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To summarize, the physics community--American and worldwide--is excited by the prospect that the SSC will begin to provide data by the end of this decade. Through research, training and industrial manufacturing the SSC project will contribute to American technological strength. It will also be a magnet for scientific cooperation world-wide. It will advance our undertanding of the universe and it will help define the quality of our culture. It will indeed be an important legacy for us to give to the next generation of scientists of the 21st century.
Senator FORD. Thank you very much, Dr. Drell.
STATEMENT OF DR. EUGEN MERZBACHER, PRESIDENT, THE
AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY Dr. MERZBACHER. I appreciate the opportunity to speak here on behalf of the American Physical Society. I am this year the President. We have 40,000 members in academic institutions, government laboratories and industry. The American Physical Society had two major interrelated concerns that impact on the research budget of the Department of Energy, which as you of course know and have heard repeatedly today, includes a great deal more than money for the SSC.
First, that in planning for the support of basic scientific research, full attention be given to the important role which research, particularly at universities, plays in assuring that there will be a future generation of creative and productive scientists in this country, and in providing a knowledge base for future exploitation by society.
And second, that a balanced menu of basic research in physics and other sciences be maintained and new scientific opportunities and challenges pursued whenever they arise in the many small groups of individual investigators, or in large collaborative facilities, such as the SSC or CEBAF.
We appreciate the enlightened attitude that has guided the De partment of Energy in the past. They always have had a broad view of energy research, and the department has, in the process, gained valuable experience, especially in overseeing the construction of very large scientific facilities.
It is our strong recommendation that as it moves forward towards making the SSC a reality, the Department of Energy be given the means to continue to discharge, as the highest priority, its broader responsibilities towards basic scientific research in physics and other sciences.
The administration's 1990/1991 budget is responsive to these aims and we support it.
Now, as you have also been told already, nothing can be done in science without people. And it might be helpful for prospective--for you to take a look at a graph that is here at the end, next to the last page, that shows you the distribution of physicists, roughly, very approximately, in our profession. These are the members in our various divisions.
And you will see that the membership includes over 6,000 physicists in the division of condensed matter physics. That is, roughly speaking, solid state physics.
There over 3,000 physicists who identify with the division of particles and fields, and that is high energy physics. And these are the people that are in particular concerned very directly with the SSC. It is also this division that provided the initial impetus for the proposal to build the SSC.
But, in addition, if you look, there are 10,000 physicists who belong to medium-sized divisions dealing with chemical physics, plasma physics, atomic, molecular and optical physics, and nuclear physics.
And yet another 10,000 in a dozen smaller and more specialized subfields, from astrophysics to the study of fundamental physical constants and precision measurements.
So what I am trying to say is that physics is not just a nickname for high energy physics.
In the past 25 years the number of physicists has doubled. And the trend has been the same in the other sciences. Without this growth we would not have stayed at the forefront of science and technology.
However, the resources for research have not increased sufficiently for us to derive the full benefit of this highly skilled scientific labor force, nor to assure our future scientific leadership. It has already been noted that the entire electronics and computer industries are derived from what seemed to be arcane research in solid state physics and chemistry some 30 or 40 years ago.
The need for an adequate pool of young scientists at many points in our technological society is obvious. The problems of energy and environment which are particularly germane to the mission of DOE call for involving the best and the brightest among our population. And I am glad to note that the Secretary of Energy appreciates this linkage and has taken the initiative in science and mathematics education.
Now, advanced science education and basic research are not separable. Dr. Schwitters emphasized this also. The American system of higher education owes its enormous success to the blending of teaching with research at the graduate level, and increasing also at the undergraduate level.
A large fraction of research in physics and other sciences is done by students and post-doctoral fellows, and these are people who in many cases receive support directly or indirectly from the Department of Energy or the National Science Foundation, or other agencies.
This research experience trains them for industry, government and the academic world. The strength of our graduate educational programs in physics accounts in large measure for the attractions that our universities exert on students from many parts of the world. And we have talked about getting equipment and money from foreign countries. We are also getting a lot of people.
