Friday, 16 February 1990 Washington,DC
1. THE NSF BUDGET GOALS FOR MANY PHYSICS PROGRAMS ARE SHRINKING!
NSF prefers to compare its budget request for FY 91 to its
current plan for FY 90. But the current plan is shaped by the
action of Congress. To see where NSF is headed, you must compare
the FY 90 and 91 requests. In spite of all the talk about big
increases, the NSF is asking for less money for many physics
programs in FY 91 than it did for FY 90. In solid state physics,
for example, the FY 91 request is for $12.57M; a year earlier the
request was for $12.85M. In low temperature physics, the FY 91
request is for $9.17M; in FY 90 it was for $9.96M. Nuclear
science is calling for $43.5M in FY 91, down from $44.7M in 90.
Particle physics asks $41.3M for FY 91; in FY 90 it was $43.4M.
2. MESELSON ACCEPTS SCIENTIFIC FREEDOM & RESPONSIBILITY AWARD
the American Association for the Advancement of Science tonight
in New Orleans. A Harvard biologist, Matthew Meselson is being
honored for his key role in influencing the US government to
renounce the use of biological weapons and for disproving the
government's claim that the Soviets employed biological weapons
in Southeast Asia. Meselson and his colleagues established that
the "yellow rain," which the Soviets were charged with dropping
on villagers, was in fact feces deposited by wild honeybees. He
also led the AAAS Herbicide Assessment Commission, whose report
influenced the US decision to phase out the military use of
herbicides in Vietman. Despite the end of the Cold War, it is
particularly appropriate to recognize those who maintained
scientific objectivity in the face of official criticism.
3. PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH WILL PERSONALLY PRESENT THE DRAPER PRIZE
in engineering on Tuesday to Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce for the
invention of the monolithic integrated circuit. This is the first
award of the biennial prize which is being called the "Nobel
prize in engineering." Bush will give a short speech,
reinforcing his claim as "the science and technology President."
4. RISING OVERHEAD RATES LEAD TO A REVOLT OF STANFORD FACULTY.
No issue more sharply divides university administrators and
faculty than the recovery of the indirect costs of research,
which includes everything from administrative costs to libraries
and parking lots. Administrators see full recovery of these
costs as essential to sound fiscal management; researchers see it
as a rip-off. The dispute went critical at Stanford, which
already has the highest overhead rate among the nation's research
universities (over 100%), when the administration announced a new
schedule of increases to cover the cost of a building program.
The faculty claims the high rates are affecting their ability to
compete for grants with state universities, which generally
charge lower overhead. They point out that administration is the
fastest growing part of indirect costs. Universities have thus
far been unwilling to consider a uniform overhead structure.