Friday, 6 February 98 Washington, DC

The combination of a budget surplus and a year-long lobbying effort by scientists resulted in a budget request for a record 8% increase in civilian research. The scientific community built its lobbying effort around the Gramm-Lieberman bill calling for a doubling of science funding. It's still a long, difficult road to appropriations in October, but it's a great start. There is the usual confusion over just what some of the numbers mean, but here are a few of the highlights of the President's request:

  • NSF research is up almost 12%. For Mathematics and Physical Sciences the increase is 10.7%. Priorities are in the areas of Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence, Life and Earth's Environment, and Educating for the Future.
  • DOE Office of Energy Research is up 10% to $2.71B. The biggest increase is in Basic Energy Sciences, which goes up 25% to $836M. That includes $157M to get started on a $1.3B Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge. High Energy Physics up 1.7%, and $65M is requested for the LHC, which remains on an annual appropriation. Nuclear Physics is up 3.7%; Fusion Energy is down 0.7%.
  • NASA continues to do more with less. AXAF is set for launch this year. A Mars orbiter will launch in December, followed by a Mars lander a month later. Gravity Probe-B goes up in 2000; the Space Infrared Telescope Facility in 2003. It was announced that a Europa orbiter will launch in 2003. The total budget is down 1.3%, but space science is up almost 4%. NASA will continue to study low-Earth orbit, and re-orbit a septuagenarian in October.
  • DOD is focusing on 6.1 (basic) research, which increases 6.6%.
  • NIST research is up 6.3% and an increase of 35% is requested for the Advanced Technology Program that the Republicans hate

One of the great women pioneers in what was an almost exclusively male profession, Trudy Goldhaber discovered at the U. of Illinois in 1942 that neutrons are emitted in spontaneous fission. Because it was classified, she received little recognition. In 1948, she and her husband, Maurice Goldhaber, confirmed the identity of beta rays and atomic electrons. A PhD student of W. Gerlach in Munich, she felt ostracized after Hitler took over in 1933. She fled in 1935, and did post-doctoral research with G.P. Thompson in London. An inspiration to generations of women in physics, she was only the third female physicist elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Asked how she succeeded in a male-dominated field, she once said she married the right man. For more about her and other women in physics see:

Bob Park can be reached via email at
Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the University, but they should be.