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Nsf National Science Foundation

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The National Science Foundation (NSF, based in Arlington, Virginia) was created by Congress in 1950.  It's an independent federal agency, with the stated goal "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; [and] to secure the national defense".  It's funded by the government with over $5 billion every year, and represents the source of monetary funding for about 20% of all research conducted by our nations universities (whether the research be in fields such as mathematics, computer science, chemistry, and so on). 

This mission of supporting research is reached by issuing limited-term grants to scientific investigators.  Currently, the NSF issues about 10,000 new awards every year, each award having a duration of approximately three years.  The monies go to fund specific research proposals, put forward by the scientists, and judged the most promising by an extremely rigorous merit-review process.  Most grant proposals fail this review process; only the best are awarded funding.  While most of the awards go to individual scientists, rarely an award will provide monies for the purchase of instruments and facilities that allow scientists to perform their cutting-edge work.

The goals of the NSF - discovery, learning new facts, stewardship of scientific research - work hand-in-hand and help to cultivate an atmosphere conducive to advancing the frontiers of knowledge.  Ultimately, their work expands scientific vocabulary and literacy of all citizens, and helps to build the nation's crucial research infrastructure.  As the NSF slogan goes, "The NSF is where discoveries begin."

Many of the results of NSF grants have been nothing short of revolutionary in the word of science.  Just in the past few decades, NSF-funded scientists have won more than 170 Nobel prizes.  It goes without saying that the federal funding spent on the NSF is money truly well spent.

Capital investments by the NSF help to build our nations future.  Some examples include giant telescopes, scientific research sites in the Antarctic, super-powerful computers with ultra-high-speed Internet connections, and ships for oceanographic research.

In the view of many scientists, no factor is more important to the progress of society and to the enhanced well-being of its citizens than the continuous acquisition of new knowledge.  The NSF is a central part of that process, and every American should be thankful for the wisdom and foresight of our leaders who continue to fund such a critical organization.

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