I might just mention that the class I am just missing right now has 13 graduate students in it. Of these, six are Chinese. And we are lucky to have them flock here for advance training. We stand to lose our lead in science, however, if we fail to provide for our young people opportunities in research across all active disciplines which meet the criterion of high scientific quality and national need.
Research programs in the universities under the guidance of individual experienced scientists, working with small groups of students, are the mainstay of this system for educating the next generation. The education of young scientists, by doing frontier research in universities, is threatened by fiscal starvation in many important subfields of the sciences.
And yet, you can never predict where something important will emerge. The 1989 Nobel Prizes in physics were awarded to one German and two American university physicists for magnificent important advances in high precision measurements or atomic and subatomic physical quantities.
This research has led to some remarkable technical applications in defense and civilian systems, such as very fine clocks. These are useful for navigational pinpointing and long baseline interferometry have been used in the Voyager mission.
Almost 100 young Ph.D. physicists were trained over the years by these two American research groups in universities. Quite understandably, we saw this morning, of course, most discussions about the Nation's science budget, and especially about the DOE budget, focused on the SSC. It is a grand project of very large dimensions in every respect, and I agree with everything that my colleague, Dr. Drell, here said about it.
And it necessarily sets the scale by which other science projects are measured. It is a big step into the unknown. It promises to extend our understanding of the structure of matter and the origin of the universe.
Authorization of the SSC and construction at an expeditious rate will send a signal to the world that the United States is determined to continue its leadership role in scientific research. But it must not be allowed to jeopardize support for individual investigators at universities in many other important fields of physics and other sciences.
The issue of balanced support for research in physics has always been an important matter to the physics community. The members of the American Physical Society are strongly committed to the notion that basic research in all the productive subfields of physics should be maintained at a level that is commensurate with the future economic well-being of the Nation.
It would be a serious mistake to let our preoccupation with one or a few large facilities to overshadow the bulk of successful physics research. We must move forward at the frontier of science in all promising directions. And we are pleased that the President's proposed budget recognizes this imperative.
It is crucial to appreciate that much of our economic vitality today is the result of investment in basic research in past decades. If we fail to sustain basic research today we cannot hope to maintain our national vitality in the decades to come.
Now it is a fact that while total civilian and defense R&D obligations by the Federal Government have actually risen over the years in many categories, our basic research capabilities have actually sagged to a lower level in many areas, and this must concern all of us. The plight of the scientific infrastructure that you have heard about in the universities, and the loss of momentum in the material science programs in national laboratories are just two well-established examples of this pervasive problem. And I remind you of the Bromley-Packard report of 1986, about the infrastructure and the need to shore it up.
It should not be surprising that the cost of doing good basic research has escalated. Laser technologies, superconducting technologies, microelectronic technologies, and many other advances feed back into the scientific research system that created them and make it more sophisticated, as well as more expensive.
The SSC would be quite unimaginable without all of these technologies. It may, in turn, produce some useful technological spinoffs, although this potential, at times, has been overstated and should not be used as a justification for the SSC. It should be built only on its fundamental scientific merit, as a tool for exploring the world of subatomic particles.
In this regard, it resembles the Hubble Space Telescope, I quite agree, that carries with it our hopes for a deeper understanding of the structure of the universe. And I am delighted to hear, I was on the plane when it went up—I am delighted to hear that it did.
Those who are responsible not only for balancing the budget, but also for balancing research needs might be tempted to think of reaching both goals by either stretching out the construction of the SSC in time, and perhaps other large facilities, while maintaining the support of less conspicuous research programs at an acceptable level.
Or, conversely, by keeping the SSC on a timely schedule, but deferring other important projects for a few years. In our view, both of these approaches are flawed, since they ignore fundamental realities.
Basic research programs are not amendable to a spigot technique that allows one to turn the flow of interesting and useful results on and off at will. We must find a better way to reconcile the finiteness of the country's resources, and we very much recognize this for basic research with the need to remain the world leader in science and technology.
In conclusion, the American Physical Society urges that the science budget be regarded as a necessary investment to keep us in a leadership position over the long haul into the next century.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.