FYI THIS MONTH: DECEMBER 2004
HIGHLIGHTS OF DEVELOPMENTS IN WASHINGTON IMPACTING THE PHYSICS COMMUNITY FROM FYI, THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS BULLETIN OF SCIENCE POLICY NEWS
Audrey T. Leath, Richard M. Jones
fyithismonth@aip.org
WINNERS AND LOSERS: Now that the final omnibus FY 2005 appropriations bill has been signed into law by President Bush, it is possible to look at the results for the programs and agencies tracked regularly by FYI and determine how each one fared. After taking into account across-the-board reductions, the program that showed the greatest growth over fiscal year 2004 is NIST's Manufacturing Extension Partnership, with a 178.4% increase. The National Science Foundation's Math and Science Partnership Program experienced the deepest cut, of 43.0%. This analysis does not take into account changes in program content.

COMINGS AND GOINGS: Since the November 2 elections, many changes have been announced in President Bush's Administration. Three of these announcements affect federal S&T agencies. After serving as acting head of NSF since February, Arden Bement was confirmed as NSF Director. Deputy Treasury Secretary Samuel Bodman has been nominated to replace Spencer Abraham as Secretary of Energy, and Sean O'Keefe has announced that he is resigning as NASA Administrator to become chancellor at Louisiana State University's Baton Rouge campus.

HUBBLE SERVICING REPORT: NASA should send a space shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope, according to a National Research Council panel. The committee of experts found that the technological sophistication and aggressive development schedule needed for a robotic servicing mission made it "unlikely that NASA will be able to extend the science life of [the Hubble] through robotic servicing." The committee further concluded that the difference in risk of losing the shuttle and crew between a single shuttle mission to the Hubble and a single shuttle mission to the International Space Station was "extremely small," and that a shuttle servicing mission would be "highly likely to succeed."

INTERNATIONAL STUDENT COMPARISONS: Two separate international comparisons of students in math and science provided mixed results for the U.S. The results of the third annual Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) indicated that U.S. eighth- graders have improved in both science and math, while the performance of U.S. fourth-graders has stayed the same or even declined relative to other countries in the study. The study also showed that, internationally, gender differences were "negligible" in both science and math at the fourth-grade level. At the eighth-grade level, gender differences were not apparent in math, but in science, boys in most countries scored significantly higher than girls. In the most recent Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), U.S. 15-year-olds ranked below the average of participating countries in assessments of mathematics literacy and problem-solving skills.

SCIENCE AND POLITICS: Earlier this month, the American Association for the Advancement of Science hosted a seminar on the implications for science of the November elections. The speakers discussed the outlook for future science budgets, the political involvement of scientists, and the views of the American public on a variety of scientific issues.