Science Small Plate: Special gov’t shutdown edition (October 4, 2013)

Padlock by Moyan_Brenn on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.


As dawn broke on October 1, the government left some water out for the cat, checked the latches on the windows, turned off the lights and left. Because Congress has been unable to pass a budget or continuing resolution and keep operations funded, we’re now in the fourth day of a government shutdown.

With the shutdown, all of the government’s efforts to conduct and fund scientific research — ranging from new energy technologies to river ecology to cancer — ground to a halt. New checks aren’t being cut for funded research, while labs and research centers run by a bevy of government agencies have been shuttered.

To get a sense of what the shutdown looks like for science from the web’s point of view, I started compiling Instagram screenshots of government science websites, as well as quotes about the impact of the shutdown on science, and posting them to a site I created called Science Shutdown. For today’s Science Small Plate, I thought I’d share a few of those images.

This is what government science looks like right now:

NIH home page government shutdown

If you look at the websites for the NIH or just about any NIH institute, this is what you see. The remaining content is there, but as we all know, web content get stale quickly, and no one is home to keep the sites updated.

A few of other NIH sites:

NCI National Cancer Institute home page government shutdown

The National Cancer Institute

NHLBI National Heart Lung and Blood Institute home page government shutdown

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

NIMH National Institute of Mental Health

The National Institute of Mental Health

Databases run by the National Library of Medicine like PubMed (which catalogs the biomedical research literature) and GenBank (a repository for gene sequence data) are also on standby during the shutdown. All of their current data is still available, but no new data is being added, which can impact scientists chances of getting new grants or publishing new papers.

NLM National Library of Medicine home page government shutdown

National Library of Medicine

GenBank home page government shutdown


PubMed home page government shutdown

Two views of Pubmed, on 10/1 and 10/2.

Some agencies like NASA, the US Geological Survey, the USDA, and the National Science Foundation took a slightly more dramatic approach, removing themselves from the web altogether.

You can’t get to the NASA site at all right now:

NASA home page government shutdown

While others are “unavailable”:

NSF National Science Foundation home page government shutdown

Even the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy put up a black flag:

White House OSTP Office of Science and Technology Policy home page government shutdown

I’m going to keep compiling more images over the coming days, as well as quotes about the shutdown’s impact on science at all levels (funding, patients’ access to clinical trials, safety, research progress, ability to collaborate, etc.), at Science Shutdown. Blogger and scientist Jonathan Eisen made a similar compilation on his blog a couple of days ago, too.

Want to get involved? Send me anything you think I should include in the comments below, on the You’ve Got Some Science On You Facebook page, or over Twitter. Or you can submit sites directly on Science Shutdown.


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