Every two years, the National Science Board issues a report that almost
staggers the mind with thousands of statistics about the conduct of
science and technology in the United States and in the larger world.
The current report, "Science & Engineering Indicators -
2004," contains eight chapters of analysis, packaged with an
accompanying appendix containing many tables of statistics.
These volumes are the sixteenth in a series of reports that are a well-known
and highly trusted source of information. The chapters in the first
volume cover topics such as elementary though higher education, the
science and engineering labor force, U.S. and international R&D,
academic R&D, "industry, technology, and the global marketplace,"
public attitudes and understanding about S&T, and state indicators.
Both the report and accompanying appendix and can be found at http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/seind04/start.htm
A free CD of the two volumes is available by contacting the National
Science Board (not AIP) at http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/seind04/cdreq.htm
The following figures on physical sciences research are drawn from
the appendix to this report, with the table number noted for further
reference. Directional variations in year-to-year funding should be
expected. Note that some of the statistics apply to academic research
expenditures, to all research expenditures, to various disciplines,
and to physical sciences. Questions about the meaning of a particular
point are perhaps best clarified by consulting the cited appendix table
In FY 2003, the federal obligation for physical sciences research was
$5,200.5 million. Of this, DOE provided $2,049.0 million, NASA provided
$1,179.5 million, NSF provided $643.9 million, DOD provided $573.4 million,
and HHS $432.7 million. (Appendix table 4-33)
The federal obligation for physics research (in constant 1996 dollars)
was $2,450.5 million in 1982, and $2,248.7 million in 2001. This is
an annual growth rate of minus 0.5%. (Appendix table 4-34)
The federal obligation for astronomy research (in constant 1996 dollars)
was $419.7 million in 1982, and $693.5 million in 2001. This was an
annual growth rate of 2.7%. (Appendix table 4-34)
The federal obligation for environmental sciences research (in constant
1996 dollars) was $1,747.3 million in 1982, and $2,970.3 million in
2001. This was an annual growth rate of 2.8%. (Appendix table 4-34)
Federal and non-federal research expenditures at academic institutions
in 2001 were distributed as follows:
Physics research was 3.8% of all R&D expenditures. Of this, 74.9%
was federal and 25.1% was non-federal.
Astronomy research was 1.2% of all R&D expenditures. Of this, 68.7%
was federal and 31.3% was non-federal.
Earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences research was 5.6% of all R&D
expenditures. Of this, 64.7% was federal and 35.3% was non-federal.
(Appendix table 5-5)
In 1975, physics research comprised 5.1% of all expenditures for academic
R&D, declining to 3.8% in 2001. For astronomy research, the comparable
figures are 0.8% and 1.2%. For earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences
research the comparable figures are 7.5% and 5.6% (Appendix table
In 2001, federal academic research received the following percentages
of support from the below major agencies:
Physics: DOE: 50.2%; NSF: 28.4%; DOD: 12.8%; NASA: 8.6%
Astronomy: NASA: 80.5%; NSF: 19.5%
Earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences: NSF: 39.9%; HHS: 19.8%; NASA:
18.9%; DOD: 11.5%; DOE: 9.5%; USDA: 0.3% (Appendix table 5-11)
In 2001, 6.6% of NSF's academic research obligation was for physics,
2.1% for astronomy, and 14.6% for earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences.
In 2001, 41.6% of DOE's academic research obligation was for physics,
0.0% for astronomy, and 12.5% for earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences.
In 2001, 6.1% of NASA's academic research obligation was for physics,
26.6% for astronomy, and 21.3% for earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences.
(Appendix table 5-10)
In 1988, there were 16 million square feet of assignable academic research
space for physical sciences, which increased to 19 million square feet
in 2001. The comparable figures for earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences
are 6 million square feet and 8 million square feet. (Appendix table
In constant 1996 dollars, the expenditure for academic physics research
equipment was $53 million in 1983 and $103 million in 2001. The comparable
figures for academic astronomical research equipment in 1983 was $6
million and $13 million in 2001. The comparable figures for academic
earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences was $45 million in 1983 and $81
million in 2001. (Appendix 5-14)