Science in spending review : story so far

June 26, 2013

Quick off the mark Beeb summary here. The real McCoy here, for patient readers. (In standard government fashion, much blether and very repetitive…)

Headline (1) Science budget flat cash.  Could have been worse but not exactly good.

Headline (2) Capital budget increased – extra 500M 2015-16.

Detail (1) Increased capital budget is

…enabling significant investment in projects including autonomous robotics, Big Data, and major upgrades and new facilities at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus


Detail (2) : MRC budget apparently not moved to Department of Health.

Most important point… just the beginning boys and girls. Research Council carve-up not yet announced, and maybe not even fixed. Fate of QR (see Peter’s blog post from yesterday) and student finance etc still unknown. Gird your loins and buckle up your breastplate.

CSR Science Optimism?

June 24, 2013

The UK government spending review makes its announcement on Wednesday. The mainstream media have been full of reports of ministers squabbling, especially Osborne and Cable.  Interestingly, while insisting that they love each other, Osborne has said that

I, as a personal priority, want to see science supported – that’s part of this budget, and because Britain leads the world in science, and that’s all about Britain’s economic future.

Coo. Hope he means that. Meanwhile STFC is grinding towards the conclusion of its own Programmatic Review. Science Board met last week and apparently agreed a plan, contingent on budgets of course. Council will endorse in a few weeks and announcements will be made in September. Tension mounts. Do we get LSST? Do we get MOONS or WEAVE or both? I’d love both, and they really go for quite different science goals, but it might be a case of “you can’t have two MOSes”). Add your own frets.

Meanwhile ESA Cosmic Visions grinds along too. Today and tomorrow I am at a LOFT science meeting – I am not specially involved in LOFT, but am here to plug LSST. Every transient LOFT might see (in the southern sky) with the Wide Field Monitor will get a free LSST light curve. My X-ray chums are of course nervous about LOFT versus Athena. They are competing for different slots, and are suitable for very different kinds of science, but how likely is it that ESA will fly two X-ray missions?

Glory of Love Variety Box

June 22, 2013

Telescoping Peter just cheered up my Saturday (don’t ask) by posting a lovely Humphrey Lyttelton version of the Glory of Love from 1955.  It’s a well covered song, and I find it fascinating how different the many versions are. Inspired by Peter, here is a wee collection of my favourites.  (Sorry in advance about the ads … fact of life on Yew Toob these days)

(1) The version that I think was first, by Benny Goodman in 1936

(2) Next up, the bluesman version – good old Big Bill Broonzy from nineteen forty something. Love this.

(3) Now, the jazz fan collectors item : Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee. On the same TV screen. At the same time.

(4) Next, the soul version : Otis Redding 1967

(5) Now, the hippy hero version : John Martyn, 1974

(6) Kool Dude version : Keb Mo 1997

(7) Paul McCartney, 2012. A bit on the corny side, but you can’t not have Macca.

There’s more, but mostly a tad on the soupy side and not to my taste. There is also a rather dull song with the same name by ex-Chicago chappy Peter Cetera. Don’t bother.

For my money, its Big Bill number 1 by head and shoulders; then Goodman, then Martyn, then probably the Humpty Dumpty version.