Controversial Reactor is Rapidly Gaining Funding Support

  • Thread starter BillTre
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BillTre
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Main Question or Discussion Point

The Versatile Fast Neutron Source, a research fast reactor, is gaining funding support from congress.
Some say it is needed to maintain expertise in the area.
Others says its a boondoggle without a good justification.
More detailed arguments are here in a Science mag news article.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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That's a deeply political question. How are science funds allocated? Who decides on projects?

If I was king, I would set the size of the pie, then dictate the ratios of speculative/near-term/applied sciences, and I would make those ratios a matter of public debate. I would regulate how the boards of scientists that control the funds are staffed and structured and retain veto power. Beyond that, I would let the scientists divvy up the pie however they see fit. It is improper for government to pick winners and losers in any field, including science.
 
  • #3
russ_watters
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...speculative/near-term/applied sciences...
Who would judge the research to decide which category each project falls into?

As you say, this is inherently political and immensely complicated. There isn't necessarily a right or wrong answer, but I'm not sure I personally agree with the approach. I think the government and people should have the right to decide more directly how their money is spent.

Anyway, regarding the article, I see some of the usual red flags in it* (if the Union of Concerned Scientists opposes something, that is almost enough on it's own to trigger my support), so I'd have to put some work into looking into this project to decide if I support it.

*Besides the UCS issue, the idea that this could be a "boondoggle" or "pork" would seem unlikely to me. The federal government has a pretty solid recent history of breaking laws to avoid spending money on nuclear power. That includes the Congressmen who's states/districts would be receiving the money!
 
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