Science agencies in line for ultra-modern research tools

Budget of the United States Government Fiscal Year 2001

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The nation's science agencies received a major boost in the president's fiscal 2001 budget proposal for basic research and information technology tools to conduct it.

President Bill Clinton announced earlier this month a $2.9 billion research and development initiative to promote cutting-edge science and technology.

Agencies such as the National Science Foundation and NASA would receive major boosts in their funding to lead the effort to develop nanotechnology and high-speed computers. Through interagency partnerships, the administration hopes the agencies will find the best way to apply those new technologies to biomedical, chemical and physical research.

The National Science Foundation has requested $4.5 billion, double the largest funding increase in its 50-year history. Of that, $180 million would be applied IT research.

NASA's request increased for the first time in seven years from $13.6 billion in 2000 to $14 billion in 2001. Science, aeronautics and technology would receive almost $6 billion of that total. NASA and NSF are discussing a science and technology research partnership to be announced later this month that would allow NSF participants to become involved in NASA programs, said Dan Goldin, NASA administrator.

NASA also is updating its vision to recognize the connections among biotechnology, nanotechnology and information technology, Goldin said. However, the focus will not be on specific programs but on the overall migration to new methods of computing, he said.

"We want to let this sit in the pot and simmer a little," Goldin said. The migration involves moving beyond silicon to quantum computing, hybrid computing and nondeterministic algorithms. "These are the kind of breakthroughs that require patience."

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency received a proposed increase of $75 million from its fiscal 2000 budget to $1.95 billion to continue its research into technologies for the warfighter.

About $30 million will be applied to DARPA's biowarfare defense program, which includes creating cyberdefense playbooks, protecting against information attacks and developing surveillance systems for military networks, said Frank Fernandez, DARPA director. The agency's goal is to free the soldier from the PC or laptop and to develop broadband next-generation networking capabilities, he said.

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