When President Bush delivered his State of the Union address a week ago, he signaled his intention to request that Congress deliver significantly higher funding for physical sciences research. When the President sends the 2009 budget request to Congress later today, it is expected that he will hold to his plan of doubling the funding over 10 years for the Department of Energy's Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, and the research programs of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
In his State of the Union, the President told Congress:
"To keep America competitive into the future, we must trust in the skill of our scientists and engineers and empower them to pursue the breakthroughs of tomorrow. Last year, Congress passed legislation supporting the American Competitiveness Initiative, but never followed through with the funding. This funding is essential to keeping our scientific edge. So I ask Congress to double federal support for critical basic research in the physical sciences and ensure America remains the most dynamic nation on Earth."
The importance of basic research has been cogently outlined by more than 16 studies and reports delivered to Congress in the last five years—the most notable of which was the Rising Above the Gathering Storm report, completed by the National Academies in 2005.
Last August, Congress sent the President another bill—The America COMPETES Act—that seemed to indicate that Congress would increase physical sciences funding for 2008. That did not happen. Capitol Hill politics prevented any real increases from being included in the massive funding bill passed by Congress in late December. Many scientific organizations, including APS, AIP and several other Member Societies, issued statements criticizing the lack of follow-through in the actual funding bills that leaves hundreds of peer-reviewed proposals for research projects funded by NSF and DOE on hold. Furthermore, cutting-edge research is being stopped or cut back at our national laboratory user facilities, and a U.S. commitment for a major international project received no funding this year. Nevertheless, it is clear that there remains strong support within the President's Administration and in both chambers of Congress to put funding for the physical sciences on a doubling track over the next decade. No other programs in the discretionary portion of the federal government enjoy such level of support.
The President's 2009 budget being released later today will hopefully reflect the strong statement in the President's State of the Union address. AIP, Member Societies and other scientific organizations will do all we can to show that the increased funding is not simply another expenditure in the Federal budget, but a significant investment in our nation's future, generating thousands of high-paying jobs. Stay tuned to AIP's FYI policy bulletins for updates on these important developments.
The 2008 edition of AIP's Physics and Astronomy Classification Scheme® (PACS®)—an essential tool for classification and efficient retrieval of scientific literature—has been released. PACS, used by AIP and other international publishers, is a hierarchical subject classification scheme, comprising 10 broad subject categories subdivided into narrower categories. For PACS 2008, five categories received extensive revisions based on the contributions of volunteer experts. AIP gratefully acknowledges the invaluable advice of these experts, in particular, the AIP Subcommittee on Classification and Information Retrieval (SCIR), the PACS Working Groups formed by SCIR, and editors of Affiliated and Member Society journals, notably, editors from the American Physical Society.
2008 is the first edition produced entirely in XML (extensible markup language). Moving to full XML production for this biennial product lays the foundation for developing enhanced online presentation of the scheme in the future. For the printed version of PACS 2008, all pages (excluding front and back matter) were extracted programmatically from PACS database. The same database feed was used to produce the online versions and formats for the dissemination to external customers. PACS is freely accessible online—both the hierarchical scheme and the topical alphabetical index—via the PACS website.
Our favorite 63,000 words (for what it's worth)
The Emilio Segrè Visual Archives (ESVA) has just put online a gallery featuring 63 of "Our Favorite Photos," including some of the most popular and striking images from our collection of 30,000 photographs. The site includes snapshots of many of the best-known names in physics and astronomy, such as Bohr, Dirac, Feynman and Bethe, along with lesser known figures. It also portrays life in science like the image (left) of astronomical "calculators" at Harvard University. By featuring popular and appealing images from the collection (linked prominently from the ESVA homepage), we hope to stimulate interest in the collection and promote sales. Browse through the site and enjoy the pictures!
Physics Today achieves Google PageRank of 9 out of 10
At a recent seminar, Physics Today learned that its Google PageRank was 9 out of a possible 10, confirming the fact that www.physicstoday.org is one of the most trusted and informative websites in cyberspace. The scale is logarithmic, so a PageRank of 9 is trusted by search engines 10 times more than our nearest competitors that have a rank of 8. PageRank, the algorithm formulated by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, is based on the premise that a webpage's importance can be evaluated by the number of hyperlinks pointing to it from other webpages. Physics Today is currently working with a search marketing consultant to determine the advantages such a high PageRank could bring to advertisers linked to www.physicstoday.org.
If slimming down or toning up is on your 2008 "to-do" list, AIP's fitness centers will have you well on your way to success with onsite locations in College Park and Melville, convenient hours, and a wide variety of equipment. To obtain access to the fitness center, you must complete a Fitness Waiver form found on the Employease Network. Just click on the "Human Resources" tab. Forward the completed form to Human Resources and allow up to one week for card access to be activated. Remember to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
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