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What is public science, and why do you need it?

Did you use a browser to zoom around on the internet today? Have you ever been vaccinated? If you answered yes to either of those questions, your life has already been made better through publicly-funded science in America. Public science is basic scientific research funded by governments, and just in America alone it's led to breakthroughs in everything from medicine to clean energy. But now public science is under threat. Here's why — and why we can't afford to lose it.

The US government has pledged to deal with the nation's debt crisis by cutting social spending. On the chopping block are many many social programs, including some of the country's most important government-funded science institutions like the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NASA's budget has already been slashed, eliminating thousands of jobs and threatening to kill the launch of the James Webb telescope that would replace the aging Hubble. NSF Funding was cut this year by $53 million. President Obama's requests for a larger NSF budget have been turned down for 2011 and 2012 — in fact, NSF funds were cut in 2011 down to $6.81 billion for the year, despite Obama's request for a billion dollar funding boost.

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TAGGED: MEDIA, SCIENCE


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