At Monday’s ‘Town Meeting’ organised for the members of the scientific community most affected by the cuts, STFC officials presented the Programmatic Review for 2007-8. This was assembled following advice from STFC advisory panels and ranks research projects into priority groups. The ranking of a particular project indicates whether it is likely to be funded or instead faces closure in the near future.
The RAS does not accept the classification of many of the projects classified as ‘lowest priority’. Some of these have a high profile, including the Gemini Observatory, the e-Merlin network centred on the Jodrell Bank radio observatory, and UK involvement in the Hinode space observatory currently being used to study activity on the Sun. Alongside the risks to these and other projects is a 25% cut in the STFC research grants to universities that will see numbers of postdoctoral researchers in space science and astronomy fall to their lowest level for 7 years.
There is also a real concern that the consultation with the science community on the Review is too brief for responses to be heard. This began yesterday and will close on 21 March – by comparison UK Government guidelines on public consultation suggest a minimum period of 12 weeks.
The RAS urges STFC to ensure that the consultation is as open and transparent as possible and that every effort is made to engage the whole of the astronomy and space science community. The Society also urges the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) to find ways to help STFC support UK astronomy and space science.
President of the Royal Astronomical Society, Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson commented on the STFC announcement:
“I welcome the commitment by STFC to consult with the wider community on what remains a severe package of cuts. It is vital that the consultation is as fair and transparent as possible so that the eventual decisions are seen to be made on an objective basis.
‘The RAS will continue to press DIUS to find ways to mitigate the cuts to STFC, the consequences of which are now all too clear. Closing down UK involvement in a swathe of projects will harm our ability to carry out cutting-edge research, our international reputation and our ability to attract young people into science and physics in particular.
‘We also continue to be concerned about the time-scale for this process – our view remains that no irreversible decisions should be taken before the Wakeham Review of Physics reports in September.”
Robert Massey | alfa
Electrocatalysis can advance green transition
23.01.2017 | Technical University of Denmark
Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin
23.01.2017 | Ferdinand-Braun-Institut Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine
23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.01.2017 | Process Engineering