UK astronomy under threat

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KendalAstronomer
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Post by KendalAstronomer »

Plus it was factually incorrect - the release said they were still going to negotiate a lower price for Gemini, when they have actually lost all access now.
Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear KendalAstronomer
It sounds like a very poor state of affairs, and all the astronomy cuts seem already effectively implimented and if what you say about Gemini North being cut is correct as well, then even worse than threatened.
However, it occurs to me that Richard Branson (who I gather is a tax exile and pays no personal income tax in the UK) could step in and stomp up the lost £40 or 80 million UK astronomy money rather than spend his spare cash on providing the excessively rich would be be space tourists (many of who may also be UK tax evasion exiles) with space jaunts.
Best of luck from Cliff
ddiggs
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Post by ddiggs »

What funding is needed ? I go out of my back door, look up, and their it is, an entire universe for me to look at, more than ever anyone, including the ''funded'' can absorb. :wink: :wink: :wink: ddiggs
I've had better nights, and you've seen better days. (Tony Hancock circa 1959)
Mozart
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Post by Mozart »

There seems to be no lack of funding for new schools where children are indoctrinated with all sorts of mumbo jumbo.
I'd rather see a few of those not built and have the money invested in science.
Paul Millington
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Post by Paul Millington »

Now that is a good idea :D

Paul :D
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Hampshire Astronomer
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Post by Hampshire Astronomer »

Hi

More updates regarding the cuts in funding announced this morning

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7274956.stm

Dave
David Scanlan

Director SPA Variable Star section

http://www.popastro.com/variablestar/index.php
KendalAstronomer
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Post by KendalAstronomer »

We're still no clearer where STFC stands at the moment. It posts announcements and counter announcements on its website, but only when and if cuts actually happen do we know what they're really able to do. They were badly critisized for their lack of clear management in a recent article prior to the Jodrell Bank cut mentioned in a thread elsewhere. This is their current list of priorities, with such minor things as Cassini considered expedient. It seems the UK is now in the game of paying others to build stuff, paying the electricity bill, then doing nothing else - never using facilities, never funding the explotation of data retrieved. This set of priorities (click on view programmatic review at the bottom of the page) was devised as part of the PPARC Programmatic review. When PPARC ceased to be and STFC came along to replace it and adopt its management, the Programmatic review went along for the ride too, despite it being a different research council with a different remit. STFC say the programmatic review remains the best mechanism for deciding the priorities, which would be fine were they to update it for the new situation...

It should also be noted that alongside the UK pulling out of ground-based Solar Terrestrial Physics, and Radio astronomy, a comment on the Jodrell Bank problems revealed that various attempts to link together computational groups has been closed down along with the High Performance Computing facilities. That's three fields of research shut down by a research council whose existance is owed to the Haldane principle that scientists should decide the allocation of science grants through community engagement to avoid research in particular fields being discouraged by administrative or political pressures.

Still at least STFC can no longer be nicknamed "Swindon Town Football Club", who are at least 'goal orientated' and do not choose their team talk to decide on the best opening strategy in a huddle partway through the second half...
Deimos
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Post by Deimos »

Trouble is the STFC are in an impossible position. I’m sure it is neither their fault nor their wish to cut anything – it is being forced on them by a government who prefers to spend money on e.g. expensive “Management consultantsâ€
Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Ian
I was going to suggest that you could write to your MP but I then noticed that you live in France. My understanding is that our MPs are obliged to reply to any correspondence they get from their own constituents but not to people who live elsewhere.
I did sign the petition myself and also wrote to our local MP. As expected the MP replied sending me a friendly acknowledgement of my letter and mentioning that he had forwarded my queries to the relevant minister and would let me know what the minister says.
Best of luck from Cliff
Paul Millington
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Post by Paul Millington »

Hi Cliff,
Good idea, I have sent the forms back to dave but will send a copy to my MP (give him something to do)

Paul
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KendalAstronomer
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Post by KendalAstronomer »

[quote="Deimos"]Trouble is the STFC are in an impossible position. I’m sure it is neither their fault nor their wish to cut anything – it is being forced on them by a government who prefers to spend money on e.g. expensive “Management consultantsâ€
Deimos
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Post by Deimos »

Many apologies if I had the wrong idea about the causes of the £80m to be cut. Reports I read suggested it was a shortfall rather than a “re-deploymentâ€
robin_astro
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Post by robin_astro »

KendalAstronomer wrote:
Again, the Government has no hand in this. They set overall budgets and STFC decides where the axe falls. They've decided to shift the entire set of priorities for uk physics research and lose a lot of what we're already doing. There's no chance government would do it more competently, but STFC should be able to (and more transparently, with the community engagement they're meant to embody).
On the contrary government have everything to do with this situation. They set up the STFC, an uneasy combination of research grant allocation and big budget equipment development. They decided that STEM skills should have priority over basic research (The clue is in the T in STFC) Ian Pearson's current position that he has given them enough money so it is not his problem is untennable in my view and we should make it loud and clear via our MPs that someone needs to act and act fast over this insanity which threaten to ruin our position as a leading nation in astronomy while the rest of the world looks on with incredulity

[/rant]

Robin
Deimos
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Post by Deimos »

Interesting article today:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 532951.ece

Although I can appreciate that scientists themselves are probably best qualified to assess the importance of different work, I would have expected some safeguards about conflict of interest. Most walks of life seem quite strict when it comes to people making decisions not being able to “vote for themselvesâ€
Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Ian
I was interested in your comments, but I am still rather curious as to who is your MP (since you live in France) is he\she the MP representing the place you last lived in the UK ?
With regards most folk not voting for themselves. Well that might be the case with respect to ordinary people, but from what I can see polititians are not ordinary people. I was amazed when I attended a local town planning commttee meeting at which the polititians were considering a very controversial planning application in our neighbourhood.
The meeting was deliberately rigged to mid afternoon (rather than the usual evening time) to exclude as many local residents attending as possible (many being at work). When it came to the vote casting (done very hurredly) one local councillor did not attend the meeting (his grounds being his local church opposed the planning application and so might be construed he had vested interests because he was Town Mayor and the church priest was his mayoral duty priest). Our three local councillors had obviously been allowed to vote with the locals against the planinnig application and thus saving their faces. The end result we lost the vote and the abnoxious scheme was approved by the democratic committee who contrived to get a dead heat (which included the chairmans vote). Then the chairman cast a second vote which got the controversial scheme through. Needless to say the commitee chairman lives in and represents a council ward many miles away on the opposite side of our town to where the diabolical scheme has now been built.
I have since found out that similar devious "democratic" tactics, including commitee chairman casting double votes to get controversial schemes approved is common placed throughout the country. Now that is what I call true British democracy which enables politicians to do what they want (irespective of local opinion without some councillors becoming popular in their own area). Now I am sorry that issue is not strictly astronomy, but I suspect that polititians have used equally devious tactics with regards making science financial cutbacks.
When I wrote to our MP about the £40\80 millon cutbacks some time back his pleasant acknowledgement promised to write back to me when he had been informed by the appropriate government minister how things were finalised. He seemed to suggest that might be about the end of February. If he does not write back to me again within another couple of weeks I think i may need to send my MP a reminder ?
Best of luck from Cliff
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