WASHINGTON--Senators and representatives return next week from their annual August recess knowing that they still face many important issues. But what to do about big science should not be one of them.

That debate appears to have been settled, at least for this year. A series of votes this summer attempted to establish an acceptable balance between funding huge teams of scientists working on multibillion-dollar construction projects and continuing to nurture individual investigators engaged in small-scale science.

The results of the debate favored size: A bill to double the superconducting supercollider's budget for the 1992 fiscal year was signed by the president last month. Both the Senate and the House have separately approved a $2 billion appropriation for the space station, although differences in the two measures must still be worked out.

Those projects won out despite fervent efforts by several professional societies and individual scientists to limit big science's...

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