Research and Development

  • Y-12 security breach update: Old nun awaits sentencing while costs of new Y-12 facility not to be released until 2015

    On 28 July 2012, three senior citizens, led by an 83-year old nun, easily breached the supposedly impregnable security systems protecting the Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The three peace activists wondered the grounds of the maximum security facility for a while before being noticed by security personnel. While the three aging protesters are awaiting sentencing, the two companies — Bechtel Corporation and Babcock and Wilcox – which were responsible for designing and implementing security at Y-12, have been named as the primary construction contractors for planning and design of the new uranium processing facility (UPF) to be built at Y-12.

  • FY 2012 sees first constant-dollar decline in higher education R&D since FY 1974

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) says that university spending on R&D in all fields totaled $65.8 billion in FY 2012. After adjusting for inflation, higher education R&D declined by 1 percent in FY 2012. This represents the first constant-dollar decline since FY 1974 and ends a period of modest growth in higher education R&D during FYs 2009-11, when R&D expenditures increased an average of 5 percent each year.

  • Research funding and reward structure contributes to formation “science bubbles”

    Fashions in research funding, reward structures in universities, and streamlining of scientific agendas undermine traditional academic norms and may result in science bubbles. New research shows how the mechanisms that set off the financial crisis might be replicating in the field of science. The prevailing scientific reward structure thus amplifies social phenomena like “pluralistic ignorance” and “lemming effects,” which have been shown to have significant impact on information processing and assessment in populations of interacting persons — including in one of the most rational enterprises of modern social life.

  • Sequestration already eroding U.S. research capabilities

    As congressional budget leaders continue negotiations over Fiscal Year 2014 spending levels, three organizations representing the U.S. leading public and private research universities say that the results of a new survey reveal the pernicious impact of sequestration on scientific research across the country. Budget cuts have already led to fewer grants, cancelled projects, staff reductions, and reduced learning opportunities. “If Congress fails to reverse course and doesn’t begin to value investments in research and higher education, then the innovation deficit this country is facing will worsen as our foreign competitors continue to seize on this nation’s shortfall,” the leader of one of the organizations said.

  • Designing better toilet bowls

    Although we do not often think about it, fluid dynamics touches almost every aspect of our lives, from a billowing breeze that buffets a flag, to swirling river currents that shape canyons to the surging blood that sustains our lives. One of the basest of bodily functions – urination — is governed primarily by the equations of fluid motion. Scientists (they call themselves “wizz-kids”) hope to create an optimization function to find the ideal approach for urinal usage.

  • ASCB: U.S. scientific research will "pay dearly" for shutdown

    The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) added its voice to those of other scientific and professional groups in warning that the federal government’s partial shutdown will hurt patients, researchers, and especially the U.S. research effort, long after an agreement to end the impasse is reached. “As America keeps hitting the brakes on scientific research, we are, in effect, accelerating the damage done to our continued leadership in global bioscience, in health outcomes and in the economic power that we have always derived from basic research,” Dr. Bertuzzi, executive director of the ASCB said. “Americans will pay dearly for these slowdowns, sequestrations, and shutdowns in finding cures and on maintaining economic competitiveness.”

  • ACS: Shutdown undermines U.S. innovation, competitiveness, critical services

    American Chemical Society (ACS) president Marinda Li Wu said that the budget impasse is effectively choking America’s science innovation pipeline, strangling new discoveries, future economic growth, and job creation. “[T]o shut down a critical part of our nation’s research and innovation pipeline puts our nation at a severe competitive disadvantage globally,” said Wu. “A government shutdown that closes the world’s largest research system can lead to unintended negative consequences putting at peril America’s economic growth and long-term stability.”

  • Research investments, growing markets drive rise in energy patents

    Innovation in energy technology is booming, according to a new paper which examines what factors set the pace for energy innovation. The study finds that investments in research and development, as well as in the growth of markets for these products, have helped to spur this dramatic growth in innovation.

  • USAF partners with national labs to improve aircraft component design

    Working with national laboratories, universities, and industry, the Air Force is ensuring it stays on the cutting edge of global security by creating a new engineering paradigm to improve the safety and fuel-efficiency of aircraft.Materials research engineers at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) have partnered with national laboratories to model defects and study materials at their grain level in an effort to develop and advance the design of systems used by the military personnel, including aircraft.

  • Government shutdown stymies U.S. science agencies

    A U.S. Government furloughs affecting virtually all National Science Foundation (NSF) employees and three-fourths of those at the National Institutes of Health could impact American competitiveness, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) warned. “If the government shutdown continues for a week or more, it is going to make the United States less desirable as an international research collaborator,” said an AAAS representative. “When funding is no longer reliable, many of our research partners may be unable to continue collaborating with us. That could eventually have longer-term impacts on American innovation and competitiveness.”

  • Congress urged to support broad legislative agenda for science

    With the U.S. Senate poised to revisit S. 1392, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013, the American Chemical Society (ACS) announced its support for the bill as part of a larger, legislative science agenda for 2013.

  • Young scientists to tackle DoD’s most demanding technological challenges

    A group of twenty-five early-career scientists at research universities have received grants totaling more than $12 million for basic research to address some of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) most challenging technological hurdles. The long-term goal of the DARPA Young Faculty Award (YFA) program is to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers who will focus their careers and research on DoD and national security issues.

  • Scientists: sequestration will damage U.S. science

    The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) has once again called on Congress and the president to work together to prevent sequestration, the automatic across-the-board budget cuts that are scheduled to go into effect on 1 March.

  • Scientists warn of sequestration’s impact on basic research

    With less than a week left before sequestration is to take effect, America’s research community has repeated its call for an end to the across-the-board cuts to discretionary spending which will restrict the U.S. ability to invest in the basic scientific research. A coalition of American research and education institutions says that it is this basic research which drives innovation and produces economic growth.

  • Diatribes, rants in “Comments” section tarnish allure of science online

    More and more digital publications, including science publications, have added a “Comments” feature to their Web sites, allowing readers to post their comments on the articles they read. This democratization of commentary, however, has been accompanied by increasingly nasty back-and-forth exchanges among readers, especially on sites where the comments are not moderated. A new study shows that in the realm of online science news, this steady diet of diatribes, screeds, and rants is taking a toll on the public perception of science and technology.