Sunday, January 07, 2007

Funding Science

Today's New York Times (p. 19) includes an article about the decrease in funding for science, especially the physical sciences. The author, William Broad, reports how Congressional failure to pass a new budget means that science agency budgets are frozen at their current levels. This, in turn, translates into a relative decline due to inflation. In short, the much-anticipated increase in science funding, especially at the NSF (the so-called "doubling") that was getting science managers excited last year has not materialized. Indeed, according to Borad, there has been movement in other direction.

The article details problems this will create for particle physicists at places like Fermi Lab and Brookhaven. However, it does discuss funding in general at the NSF which is where a good deal of federal money for nanoscience research comes from.

The article also points out that the biomedical sciences receive about 5 times (about $25 billion a year) more support than the physical sciences.

All of this raises some important questions - how much of science policy is simply about money? Does improving science mean giving scientists more money? And what does this budget stalemate mean for nanoscience research?

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