DOE cuts: bad P.R. ?

January 8, 2008 at 9:06 am 6 comments

You probably have seen the latest announcements from Dennis Kovar (DOE) about stopping BaBar and all work on Nova and the ILC. See Alexey Petrov’s post, Tommaso Dorigo’s post and Gordon Watt’s post for some details and commentary.

If, however, you go to the DOE web site, you will find a happy announcement of President Bush’s visionary plan Twenty in Ten calling for a mandatory renewable fuel standard and new CAFE standards. Here’s the picture:

President Bush at the DOE

There is absolutely no trace that anything is wrong with the budget, or that sacrifices in basic science will now be made for the sake of other national priorities… (and I’ll keep my thoughts about that private, though I am sympathetic to Bee’s post from the beginning of the year.)

You might think that is simply the wrong place to look – one should check the Office of Science web site to find out about the impact of these budget cuts, and how the DOE / Office of Science plan to adapt to the new reality. But there again, there is not a single byte of information about the new budget. In fact, the central image is the front page of a “landmark publication” called Facilities for the Future of Science: a Twenty-Year Outlook (Nov, 2003). They should certainly take that down!

If you go to the DOE Press Release page, you will not find any information or announcements about the budget, though there is a call for nominations to the Enrico Fermi Prize. And the HEP page also contains no information.

Of course I do not expect to see dramatic announcements full of woe and gnashing of teeth, but I do expect official statements, full of facts and not p.r., for the benefit of people in the field and for the interested public (including the news media). Aren’t web sites like those intended for the responsible dissemination of information? That is, after all, why we invented the internet…


Entry filed under: Particle Physics.

More commentary on judging experiments by their surprise discovery level I thought I would be discussing new physics

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. carlbrannen  |  January 9, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    It’s funny that you mention this as a movement out of basic science and into renewable fuels. I work for a company building an ethanol plant. One of the things we were talking about the other day was the large number of people who have moved out of high tech and into renewable fuels. I see that as a sign that we are seriously going to work at solving these problems.

    An example (outside of our company) of the drift from high tech to renewable fuels is Robert Zubrin. His previous books were on rocket stuff (i.e. how to put mankind on Mars). His latest book (which I highly recommend) is “Energy Victory” and is about renewable fuels as a way to fight OPEC.

  • […] clear. There are new blog posts from HEP bloggers Tommaso Dorigo, Alexey Petrov, Gordon Watts, and Michael Schmitt (as well as non-HEP blogger Chad […]

  • 3. Michael Schmitt  |  January 11, 2008 at 8:46 am

    Hi Carl,

    please don’t mistake my intention – I am very very happy to see any and all efforts to reduce our use of fossil fuels. In fact, I think the president’s measure is too modest, and that investment by the federal government in research into renewable, non-polluting energy sources should be greatly expanded. My cynical side says that the president’s measure is all about P.R. and the fact that it appears so prominently on the DOE web site seems to underline its utility as P.R. This information certainly belongs on the DOE web site – but then so does the information about the cuts to basic scientific research.

    I think your blog is really great, but I have not read all of it. I’ll see whether I can find information about that ethanol plan, and read it.


  • 4. carlbrannen  |  April 1, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Hey is this the last muon post?

    On the subject of ethanol, it seems that every time I turn on the radio someone is blaming something on ethanol. If it’s not high food prices or starving people in 3rd world countries (that couldn’t afford US food prices even back when we were paying farmers to not farm) or green house gasses, or drunk driving, it seems that distillation is always the root cause. I’d go on about it at length on the Mass blog but I’d rather not deviate too much from physics and math. So I registered a fuel ethanol blog with WordPress but I haven’t posted anything. Too lazy.

    Ethanol from corn is quite profitable so long as you control your expenses. The companies losing money on it have combinations of top heavy management expenses (i.e. they’re really companies designed to sell stock rather than ethanol), along with poor site selection (and so have higher expenses in shipping ethanol, or corn, or both, or high prices for one thing or another), and high debt service (which usually comes from their being low tech industrial plants built by high dollar construction firms, along with markup to the eventual buyer). If you control those costs, ethanol is quite profitable (close to $1.00 per gallon) in the US (at corn prices of $5.50 per bushel and ethanol at $2.5 per gallon) even without any government subsidies. But to go through these things takes more time than I’m willing to spend, at least so far.

  • 5. Luis Sanchez  |  June 16, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    Hello muon! When will we have more of you usually great posts?

  • 6. Michael Schmitt  |  December 23, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Hi Luis, hopefully this week! 🙂


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