According to the historian Davis Logsdon, who has been sifting through mounds of photographic evidence at the University of Minnesota, the nation apparently once held the view that investing in science and even math could yield accomplishments that would be a source of national pride.
While Logsdon has not developed a complete theory to explain the United States' pro-science stance during that era, he attributes some of it to the liberal views of the President at that time, Richard M. Nixon.
The hunt for alien life has been given a boost after scientists discovered a habitable planet almost the same size as Earth.
Astronomer Thomas Barclay from Nasa's Ames Research Centre in California made the discovery using data collected by the Kepler space telescope.
The unnamed planet was found orbiting an unidentified star in its so-called Goldilocks zone - a region around the star that emits just enough energy, light and temperature for liquid surface water to appear.