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WEEK OF APRIL 8, 2024
What’s Ahead

An aerial photo of SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray free-electron laser.jpg

An aerial photo of SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray free-electron laser.

(SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

Long-range Facilities to be Focus of DOE Advisory Committee Meetings

Two advisory committees for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science will meet this week to discuss long-term priorities for facility construction projects. The subject is on the agenda of the Basic Energy Science Advisory Committee, meeting Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee, meeting Thursday and Friday. The office instructed all of its advisory committees to report back by May with their recommendations for new facilities projects with “the potential to contribute to world-leading science in the next decade.”

BESAC will present its report responding to the charge. To stimulate its thinking, DOE provided the committee a preliminary list of eight projects. Four of those projects are in the pre-conceptual stage and the other four have already begun to receive funding: the Linac Coherent Light Source II High Energy Upgrade, Second Target Station upgrade for the Spallation Neutron Source, National Synchrotron Light Source-II Experimental Tools, and High Flux Isotope Reactor Pressure Vessel Replacement.

The BERAC agenda says it will discuss progress on the prioritization study but not necessarily release a final report. The preliminary list DOE provided to the committee includes nine projects, but most are in the pre-conceptual stage and so have few cost specifics. The committee will also discuss progress on two other directives from DOE – one to consider reviving a study of low-dose radiation and the other to provide a report on the state of data management within the BER portfolio.

AIP Foundation to Host Discussion on Physics and AI

The AIP Foundation will host a fireside chat on “Physics, AI, and the Future of Scientific Discovery” at 6:30 pm on Thursday with panelists from industry, academia, and government, including Walter Copan, former undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology; Jesse Thaler, physics professor at MIT and director of the National Science Foundation Institute for AI and Fundamental Interactions; Valerie Browning, vice president for research and technology at Lockheed Martin; and Evgeni Gousev, senior research director at Qualcomm. The event will be moderated by former NSF Director France Córdova and livestreamed on YouTube.

UN Hosts Ocean Decade Conference

UNESCO will hold a series of events this week in Barcelona, Spain, as part of the UN’s 2021-2030 ocean sustainability effort, Ocean Decade. Discussions will focus on short-term scientific priorities over the next three to five years in areas such as climate change, food security, sustainable management of biodiversity, sustainable ocean economy, pollution, and natural hazards. Steven Thur, director of research at NOAA, will give a keynote on Thursday focusing on scientific solutions for a sustainable ocean economy, and the National Science Foundation will host a satellite event on Tuesday.

National Science Policy Symposium Meets in California

The National Science Policy Network will host its National Science Policy Symposium at the University of California, Riverside, on April 12-14. Keynote speakers will include Frances Colón, former deputy science and technology adviser to the Secretary of State, and Réka Szemerkényi, former Hungarian ambassador to the U.S. The symposium will cover a range of evolving technologies from artificial intelligence to blockchain, clean energy, and more, considering how innovation is driving transformational change across society.

In Case You Missed It
LSST Camera and SLAC Camera Team-5.jpg

A SLAC team member inspects the LSST camera in a clean room in January 2024.

(Jacqueline Ramseyer Orrell/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

SLAC Completes Largest Digital Camera Ever Built for Astronomy

The Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) Camera is set to be shipped to and installed in the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile by June 26, 2024. There, it will help researchers create “the most informative map of the night sky ever assembled,” according to Rubin Observatory Director of Construction Željko Ivezić. The Rubin Observatory will use LSST to study dark matter, the expansion of the universe, gravitational lensing, and the Milky Way galaxy. The camera will be part of the Rubin Observatory’s mission to study weak gravitational lensing, which could ultimately lead to information about how dark energy is causing the universe to expand. The front lens of the camera is over five feet across, making it the largest lens ever created to study space.

LSST is a partnership between SLAC, which did the construction; Brookhaven National Lab, which handled the sensor array; Lawrence Livermore National Lab, which built the lenses; and the National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics at the National Center for Scientific Research in France, which built the camera’s filter exchange system. The camera cost roughly $168 million to build, funded by the Department of Energy. The National Science Foundation is funding construction of the observatory itself and has so far authorized $551 million.

OSTP Calls for Lunar Time Zone

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has ordered agencies to develop a new time zone that applies to cislunar space. Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC) will apply to U.S. operations between the Earth and Moon and is designed to be interoperable with Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on Earth – much like any other time zone. OSTP’s memorandum states that LTC is the first of what may be several “celestial time standards” to deal with the timekeeping challenges that come with space travel around planets and moons beyond Earth. NASA is tasked with implementing the LTC zone by the end of 2026. OSTP’s memo instructs NASA to encourage adoption of the standard by private companies and among international partners, especially by applying it to the timekeeping standards in the Artemis Accords.

