The Government Shutdown is Bad for Science Too
Some things you just can’t put on hold until you get back from your forced vacation without consequences. Consider lab mice. In these days of advancing genetic research and searching for secrets at the most fundamental levels of biology they aren’t just like your white mice at the local pet store. NPR has a piece on the consequences to science of scientists having to leave their labs and their test mice. Each mouse is genetically tested when born and must be monitored constantly for research to be valid. Left alone they will also overpopulate their environment in the lab. Some would have to be killed to avoid overcrowding and they are expensive to replace and some in fact can’t be replaced.
For research in the Antarctic the timing of the shutdown could hardly be worse. This is the beginning of research season in the Antarctic spring and everything is cancelled until the shutdown is over. It’s also a critical time for one of the largest undertakings in Antarctic ice research, the WISSARD drilling program, which should be entering its second and last season of work. If the equipment needed for their planned drilling can’t be gotten on site soon the entire season’s work is threatened.