The Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) was formed in June 1977 and has been at the forefront of scientific discovery since the middle of the 20th century. The BES research programs are rooted in the Nation’s research efforts to win World War II that predate the establishment of the Atomic Energy Commission in 1946. The goals of the early U.S. science programs that evolved into BES were to explore fundamental phenomena, create scientific knowledge, and provide unique user facilities necessary for conducting basic research. These overarching goals have not changed.
The archives of BES scientific highlights reflect the rich history of the BES program. The selected highlights are representative of the broad range of studies supported in the BES program. Division accomplishments are included among the following compellations of BES highlights.
• Annual program accomplishments from FY 1997 through FY 2009. These brief vignettes appear in the BES sections of the President’s FY 1999 through FY 2011 Budget Requests to Congress, respectively.
• BES identified 28 important discoveries supported by the program before March 2001.
• Since 1986, eight Nobel Prizes have been awarded to twelve principal investigators for their BES-supported research.
• Archival compilations of BES research highlights and activities (FY1980 - FY1998)
The National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) states that "the useful outcomes of basic research cannot be measured directly on an annual basis, because the usefulness of new basic knowledge is inherently too unpredictable; so the usefulness of basic research must be measured by historical reviews based on a much longer timeframe." (Evaluating Federal Research Programs: Research and the Government Performance and Results Act, 1999)