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Permanent science gap left by U.S. government shutdown

The 16-day U.S. government shutdown that ended today will have lasting effects on the state of global science, CBC science columnist Torah Kachur reports.

Climate, diseases not monitored; experiments not run over 16 days

The U.S. research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer collects in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, in 2011. Climate monitoring from American Antarctic research stations did not begin on Oct. 3 as scheduled due to the 16-day government shutdown, leaving a permanent gap in the data, Torah Kachur reports. (Peter Rejcek/NSF)

Although legions of U.S. federal scientists and lab technicians were technically back to work Thursday, it was not business as usual. 

Thousands of experiments were put on ice during the shutdown, an innumerable amount of data was not collected as scheduled and millions of dollars were wasted, CBC science columnist Torah Kachur reports.

CBC Radio science columnist Torah Kachur

The monitoring of disease outbreaks by the Centers for Disease Control, climate indicators by U.S. Antarctic research stations and asteroids by NASA are among the projects that were suspended during the shutdown, Kachur said.

"There’s going to be huge amounts of data that [have] either slowed down significantly or [been] lost completely,” she told CBC's Airplay. That means scientists "might have a gap in their understanding of how things work. You can’t do trends and you can’t do a whole set statistical analyses if you’re missing some of your data sets.”

Kachur detailed the long-term effects that the shutdown will have on the state of science not just in the U.S., but around the world, including Canada.

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