Symptom of America’s Decline in Particle Physics

Posted on September 11, 2008  Comments (5)

Land Of Big Science

Probing more deeply than ever before into the stuff of the universe requires some big hardware. It also requires the political will to lavish money on a project that has no predictable practical return, other than prestige and leadership in the branch of science that delivered just about every major technology of the past hundred years.

Those advances came, in large measure, from the United States. The coming decades may be different.

A third of the scientists working at the LHC hail from outside the 20 states that control CERN. America has contributed 1,000 or so researchers, the largest single contingent from any non-CERN nation.

The U.S. contribution amounts to $500 million””barely 5 percent of the bill. The big bucks have come from the Europeans. Germany is picking up 20 percent of the tab, the British are contributing 17 percent, and the French are giving 14 percent.

The most worrying prospect is that scientists from other countries, who used to flock to the United States to be where the action is, are now heading to Europe instead.

This is a point I have made before. The economic benefits of investing in science are real. The economic benefits of having science and engineering centers of excellence in your country are real. That doesn’t mean you automatically gain economic benefit but it is a huge advantage and opportunity if you act intelligently to make it pay off.

Related: Invest in Science for a Strong EconomyDiplomacy and Science ResearchAsia: Rising Stars of Science and EngineeringBrain Drain Benefits to the USA Less Than They Could Beposts on funding science explorationposts on basic researchAt the Heart of All Matter

5 Responses to “Symptom of America’s Decline in Particle Physics”

  1. kouji
    September 12th, 2008 @ 5:35 am

    i do hope that the next administration will consider the benefits that you mentioned, when it decides the level of support it will give to similar initiatives. sometimes though, i do get surprised by the treatment of science in your country, the united states. i hope things will improve.

  2. Abhinav Poddar
    September 12th, 2008 @ 12:12 pm

    Do people at administration level give consideration to such issues… I don think so… 🙁

  3. Anonymous
    September 15th, 2008 @ 12:05 pm

    i never really believed until recently. now we’re getting hit hard with all these bankruptcies in the financial market. there was a poll conducted last year whether india graduates would move to US and most said no they thought their own country was better. and for those that would move, most would go to europe.

  4. Tim Tav
    March 9th, 2010 @ 5:25 am

    There simply has to be investment in the development of future scientists in the west. Otherwise we will rely on importing this talent and thsi is a shame with so much potential and a huge skill base already in place

  5. The Politics of Anti-Science » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    December 7th, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

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