particleguy: (Default)
The omnibus budget bill passed by congress and signed by the president just before Christmas is a disaster for American science. Funding for physics research was cut significantly below what the president had requested and what the house had passed. This, despite a strong, bipartisan consensus that funding for the physical sciences needs a healthy increase. In order to get the total under the budget ceiling, the appropriations committee cut science.

Particle physics is particularly hard hit: Fermilab will have to lay off 10% of it's staff, and the rest will be forced to take some unpaid leave. SLAC, which was already planning some layoffs, mostly voluntary, as the lab's primary focus shifts from particle physics to photon science, will also be laying off additional staff (I don't believe my job is in jeopardy). Its last major onsite particle experiment, BaBar, will be shutting down seven months early.

I can give links to more information if you're interested. The American Physical Society has set up a website to contact your representatives and the president regarding this issue. There is some hope for a supplemental appropriation; that isn't going to prevent the layoffs, but it could help ameliorate the longer term. The form letters are intended for physicists, but you can edit them as appropriate.

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particleguy

April 2014

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