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Friday, July 11, 2008

The nuclear option

Since Andy is now on sabbatical in the States he was not able to attend the town meeting on Tuesday. I was not able to attend either - mostly because I have work to do and it costs a bit to high-tail it to London for meetings; what remains of the funding that supports me can be better spent!

Anyway Andy points to a new furore that is bubbling away as the Nuclear scientists start to get vocal in the media over their loss of funding:

Hang on a tick though, the Telegraph seems to have a story about STFC destroying the country’s nuclear power capability !!! Naturally, STFC have put out a statement explaining that they are reponsible for the nation’s power stations.

Having read the STFC statement I think they have scored quite an own goal here. I can understand why they would want to nip more negative stories in the bud; just as they were probably hoping that this would all start to go away (especially given the positive press regarding Jodrell Bank that has appeared in the press). However they have gone the wrong way about it.

The branch of nuclear physics that STFC supports is the investigation of the internal structure of the nucleus and the nuclear processes that take place in stars (nuclear astrophysics) and does not concern nuclear power or nuclear engineering, or the building or decommissioning of power stations.
At a time when community morale is at an all time low the statement does little to bolster the nuclear community spirit. It won't win awards for attracting students and researchers who might be interested in nuclear physics.

More importantly it undermines any arguments for relevence to society and UK PLC. This is incredibly unwise in a period when we are told that we must demonstrate our worth to justify the funding that we receive.

This could have been handled much better.

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