Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Severe Blows To US Nuclear Physics and High Energy Physics Funding

The current President Obama's 2013 budget proposal for the Department of Energy appears to be devastating for Nuclear/Fusion physics and High Energy Physics funding.

Overall, the budget numbers for the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Science, the single largest funder of physical sciences research in the United States, look reasonably good. The office would see its budget climb by 2.4% to $4.992 billion. Three of the office's six major research programs, however, are slated for potentially devastating cuts. While programs with connections to clean energy technologies come out ahead, the fusion energy science, nuclear physics, and high-energy physics programs suffer.
While this is severe, it isn't surprising. The US appears to have "shut down" and freely relinquish any kind of initiative to reclaim its powers in high energy physics. And let's be clear about this, the economic impact will be felt soon enough, not just in terms of the direct scientific benefits, but also the technological side effects that typically accompany a major accelerator facility. Somehow, people still do not see how advances in experimental high energy physics have trickled down into devices that are now being used in material science, medicine, etc. Advances that we make for particle detectors will be the high resolution detectors in medical physics of tomorrow. That type of benefits have somehow been lost completely.

And again, as in the past, it appears that the burden of trying to "cut spending" falls onto the small guys, the ones with the small budgets, rather than on the big boys.


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