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SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 SPS and AAPT Southeastern Pennsylvania Section Joint Meeting Aline McNaull

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Presentation on theme: "SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 SPS and AAPT Southeastern Pennsylvania Section Joint Meeting Aline McNaull"— Presentation transcript:

1 SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 SPS and AAPT Southeastern Pennsylvania Section Joint Meeting Aline McNaull Working with Congress: What can physicists bring to the table?

2 SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 Physicists and Congress Communicate Differently 2 By cartoonist Sidney Harris American Scientist

3 SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 Members of Congress Have Questions About the Scientific Process The outcomes of scientific research are unpredictable The value of a particular research project is rarely immediately apparent Investments in science do not pay off within one election cycle Job creation that results from innovation is long-term and not always easily quantifiable 3

4 SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 There Are Cultural Differences Between Physicists and Politicians Physics Numbers Objectives and facts Hate to make promises Quantitative Technical Problem seekers – focus on process Seek to define “why” Money = research Long term planning and thinking Science journals Specialists Politicians Words Subjective interpretation of facts Like to make promises Qualitative Political Problem seekers – focus on issue Ask why it is important Money = getting re-elected Short term planning and thinking Front page newspapers Generalists 4

5 SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 Politicians are Driven by the News Cycle 5 “science news cycle” published 5/18/2009 Piled Higher and Deeper Jorge Chan

6 SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 The Legislative Process is Complex “Understanding the process by which a bill becomes a law requires no astrophysics. But understanding the system by which a bill becomes a law requires about the same amount of patience as the study of this technical science.” -- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to American Government 6

7 SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 Words Are Defined Differently in Physics Than in Politics 7 “duplication”“Oh great! My results are reproducible and it wasn’t just a glitch in equipment!” “Why are we spending money on the same thing twice?” “basic research”“the fundamental research that is just performed for the sake of learning something about science” “Why aren’t you working on advanced research” “almost certain”“It’s publishable”“Scientists still have a lot of questions”

8 SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 What Are Current Topics Under Discussion in Congress and the Executive Branch? High-skilled immigrations for those with degrees in science, engineering, technology and mathematics How should the federal government organize its science and engineering education resources? Social Science Funding at the National Science Foundation High Quality Research Act 8

9 SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 There Have Been Positive Outcomes From Science Advocacy Efforts Increased support and understanding of basic research GRANT Act Helium Issues Critical Elements STEM Teacher Corps 9

10 SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 How Laws are Made 10

11 SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 There Are Many Factors That Influence Political Decisions All politics are local – what are the concerns of the constituents? Which group is presenting an idea? Influence of the news – timing issues What are you willing to compromise? 11

12 SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 How to Have an Effective Meeting Use resources to figure out the “science topic of the day” Call the office and ask their process for scheduling a meeting When setting up a meeting, include your name, organization, times you are available, and what issues you would like to discuss Be prompt! Be precise! Be courteous! Have an “ask” Bring a hand out and/or be able to them information about what issue you are there to discuss Follow up with a thank you! 12

13 SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 How to Navigate Discussions with Politicians All politics truly are local! Demonstrate your interest in your research without discussing the specifics of your problem set or any technical equations Know when to talk Know who to talk to Use science societies as resources! Build a relationship with your Member of Congress  Of trust  That is mutually beneficial 13

14 SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 Science Policy Resources American Institute of Physics - FYI  American Physical Society – Physics Frontline  American Geophysical Union – Science Policy Alert  The Optical Society – Washington Updates  American Astronomical Society  American Association of Universities  AAAS  14

15 SPS and Southeastern Pennsylvania Section AAPT Meeting April 27, 2013 Thank You Aline McNaull 15


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