Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


RAS 'dismay' at deep cuts to astronomy funding

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) today expressed its deep disappointment at the level of cuts to UK astronomy research announced by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). These savings amount to at least £80m over three years, with a further £40m likely to be cut to create headroom for UK involvement in new projects.

The RAS does however welcome the announcement by the Secretary of State at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, John Denham, that he is setting up an independent review into the health of physics. The Society will participate fully in the review, where it will express its belief that the vitality of physics in the UK depends on a vibrant programme of ‘blue skies’ research in areas such as astrophysics.

Cuts announced include UK participation in the Gemini South observatory in Chile, all UK involvement in ground-based solar-terrestrial physics facilities, UK high-energy gamma-ray astronomy research, UK involvement in the astronomical observatory on La Palma, and large cuts (~50%) at the Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh.

Projects, some of which will be cut subject to the current Programmatic
Review being carried out by STFC, include: 25% of grants, the UK InfraRed Telescope, ground-based gravitational wave astronomy, involvement in the Dark Energy Survey, the Zepplin3 underground search for dark matter, the Liverpool Telescope, the Merlin radio telescope, Astrogrid. These will all have to compete against new project proposals for a contingency fund set aside by STFC.

The RAS welcomes the concession by STFC that they will seek to negotiate continuing access to the Gemini North observatory on Hawaii, as requested by the Society two weeks ago. Without Gemini North, UK astronomers will have no access to giant telescopes in the northern hemisphere and will find it increasingly difficult to compete with their peers overseas.

Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson, President of the RAS commented:

'I welcome John Denham’s decision to review physics funding and the RAS will be keen to be involved, but this needs to be set against the immediate impact of these cuts on UK Physics Departments. The Government needs to recognise that astrophysics, space science and solar system science make a direct contribution to the UK economy through spin-off and knowledge transfer on time-scales which can be surprisingly short.

The students and postgraduates that we train are highly skilled and sought after by industry and the financial sector. Astrophysics and particle physics are major attractors of students, including international students, into university physics courses. For example, my Physics Department at Imperial College receives 40% of its research funding from astrophysics, space science and particle physics and 90% of our students said that these fields were the reason they chose to study physics. Astronomy and space also play an important role in attracting school-children towards science.’

Robert Massey | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma
28.10.2016 | American Physical Society

nachricht Scientists measure how ions bombard fusion device walls
28.10.2016 | American Physical Society

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>