Science  04 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5454, pp. 781

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  1. Shoot for the Stars

    Canadian astronomers will unveil an ambitious plan later this month for keeping their country at the forefront of exploration. But observers predict they face an uphill battle convincing politicians to go along with a $185 million boost for astronomy over the next decade, beginning in the 2001 budget. The new money would roughly double what Canada currently spends on the discipline, including its flagship 3.6-meter Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

    The highest priority, according to a blue-ribbon panel that made the recommendations, is to buy 5% stakes in the international Next Generation Space Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array project in Chile, at a total cost of $90 million. Other hoped-for initiatives include funding more research fellowships and high-performance computers to crunch data. Without such investments, Canadian astronomers will be “sidelined,” says panel chair Ralph Pudritz, a professor of physics and astronomy at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

  2. Gimme a (Tax) Break

    Bowing to congressional pressure, the Tennessee legislature has waived a $30 million tax bill for a major federal science project. State officials had wanted the Department of Energy to pay Tennessee the hefty one-time tax for its planned $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is supposed to produce a powerful stream of neutrons that scientists can use to probe the structure of matter. But House Science Committee chair James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) attacked the tax, threatening to hold up the plum project if Tennessee number-crunchers didn't back off. Last week, Sensenbrenner declared “a victory for U.S. taxpayers” after Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist (D) signed legislation eliminating the tax. Sensenbrenner vowed, however, “to continue aggressive oversight” of the neutron source, which is expected to be up and running by 2005 but has suffered from management turmoil and delays (Science, 4 June 1999, p. 1594).