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After three months of wrangling, the congressional "supercommittee" charged with lopping $1.5 trillion from the US federal budget deficit over the next 10 years conceded today that it has failed to agree on a plan. According to the rules laid down when the committee was established in early August, cuts totalling $1.2 trillion over a decade should now be triggered automatically across the federal budget from 2013 onwards.

Exactly what that means for science won't become clear until next year, but the required cuts are so large that major projects and research facilities are likely to find themselves on the chopping block. Space missions, national laboratories and "big science" efforts in fields like ecology could all be threatened.

"It's going to be real bloodletting," says Michael Lubell, head of public affairs with the American Physical Society. "Everything is up for grabs."

Tragic, to say the least. To read more, click here.