The federal government has been through federal shutdowns before — there have been 17 of them since the 1970's in fact — but the world and technology are very different from where they were during the last shutdown, which happened over 16 days in 1995-1996. Communication over the Internet then took place via email and rudimentary chat rooms and forums, but today, we have Facebook, Vine and Twitter, which can help illuminate the scope of a government shutdown.
The current shutdown is having particular effects for the sciences, with portions of the CDC and FDA being shut down, as well as all of the country's national parks and the Smithsonian museums and zoo. All but 600-odd NASA employees are being furloughed, which could affect future missions, and the U.S. Geological Survey won't be able to monitor water quality or ecosystem restoration.
On the morning of the shutdown (Oct. 1), a flurry of tweets came from various science-related government agencies, noting that the accounts would be inactive until the budget issues were resolved and the agencies once again had funding. Here is a sampling of the messages sent out:
@NASA: Due to the gov't shutdown, all public NASA activities/events are cancelled or postponed until further notice. Sorry for the inconvenience.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
@USFWSHQ: Due to a lapse of government funding, this account will not be active until further notice.
Environmental Protection Agency
@EPA: The federal government is currently shut down.
U.S.D.A. Forest Service
@forestservice: Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this channel will not be updated until the federal government reopens.
U.S. Geological Survey
@USGS: As a result of the lapse in appropriation, we will not be actively using this account until further notice.
National Park Service
@NatlParkService: Because of the federal gov’t shutdown this National Park Service Twitter feed is inactive. We’ll start tweeting again when we get back
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
@CDCgov: We're sorry, but we will not be tweeting or responding to @ replies during the government shutdown. We'll be back as soon as possible!
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Science Foundation
@NSF: Due to the government shutdown, we will not be tweeting or responding to any replies. We will return as soon as possible.
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Smithsonian National Zoo
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Andrea Thompson is an associate editor at Scientific American, where she covers sustainability, energy and the environment. Prior to that, she was a senior writer covering climate science at Climate Central and a reporter and editor at Live Science, where she primarily covered Earth science and the environment. She holds a graduate degree in science health and environmental reporting from New York University, as well as a bachelor of science and and masters of science in atmospheric chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology.