Physicist Sees Dim Future for ‘Big Science’ Funding [Space Politics]

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Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg said he fears that governments’ willingness to fund boundary-pushing science ventures, including the James Webb Space Telescope, may have reached its limit, Space Politics reports.

The theoretical physicist, speaking Jan. 9 at the American Astronomical Society conference in Texas, said his experience with the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC), a large particle accelerator that was canceled in 1993, has fueled his pessimism about future government funding for “big science.” SSC was vulnerable, he said, because it got an “undeserved reputation” for cost overruns and there was a limited constituency for the program within Congress.

The James Webb Space Telescope is in a similar situation, Weinberg said. “It’s facing accusations of overspending, but the problem again is that at the funding levels being requested, it’s being stretched out to the point where it’s getting more and more expensive,” he said.

 

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