Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Econ: Budget cuts and expensive laboratory science projections for 10s

  1. Oct 21, 2013 #1
    (I am going to attempt a 2nd, little thread before I finish my earlier thread. I want to see if I can practice using PF Rules & Guidelines and FAQ before I wrap up my thread on Autism in Medical Sciences.)

    In my humble opinion, the current budget crisis in the news likely augurs deep cuts - sooner or later - for almost all of the public sector. To simplify, allow us to suppose that all the developed nations' government budgets are cut more or less evenly to generate small, steady surpluses (for repayment of longstanding debts). (The accumulated debts of developed nations are allegedly traceable to vaguely identified creditors, and based on the strength of skyrocketing private wealth and other estimates.)

    Laboratory science (research and application) is very expensive in stark contrast to mainly-textbook education and theoretical science. Without belaboring the need for laboratory science (of course verification is necessary, and intertwined with theoretical science and education, and etcetera), the non-scientist government officials in developed nations might face the prospect of making tough, drastic decisions about how to allocate... eventually... less than 10% of the funding that they had to work with before, during the fatter years of massive deficit spending. Only this will allow the possibility of small, steady government budget surpluses overall.

    (Even if different science budgets are proposed than <10% of a priori budgets, that will be fine for my thread.)

    For my example of costs and benefits, I will use the Large Hadron Collider, completed and powered on in 2008:

    Consider the cost of Large Hadron Collider: about $9-10 billion in U.S.A. c.2008 dollars.
    See: http://home.web.cern.ch/about/accelerators/large-hadron-collider and download lightweight 66 page The LHC Guide PDF. Or proceed directly to:

    Consider the benefits of Large Hadron Collider: (recently in the news again) in July 2012, Higgs boson was found, thus earning the 2013 Nobel prizes for François Englert and Peter Higgs. See:
    See also Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman's recent book, co-written with Christopher Hill, Beyond the God Particle:

    With so much data being accumulated by particle accelerators, there used to be a lag time of catching up on processing data already accumulated. It required merely low-power Moore's Law computation, in the case of particle accelerators. I gleaned this from a documentary on Fermilab:
    (I do not know if it is still true, due to the differential between the data accumulation and processor speed in regards to Moore's Law by 2013.)

    My point is: Will more expensive projects be worth the funding, in light of above-elaborated budget cuts? Won't it make sense to switch to textbooks in the main, such as education and theoretical science? Wouldn't dissemination of established scientific knowledge (textbook education), theoretical science, and catching up on processing data already accumulated (in the case of particle accelerators at least) be worthwhile goals to replace additional laboratory research -- in the meantime, while the budget surpluses of developed nations bring the outstanding debts far, far down?

    I am not insensitive to the frustration and perhaps bitter distaste for this type of idea. Yet in economics, such realities have to be addressed every year, as bills need to be paid and interest accumulates on loans / debts. I'm open minded and interested in reading feedback.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 4, 2014 #2
    I'm sorry you are not finding help at the moment. Is there any additional information you can share with us?
  4. Jul 1, 2014 #3
    Thank you for your inquiry (delayed response...)

    Of course I must apologize for not noticing your kindness in replying to my thread with 0 replies. Thank you for doing so!

    The old (downloaded October 2013) CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) faq .pdf - for which I included 2 links, including a direct link - related some financial information:

    a) When was it designed? page 16

    b) How much does it cost? page 17


    Taken from a) :
    The significance of this year, of course, is near to the year in which the massive Superconducting Supercollider - championed by now-Nobel Laureate (Higgs Boson) Leon Lederman, et alii - was cancelled after partial construction.

    The point is : CERN insisted on the outset on staying within budget constraints... (BTW, many CERN countries have indebted governments, but that is not apropos here.)

    Thus LHC has managed to be a relatively success story, whereas other, more expensive and ambitious, erstwhile projects, though worthwhile, have come up short on finding "sponsors".


    Taken from b) :

    I can't include the nice table which follows, that shows the actual total-total to be 6.510 billion CHF.

    The cost of the LHC machine alone is not enough ; additional funds go to personnel; share to detectors, computing ; and etcetera.

    CERN seems to attempt to stay within budget constraints in funding these other, worthwhile projects.

    The point is: in this time of budget crunches and economic crises looming, projects like those from CERN that merely build on existing, well understood technologies are more reliable for funding access... perhaps?
    Or, maybe not.

    Maybe LHC is merely an overrated 3rd generation accelerator; and funding should aim higher and set its sights on something grander, to make a quantum leap in the 2010s decade!

