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Policy and funding

Thousands march for science in Washington

24 Apr 2017 Matin Durrani

Thousands of people took to the streets of Washington, DC on Saturday 22 April to voice their support for science. Endorsed by more than 200 scientific organizations including the American Physical Society, the March for Science sought to promote the value of science – and scientists – to society. It was part of a co-ordinated series of similar protests at almost 600 other venues around the world.

The Washington march had been organized to coincide with Earth Day and many protestors held placards with environmentally-themed messages such as “We want solar! With science”, “There is no planet B” and “The tides are rising – and so are we”. Others, meanwhile, were concerned about science budgets. “We need to make a statement that basic research funding is important for this country,” said Shawn Westerdale, an experimental physicist.

“Science is truth”

Although the organizers intended the event in Washington not to be political, some protestors had a clear message for politicians in the Trump administration. “It’s an abomination what’s going on,” said Bob Bruninga, an engineer. “Science is not political, but if there are some people who don’t want to understand science and they want to make it a political game, then they can. Science is truth.”

Those views were echoed by theoretical biophysicist Lauren McGough – another protestor who joined those marching from the Washington Monument to Capitol Hill. “Science research funding and general truth are under threat in the current administration and I am really concerned about what that’s going to mean for basically the whole American public and, in the end, the Earth,” she told Physics World.

Kenan Diab – a physicist holding an umbrella and a placard stating “Theoretical physics uncovers beautiful new possibilities” – felt the march could have long-term benefits. “One should take a stand on the correct side, which is to believe in the existence of an objective reality,” he said. “If that’s a partisan issue that’s sad, but hopefully our actions will make it non-partisan again.”

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