“Nuclear physics is not in the position where we have a facility that's a large facility that has pretty much done what it wants to do,” he said. “It may be a blessing and a curse that we're in that mode, but we have a very, very vibrant program ahead of RHIC, we have a very vibrant program ahead of CEBAF and we have a very vibrant program that requires FRIB. There are no easy choices.”
His subcommittee therefore endorsed a “modest growth” budget scenario, under which all three programs could continue, albeit at a diminished level. “If we can avoid having to cut off an arm or a leg, then I think we’ll be much better off,” he said. It falls to elected officials in Washington to determine whether such growth can be accommodated within federal science budgets.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, scientists associated with the facility in New York State are still hoping they could get a reprieve. “I think that it’s not clear yet what these recommendations will ultimately mean for Brookhaven or RHIC’s future,” says Doon Gibbs, Brookhaven’s interim laboratory director, adding that the directors of all three labs have agreed to work together to stave off cuts to nuclear physics. “This was a call to arms not just for RHIC but for the nuclear physics community.”