Chris on NPR: Impact of Sequestration on Science

Adam Taggart
By Adam Taggart on Wed, Mar 6, 2013 - 11:08am

This morning, Chris was interviewed by NPR Science & Environment reporter, Heather Goldstone, about the impact of the sequester on funding for science and research.

Chris estimates the size of cuts will be in the multi-billions and will hit the sciences hard. Exacerbating the cuts' impact is the nature of in-field research, which can't simply be reactivated at the turn of a switch at some future date. Once terminated, it can take years to get field conditions, test subject populations, etc back to where they are now -- and at much greater expense than if support was left unchanged now.

Click here to listen to the interview.

10 Comments

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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A Mild Panic Attack.

 

 

Dr Martenson is amazing.

He has struck a blow to my solar plexus. I am winded. But that won’t stop me from prognosticating.

There are going to be a lot of very intelligent people in a cut-throat competition for the future of their passions and their families.

Targeting the young is particularly concerning because there is a lot of truth the saw that science progresses one funeral at a time.

Speaking of which, what will happen to the pittance that is exploring the high risk/high reward area of Solid State Nuclear Reactions? True research deals with what is unknown. Their saving grace might be the fact that they have always had to operate creatively, without funds. Bear in mind that the New Zealander Rutherford split the atom using parts from the municipal tip.

If some other sovereign state cracks this little beauty the USA will quickly lose any leverage in the world. A little easy to generate divide and conquer, sprinkle a lot of crack cocaine, and you will find yourselves apportioned between those with knowhow. China has had a direct experience in this process

I refer you one again to Dr Iain McGilchrist’s warning about the left brains propensity to dwell in a house of mirrors.(More about what we know, about what we know, about .   .   .) It will be a safe bet on my part that the sufficiently cowed bureaucracy (who have funding issues of their own) will favour safe, sterile research.

Now back to the interview.  

gillbilly's picture
gillbilly
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So Subtle a Question

Chris states:

22:00 Knowing is not sufficient in this story, you have to put that knowledge into practice...Science provides us with the knowledge of the tools...technology gives us the appropriate tools... but whether we adopt that information and those tools, that's another matter altogether. 

 

Left brains will look at the information and tools through the lens of efficiency, productivity, and profitability, so, do we really have a choice in that "matter altogether?"

Artthur:

I refer you one again to Dr Iain McGilchrist’s warning about the left brains propensity to dwell in a house of mirrors.(More about what we know, about what we know, about .   .   .)

Amen, when will the left brains capitulate and let the right brains fulfill their appropriate function?...Until then, our tools will be our masters. 

Thank You

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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Thumbs up Gillie.

I have given your piece a thimbs up Gillie. It is subtle. Unfortunatly we are talking about the organ that we use to percieve Reality.

It is the role of the Left to present a model to the Right. The Right uses this as "overlay" over the Gestalt Reaity that it experiences.

Sort of like our own built in augumented reality that we read about on various blogs. 

Trouble starts when the Model is acknowledged and the Gestalt is dismissed. But without the Model our lives would be without context. 

I'm not clever, I read the right books.

gillbilly's picture
gillbilly
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Thanks Arthur...

And different organs have reads of different lengths.

You're right, it would only have been clever if you had been left to your own devices. Oh, and I like the nickname...but only you may use it.

 

KugsCheese's picture
KugsCheese
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Science B.S.

Most science is b.s.  I think this is good thing.

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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"Did you Brush Yer Tooth?"

I see you preface your statement with "Most" Klugs. And there is the rub. True science deals with the unknown. We just don't know where the next big thing will come from.

This Internet thingy for instance, was a by-product of the hugely expensive CERN.

I have a picture of Faraday at the kitchen table saying "Hey Ma, lookit this. If I wave this here magnet over this wire, that compass needle flickers."

"Thats nice dear. Now get ready for bed. Did yer brush yer tooth?"

Hrunner's picture
Hrunner
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Posts: 256
Revolutionizing science

Chris,

In full disclosure, I am a scientist and a beneficiary of a U.S. science training program.  While I am grateful for that training, as an insider I saw a very ineffective and very expensive program.

The current U.S. science policy construct funds some very worthy projects and some very worthy people.  I feel that the science community has a tendency to think that they deserve funding, much like a lot of folks feel about government entitlements, forgetting that it is money taken from taxpayers not necessarily with their approval.  That said, I am in favor of public science funding.

However, there are two simple and highly effective and revolutionary things we could do to make our funding much more useful.

1)  Fund people, not projects.  I think it is abundantly clear that at the end of the day, great discoveries, great insights are the product of a single person's vision.  Yes, I know that innovation has become more collaborative.  The current system chokes the life out of creative thinking.  Why do we think some elder statesman on a committee has a divining rod that can pick and choose winners?  Craig Venter (somewhat of a blunt speaker) at a public lecture held a 'pink page' of rejection by the NIH saying that sequencing the fruit fly genome was impossible using his approach.  Unfortunately for the NIH, he held the 95% completed sequence in his other hand.  The antidote- identify the best scientists and give them 10 years of decent funding, no strings.  Yes, have some oversight.  But not a high amount.  Just make sure they aren't spending the money on beer.

2) Fund Manhattan style projects.  Yes I just contradicted 1).  Identify 5 projects each year that are really critical, and especially, single goal projects.  I.e. "make an atomic bomb".  How about "make a 50% efficient solar cell".   This seems to be a much more effective approach than the drip-drip of funding thousands of little ideas.

While most definitely a small government leaner, I could support taxpayer funds used this way.

Edit:  I almost forgot, congratulations on getting an NPR interview Chris.  Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

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pinecarr
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Great talk & venue, Chris!

Chris, its always a treat to hear you speak "live".  The NPR interview was a great venue for you, a made-to-order opportunity to share your insights into the 3 E's with another audience.  Congratulations on a job well done!  I hope it leads to more opportunities for you to share your knowledge about the underlying predicaments we face with the broader public.  

I think more and more people may finally be getting to the point of being able to "hear" what you and other thought leaders have to say. 

Hladini's picture
Hladini
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Makes Sense

Hrunner, very good ideas.  I wish Washington would start working nationally, for the good of the country.  We could be so much more effective.  I love the idea of picking 5 (or some small number) single projects and getting it done!

Hladini's picture
Hladini
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Chris Hammers It

Good Job Chris!  And I agree with Hrunner, an NPR interview could not have happened to a better guy. Thanks for getting the word out: debt based monetary system requiring exponential growth; the difference between a problem and a predicament.

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