Some consequences of the 2008 budget cut December 21, 2007Posted by dorigo in physics, politics, science.
As awful as the congressional budget plan for 2008 looks, we have to live with it now. Fermilab is assessing the damage, after the news that of the expected $378M it will only get about $320M, and it is clear that Fermilab director Pier Oddone will close the lines of research that were nullified by the US congress.
Despite cutting on NOVA and ILC, the rest of the research activities at FNAL are facing a reduction of about $15M. In this situation the focus in 2008 and 2009 will be on running the experiments that have been providing the gold and diamonds of the physics mine; of course, nobody expects that 2009 will be better than 2008, although I know a lot of letters are being sent to representatives while I rather choose to take an observer’s attitude and write these lines.
The Tevatron will continue providing data to CDF and D0 mostly unscathed, and so will the existing neutrino program, although in a situation of general suffering. In particular, FNAL staff will see salaries cut by 10%, and some 200 layoffs in 2008. Under such circumstances, it is a tough call to say what will happen.
Some believe that the option of running the Tevatron through 2010 is now stronger, because the more research lines are dried the more water flows to those that survive. However, it would be very silly to feel relieved. It is clear that the US congress does not believe pure research in subatomic physics something useful for the Nation. Let’s face it: we lived through sixty years of good funding on the standing wave of nuclear weapons research, but we do not seem to manage to fool anybody anymore: no more deadly tools from muons and neutrinos. So, no dough. Sad, but true. I only hope that Europe will be smarter and that particle research at CERN will continue as strong as it has been recently shown to be.
UPDATE: a CDF colleague and now chair of the Fermilab UEC asked to distribute the information on how to send a letter to your representative.