Bob Park is normally funny to read every Friday, either because you agree with him rabidly or because you don’t agree with him but you find his grouchiness lovable . This week, he’s just plain on target. Here are his opening paragraphs, verbatim:
1. HIGH-ENERGY PHYSICS: SANK IN “THE GATHERING STORM.”
Science-policy reps were patting each other on the back in August when
President Bush signed the bipartisan America COMPETES Act in response to
the NAS report Rising Above the Gathering Storm. It was meant to keep
America competitive by boosting basic science, including a doubling of
funding for NSF and the DOE Office of Science. Six months later, the most
basic of all the sciences, high-energy physics, is in a death spiral.
Fermilab faces major layoffs, the neutrino oscillation experiment, NOvA,
which was expected to be the lab’s principle activity after the Tevatron
shuts down, is terminated. Three quarters of the funding for the
International Linear Collider is cut. The US again stiffed ITER on our
share of the fusion program. The NSF increase was pared down to 1
percent. Meanwhile, in a letter to the research community, House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said her “commitment to the innovation agenda remains
strong and steadfast.” Try spending that.
2. IT’S FUNDAMENTAL: DO WE NEED HIGH-ENERGY PHYSICS?
Why would fragile, self-replicating collections of atoms, trapped on a
tiny planet for a few dozen orbits about an undistinguished star among
countless other stars in one of billions of galaxies, spend their orbits
trying to understand how it happened? Others claim to know all the
answers, but the only way to know is to experiment – and they haven’t done
You can find the rest of his column, and all previous columns, here: http://www.bobpark.org