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Shutting Down Science

5 pm Saturday on Big Picture Science: What do we lose when public funds for science dwindle?

image of microscope with red line across it

“Sorry, closed for business.” That sign hung on doors of national laboratories when the U.S. government shut down. What that meant for one Antarctic researcher: her critically important work was left out in the cold.

So just what do we lose when public funds for science fade? The tools for answering big questions about our universe for one, says a NASA scientist … while one of this year’s Nobel Prize winners fears that it is driving our young researchers to pursue their work overseas.

Yet one scientist says publically funding isn’t even necessary; privatizing science would be more productive.

Plus, an award-winning public-private research project changes the way we use GPS … and a BBC reporter on the fate of international projects when Americans hang up their lab coats.


Jill Mikucki – WISSARD principal investigator and a microbiologist at the University of Tennessee
Max Bernstein – Lead for research at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
James Rothman – Professor and chairman of the department of cell biology at Yale University, recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Medicine
Alexandre Bayen – Civil engineer and computer scientist, University of California, Berkeley
Pat Michaels – Director for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute
Roland Pease – BBC science reporter