FYI: Science Policy News
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WEEK OF JUNE 10, 2024
What’s Ahead

digital illustration of the FCC versus the LHC.jpg

An illustration of the circumference of the proposed Future Circular Collider compared to that of the current Large Hadron Collider.

(CERN)

Planning for Future Circular Collider Heats Up

Plans for a major new European particle accelerator described as a “factory” for producing the elusive Higgs boson particle are the subject of a conference in San Francisco this week. Known as the Future Circular Collider, the project is currently the subject of a CERN-led feasibility study due for completion in March 2025 that will inform the next update of the European Strategy for Particle Physics. If approved, the 91-kilometer collider would straddle the Swiss and French countryside near CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.

The U.S. has already expressed support for the plans, stating in April that, if the project receives the backing of CERN Member States, the U.S. “intends to collaborate on its construction and physics exploitation, subject to appropriate domestic approvals.” Regina Rameika, director of DOE’s Office of High Energy Physics, said last month that work to establish a national consortium that will bring together experts to explore Higgs factory development efforts is already underway. Nevertheless, it is far from certain that such a collider will be built. Questions about the project’s scope, size, and cost have already raised concern in the German government, one of CERN’s biggest European funders, with a representative stating the country cannot support funding the project at this time, according to reporting by Nature.

NIST Leaders Talk Safety, Facilities, Climate, and AI

Leaders at the National Institute of Standards and Technology will discuss priority initiatives in workplace safety, facilities repair, and climate and AI research on Tuesday at a meeting of NIST’s main advisory committee. NIST Director Laurie Locascio will respond to the committee’s latest annual report, which offers recommendations for addressing NIST’s facilities and safety issues as well as other challenges, such as better competing with the private sector for workers by using special hiring authorities. The report emphasized that NIST’s ability to meet its mission is “at immediate risk” due to facility decay and insufficient funding to shoulder the increased responsibilities placed on the agency by recent executive orders and the CHIPS and Science Act. As a part of the meeting, NIST’s chief safety officer will provide an update on efforts to reset the agency’s safety culture in the wake of high-profile accidents, and NIST’s chief facilities management officer will provide an update on facility repair efforts. The committee will also be briefed by leaders of the new U.S. AI Safety Institute, which is tasked with helping develop safety, security, and testing standards for AI, and will hear presentations on the agency’s climate and clean energy research portfolio, including the new Center of Excellence for Climate Measurements.

Astronomers to Reflect on ‘Dark and Quiet Skies’ Advocacy, Eclipse Outreach

The American Astronomical Society is hosting sessions on science topics that intersect with policy at its biannual conference this week in Madison, Wisconsin. Among the plenary speakers are the co-chairs of AAS’s Committee for the Protection of Astronomy and the Space Environment (COMPASSE), who will present Tuesday on efforts to mitigate the effects of light and radio pollution on astronomy. This campaign to preserve “Dark and Quiet Skies” has gained traction globally, with the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space set to discuss the issue later this month. The committee may vote to formally study the impacts of satellite interference on astronomy, a step toward possibly creating international standards on satellite interference. The AAS conference will also feature events reflecting on the 2017, 2023, and 2024 solar eclipses that transited North America, with, sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday reviewing efforts to increase public awareness and promote citizen science. Separately, a special session on Wednesday will discuss the future of historic observatories and the value their preservation provides for education and research. (AAS is an AIP Member Society.)

In Case You Missed It

An illustration of four different approaches to generating fusion energy

Illustration of different approaches to generating fusion energy.

(Ana Kova for U.S. Fusion Outreach)

DOE Fleshes Out Fusion Energy Strategy

The Department of Energy published a new Fusion Energy Strategy last week during an event co-hosted with the White House to highlight progress made since the launch of the Biden administration’s “Bold Decadal Vision” for accelerating development of commercially viable fusion energy two years ago. DOE also used the event to launch a $180 million funding opportunity called Fusion Innovation Research Engine (FIRE) Collaboratives that will aim to create a “fusion innovation ecosystem” and bridge the gaps between foundational science and practical applications. DOE also announced the finalization of agreements with eight companies that are participating in the new Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program. To further explore the potential for public-private partnerships, DOE released a request for information on a proposed Fusion Energy Public-Private Consortium Framework that would bring together commercial, local government, academic, and philanthropic entities to finance and operate testing facilities in pursuit of a pilot power plant. The framework will be the subject of a webinar on July 11.

