The President's Page: The government and geophysics


  • Philip H. Abelson


When Will Rogers, famed for his wry wit, once said ‘If you don't like the weather in Washington, stick around for fifteen minutes,’ it is likely that he had something in mind besides the sudden government showers that often pour down at about 5 o'clock during the summer months. At any rate, his remarks seem particularly appropriate when one views the current political scene and its interaction with geophysics. The key agencies dealing with science have experienced heavy weather and anxious moments; some seem to be emerging into fairer days, others are crouching in the storm cellar.

During the first Nixon years the administration moved cautiously. There was one major change affecting science in which a number of agencies were merged together in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For most science agencies the financial situation was relatively favorable, though academic geophysics was hit rather badly by a tightness in funds-especially those for support of fellowships, a continuation of a trend already noticeable in the Johnson years.