Upcoming Events

All events are Eastern Time, unless otherwise noted. Listings do not imply endorsement. Events beyond this week are listed on our website.

Monday, April 8

DOE: Clean Fuels and Products Shot virtual summit
(continues Tuesday)

NRC: Advisory Committee on the Medical Uses of Isotopes meeting
(continues Tuesday)

CSIS: China’s tech sector: Economic champions, regulatory targets
9:00 - 10:00 am

NASA: 2024 Solar Eclipse livestream
1:00 pm

NSF: The Science of a Total Solar Eclipse
1:55 pm

Tuesday, April 9

DOE: Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Wednesday)

Princeton IAS: Three things Oppenheimer tells us about tech: Lecture by European Commission vice president Margrethe Vestager
9:00 am

CSIS: LeadershIP 2024 conference
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Atlantic Council: Recommendations for U.S. policymakers to compete with China’s 5G ambitions
9:00 am

Senate: DOD budget request hearing
9:30 am, Armed Services Committee

Senate: Space Force and Air Force budget request hearing
10:00 am, Appropriations Committee

NSF: UN Ocean Decade Conference satellite event
1:00 - 2:00 pm

NIST: CHIPS for America and Natcast: An update on the NSTC
2:00 pm

Senate: Oversight of the Smithsonian Institution
2:45 pm, Rules Committee

Wednesday, April 10

UNESCO: 2024 Ocean Decade conference
(continues through Friday)

National Academies: Research and Application in Team Science, committee meeting two
(continues Thursday)

NDIA: The future of radiological and nuclear defense programs and capabilities
9:00 am - 12:30 pm

House: IP protection for AI-assisted inventions and creative works
10:00 am, Judiciary Committee

Senate: The state of air quality monitoring technology
10:00 am, Environment and Public Works Committee

House: Beyond scope: How the SEC’s climate rule threatens American markets
10:00 am, Financial Services Committee

House: American nuclear energy expansion: Spent fuel policy and innovation
10:30 am, Energy and Commerce Committee

House: Energy-Water Appropriations Subcommittee hearing of testimony from House members not on the subcommittee
10:30 am, Appropriations Committee

Senate: Federal and non-federal role of assessing cyber threats to and vulnerabilities of critical water infrastructure in our energy sector
2:30 pm, Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Senate: Improving export control enforcement
3:00 pm, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

Thursday, April 11

Education Department: National STEM festival
(continues through Saturday)

DOE: Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Friday)

Association of Science Communicators: Science Talk conference
(continues Friday)

NSF: Cyberinfrastructure Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Friday)

National Academies: Research integrity: A multi-sector imperative
10:30 - 11:30 am

National Academies: Caregiving report public release launch: Policies and practices for supporting family caregivers working in science, engineering, and medicine
11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Issues in Science and Technology: How can scientists become players in the long game of policy change?
4:00 - 5:00 pm

AIP Foundation: Physics, AI, and the future of discovery
6:30 pm

Friday, April 12

National Science Policy Network: National science policy symposium
(continues through Sunday)

House: Missile defense budget request hearing
9:00 am, House Armed Services Committee

EESI: Funding the future: The impact of federal clean energy investments
9:30 - 10:30 am

NOAA: Space Weather Advisory Group meeting
10:00 am - 2:00 pm

DOE: Pathways to commercial liftoff: Next-generation geothermal power webinar
2:00 - 3:00 pm

Saturday, April 13

Large Binocular Telescope: 20 years of innovation and discovery
1:00 - 5:30 pm MST

Monday, April 15

ASCE: Earth and Space 2024
(continues through Thursday)

Johns Hopkins: Science diplomacy summit 2024
9:00 am - 9:00 pm

Atlantic Council: Looking north: Conference on security in the Arctic
10:00 am

Hoover Institution: The policy challenge of AI safety
1:00 - 5:45 pm PDT

Know of an upcoming science policy event either inside or outside the Beltway? Email us at fyi@aip.org.


News and views currently in circulation. Links do not imply endorsement.

