With bears loose on the world’s major stock markets, academic, corporate and government scientists who seek cover face a forest of question marks.
On Wall Street, where tremors from the recent precipitous plunge in share prices still ripple through the world economy, analysts predict an end to the easy credit and abundant capital that fueled recent growth in some science-based U.S. industries. While not everyone is predicting a recession, the prevailing mood is one of extremecaution, if not outright gloom.
Several scientists said it was too early to predict the effect of the market crash on science budgets. Much depends, they said, on what steps Congress and the Reagan administration take to reduce the federal deficit. But they are alarmed by talk of a freeze on federal spending levels.
“I think it would be a horrendous tragedy to lop off funding in basic research at this time,” said Rita Colwell,...