Norman Augustine on the shutdown’s effect on US Antarctic research…

From today’s Chronicle, behind their pay wall: 

“I do not know what the cost of the shutdown will be,” Mr. Augustine said when asked for an estimate of the losses that could result from an Antarctic shutdown. “It is just one more example of what we are doing to rip apart at the grassroots level the fabric of what is one of America’s few remaining competitive advantages: our research and education system. No enemy could have been so effective.”

I couldn’t have said it better.

The inside skinny on sequestration and science funding…

From ScienceInsider, here. The key point is that agencies will have a heterogenous response to the cuts depending on how their accounting is handled within the overall Federal budget–bottom-line: NIH seems to have greater flexibility than NSF.

Nature Magazine has an earlier analysis of the situation here.

For the true wonks among us, you’ll want to dive into the exhaustive OMB analysis here.

NSF to CMU: Subra Suresh

Big news out of the National Science Foundation, the story from the Chronicle is here. These are extremely challenging times for US science agencies with the imminent threat of sequestration. The problem is that, as President of Carnegie Mellon, with its institutional emphasis on science and technology, those challenges are going to likely follow him north to Pittsburgh. We wish him luck though…

Happy New Year…Science not off the Hook

Happy 2013. The Fiscal Cliff compromise that was passed by Congress last night mainly addressed the tax (revenue) side of the fiscal debate between the Democrats and the GOP. The spending side of that debate was put of for a bit…as things stand science funding still will get axed across the board two months from now. With the tax leverage gone, the remaining hope is that somehow the NIH and NSF will get bundled into the debate over DOD such that they are all protected against across the board, mindless cuts. I’m not optimistic on that one, although historically NIH and NSF have enjoyed bipartisan support.

In the meantime, the notion of the need to prudently invest in science–as well as cut back generally–doesn’t seem to be out there as an argument.

Next up however is the second debt-ceiling debate. The House GOP members say they intend to use the debt limit as leverage to get more cuts. My economist colleagues tell me that is playing with fire.

Last thoughts on the fiscal cliff and science

What I wrote in July still stands:

None of this is good for NIH or NSF. Because the fiscal cliff cuts are across the board, they are mindless (remember, the cliff was supposed to be a deterrent) so the excellent will get thrown out with the merely good.

Even, if by some miracle, Congress manages to get something to the President’s desk in time, my guess is it’ll be some sort of agreement on the revenue side (i.e. taxes) that punts on the spending cuts. And I’m not exactly optimistic about any agreement before new years.

Expect some legislative movement encouraged by the markets early in the new year–it’ll be very telling to see if Speaker Boehner has any difficulty being reelected by his caucus–once again probably on the tax side but probably also dealing with DOD. I’m not expecting much good news for science.


Dress Rehearsal for NBIC2 final Workshop yesterday

The final workshop is today. Web site is here. I’m giving my talk in about an hour, just before lunch on the advent of the Cognitive Society.

What do I mean by that? Well, the simple present day version is what we’ve collectively done by giving society’s blessing to Big Data: social networking.

But in the future, the Cognitive Society might refer to the emergence of a new collective awareness from large groups of humans. Think of an ant colony with its complex behaviors becoming aware of its collective self.