This report in an excerpt of the panel discussion during the last APS Meeting among prominent physicists. It highlights the fact that there is a clear perception that the US is losing grounds on discoveries and advancement in physics with the shift going to other countries. The major culprit here is the continually dismal funding of science, and physics in particular.
"We need to redouble our efforts to make sure the projects we select are of the highest importance and impact, and be on the lookout for new technologies and innovations that would allow us to do more of our science goals with more modest resources," said Timothy Hallman, associate director of science for nuclear physics at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).I've mentioned this earlier that I wouldn't be surprised that 100 years from now, if the US no longer is a major economic power, historian might look at this time period of the past 10 years as the turning point and the start of the decline of the US civilization. Every civilization in our history went through such golden period and then the decline. Some even completely perished. Are we beginning to see eventual fate of the US? When a nation no longer supports what has admittedly been the major source and driving force of innovations that had sustained and grew the economy, then it is a sign of the beginning of the downfall.
Jim Siegrist, director of the Office of High Energy Physics in DOE's Office of Science, agreed. "We need to find a way to do more science with a fixed amount of money," Siegrist said.
"I think it'd be easier just to have more money," Wilczek replied.
He argued that society doesn't adequately value and recognize the economic benefits of basic science.
"Think about how much the invention of the transistor is worth," Wilczek said."The fundamental science that went into that was understanding quantum mechanics, understanding the micro world. Bohr didn't get rich from it, Heisenberg didn't get rich from it. But society got rich from it." (Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg were two of the pioneers of quantum mechanics.)