UPTON, ME—In response to recent budget cuts, the National Science Foundation has reduced grants to individual recipients, including those of megalomaniacal researcher Dr. Edward Mortis of Brookhaven Laboratories.

Mortis packs up the lab he was forced to surrender.

"My positronic raygun was nearly complete," said Mortis at a press conference Tuesday. "With one gigagram of destructonium [a rare element mined from a meteor belt that passes Earth once every 29 years], I could have ruled the world!"

Days before the window of destructonium-mining opportunity closed, the "ignorant fools" at the NSF slashed Mortis' Armageddon Project funding by 90 percent. The cut in funding forced the mad scientist to halt work on his raygun, and set back his plans for world domination indefinitely.

"This is a dark day for mad science," Mortis said. "On this day, my evil plans are like the seed that lands on stone, unable to take root and blossom."

The principles of Mortis' Armageddon Project were explored in his doctoral dissertation, written and researched while he was a student at Berkeley in the late '70s. Mortis' three-tiered approach to conquering the universe so impressed Brookhaven Laboratories that he was hired out of graduate school and placed in the facility's dilapidated-castle wing.

"For a time, I had unlimited funding, free reign over a well-equipped lab, and eight henchmen at my disposal," Mortis said. "Then, when the economy went south, the NSF started chipping away at my allotment. First, it was a nosy question here, a rudely worded letter there. Suddenly, I was being asked to justify the purchase of every little dicantheum deoxidationifier or Anubis drill in my inventory."

Last week, a letter from the NSF informed Mortis that his annual grant will be reduced substantially, from $2 billion a year to a mere $200 million. According to Mortis, the budget cuts will effectively terminate both the Armageddon Project and his work on several outside efforts, including a hyperchronal disrupter, a polysonic transmogricon, and 100,000 killer robots.

"They expect me to work with $200 million?" Mortis said. "My legion of armed robots now sits in a storage center outside D.C. The robots have been denied the very function of their being! I ask, what good are killer robots if they will never be activated and set to killing? It's so typical that the buffoons at NSF stop me now, when I'm already half done. It's so frustrating."

"These pencil-pushers don't appreciate the purity of research," Mortis continued. "As Plato said, the love of knowledge is the purest form of love. I would go further and say that the greatest quest for knowledge is the quest for insane knowledge. All these bureaucrats see is columns of numbers on paper."

Mortis said his only option is to pursue his mad agenda independently, by working at a slower pace and paying for expenses out-of-pocket. To that end, Mortis has taken a position as an adjunct researcher on a longitudinal study of the effects of cholesterol in adolescents, and is proofreading a report on the distribution of freshwater mussels in the lower Great Lakes drainage region.

Mortis said he is keenly aware of the effects a limited budget can have on mad scientific research. In May, he attracted national attention when he unleashed a horde of beast men in Denver, CO. The release was successful, until the hideous creatures' unstable molecular structure reacted with the city's low air pressure, and the beasts dissolved into gooey blue puddles.

"That never would have happened if I'd had the funds to do a test run of the polysonic transformation process," Mortis said. "But I was forced to cut corners. I was the laughingstock of the mad scientific community."

Mortis was not charged with any crime in the Denver incident, due to the vaporization of all evidence, and he returned to his lab with a new sense of purpose, vowing to "show them all." But Mortis had not anticipated the recent budget cuts.

"Mad-scientific progress has been set back 20 years," Mortis said. "If you want to see yet another boring paper on relativistic heavy-ion colliders or synchrotron radiation, by all means, drain my lifeblood! But don't come crying to me when you need technologies to enslave the human race."

Even in the current financial climate, the budget cuts surprised Mortis' colleagues.

"We all thought [Mortis] was untouchable," said fellow Brookhaven researcher Dr. Phillip Kondos. "Edward's genius for devising plans for world domination is second only to his genius for whipping up applications for funding. We always envied his ability to isolate himself in his dank lab and emerge days later with a hideously ingenious grant proposal all of his own creation."