UN Declares 2025 as International Year of Quantum S&T

The United Nations passed a resolution last week that proclaims 2025 as the International Year of Quantum Science and Technology , to coincide with the 100th anniversary of key scientific advances that underpin modern quantum mechanics. The year will consist of a global campaign to increase public awareness of the value of quantum science and its applications to society. The American Physical Society will administer the campaign through an international consortium and will invite partner organizations to contribute. The other founding partners are Optica, the German Physical Society, the Chinese Optical Society, and SPIE. (APS and Optica are AIP Member Societies.)

Hubble Telescope Transitioning to Single-Gyro Operation

NASA announced last week that it will transition the Hubble Space Telescope to operate with only one of its six gyros. Half of those gyros were taken offline in previous years, and now one of the remaining three has been suffering increasingly serious faults. NASA plans to shut off that gyro and one of the properly functioning ones to reserve as a backup. The telescope is expected to resume operations after switching to single-gyro operations in mid-June. This shift does come with minor drawbacks, reducing Hubble’s scheduling efficiency for science observations by 12% and preventing it from tracking objects closer than Mars, though those are rare targets for the telescope. During a press conference about the gyro change, NASA officials also revealed that they have decided not to imminently pursue a proposed plan to reboost Hubble to a higher orbit. Hubble is currently in its 34th year of operation, more than double its expected lifespan.

The restrictions reflect concern that supporting quantum research in China poses national security risks.

NOAA wants to boost its weather satellite programs, potentially at the expense of research and ocean exploration programs.

The Department of Energy is seeking to accelerate the progress of science with tailored AI models.

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, June 10

CERN: Future Circular Collider Conference
(continues through Friday)

AAS: American Astronomical Society meeting
(continues through Thursday)

National Academies: Optimizing the USGS Mineral Resources Program science portfolio, meeting three
(continues Tuesday)

National Academies: Disrupting ableism and advancing STEM: A year of reflections and actions
1:00 - 2:30 pm

Tuesday, June 11

NIST: Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology meeting
(continues Wednesday)

National Academies: Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board spring meeting
(continues Wednesday)

National Academies: PreK-12 STEM education innovations, meeting five
(continues Wednesday)

National Academies: Workshop on human and organizational factors in AI risk management
10:30 am - 4:30 pm

EESI: Maximizing the impact of natural climate solutions
1:00 - 2:30 pm

National Academies: Long COVID definition, report release webinar
1:00 - 2:00 pm

AAAS: Why pursue science policy through the S&T Policy Fellowships program?
1:00 - 2:00 pm

Wednesday, June 12

National Academies: Ocean Studies Board meeting
(continues through Friday)

NIST: Earthquake Hazards Reduction Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Thursday)

Atlantic Council: Perspectives and pathways toward net-zero: A conversation with Eirik Wærness
11:00 am

NSPN: SciPol Scholars Day
7:00 - 9:00 pm

Thursday, June 13

NIH: Advisory Committee to the Director meeting
(continues Friday)

National Academies: Workshop on building institutional capacity for engaged research
(continues Friday)

National Academies: Workshop on the social-ecological consequences of future wildfire in the West
(continues Friday)

NSF: Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering meeting
(continues Friday)

NSF: Computer and Information Science and Engineering Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Friday)

National Academies: Implementing a new vision for high quality pre-K curriculum workshop
9:00 am - 3:30 pm

National Academies: Quadrennial review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative
3:00 - 4:00 pm

National Academies: Revelle lecture on equitable science and solutions for a warming world
8:30 - 9:45 pm

Friday, June 14

Philosophical Society of Washington: Lecture by Mike Griffin on returning humans to the Moon
8:00 pm

Sunday, June 16

ANS: American Nuclear Society annual conference
(continues through Wednesday)

Monday, June 17

NASA: Heliophysics Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Tuesday)

NIH: Novel and Exceptional Technology and Research Advisory Committee meeting
11:30 am - 1:00 pm

NRC: Advisory Committee on the Medical Uses of Isotopes meeting
2:00 - 4:00 pm

National Academies: Assessing the reliability of complex, dynamic modeling and simulation
1:00 - 5:00 pm

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

Opportunities

Deadlines indicated in parentheses. Newly added opportunities are marked with a diamond.

