Government shutdown derails scientific research

    Most research projects require some continuity – stopping some experiments mid-stream could render weeks, months or years of work useless. Paul Raeburn, a colleague at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker points out some good stories that illustrate that the shut down means a lot more than closed national parks and no more panda cam.

    Here’s Brandon Keim at Wired.com explaining why the shut down is “devastating” to some medical work.

    I don’t think the public realizes the devastating impact that this has on scientific research. Scientific research is not like turning on and off an assembly line. Experiments are frequently long-term and complicated. They involve specific treatments and specific times. You can’t just stop and restart it. You’ve probably just destroyed the experiment.

    And here’s Joel Achenbach, from the Washington Post, noting that hundreds of patients in clinical trials won’t get treatments.

    If the shutdown persists, it could affect about 200 people per week who, under normal circumstances, would be admitted to new trials, said John T. Burklow, an NIH spokesman. On average, about 30 of those new patients would be children, and about 10 would be children with cancer, he said.

    That story goes to to say that flu outbreaks won’t be tracked. A mission to Mars might be delayed for years. But food will still be shipped to the crew of scientists and other workers stationed at the South Pole, and in case you were wondering:

    The National Nuclear Security Administration, part of the Energy Department, will continue to monitor the safety of the atomic arsenal.

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