On Your Knees, Professor! : Krulwich Wonders... With budget cuts looming, scientists might have to relearn the art of "begging" to fund their future projects.
NPR logo On Your Knees, Professor!

On Your Knees, Professor!

The science crowd is nervous. The President wants to create more jobs, but come this fall, funding for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (what you and I call the "stimulus program") starts to wind down.

After two glorious years, science researchers all over America will face what they are now calling "The Cliff;" to replace their grants from Uncle Sam they're going to have to find new funders, get on their knees and do that thing they've always had to do...umm, what's the word?


It's not like they don't know how. Scientists have been begging for money for centuries, as have writers, artists, poets. It's an art form. I am reminded of a beautiful Persian illustration I saw on a blog called "dejouer" that shows a young, well dressed man holding a letter in his hand. He is an artist, Muzaffar-'Ali, who lived in the 1500's, a painter of small, delicate miniatures...

Self portrait of Muzaffar-'Ali. dejouer blog hide caption

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dejouer blog

...and that letter he's got is a petition addressed to his patron, "the great Bahram Mirza" (apparently a prince of some kind and a big customer).

What the note says should be familiar to every research scientist...

According to the author of the blog, the calligraphy reads:

Translated petition to Bahram Mirza.

And then he kind of loses his courage and ends it...

Translated petition.

That's the way it goes, whether "Your Highness" is a prince or the National Science Foundation. Did Muzaffar-'Ali get a raise? The Blog doesn't say. Perhaps it doesn't have to.