Sunday, 2 November 2008

Change is on its way

Change has come to America. Or at least by January it Will have. Given the world's financial collapse and a likely prolonged recession, will science slip under the radar of a new administration?

There is little doubt that Obama put more emphasis in the campaign to science issues than McCain. For example, in his acceptance speech to take the democratic nomination for the election, Obama said the word 'science' once. While McCain didn't mention it at all. Well, at least he said it once! Obama also answered the questions posed by Sciencedebate2008 first. McCain did in the end, but one wonder if it was only in response to Obama posting.

Probably the first decision scientists will be watching out for is who (and when) Obama will choose as a science advisor. Physicists in the US will no doubt remember how long it took Bush to choose an advisor (8 months since taking office). Once he did choose John Marburger III he demoted the role of the science advisor. (We have an opinion piece from John Marburger in this month's Physics World)

It will also be interesting to see how long the Obama administration passes the 2009 budget requested by President Bush. At the moment Congress has passed a 'continuation bill' which continues 2008 spending until February 2009. However, this comes with a sting in its tail. In June 2008 a supplemental bill was passed, which increased spending in science, in some cases it stopped staff lay-offs happening at national labs such as Fermilab and SLAC. However, the new continuation bill does not have this in it. Already labs have come out and said that they will to tighten their belts.

It seems for now the first appointment Obama will be making, it not an advisor, but a puppy for his daughter once they move in the whitehouse.

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