Tuesday, June 12, 2007

John Cramer May Not Be Running Out Of Time

I wrote earlier about a news piece regarding University of Washington's John Cramer and his failure to find funding support to continue his research on a highly speculative "time travel" work. The work was even "too weird" for DARPA.

Well now, after that story broke in the media, the sympathetic public has donated more than $35,000 for him to continue with this line of work.

"This country puts a lot more money into things that seem to me much crazier than this," said Mitch Rudman, a music industry executive in Las Vegas whose family foundation donated $20,000 to the experiment. "It's outrageous to me that talented scientists have to go looking for a few bucks to do anything slightly outside the box."

So it looks like he might be able to continue with this. But what exactly can be done with $35,000? If he's thinking of doing any experimental work, that would require significantly more than that, I would think. It would not even pay half of his salary. And all this is before the University takes in its "overhead" costs, as they normally do. Doing physics is EXPENSIVE.

This is not the first time some parts of physics had to be rescued via donation. A couple of years ago, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven would have been shut down for a year's worth of run due to budget cutbacks until they were bailed out by a substantial donation from a company to keep running. That was when I think everyone kinda sat up and realized the pathetic level of basic research funding that the country in at that time. We had to seek donations to keep a nuclear physics facility that was at its prime.

Who knows. Maybe soon enough, when we hire graduate students or postdoc, part of their job requirement might be to stand on street corners passing out donation cans and begging for money.


1 comment:

Brenda said...

I like your blog Zz... Just thought that I would mention that since I see few comments. I read it but don't comment because... well... I don't feel I have much to add. I'm an artist with a strong interest in science.

I like your nice clear explanations of QM and other topics. And I can post a link to you and appear smarter than I actually am ;)