Texas A&M Physicist's Committee Weighs In On Future Of U.S. Nuclear Science

 Texas A&M Physicist's Committee Weighs In On Future Of U.S. Nuclear Science

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2013

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --A new report from a
government committee chaired by Texas A&M University physicist Robert Tribble
has major implications for the future of U.S. nuclear science.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120502/DC99584LOGO)

Tribble, director of the Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute, oversaw the creation
of the report, accepted Jan. 29 by the U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE)/National Science Foundation (NSF) Nuclear Science Advisory Committee
(NSAC) and slated for public release in about a week once it is transmitted to
the two agencies. Tribble served a 3-year term as chair of the NSAC from
2006-09 and was asked in May 2012 by the current chair, Argonne National
Laboratory's Donald Geesaman, to lead a subcommittee charged with examining
the impact of different budgetary scenarios on the nation's nuclear science
program and how to maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear science despite
budgetary constraints.

Condition Critical

Tribble's subcommittee is advocating for a 1.6 percent increase per year in
the DOE's current nuclear physics budget of roughly $530 million annually, an
amount he says is necessary to prevent the U.S. from losing its competitive
edge in the field. Budgets short of that level of funding would result in a
major reduction of capabilities in the U.S. program.

"If we don't invest in the fundamental-discovery sciences, we might not be
able to take advantage of the next major technological breakthrough," said
Tribble, after discussing the final report earlier this week with his
21-person committee. "If you look at history, all of our technology now came
from discovery science. It was not science funded by anyone to make a product.
It was just, 'why is this happening?'"

Tribble's advisory panel zeroed in on examining the future of three key
national laboratories that are the backbone of the U.S. nuclear physics
program: Brookhaven National Laboratory's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider
(RHIC); the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLab) in Newport
News, Va.; and a planned $615 million lab at Michigan State University called
the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB).

Scientists in these labs are conducting research that could potentially be
world-changing. At Brookhaven, Tribble notes, researchers are studying a new
form of matter that has similar properties to the kind that would have been
around roughly 14 billion years ago just an instant after the Big Bang, what's
thought to be the earliest moment in the history of the universe.

Nuclear to the Core

Tribble, a distinguished professor of physics and an international leader in
experimental nuclear physics and nuclear astrophysics, joined the Texas A&M
faculty in 1975. He has served since 2003 as director of the Cyclotron
Institute, which represents the core of the university's nuclear physics and
nuclear chemistry program.

The institute, which operates one of only four university-based DOE-funded
laboratories equipped with one of only five K500 superconducting cyclotrons
worldwide, serves as a major technical and educational resource for both Texas
and the U.S. In addition to educating thousands of students in
accelerator-based science and technology, it brings in more than $3 million
annually in external use and testing by companies such as Boeing and
Lockheed-Martin that rent time on the cyclotron for their own research
projects.

Beyond traditional research and teaching, the institute also plays a vital
role in the general university's K-12 outreach, undergraduate research and
teacher-training programs, helping to pave educational pathways and prepare
young people for careers in the nuclear industry while building an informed
knowledge base with the potential to shape future nuclear policy.

For more information, see
http://www.science.tamu.edu/articles/Texas+A%26M+Physicist%27s+Committee+Weighs+in+on+Future+of+U.S.+Nuclear+Science

About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research
institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions
to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology.
Research conducted at Texas A&M represents an annual investment of more than
$700 million. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic,
fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic
benefits to the state, nation and world.

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SOURCE Texas A&M University

Contact: Vimal Patel, +1-979-845-7246, vpatel@science.tamu.edu, or Dr. Robert
Tribble, +1-979-845-1411, r-tribble@tamu.edu
 
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