This diary will be brief, mainly an announcement. Yesterday, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory ceased most operations as a result of the government shutdown. According to the NRAO web site:
Effective 7 p.m. EDT, Friday, 4 October 2013, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) temporarily suspended all US operations because of the US Federal government shutdown. All NRAO facilities and buildings are closed; NRAO personnel, other than a skeleton crew, are on furlough and cannot respond to emails or phone calls. All events and operations for the science community and the public are cancelled until further notice ...
The NRAO shutdown affects all research and public education facilities, including the
Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), the Pete V. Domenici Science Operations Center and VLA Visitor Center, the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) , and all NRAO-New Mexico support buildings & facilities; the Jansky Lab, Green Bank Science Center, Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and other telescopes in Virginia, NRAO Headquarters ,North American ALMA Science Center, and the Central Development Laboratory.
Very likely this means that any research programs scheduled for observations at this time will simply be stopped, and at best will be rescheduled a year from now. They might also have to be resubmitted for review and approval.
Now astronomy is not as urgent as research on childhood cancer. We are, however, starting to see the ripple effect as government contractors have to shut down because there's no one at the Federal Agencies to authorize payments for ongoing programs.
This makes me finally understand why the Republicans are hanging tough. They are finally in sight of their dream of gutting science, laying off hundreds of thousands of Federal employees, and (if they stick to it hard enough) kill the social services network. And we can see the consequences right now.