Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The ITER Misadventure

I've highlighted many consequences of the budget cutbacks on high energy physics (Fermilab, SLAC), but let's not forget that the other project that got hit pretty hard is the US contribution to ITER. In fact, the language of the Omnibus bill was rather mean-spirited, singling out that the DOE cannot even reshuffle any money out of other programs to make up the funding shortfall for ITER. What kind of scientific vandalism is that?

This news article describes the current situation as far as the US share in ITER is concerned. In this case, and in the case of ILC, it is the US credibility in upholding what it has agreed to that is the issue.

Sauthoff reiterated Orbach's concern that funding cuts by Congress and other, previous snubs have damaged U.S. credibility as a reliable science partner on the world stage.

Add that to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer debacle, and you have the US as an unreliable partner. The US Congress should be proud to take full credit for this.



Anonymous said...

Why should the US Congress continue to fund ITER, when this huge boondoggle is yet to provide a watt more energy than put in? May be the gravy train for scientists should at last come to an end; the money can instead be spent on things that might benefit humanity. And no, I'm not talking about more black ops spending. How about serious Zero Point Energy research so the third of the people of the Earth currently undernourished can cheaply irrigate and grow crops?

ZapperZ said...

You should ask the SAME thing about your "zero-point energy". How many watts of energy has THAT provided? Huh? How many?

There are many forms of research that do not produce anything during the research period. That's why they call it "research"! Did quantum mechanics produced that semiconductor you use now immediately after it was formulated? You think?

So this requirement that a research project should already produce usable result is pure fallacy.