Tax Dollars At Work and At Play

One of the victims of the fights over the federal budget seems to be science.

The White House and Congress delivered a heavy blow to the hopes of the U.S. science community yesterday as part of a long-delayed final agreement on the 2008 federal budget. As a result, what began as a year of soaring rhetoric in support of science seems likely to end with agency officials and research advocates shaking their heads and wondering what went wrong.

“It’s like someone pulled the rug out from under us,” says Samuel Rankin of the American Mathematical Society, who chairs the Coalition for National Science Funding. “It’s pretty disappointing.”

It’s not real uncommon that science is seen, in the priorities of federal spending, as a luxury that we can’t always afford. These kinds of budget compromises also seem to get reconsidered, after the political fires burn down. The determining factor is, after all, the support given to science by the voting public.

And keep in mind that what is being discussed here is the slash in the size of the increase in science budget.

In the meantime, the European Space Agency’s Mars Express seems to have found an active glacier, on Mars.

In Deuteronilus Mensae, Dr Neukum estimates that water came up from underground in the last 10,000 to 100,000 years.

“That means it is an active glacier now. This is unique, and there are probably more,” said Dr Neukum.

Ancient ice on Mars is expected. Fresh ice isn’t. Think this won’t have an effect on the science budget for fiscal ’09? It will.

If you want to know where your favorite candidate (or other candidates) for president stand on space and other geek-related issues, try here. Each check mark is a link that takes you to the candidates position (and if you can make sense out of some of them, you’re a better man than I, Gunga Din).

And finally, researchers at UC Davis have put a tighter bound on the age of the solar system, or at least on one of the earliest major events during its formation.

UC Davis researchers have dated the earliest step in the formation of the solar system — when microscopic interstellar dust coalesced into mountain-sized chunks of rock — to 4,568 million years ago, within a range of about 2,080,000 years.

And the relationship of this to the other stories is that:

The work is published in the Dec. 20 issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters, and was funded by grants from NASA.

As tax payers we must ask “Does it make our lives better?” Think carefully before answering.

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Explore posts in the same categories: domestic, politics, Science, Space

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