Academies Press (NAP) publishes the reports of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council. NAP publishes more than 200 books each year on a wide range of topics in science, engineering, and medicine, providing authoritative information on important matters in science and health policy. NAP offers more than 4,000 titles online as PDFs, which may be downloaded in full or by chapter.

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  • Browse Special Collections
    Discover the best collections of books that the National Academies Press has to offer in selected subject areas. Handpicked by NAP staff, these are the most current and relevant resources. Search inside each book or search across all the titles in each collection to learn more about key issues in science, engineering and medicine.

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The Academy’s 150th anniversary activities were made possible
through the generous support of the following organizations:

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