    Well, I hope this helps.
  5. Jul 1, 2014 #4

    http://home.web.cern.ch/about :

  6. Jul 3, 2014 #5
    I think more budget cuts will be needed because of a lack of inflation in the world's developed economies. I'm talking about core inflation, and that's the fault of central banks. They are still traumatized by the 1970's even though this slump has been worse. There's so much slack in the economy that tax revenues can't keep up with the pace of increased transfer payments and automatic stabilizers.
  7. Jul 4, 2014 #6
    Thanks for reply; how about private funding for lab science?

    Thanks for the response! Now, if budget cuts in the federal / national governments of developed nations are going to be needed, then...

    Where should money come from for laboratory science? Sadly, private and corporate funding seems - in my humble estimate, since I don't know of a better alternative - to be the next source on the list of options, given its bad reputation for biases and self-interest, in wanting a return on investments.

    Now, this would mean that poor, low-SES disadvantaged science students and scientists; not-for-profit science projects; and anti-business, anti-corporate, pro-environment, pro-biosphere, pro-ecology scientific crusades would not get private and corporate funding... as has been the case in the past... for reasons well-known.

    However, developed nations are facing staggering federal / national debt projections for 2020! So to keep funding public sector laboratory science is no longer viable... right?

    Do you have any other ideas for sources of funding?
  8. Jul 4, 2014 #7
    I don't think that this slump will last forever. This is just temporary. Eventually, the debt will come down. It would be much better and faster, in my opinion, for central banks to just inflate our way out of it, but governments putting us through some more lean years would work too.

    It will turn around eventually. I can't speak for European economies, but the US has a dynamic economy. I don't believe that we really have structural problems, and we are open to immigration. Just be patient. Government funding will happen again, but I think you're right about private funding being the only way for the next decade.
  9. Jul 4, 2014 #8
    Government debts and private funding for scientific laboratory researc

    You have a great optimism. You may be right, and the eventual growth projections will outpace or overshadow the staggering government nominal debts.

    I see potential validity in your generally alluded to reference.

    However, I would like to ask, just to stay apropos: if the private sector grows, and the public deficits continue to pile up debt, and taxes stay down to foster growth - then, relating all of this to funding expensive scientific laboratory research, not to economics in general, as I would prefer not to post in this thread about economic projections for developed nations in general - then perhaps private funding will be next on the list for a while.

    And that will bring lots of socioeconomic inequalities and private self-interests into scientific research, which will be "undesireable" from a public scientist's point of view.

    Well, I suppose your projection may turn out to be right by late 2020s or 2030s.
  10. Jul 5, 2014 #9


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    We need some research posted in peer reviewed journals please.
  11. Jul 6, 2014 #10
    I apologize for deviation from peer-reviewed journals;

    Thank you, Evo, for reminding me that I needed to cite research from peer-reviewed journals.

    I will take another break to look for such research, and post again if I can find a good citation.
    I am not sure what topic to look under that will fit this thread's initial premise.

    I apologize for not remembering to stick to university-level textbooks and peer-reviewed journals at the outset.
  12. Jul 6, 2014 #11
    Theoretical science is hard to sell. There are gains to be made, but everything annoys economists: long waiting period and high risk. ;)

    Slashing research is an easy target because scientists would not make mass protests. On the other hand there are more responsible targets:
    -big international business (however, for really hunting them there would have to be a high level of cooperation between at least the USA and EU, and better practically whole first world) Drawback: good luck with finding such amount of cooperation (when there would be hordes of lobbyist and people with national pride and inflated ego).
    -slashing entitlements (or from no brainers just raising retirement age) Drawback: causes outrage.

    No investor would put his money here because such knowledge is a public good. That sound like a gov role.

    Eehiram: There is a question that lacks nowadays a good answer. We're facing now ultra low interest rates. Is it a temporary anomaly or part of bigger trend? If it's a bigger trend (Japan lost decade would support such interpretation) then maybe we should just get used to govs that accumulated debt round 100% of GDP. As long as the servicing cost is low and investors are calm, then there might be no point in fighting fiercely with high debt.

    I'm setting in to doubt the previous assumptions, because I don't feel confident to discuss the IRR or NPV of big theoretical research projects. (If anyone finds such data please post them)
  13. Jul 15, 2014 #12
    Peer-reviewed journal link (or 2) from Thomson Reuters

    In an attempt to redeem but not resuscitate my thread, here are 2 links to peer reviewed journals. 1 is a PDF on Euro Zone (with info on debt crises).

    (2 is a short press release on 2009 stimulus package, with macroeconomic information but no reference proper to U.S.A. federal debt level. Sorry.)

    (I didn't find more than 4 pages of peer reviewed journals, and only a few at the end to view for free, on Thomson Reuters, on the topic of "national debt" / "federal debt".)



    I hope this improves this thread.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook