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Friday, January 25, 2008

MIST stands resolved

I mentioned the MIST (Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar Terrestrial) meeting I was at on Monday. Well, the most significant thing to come out of that meeting was the passing of three resolutions over the current funding crisis.

The text of these resolutions can be found on the MIST website and they have been sent to John Denham MP, Secretary of State for DIUS. Copies have also been sent to the STFC executive and other worthies.

Perhaps the most notable thing is that the MIST community passed a vote of...
no confidence in the financial, administrative, decision-making, and communication arrangements within the STFC as presently implemented
and proceeded to...
request a change of the structures, and individuals in the STFC council, responsible for the current failure.
This is quite damning but I think it accurately reflects the strong feelings within our community. I think many of us now hope that our colleagues in particle physics and astronomy will follow suit. I am sure that many who might have thought that Prof. Mason was 'on their side' have rapidly changed their minds having read the recent BBC article. It is not nice to be thought of as...

rocks on the road to a brighter future.

It is important to note that the current problem is two (or more) pronged. The settlement from DIUS was not good, even though the results of the FOI request from Prof. Ken Peach demonstrates that the officials who were briefed would have been fully aware of the consequence (unless they could not do simple maths). Of course, as one eminent scientist has commented, it is unknown whether STFC made it clear why it mattered that the science we do be allowed to continue. However, the MIST resolutions deal almost solely with the issue of how STFC handled the problem(i.e. with no transparency and no consultation). Both fronts must be fought!

For the uninitiated here is what MIST says about itself:

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