Science gets a leg up [finally] from Congress

February 12, 2009

Congress Finalizes Massive Boost in Science Funding

Late last night Congress released the first high-level details on the final agreement for the American Recovery and Reinvestment package. (For background, this legislation is essentially a massive funding plan intended to help jump start the American economy during the current fiscal year (FY 2009).) The final legislation reportedly contains a massive boost for several key scientific agencies, including NSF +$3 billion (remember that NSF’s total funding for FY09 is around $6 billion and change), NIST +$580 million and Department of Energy Office of Science +$1.6 billion. This is huge and welcome news to the scientific community that has been making the case that research funding for physical sciences has been flat for a number of years undercutting the innovation ecosystem.

Below is a summary of the science funding:

“Transform our Economy with Science and Technology:  To secure America’s role as a world leader in a competitive global economy, we are renewing America’s investments in basic research and development, in training students for an innovation economy, and in deploying new technologies into the marketplace.  This will help businesses in every community succeed in a global economy.

Investing in Scientific Research (More than $15 Billion)

* Provides $3 billion for the National Science Foundation, for basic research in fundamental science and engineering – which spurs discovery and innovation.
* Provides $1.6 billion for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which funds research in such areas as climate science, biofuels, high-energy physics, nuclear physics and fusion energy sciences – areas crucial to our energy future.
* Provides $400 million for the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to support high-risk, high-payoff research into energy sources and energy efficiency in collaboration with industry.
* Provides $580 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, including the Technology Innovation Program and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
* Provides $8.5 billion for NIH, including expanding good jobs in biomedical research to study diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, and heart disease.
* Provides $1 billion for NASA, including $400 million to put more scientists to work doing climate change research.
* Provides $1.5 billion for NIH to renovate university research facilities and help them compete for biomedical research grants.

Dictionary Entry

So, if anyone wants to know what WTF means, point them to this picture.  It’s Wil Wheaton with a lovely new gift from a “friend”.

With friends like that ….

The people on his blog think that it looks like Ferdinand Marco or Tiger Woods. HA HA HA. I’m going with Ferdinand.

I’m going to buy one of these paintings if he starts selling them on his website.  And then I’ll buy a bullfighter and Elvis and I can have a whole lovely Velvet Gallery.  Can’t wait!

De Young and De Lovely

We spent the afternoon at the De Young museum in SF. Very interesting.

Here, I found where the Klingon Bat’leth originated. I believe they were called cult hooks in the museum guide, but we knew what they really were.


And the later ceremonial version below:


Non-Klingon, but also non-human (below). This thing was *much* creepier in person than it is in this picture.


Working with what you’ve got: Mangrove roots = manly johnson (below).

mangrove johnson

I’ll put the rest of these on Flickr or Picasa – some of them are fairly interesting, Klingon inspired or not.


Space Weather News for Jan. 26, 2006

CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH SATURN: On Friday, Jan. 27th, Saturn will be at its closest to Earth for all of 2006. Even a small telescope will show the planet’s exquisite rings. Look for Saturn rising in the east at sunset (it looks like a bright yellow star) and soaring overhead at midnight. Bad weather on Friday? Don’t worry. Saturn will remain close to Earth for weeks to come. You’ll have many more chances to see the ringed planet at its best. Visit for details and a sky map.

BIG SUNSPOT: Sunspot 848 burst through the surface of the sun last week and quickly grew into a planet-sized behemoth. (Which planet? Coincidentally, Saturn.) Now it is falling apart. The rise and fall of this big ‘spot is shown in a movie on

Space Weather

Space Weather News for Jan. 4, 2006

VENUSIAN RAINBOWS: Venus is hanging low in the southwestern sky at sunset. Amateur astronomers who’ve looked at it lately have noticed something extraordinary: Venus looks like a tiny crescent-shaped rainbow. Using binoculars or a backyard telescope, you can see this phenomenon yourself. But don’t wait, because Venus will soon disappear into the glare of the Sun, not to return to the evening sky until Dec. 2006. Check for a sky map, photos and an explanation.

EARTH AT PERIHELION: Don’t look, but the Sun is bigger than usual this week. That’s because Earth is at perihelion, the closest point in our planet’s orbit to the Sun. In the dead cold of northern winter, we’re almost 2% closer to the Sun than the annual average. Strange but true.

ISS FLYBYS: The International Space Station (ISS) will be flying over the United States this month during evening hours when it is easy to see. Would you like a phone call to alert you when the ISS is about to fly over your home town? Sign up for SpaceWeather PHONE: