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established procedures for setting priorities within the various subfields of
physics -- elementary particle physics uses the High Energy Physics Advisory
Committee, the nuclear physics community has the Nuclear Science Advisory
Committee, and so on. We have not gone beyond that structure because the
various subfields have well-defined scientific goals, and priorities can be set
within the context of those goals on scientific and technical grounds. For
example, it is difficult on purely scientific grounds alone to decide whether it's
more important to build a machine to find the next elementary particle versus
one that will allow a large number of surface structures of solids to be
determined. Issues that would come into that decision involve questions not
only of the intellectual content of the work, but also the relevance of the work
to other fields (for example, x-rays from synchrotrons are increasingly being
used by molecular biologists to determine structures of protein) and to future
technology. Such choices, therefore, depend on issues that have to do with
societal values as a whole. So far, physicists have chosen to allow the political
process to decide these issues rather than have a committee of wise men. We,
of course, try to participate in this process. Today, as the reality of the budgets
tends to squeezo on the needs and opportunities defined by the various subfields,
we are becoming aware that we should consider more closely the overall needs
of physics and see if we can deal with the issues involved. Considerable
discussion is occurring in the community. It is something that we need to work -6
out with the Executive Branch, particularly the DOB and NSF. There are
minimal actions that can be taken, such as the examination of the possibility of
combining facilities, and making better use of existing facilities and these should
be considered. Since there are also risks involved, thoughtful planning is
essential. This needs to be done within the community of physicists, and
hopefully will be ondorsed by the DOE and NSF.
I hope these comments are of use to you in considering your
decisions, and I thank you for the opportunity to present my views.
Senator FORD. Thank you very much, Dr. Brinkman.
STATEMENT OF DR. ANDREW M. SESSLER, ACCELERATOR
PHYSICIST, LAWRENCE BERKELEY LABORATORY Dr. SESSLER. Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify.
I am from the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California. I am an accelerator physicist who has worked through the years on the theoretical ideas which are employed in the design of high energy physics accelerators.
For a seven-year period I was director of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in which position I had the responsibility of managing and directing a major facility. This year I am chairman of the American Physical Society Panel on Public Affairs. The opinions I wish to express are, of course, my own.
I would like in this testimony to first comment upon the state of technology and the SSC, and then second I would want to comment upon the opportunities and fiscal needs of physics and the SSC.
First, technology. The SSC is at the frontier of technology. It proposes to employ advanced techniques, but I have every reason to believe it can be made to work as predicted.
The history of accelerators is a stellar history in which time and again machines have been built on time and on budget. I believe that the SSC would properly fit into this tradition.
Could new technologies, such as the high temperature superconductors, be used in the SSC? I do not believe so. Certainly not for a decade or more, and possibly never. You know the detailed arguments. I need not go into them here. But I want to make clear that I find these arguments compelling.
Could novel acceleration techniques be employed to accomplish what the SSC seeks to do, and do it either better or do it for less cost? If we examine the new techniques, we find that none are ready to be incorporated into a machine at this time.
At least five years, and possibly 10, of intense R&D is needed before these new methods are available for use in an electron positron, as contrasted with a proton collider. Once the new techniques are available, it will take another five years or so to construct a machine.
Finally, such a machine will not be cheap. An accelerator capable of studying the same physics as the SSC would cost billions of dollars.
Second, I would like to turn to physics needs. Physics basic research has received essentially the same amount of dollars per year over the last decade. The results have been very serious.
It does not matter if you examine teaching facilities in universities, look at small research, or study large laboratories. The conclusion is always the same. The signs of inadequate funding are everywhere to be seen.
Poor, old, often non-functioning teaching and training equipment. Distinguished researchers on, let us say, superconductivity having their meager support reduced even this year.
Large accelerators typically being operated only 60 percent of optimal utilization time in order to save on the electric power bill. To remedy this situation will require increased support of basic physics.
I have reviewed the carefully considered needs in condensed matter science, plasma physics, nuclear physics, and high energy physics.
