Stormy Space Weather

One of the victims of the STFC funding crisis is ground-based solar-terrestrial physics : STFC decided to pull out of ground-based radar systems. A few years back, many mainstream astronomers would have quietly let it slip, as it seemed rather dull compared to cosmology, solar physics, or planet hunting : good stuff but not top priority. But now its not so clear, as space weather has an important part in the climate change story; and now of course its all part of the “man the barricades” defence campaign. On January 21, the informal club of that community, known as MIST, had a meeting following which they issued an extremely strident set of resolutions. They also issued a press release, which was picked up by the BBC, and by New Scientist. The tone is getting tougher all round. Here is a toughly worded article in New Statesman, brought to my attention by Rob Ivison.

Behind the scenes, very strongly worded emails are flying around. Not sure where this is all headed… Meanwhile the IUS select committee continues. The next evidence session is on Feb 20th, when they will interview Science Minister Ian Pearson and Research Councils Supremo Keith O’Nions. Meanwhile, subsets of the committee are on a fact finding tour. They were at RAL today; are due at ATC on Feb 5th; and they will presumably be visiting Daresbury, but I haven’t heard about this …

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5 Responses to Stormy Space Weather

  1. Kav says:

    Andy, your link is outdated. The NS article has been revised to correct a major error in it. You may want to link to the on-line article here.

  2. Tony says:

    I think the final MIST statement is too narrow. Rather than ‘training of young scientists, which is of clear benefit to physics in the UK’, the statement ought to have cited that the training of scientists is of benefit to the UK economy, not just to ‘physics’.

  3. consultation > /dev/null says:

    Tony, I agree that the benefit is to the UK economy. The MIST statement came at almost the same time the Royal Society reported its worries about the decline in scientific postgraduate training for the economy: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7218525.stm

    But Andy was right in an earlier blog entry that we are not getting our message across. We shouldn’t be complacent that the economic need for postgraduate physics is self-evident to ministers, as this A&G article by an economist (dated just before the CCLRC-PPARC merger) explained very clearly: http://pacrowther.staff.shef.ac.uk/A_and_G_Jun06_Forum_p4.jpg

    One would ordinarily expect the research council senior management to be presenting this case on our behalf…

  4. Very Anonymous Physicist says:

    Some STFC staff were informed on Friday that STFC has a £40M UNDERSPEND this financial year.
    STFC staff are all encouraged to spend now to reduce this figure.

    By my rusty mathematics 40M x 3 years = 120M = entire deficit + headroom.

    So we need to spend this now in order to justify them not having enough money, in order that they can sack us.
    If this is not irrefutable evidence of maladministration and misuse of public funds, I don’t know what is.

  5. Anon says:

    If you really have evidence of this I hope you are going to get it through to people on the select comittee.

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