News & Analysis Physics World  May 2021

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Biden seeks science boost 

The Biden administration has released its first budget request for science-related government agencies. The proposal, for the financial year 2022 beginning on 1 October, focuses mostly on climate research and biomedicine. But it includes a 25% boost for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a roughly 20% increases for the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation as well as a 6% hike for both NASA and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Technology. The large increases have been made possible by the expiration of a budget control act in 2011 that capped all government spending. US Congress will now decide the final budget. 

Dutch go big on quantum tech 

The Dutch government has announced it will spend 615m over the next seven years on quantum technology. Funding will go to research institutes, companies and organizations at five main locations: Delft, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Twente and Leiden. It will be used to train 2000 researchers and engineers as well as fund 100 start-ups and create three corporate research labs. The Netherlands has a strong track record in quantum technology, having the highest number of quantum start-ups per capita in the world and being third in research output. The government says the new initiative will lead to an economic boost of 5–7bn as well as end up creating 30,000 jobs. 

John Polkinghorne: 1930–2021

The British theoretical physicist and theologian John Polkinghorne died on 9 March at the age of 90. After studying mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge, he earned a PhD in physics in 1955 supervised by future Nobel laureate Abdus Salam. He then moved to the California Institute of Technology, where he worked with another future Nobellist, Murray Gell-Mann, before heading back to the UK to the University of Edinburgh in 1956. Two years later Polkinghorne returned to Cambridge where he remained until the late 1970s when he left academia and became an ordained priest, later serving as dean of chapel at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He wrote extensively, publishing some 26 books about the intersection between science and religion. In 1997 he was knighted and in 2002 received the £1m Templeton prize, which celebrates “scientific and spiritual curiosity”.