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Science Policy: Obama vs. McCain

Photonics.com
Oct 2008
Oct. 2, 2008 — Most of my fellow scientists care more for experiments and the life of the mind than political wrangling. However, I urge you to remember that what happens in Washington during this election year will influence whether or not you have the money to do those experiments.

During the Bush administration, the funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been flat, whereas NIH funding doubled during the Clinton administration. Under Bush, laboratories have shut down, scientists have been put out of work and promising would-be scientists have considered other career paths. The funding situation influenced my personal decision to leave basic research.

The Republicans in Congress during the Bush administration even cut funding from grants that had been funded through the NIH by the normal process of peer review. Imagine if your grant was being debated on the House floor.

A group calling itself Science Debate 2008 recently asked Obama and McCain pointed questions about policy. The group included more than 38,000 scientists and engineers, some of them Nobel laureates.

For the most part, Obama and McCain had similar answers to the questions, but don't be fooled. Although both say that they favor strengthening science and math education, environmentally friendly initiatives, space exploration, basic research and even embryonic stem cell research, they differ on funding.

Obama pointedly stated that he would double funding for basic research in the sciences. Obama would lift the Bush administration's ban on federal funding for stem cell research initiated after 2001. McCain has made no promises to increase funding. I would vote for the guy who's going to give you more money. It's that simple.
 
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GLOSSARY
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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