Those in the physical sciences should be as pleased as their biomedical colleagues are because Obama proposed to increase the Department of Energy's Office of Science from $4.8 billion to $4.9 billion, again, not taking into account the gaudy $1.6 billion awarded in February, which must be spent by next year. The Department of Energy's total includes $280 million for setting up eight so-called Energy Innovation Hubs, to be funded at $25 million per year, which would each focus on one specific area, including solar fuels and nuclear energy.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) did particularly well, with a request of $7.04 billion, an 8.5% jump over the $6.5 billion it received in 2009. That increase would keep it on course to achieve a promised budget doubling within a decade. The foundation's six research directorates would receive a 10% boost, to $5.73 billion, and its education programs would inch up by 1.5%, to $858 million. NSF officials don't plan to release details until next week's meeting of the National Science Board, which oversees it.
Still, this may not survive intact after both Congress and the Senate hack at it. After many years of suffering with miserable budget, this was the first year that the physical sciences actually had an increase in spending, especially in fields such as high energy. It would be nice if this can be sustained rather than having the rug pulled under...