National Science Foundation

National Science Foundation
U.S. Govt.
an independent agency of the executive branch, created in 1950, that promotes and supports research and education in the sciences. Abbr.: NSF

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▪ American organization
      an independent agency of the U.S. government that supports basic research and education in a wide range of sciences and in mathematics and engineering. It was inspired by advances in science and technology that occurred as a result of World War II; the NSF was established by the U.S. Congress in the National Science Foundation Act of 1950. From a budget of approximately $3 billion in the mid-1990s, it provided about 20,000 awards a year to scientists, students, and teachers. It provided about one quarter of total federal support of basic scientific research at academic institutions, making it a major source for funding in basic research in the United States.

      The NSF grants funding for research in biological sciences; geosciences; mathematics; physical sciences; Arctic and Antarctic research; social, behavioral, and economic sciences; computer and information sciences; and engineering. It also provides support for educational programs in mathematics and sciences at elementary school through university graduate levels.

      While the NSF does not operate laboratories, it funds and manages the U.S. Antarctic Program, which conducts research in several sciences, and which it established in 1959. The NSF is the executive agency for the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., (Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy) a consortium of 20 universities that conducts optical research in astronomy at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Ariz., and two other observatories.In 1991, construction of 8-metre (26-foot) telescopes for optimum viewing sites in Hawaii and Chile began under NSF management; the project was scheduled for completion by the end of the 20th century. Among other activities, it cooperates in managing the National Center for Atmospheric Research and supports international cooperation among American and foreign researchers. Among the most notable results of NSF grants are the experimental computer networks that developed into the Internet (q.v.).

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Universalium. 2010.

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