First, major new facilities whose earliest possible construction is strongly desired by the community are very much needed, in my opinion.
Second, I believe that we also need growth in small science. Small science supplies, as has just been pointed out, approximately 70 percent of the Ph.D.s, and 70 percent therefore of employment of physicists.
As you can see in this figure, Figure 2 in my testimony, the sum of the needs, these needs, requires more than a factor of two increase in the physics funding.
These numbers are preliminary. It is only because of the timing of these hearings that they have been released. We are still working on them. But for our purposes today they quite adequately
Senator DOMENICI. Mr. Chairman, might I ask a question?
Senator DOMENICI. What does small physics mean as you use it there?
Dr. SESSLER. It means, we have defined it this way, but it is approximately true, sort of like 12 percent of high energy physics, 12 percent of nuclear physics, approximately 25 percent of plasma physics, 100 percent of condensed matter physics, atomic optical physics, things like that, 100 percent of those.
Senator DOMENICI. That is the definition of small physics?
Dr. SESSLER. That is right. That is what I used when I made up these figures.
Senator DOMENICI. Can I interject chemical physics? Dr. SESSLER. Oh, sure, there are many other things, but I am giving a rough idea.
Senator FORD. The university type.
Dr. BRINKMAN. But the DOE does a fair bit of small research at a variety of its laboratories. At Argonne National Laboratory, or Oak Ridge, or Sandia, there is a fair bit of small research that is done in those laboratories.
Dr. SESSLER. To repeat then, this graph shows that a factor of two in real dollars is needed to adequately support physics.
Notice that 1976, where the figure starts, was actually a minimum in support. And in 1988 we are only back to where we were in 1967.
I would like now to turn to the question of SSC funding. I do not believe we want to tell a high energy physicist to build something other than the SSC.
It is the overwhelming view of that community that the SSC is a device of choice. And as I have said, alternative devices cannot be built at this time. The arguments for getting on with it you have heard. I need not repeat them.
Should the SSC be authorized? In order to answer that question, I must ask another question. In what context? I can imagine a number of different contexts. First of all, if there is a general increase by about a factor of two in physics funding, then of course the SSC should be approved.
Note that this requires an increase in operating funds for high energy physics from $530 million to $800 million in fiscal year 1988 dollars.
An alternative context is one in which funding of the SSC would have the consequence of reducing the funding of other branches of physics. Even the high energy physicists have said that they do not desire this outcome.
I would not support the SSC if I thought the consequence would be a reduction in funding of other branches of physics.
Third, another possible context, a more likely one is somewhere between these two alternatives. Perhaps if the SSC is given the green light, then the increased funding of high energy physics would raise the ante, and result in due time in increased funding of other fields of physics, a kind of trickle-down effect if I may use that term.
One argument goes that if the SSC is not funded, the money will not go to other scientific projects. And since something is better than nothing, all scientists should support the SSC.
We must note, however, the deep concern on the part of most physicists that approval of the SSC will be still another initiation of a very noticeable, glamorous, big-science project without adequate appreciation of the importance and support of small science.
Even though I believe this trickle-down theory, I think that need for support now in all areas of physics is so important that I would not support SSC approval in this context.
Still another context is that in which approval of the SSC will come with a modest increase of support across the board to all of physics.
If the Congress initiates the SSC this year, and then a nuclear science project, like RHIC, next year, et cetera, combined with a commensurate increase in small science, that is an increase in operating funds for basic physics and DOE and NSF over a number of years, then I would support the SSC.
Finally, then, in conclusion, a piecemeal approach of approving only SSC and doing nothing else for physics would be ill-advised, and in fact divisive for all of physics.
In my opinion, the Congress should approve the SSC but couple this approval with increased support of the basic physics program, that is more operating funds, and a systematic program of funding other important physics facilities, additional construction funds.
It is this multifaceted, multiyear approach which is needed in order to restore the strength and vitality of U.S. physics.
Thank you. I would be delighted to attempt to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Sessler follows:)