STFC : The Long Grass Beckons

Apologies to Martin Ward, from whom I nicked this title.

Act I

Keef : Oh what a lovely new toy I got !

Jim : Might have a slight problem here. This Diamond thingy seems to be costing a touch more than we expected…

Keef : Ooerr. Better get on to our paymasters.

Keef to Dius : Need more money for this Diamond thingy. Big Problem.

Dius to Keef : Nope. There’s plenty of fat in STFC land. You work it out. Its needed doing for yonks anyway.

Keef : Didn’t work Jim.

Jim : Time to frighten the horses, Keef. Richard ?

Richard : wooo !! Cut Gemini ! waagghh ! 25% off grants ! worrrr !!!

Horses obediently panic and start running round in circles

Keef : Think that’ll sort us Jim.

Act II

Trendy Young Physicist : Good Morning World. Terrible Mistake somewhere. Disaster Looms.

That Nice Sarah : You nasty Government people ! Look what you’ve done to these horses !!

Minister : err ahhh sorry, terribly puzzled, lots more money already, err err a review will be undertaken.


Keef to Dius : Now you wouldn’t want us to be damaging Britain’s Universities. That would be a big mistake. How about that extra eighty million.

Dius to Keef : There’s lots of fat in STFC land. You work it out.

Keef to Dius : What are we supposed to do, kill all those horses ?

Dius to to Keef : There’s lots of fat in STFC land. You work it out.

Keef to Dius : Oh. Ah. Oh dear.

Dius to Scientists : And There Shall be a Grand Review. And all will Be Well.

Scientists : Where’s our ball gone ?

Dius : Awfully sorry. Grass is a bit long round here.

10 Responses to STFC : The Long Grass Beckons

  1. Hywel says:

    Dunno if you heard Radio 4 on Friday night, or exactly what it means, but they said the following: ‘The funding crisis facing British physics has deepened, with news that Europe’s biggest science project, the particle collider at CERN near Geneva, has approved an increase in its annual budget of thirty million pounds. The Science and Technology Facilities Council, which has already announced big cuts in a series of international schemes and research grants, will now have to find even more money to fund CERN. The council is facing an 80 million pound shortfall as a result of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.’

  2. Peter Williams says:

    John Dainton seems to be of the opinion that there is an agenda here. He suspects that the NASA/Mullard Space Science press release about a UK lunar mission is not coincidence. Is there someone trying to displace STFC supported science like HEP / Astronomy?

    PS. Hi Andy, you taught me in first year (1995!). Now i’m an accelerator physicist at Daresbury.

  3. andyxl says:

    If there is an agenda, I don’t understand the logic it is following.. “Agendas” are usually a bit more subtle. I’d go for the cockup theory every time.

    P.S. glad to be of service, Peter.

  4. Edwin Hubble says:

    Strange isn’t it – extra postdocs for MSSL, support for Lunar Missions, XEUS, and GAIA (all MSSL programs), lots of MSSL staff quietly positioned on key committees, who would ever suggest that there was a need for an agenda – it just gets done quite blatantly – Sainsubry, Wicks were the first, next we’ll be hearing that Pearson and Mason go the same way!

  5. Hywel says:

    Yes, I am hearing that rumour too. Looks like the big push from Govt is in 3 areas – lasers, space and energy production. Reading between the lines of the STFC delivery plan, it looks like Central Laser Facility is more-or-less ring-fenced, and that HiPER is were they’re pointing everything.
    Also, I heard on Radio 4 that the UK have blocked the 30M increase in the CERN budget.

  6. Peter Williams says:

    Take a look at this…

    Remember the Levi’s ad… all together now…
    Spaceman, I always wanted you to go into space-man, intergalactic christ.

  7. MikeW says:

    Like the playlet.

    As a more-or-less related follow-up, I’m glad somebody out there has a sense of humour: it’s just been announced that the UN has declared 2009 as “The International Year of Astronomy”.

    Irony is not dead, STFC seem proud to support this excellent inititative (see

  8. andyxl says:

    Howdy Mike. I guess STFC will be even more proud to support the Year of Astronomy if its costing them less.

    Thanks for the super logo sent under separate cover. I will load it up on my next post ..

  9. Vogon says:

    But look on the bright side – at least the UK is now going to the Moon. To quote from a meeting in Dec 2007:

    “We want to lower the cost of [scientific] access to the Moon and if we don’t do MoonLITE for £100 million we would have failed,” said STFC chief executive Keith Mason.

    [note that the word “scientific” had to be added afterwards]

    I hope that the STFC is carefully comparing the scientific benefits of firing pellets into the lunar soil (to keep NASA and George Bush happy, evil cynics might say) with the benefits of shutting down several major UK particle physics and astronomy facilities.

  10. […] of logic and gossip, I think most of us pretty much knew the answer. My take on this was set out in this wee playlet on December 14th. But now we have proof, cos a bunch of intrepid particle physicists got all the […]

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