January 10, 2011
By H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director & CEO
Physics and physical sciences research supported by the federal government
is at an important crossroads. In less than two months, a short-term
law providing funding for federal departments and agencies will expire.
Congress must decide if it should keep FY 2010 funding for federal R&D
in place until the end of September, increase it, or reduce it to the
level spent in FY 2008. Similar decisions must be made about funding
in future years.
AIP and many other organizations advocate increasing federal support for R&D,
of course. But two recent sources of such advocacy have been especially encouraging.
of the 112th Congress
Last month, a high-profile, bipartisan commission charged with
finding ways to reduce the deficit recommended hundreds of billions of
dollars of cuts in domestic and defense programs, but called for an expanded
investment in "education, infrastructure, and high-value research and
development to help our economy grow, keep us globally competitive,
and make it easier for businesses to create jobs."
And last week, the conservative columnist George F. Will called for Republicans
in the new Congress to exercise careful wisdom as they look for ways
to reduce federal spending. He wrote, "Republicans are rightly determined
to be economizers. They must, however, make distinctions. Congressional
conservatives can demonstrate that skill by defending research spending
that sustains collaboration among complex institutions—corporations'
research entities and research universities."
Encouraging though such statements may be, it remains far from certain
how much support Congress will ultimately provide for research in this
and future fiscal years. Many in Congress are concerned about the growing
federal deficit, and want spending reduced to FY 2008 levels. This would
have a profound impact on the research conducted by scientists in AIP's
President Obama recently spoke about future federal spending for research
and our deficit problem. His words frame the tough decisions that Congress
and the American people will be making:
So what are we doing to revamp our schools to make sure our kids can
compete? What are we doing in terms of research and development to make
sure that innovation is still taking place here in the United States
What are we doing about our infrastructure so that we have
the best airports
and the best roads and the best bridges? And how are
we going to pay for all
that at a time when we've got both short-term
deficit problems, medium-term
deficit problems, and long-term deficit
problems? Now, that's going to be a big
the secrets of our surroundings
the opening day of the AGU 2010 fall meeting, chair Catherine Johnson of
the University of British Columbia greeted attendees with an astounding
statistic. With registration at 16,000 and climbing, [this event] "makes
us the largest international meeting in the physical sciences. Your presence
here this week has quite an impact!" In fact 18,294 researchers, teachers,
and students from around the world came to San Francisco just before the
holidays to present and review the latest issues affecting Earth and space.
With 5,852 talks and 11,517 posters scheduled, there was no shortage of
interesting material. Several prominent speakers' presentations were
captured for viewing via web video.
AIP ran Inside Science News Service stories
on three topics of interest to the general public:
Ice Volcano Candidate Found on Saturn Moon," which also appeared
Scientist, Eric Betz writes about the strongest evidence for volcanoes
spewing out ice from beneath the surface of Titan.
Sotra Facula is the best example found so far of an ice volcano on
the Saturn moon of Titan. Credit: NASA
Offers Early Warnings of Volcanic Ash," Emilie Lorditch tells
how pilots received the first successful warning of volcanic activity based
on lightning. The story was picked up by the Pacific
Credit: Harald Edens
|In "X-Rays from Lightning Photographed," Carrie Peyton
Dahlberg writes about how researchers hope this technique will facilitate
better predictions of how lightning moves. Both MSNBC and Fox
News ran the story.
Rocket-triggered lightning allows scientists to measure the properties
of a bolt.
Credit: Dustin Hill / Int'l Center for Lightning Research and
Several Physics Today editors attended sessions to get article
ideas and news leads for future articles. Staff members from Physics
Today and Computing in Science and Engineering, a joint publication
of AIP and the IEEE Computer Society, ran side-by-side booths. They promoted
both publications and a new CD compilation of PT articles written
by Nobel laureates.
Bebee, Marketing Director for Physics Today, helps conduct
a survey to assess the value AGU members derive from the magazine.
Editor George Thiruvathukal (center) interacts with booth visitors.
AIP Publishing staff represented AIP Journals at yet another booth, promoting
those journals of high interest to the AGU community, namely Journal
of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, Chaos, Physics of
Plasmas, and AIP Advances.
Emilie Lorditch, Senior Science Editor, and Cathy O'Riordan, Vice President
of Physics Resources, presented a paper on pathways for effective science
communication, entitled, "Everything I Need to Know about Science Communication,
I Learned from Local Television News." Greg Good, Director for the Center
for History of Physics, co-chaired a session on the history of geophysics
and participated in AGU's History Committee meeting.
With so much to take in, every attendee of the AGU fall meeting had a
unique experience. There was no chance of digesting all the new
developments within the immense discipline of geoscience. Understanding
the workings of our surroundings takes multitudes.
tip: Resolve to be greener in 2011
As you start the New Year, why not promise to be friendlier to the environment?
The following tips are courtesy of the ACP Green Committee:
- Take your name
off junk/catalog mailing lists through online websites like CatalogChoice.org.
- Ask organizations to remove your name from their mailing lists
if you are no longer interested in the organization or product they advertise.
- Opt to receive newsletters and bills online.
|What's happening this week
8 – 12
- AAPT 2011 Winter Meeting, Jacksonville, FL
January 9 – 13
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