American Physical Society Organizes Effort to Preserve NIST

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Publication date: 
13 September 1995

On Monday this week, The American Physical Society held a press
conference to release two letters calling on Members of Congress to
maintain funding for the laboratory program of the National
Institute of Standards and Technology.  Congress is now considering
legislation to dismantle the Commerce Department. 

The first letter was signed by twenty-five recipients of the Nobel
Prize in Physics.  It concluded:

"Measurements and standards techniques from the NIST laboratories
have been estimated to save the nation billions of dollars annually
through their use in industries such as electrical power,
semiconductor manufacturing, medical, agricultural, food
processing, and building materials.  The loss of these laboratories
would be a serious blow to our long-term technological capability
and to our national enterprise in basic research.  We urge you to
make every possible effort to preserve this national treasure."

The second letter was signed by representatives of eighteen major
scientific societies.  Included in this letter's signatories are
the following Member Society presidents: Kumar Patel, The American
Physical Society; Robert E. Apfel, Acoustical Society of America;
Guy Simmons, American Association of Physicists in Medicine; Hugo
Steinfink, American Crystallographic Association; John Weaver,
American Vacuum Society and Roland W. Schmitt, Chair of the
American Institute of Physics Governing Board.  The letter is as

"As presidents and directors of professional societies representing
more than 1,000,000 experts in engineering and in the mathematical,
physical, and medical sciences and with concern for the strength of
the nation's scientific enterprise, we urge you to maintain federal
support for the laboratories of the National Institute of Standards
and Technology.

"The NIST laboratories uniquely serve the broad scientific and
technical community.  Scientists and engineers from nearly every
state in the country come to the NIST laboratories to carry out
their research.  Consequently, the NIST laboratories have a strong
record of contributing to the nation's technological and scientific
competitiveness and are a crucial component of the nation's
long-term basic research.

"We recognize that your efforts to balance the budget is forcing
tough choices regarding the Department of Commerce.  However, the
laboratories operated by NIST and funded by the Department of
Commerce are a vital scientific resource for the nation and should
be preserved in the process of downsizing the federal government."

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