The Defense Department is funding universities' purchases of high-tech equipment as part of a program to "improve the capabilities of US institutions of higher education to conduct research and to educate scientists and engineers in areas important to national defense by providing funds for the acquisition of research equipment," Ars Technica reports.
Writes John Timmer:
The emphasis on educating future scientists and engineers, combined with the broad interests of the DoD, suggest that the grants could fund any number of academic research programs.
That suggestion is borne out by the list of grant recipients. Picking five grant winners at semi-random (I focused on research that I was likely to comprehend) revealed all were involved in basic academic research involving topics such as lasers, DNA repair, and electron microscopy. Several grants went towards general-purpose computing clusters.