Friday, February 01, 2008

More on Science Funding Woes

I just found another article from Scientific American dealing with funding cuts for basic science research. It, too, points out that such cuts in this day and age are entirely counterproductive for our nation. Such cuts affect:

  • economic development and growth (our economy is largely driven by scientific innovation and technology development;
  • competitiveness and standing in the global community (we have reached superpower status largely because of the gap in science infrastructure and discovery between the U.S. and the rest of the world);
  • scientifically literate workforce decline (we risk having our own 'brain-drain' as scientists leave the U.S. to go to the top facilities, which are being located in other parts of the world...for example, we have already seen this in high energy physics, stem cell research, and at some level the world of alternative energy technology and development);
  • hurting our future scientists (cuts at the national lab level, for instance, have resulted in some 700 projects being terminated; national labs play a significant role in providing a training ground for young scientists and students);
  • may have a negative effect long-term in our ability to do 'big science' of any kind (we have pulled funding on ITER, the experimental fusion reactor being built in France; science research has become international in many fields, and requires monetary contributions for many larger projects from multinational collaborations...we now have sent the world a message that we may not be trusted to partner in future projects);
  • hurts industry (there are countless contracts between labs in academia/national labs and private industry, because researchers at the company/industry level are 'users' at these other labs, where large, sophisticated scientific machines and facilities exist; we are cancelling some of the projects and shutting down several facilities that some industries also need...the worry is, will industry R&D groups relocate overseas where they have access to similar, better funded facilities?)

Let's hope the funding woes will improve after the November elections.

1 comment:

M. Simon said...

Considering that the Democrats in Congress did the slashing are you hopeful for a return of the Republicans?

In any case small fusion may have better prospects than big fusion.

WB-7 First Plasma