Job Openings

APS: Science writer (ongoing)
FAS: Director of government capacity (ongoing)
FAS: Associate director for artificial intelligence policy (ongoing)
FAS: Director of emerging technologies and competitiveness (ongoing)
◆NASA: International Program Specialist (June 13)
DOE: Director, Advanced Computing Technology Division (June 17)
◆DOE: Director, Office of Safety and Security (June 20)
◆USGS: Associate director for communications and publishing (June 20)
NSF: Division director, Division of Astronomical Sciences (June 24)
AAS: Public policy fellowship (July 1)
◆CRS: Section research manager, science and technology policy (July 5)
NSF: Division director for Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (July 9)

Solicitations

Issues in S&T: Survey on who does science and technology policy (ongoing)
NSF: RFI on aircraft in support of NSF operations in Antarctica and Greenland (June 14)
OSTP: Request for comment on federal flood standard support website and tool beta version (extended to June 18)
FCC: Request for comment on impacts of the May 2024 geomagnetic storm on the US communications sector (June 24)
FCC: RFI on mitigation of orbital debris in the new space age (June 27)
USPTO: Nominations for Patent Public Advisory Committee (July 5)
FAS: Call for ideas on science-based policy innovations (July 15)
◆NSF: Request for comment on draft South Pole Station Master Plan (extended to July 17)
Commerce Department: RFI on AI and open government data assets (July 16)
◆DOE: RFI on the Fusion Energy Public-Private Consortium Framework (July 22)
NOAA: RFI on the NOAA Space Weather Scales (July 31)

Know of an opportunity for scientists to engage in science policy? Email us at fyi@aip.org.

Around the Web

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

White House

White House: The US-France partnership
E&E News: How would Trump overhaul the NSF? We asked his top appointee
Politico: What can Trump do about vaccines? More than you might think
Washington Post: Trump plans constitutional showdown with Congress over federal budget
Science and Public Policy: Representing science: Diversity on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (paper by Kenneth Evans and Kirstin Matthews)

Congress

AAAS: Trends in earmarks 2024 (report)
AAAS: An interactive dashboard of STEM-related earmarks in 2024
Inside Higher Ed: House Republicans threaten colleges’ federal funding with new investigations
House Science Committee: Republicans question agencies on grants to universities allowing antisemitism on campus
E&E News: Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) jumps from Science Committee to Foreign Affairs
House Science Committee: Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) welcomes Vince Fong (R-CA) to Science Committee
E&E News: Senate confirms NRC chair

Science, Society, and the Economy

Nature: Do scientists make good presidents? How five national leaders performed
Issues in Science and Technology: The science-politics power struggle (book review)
Science: A prestigious prize is still named for the disgraced Sackler family. Its winners want to change that
NASA: 55 years ago: Star Trek final episode airs, relationship with NASA endures
Scientific American: How astronomy helped create your smartphone’s camera
Nature: How to track the economic impact of public investments in AI (perspective by Julia Lane, et al.)
Science: Bad math: NIH researchers didn’t pocket $710 million in royalties during pandemic

Education and Workforce

Homeland Security Academic Partnership Council: Subcommittee on foreign malign influence final report
Inside Higher Ed: Fears mount over detention of academics who traveled to China
Nature: FBI asks scientists for trust in taking anti-Asian bias seriously
Asian American Scholar Forum: AASF condemns another attempt to reinstate the ‘China Initiative’
DW: Russian physicists being denied entry to US
Issues in Science and Technology: How can STEMM do a better job of caring for its caregivers? (interview with Elena Fuentes-Afflick)
Physics Today: Young physicists excited to network through the International Association of Physics Students
Research Professional: UK prizewinners’ visa route gets just six applicants in three years
Science and Public Policy: Returnees and innovation: Evidence from Chinese publicly listed firms (report)

Research Management

OMB: Uniform administrative requirements, cost principles, and audit requirements
NIH: Awarded R&D contract vendors may be asked to submit inclusion data directly into NIH systems
South China Morning Post: China’s top science institute restructured to focus on research frontiers
Science and Public Policy: Funder strategies for promoting research addressing societal challenges: thematic, impact, and collaboration targeting (paper by Maria Theresa Norn, et al.)
Physics Today: Firearms forensics is becoming more quantitative
Scientific American: AI will become mathematicians’ ‘co-pilot’ (perspective by Christoph Drösser)
Chemical & Engineering News: AI is coming. Is the chemistry world ready?

