Several weeks ago the National Science Board released a highly informative study, Science and Engineering Indicators 2012, which provides “a broad base of quantitative information on the U.S. and International science and engineering enterprise.” Most exciting to wonks, however, is the appendix – it’s loaded with statistics!
There are any number of stories these statistics tell, but I wanted to highlight federal funding levels for the physical sciences (see 4-35) since the late 1980’s. The reported levels compare federal obligations for physics, astronomy, geological sciences, oceanography, and engineering (metallurgy and materials). Using the information provided, I created the following reference chart to illustrate how much financial support Washington has been providing for our nation’s scientists over time (click for higher resolution).
Of particular note is how hard astronomy was hit between 2004 and 2008.