MPs have warned that major cuts in research budgets and withdrawal from several major scientific facilities will endanger the UK’s international standing in astronomy and particle physics and its ability to inspire the next generation of scientists.
In the report of its inquiry into the funding of particle physics and astronomy, the House of Commons science and technology committee said that while scientific research was left relatively unscathed in last year’s government spending cuts, historical cuts planned for research meant that astronomy would have 50% less money overall by 2014/15 than it did in 2005. This is set against the background of increased investment by international competitors.
Article then goes into the details and explains what is happening … click here to read that.
Now least you wonder, and are already gathering stones to toss in the direction of the current government, this is a historical trend, the mentality that astronomy and also particle physics are just abstractions we can do without exists right across all of the parties.
Professor Brian Cox, a particle physicist at CERN and the University of Manchester, is quoted as saying …
“The fact that we got flat cash into the research councils [in the recent comprehensive spending review] is a recognition of the fact that it’s important, even in a recession, to spend money on research because it pays dividends in the future.”
It is quite obviously politics in play. Regardless of whom you might wish to blame, decision makers make choices with the immediate issues in mind, and an eye on the next election date. This conflicts with our long-term interests across a broad range of topics, and science is one of those. Investing in science is a long-term business – decades, not years. The UK needs a long-term strategy for science and engineering that looks beyond artificial political timescales. Our future as a high-tech nation depends on it