Labs and Facilities

Fermilab: Fermilab names Jim Kerby as LBNF/DUNE US project director
NASA: Jonathan Lunine appointed chief scientist of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab
Research Professional: Canada joins Square Kilometre Array space telescope initiative
Research Professional: Major European research infrastructures ‘at a crossroads’
Bloomberg: Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt funds AI research at Europe’s top physics hub, CERN

Computing and Communications

Wired: US national security experts warn AI giants aren’t doing enough to protect their secrets
Wired: OpenAI offers a peek inside the guts of ChatGPT
Nature: Super-fast Microsoft AI is first to predict air pollution for the whole world
Scientific American: The AI era faces a threat from directed energy weapons
NIH: Making advanced research computing more accessible with NIH cloud lab
E&E News: Hearing exposes divides on AI’s energy needs, permitting
Wall Street Journal: NVIDIA’s new sales booster: The global push for national AI champions

Space

SpaceNews: Congressional language alters plans for NASA’s Habitable Worlds Observatory
Ars Technica: NASA is commissioning 10 studies on Mars Sample Return — most are commercial
NASA OIG: NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative (report)
SpaceNews: Competing with Uncle Sam’s free space offerings
SpaceNews: China seeks its own Apollo moment – and more
Ars Technica: As leaks on the space station worsen, there’s no clear plan to deal with them
Breaking Defense: Hide and seek: Despite sharper eyes on the heavens, sneaky sats can still find shadows

Weather, Climate, and Environment

Inside Climate News: Mexico elected a climate scientist. But will she be a climate president?
Politico: Mexico’s new president is a climate scientist. That could be a boon for California
Politico: Inside von der Leyen’s secret climate crusade
Science|Business: Science agencies in 8 countries join forces to fund €61M in climate research
Science: Greenhouse gas mitigation requires caution (perspective by Lisa Stein and Mary Lidstrom)
E&E News: ‘All good’: Shell CEO backs Biden’s climate law
E&E News: California city votes to block solar geoengineering experiment
E&E News: NOAA leader who rooted out harassment to head daily operations

Energy

Wired: How much energy would it take to pull carbon dioxide out of the air?
E&E News: White House carbon capture expert returns to DOE
American Nuclear Society: FIRE: DOE’s new plan for ‘building bridges’ to fusion energy
American Nuclear Society: Xcimer raises $100 million to invest in inertial fusion laser tech
American Nuclear Society: Last Energy enters R&D partnership with NATO Energy Security Center
Senate Energy Committee: Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) requests inspector general investigation into DOE loan commitment to Plug Power
Physics Today: Advanced conductors could double power flows on the grid

Defense

Physics Today: Ernest Moniz on the nuclear weapons threat (interview)
NucleCast: LLNL’s technology, the development of nuclear weapons, and the era of stockpile stewardship (interview with Bruce Tarter)
Science: The weapons potential of high-assay low-enriched uranium (perspective by R. Scott Kemp, et al.)
American Nuclear Society: Army solicits bids for microreactors to site at military bases
American Nuclear Society: IAEA calls for Iran to comply with nuclear safeguards, inspections
Breaking Defense: Getting perspective on the reality of AI and quantum in defense
C4ISRNET: House lawmakers propose $1.3 billion for Pentagon innovation

Biomedical

Science: Anthony Fauci fends off COVID-19 accusations in pandemic origin probe
Nature: Hope for global pandemic treaty rises — despite missed deadline
Science: Global pandemic treaty stalls, again, over equity concerns
Nature: Negotiating a pandemic treaty is just the first step — how will countries comply? (perspective by Tae Jung Park)
National Academies: Long-term health effects of COVID-19: Disability and function following SARS-CoV-2 infection (report)
Science: France should create an NIH à la française to boost biomedical research, report urges
Science: Connecting lab, clinic, and community (perspective by Monica Bertagnolli)
Stat: At BIO, signs Congress’ tough stance on China is chilling biotech relationships
Reuters: Staff at drugmaker under US scrutiny worked with Chinese military scientists

International Affairs

Nature: What Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third term in India means for science
BBC: Why is Russia accusing its own scientists of treason?
Science|Business: EU election unlikely to rock the research boat
Science|Business: European Commission under pressure to give guidance on R&D collaboration with Israel
Research Professional: UK ‘should aim to lead G7’ in R&D spending, say sector groups
Science: Fired chief of Irish science funder in legal battle to keep his job
Wall Street Journal: Asia’s chip giants hustle to maintain their edge over the US
Wall Street Journal: Japan defends its turf in the global chip wars
Wall Street Journal: The goal for China’s chip giant: Cut out the US
CSIS: What are the implications of Peru joining the Artemis accords?

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