White House

Politico: Biden moves to defang political assaults on federal workforce
White House: DOE announces historic $20 billion in awards to expand access to clean energy and climate solutions
White House: US-EU joint statement of the Trade and Technology Council

Congress

NSF: NSF director visits University at Buffalo alongside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
House Energy and Commerce Committee: Republicans ask GAO to study threat of China exploiting NIH research for military advantage and unethical use
Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL): Foster introduces resolution to promote science diplomacy

Science, Society, and the Economy

Washington Post: How the solar eclipse is bringing cutting-edge science to small towns
Vox: How solar eclipse tourism became big business
New York Times: The late astronomer Jay Pasachoff inspired generations of students to become astronomers by dragging them to the ends of the Earth for a few precarious moments of ecstasy
Issues in Science and Technology: This eclipse could make you cry – and make new scientists (audio interview with Douglas Duncan)
Fast Company: STEM needs more than an eclipse moment (perspective by Frederic Bertley)
The New Yorker: Eclipses dazzled the ancient world. Now that we understand them better, they may be even more miraculous

Education and Workforce

The Conversation: China’s universities just grabbed 6 of the top 10 spots in one worldwide science ranking – without changing a thing (perspective by Caroline Wagner)
Washington Post: UT Austin lays off dozens who worked in DEI roles, citing new state law
Nature: ‘Maybe I was never meant to be in science’: how imposter syndrome seizes scientist mothers (audio)
Research Professional: Trade union deems new visa rules a ‘threat’ to UK science

Research Management

NSF: Federal R&D obligations increased 0.4% in FY22; estimated to decline in FY23
NIH: Changes coming to applications and peer review in January 2025
Science: NSF tests ways to improve research security without disrupting peer review
Inside Higher Ed: Universities oppose plan to bolster federal research misconduct oversight
Science: Just-departed head of DOE science wing discusses successes and barriers (interview with Asmeret Asefaw Berhe)
Nature: Will the Gates Foundation’s preprint-centric policy help open access?
F1000: VeriXiv supports Gates-funded researchers to comply with new open access policy
Research Professional: Science Europe provides guidance on shaping policy

Labs and Facilities

Jefferson Lab: Electron-Ion Collider set to begin long-lead procurements
Science: With money running out, astronomers urge Mexico to save its giant telescope
World Nuclear News: TerraPower submits application to build Natrium reactor

Computing and Communications

Bloomberg: TSMC gets $11.6 billion in US grants, loans for chip plants
Indianapolis Business Journal: Chip maker SK Hynix plans $3.9 billion plant, up to 800 jobs in Indiana
Indianapolis Business Journal: Chip maker SkyWater cancels plans for Indiana plant — at least for now
Wall Street Journal: Intel says it will need even more subsidies, as it loses money on its foundry business
FBI: FBI Dallas collaborates with SMU-led Texoma semiconductor tech hub
The Economist: The science that built the AI revolution
Physics World: AI will help pick Nobel Prize for Physics winners
Lawfare: There is no general first amendment right to distribute machine-learning model weights (perspective by Alan Z. Rozenshtein)
HPCwire: RPI and IBM inaugurate 1st IBM Quantum System One on a university campus

Space

Ars Technica: NASA asks the commercial space industry for a rugged, long-lived lunar rover
Space Review: Chandra’s cloudy future
SpacePolicyOnline: Ed Dwight to finally get his flight to space

Weather, Climate, and Environment

Scientific American: Geoengineering test quietly launches salt crystals into atmosphere
DOE: Artificial intelligence for the methane cycle 2023 workshop report
DOE: DOE invests $75 million to strengthen nation’s critical minerals supply chain
E&E News: Industry to EPA: Think about us on science policy update

Energy

Optics and Photonics News: The dream of fusion energy (perspective by Gerd Leuchs)
DOE: DOE releases first ever federal blueprint to decarbonize America’s buildings sector
Oak Ridge National Lab: Researchers publish first-of-its-kind database for uranium minerals
NRC: NRC should take actions to fully consider the potential effects of climate change on nuclear power plants (report)

Defense

DOD: Ericsson swears-in as first-ever assistant secretary of defense for science and technology
SpaceNews: Russia, China catching up to US in space weaponry, new report finds
SpaceNews: Pentagon unveils strategy to harness commercial space tech for national security
DefenseScoop: Space policy chief urges DOD to solve over-classification issues for commercial integration
Breaking Defense: Pentagon weighs options to lengthen life of legacy nuclear platforms as new programs face delays

Biomedical

NIH: Final action under the NIH guidelines for research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules
Science: Utah flouts FDA with law greenlighting placental stem cell therapies
Nature: Long COVID still has no cure — so these patients are turning to research
Lifespan.io: Longevity gets political at an unprecedented DC event

International Affairs

Science|Business: EU and US to work together on AI guidelines
Nature: The EU’s ominous emphasis on ‘open strategic autonomy’ in research (editorial)
European Commission: EU and Japan launch enhanced dialogue on advanced materials
Nature: Africa’s postdoc workforce is on the rise — but at what cost?
Reuters: China, Thailand sign pacts on outer space, lunar outposts
Science: Australian museum’s plan to cut research draws fire from scientists
Axios: Biden administration does not want to end US-China economic relations

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