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Working Papers: Astronomy and Astrophysics Panel Reports
effort and time.
Finally, we consider funding of institutes and workshops. The ITP at Santa Barbara has sponsored some excellent programs, but its service to the community is limited by lack of a permanent staff in astrophysics. NASA and NSF (Physics) support Aspen and other summer workshops, but more travel money must be made available if these workshops are to be made available to a broader section of the community.
Policy Recommendations for the 90's: Theory
The committee examined many possible recommendations, including such things as a new national center for Theoretical Astrophysics. However, the committee felt that at the present time the real needs in theory are for increased stable individual grant support and postdoctoral support, as mentioned under funding needs. Policy recommendations to individual agencies for Theory are given below.
*1. Establish a separate Theory Program in the Astronomy Division, as mentioned before.
*2. We recommend that the directorate of NSF responsible for education increase its funding for graduate fellowships and traineeships; this would benefit all science.
*3. The use of umbrella grants, where several theorists at a given institution combine their grants, should be an acceptable but not mandatory option in order to reduce paperwork and permit the pooling of resources. The resources to be devoted to each of the investigators on such a grant should be clearly spelled out.
*4. An "adiabatic turnoff"-i.e., a year of reduced funding-should be provided for the termination of long-term programs.
*5. Accomplishment-based proposals should be actively encouraged for senior theorists. Again, this reduces paperwork and, for the case of senior theorists, provides adequate information for evaluating the proposal.
* NASA is to be congratulated for recognizing the importance of theory in carrying out its mission. Continued support for the Theory Program, for mission-specific theory, and for theory at the NASA centers is essential if the benefits of the missions planned for the 90's are to be realized.
* DOE should support theoretical astrophysics insofar as it is relevant to its mission. The Panel notes that the DOE has used astrophysics to help justify new accelerators such as RHIC and SSC, but to date its funding of astrophysically related projects has not been enlightened. Particle astrophysics, nuclear astrophysics, plasma astrophysics and computational astrophysics are all of direct relevance to DOE's mission.
* A policy issue which extends across the boundaries of all agencies is computational facilities. The development of major super-computing facilities through NSF and DOE has provided a major improvement in the computational environment in the last decade. However, these facilities do not satisfy all of the computational needs of the theoretical community. Moreover, recent advances in small scale computing now mean that many tasks previously requiring supercomputers can be handled on much smaller machines at a fraction of the cost with only modest losses in speed. Yet these smaller machines are often difficult for individuals or groups to acquire through individual grants. The Panel recommends that all agencies should recognize the importance of computers of a range of sizes as powerful tools for theoretical research, and that funding for powerful machines dedicated to the use of individuals, groups or departments should be increased.