The language clearly suggests that five years should be the maximum duration of a typical research project. Yet, in the fields of high-energy physics, nuclear physics and astronomy, many projects require a decade or more to reach fruition.
Had former Rep. Vern Ehlers, R-Mich., a physicist who retired from the House in 2010 after 17 years of service, still been a member of the committee responsible for the FIRST Act, I doubt any of such language would have survived.
Ehlers, some readers might recall, took the House floor in 1998 to instruct Mark Sanford that ATM, the South Carolina Republican’s poster child of frivolous NSF funding, was not the acronym for “Automatic Teller Machine” but rather “Asynchronous Transfer Mode,” the backbone of the Internet.
The departures of Ehlers and Holt are losses not only for me personally, but for Congress and the nation.
Michael S. Lubell is the Mark W. Zemansky professor of physics at the City College of the City University of New York and director of public affairs of the American Physical Society.