Obama’s announcement means one thing for the future of science in America: more of the same. The long trend of decline of american science and the brain drain (exodus) of scientists both foreign & American will continue. This not a Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal problem. This is a problem for the future of this country. Funding for science research from government has been stagnat for 2+ decades and national lab programs continue to be cut. What about business? R&D in science by companies is dead. The last remanents of Bell Labs is shifting away from science into applications. Except for some stalwarts like IBM, research in business is pretty much dead. Without any science research at business and dwindling funding from government, American science seems to experiencing a slow death.
This is nothing new. The SSC was cut by congress in the mid-90’s which would have been more powerful than the LHC. Less power is not necessarily a bad thing but the next collider could have been built on American soil. Now the ILC (the next collider in the future) will definatley not be built here, if at all. Funding for ITER from America has downgraded which again is being built on foreign soil. Projects at FermiLab and Argonne are being shut down. SLAC has completely restructed. NASA may shift funding away from such monumental projects that have significantly changed. Hubble will not be renewed. WMAP might be cut. With Planck (a ESA project) beginning to take data, its hard to argue that American science is the best. Most of the important science experiments and observations are being done and run by European/Japanese agencies. The only thing American science has left is the graduate school programs. Most ppl still hold and want their future scientists to get their PhD’s in American universities. However this is slowly changing too.
This decline is not surprising. American culture and history has never held science in high regard. Many Americans would be happy if the government spend No Money on sience. Let’s not sugar coat it either. America’s rise and prominence in Science is due in large part to the European exodus during WWII. We have lived off that momentum and the large funding during the Cold War for decades. Now with those factors done, America will more than likely return to its non-science roots…. and with it, the economic & defense leadership in the long run.
Can we fix it? should we fix it? i don’t see any answer to these questions. Any fixes for Science in America requires more than just money. Funding at the levels of the cold war will probably never be achieved. Education from k-12 in science is dismal, just look at biology. More importantly, American culture just doesn’t care; that is why I’m so pessimisstic.