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Hank usually likes to keep science and politics separated, but the reality is that a lot of scientific research in the United States is funded by the government. This is a problem right now because the disfunction in the world of politics has begun to seriously affect the realm of science. Because of sequestration, NASA needs our help!

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Hank: Hello, this is Hank Green for SciShow news.

 Science Budget Cuts

Now, I like to keep the stuff here on SciShow a little bit separate from the political realities that we often face. Politics and science, kind of like jocks and nerds, they're both fine, but they don't understand each other, you know? And everyone's just happiest when they keep to themselves. But I'm also not naive, a lot of scientific research in the US is backed by the federal government, either directly or indirectly, which means that some of the most important science being done on this planet is at the mercy of people who have to win a popularity contest every few years just to keep their jobs. This usually isn't too big a problem, as long as the grown-up decisions about science aren't being left to those who think that cavemen were having dinosaur rodeos 6,000 years ago. But it's a problem now, because the dysfunctions in the world of politics have begun to seriously affect the world of science. Earlier this month, Washington's inability to come up with a budget led to automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that have dire consequences for American scientific research, and just last week, in an attempt to limit the damage of this budget takeover known as sequestration, Congress passed a bill that clarified how the government will spend our money between now and September 30th, when the fiscal year ends. Some scientific agencies got a little more money than they feared, but overall the results for the American scientific community are grim.

 The Budget Itself

The National Institutes of Health, for example, the world's single largest funder of biomedical research faces cuts of $1.4 billion, and we'll be reducing or canceling hundreds of research grants. Likewise, the National Science Foundation, which funds about a fifth of all scientific research in American universities saw its total budget cut by $200 million. The only bright spot, NASA ended up getting over $200 million more than the administration had asked for, specifically to continue NASA's planetary science program. According to the nonprofit planetary society, the bill passed last week specifically set aside funding for the production of plutonium-238, which is used to fuel deep space missions and for vehicles like the Curiosity Rover, and it also gives the green light for ongoing research into an as-yet unscheduled mission to Europa. So while NASA will end up with a budget of $17.9 billion for 2013, the sequester still requires that it cut $1.2 billion, about 6.5%, out of that. NASA administrator Charles Bolden Jr. has already warned that the cuts will require stopping some vital programs, like the development of a commercial rocket to take astronauts to the International Space Station, but many of the cuts will also affect the second most important thing, next to doing science itself, which is helping people understand science.

 Suspending Education

A few days ago, the website SpaceRef posted memos leaked from NASA revealing that the agency is suspending all of its education and outreach until at least the end of September. So no public programs, workshops, or conferences, no speeches from NASA officials, no public appearances by astronauts, no research published, and no new forays into social media, which is how you and I get a lot of our NASA news. It also put a stop to all sorts of educational tools in the works like new websites and multimedia projects that NASA uses to interpret its missions and its findings. I mean, did you see the full-length animation of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission last year, it didn't just give me goosebumps, it made me one big goosebump! The only thing spared from these cuts are public updates and breaking news from ongoing missions. So we here at SciShow news will still be able to keep you up to date on what NASA is doing, but for teachers, students, parents, and anyone who wants to learn or educate others about the universe, you're kind of on your own.


So, for the time being, I guess that this means that it's up to us, all of us, as people who care about and understand science to become the outreach. Find the exciting NASA news yourself and share it with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr, and yes, in real life, too. Do your part to share the science and the wonder, since the federal government apparently can't afford silly things like appreciating awesome. Also, if you live in the US, you can see to it that research continues and we're not kept in the dark. Contact your representatives and your senators to demand that these cuts stop in the fall, these cuts were totally preventable in the first place, they're freaking stupid, and they can be reversed. Thank you for watching this episode of SciShow news, if you want to keep up to date on all of the latest breaking science news, you can go to, and subscribe.

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