The Pentagon's Pet Projects
Besides the inside of the brain and the depths of the Internet, far-out military-funded projects at the U-M extend into outer space. Seven professors in atmospheric, oceanic, and space sciences are sharing $1 million from the air force for a forty-five-month study of "the community whole magnetosphere model"-research to predict magnetic patterns in the upper atmosphere. And the Space Physics Research Laboratory is working on a $600,000 navy grant on "heliospheric signatures of the evolution of the solar magnetic field." Both these projects will be useful in coping with solar flares that disrupt communications.
There will be many more such grants in the years ahead-and the U-M is unusually well positioned to reap the harvest. In October aerospace engineering professor Werner Dahm took a leave of absence to become the chief scientist for the air force. At the Pentagon, he'll advise on where research dollars should go in the future. It's a sure bet that Michigan, with its long history of research and its current plethora of projects, will be high on the list for that military money.
[This story has been updated since its publication in the November 2008 Ann Arbor Observer. An inaccurate description of Karl Krushelnick's research has been corrected.]