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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The other prong.

The current crisis with astronomy and particle physics in the UK is a two-prong problem. Recently I have been concentrating more on one of those prongs, the way in which STFC does business. Recently I have to give them a smidgeon of credit as they have been making moves (or at least the right sounds) to accommodate some of our demands in terms of engagement and transparency. Of course these come too late to save much of the science that has been destroyed by their ineptitude to date, but at least it is a step in the right direction.

The other prong is the bigger problem in many ways. STFC finds itself £80 million short and though it is not clear exactly why that is the case (apart from the government funding more medical research - something the STFC CEO "cannot argue with") we are left with a hole in the budget. To illustrate the problem here is a plot of the budget post CSR:


This demonstrates the fallacy behind the 13.6% that is being touted. Clearly STFC is getting the rough deal in terms of budget increase.

Interestingly, I had a reply from Ian Pearson MP to a letter I sent regarding the way money was being spent (with regard to comments about Haldane). It was the stock reply letter that so many of us are so familiar with these days; however there was a hand written note at the bottom that said the minister was talking to DIUS and officials and STFC over how decisions are made. Perhaps I am naive but it made me feel that messages are getting through.


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