In physics we do things and afterwards worry about whether they worked
As I am being educated in the UK and intend to attend university here, I am becoming increasingly appalled by the treatment of science we are seeing. Science funding has been under severe pressure for the last several years, first under the previous Labour government, and now, along with so much else, under the Coalition which is planning excruciatingly severe cuts .
Science is crucial to the economic and social future of the UK. It would be devastating for the UK to give up its position as almost certainly the second most powerful country in the world, after only the USA, in higher education and scientific research. Even today (again, after several years of cuts to grants in the physical sciences), the vast majority (over 90%) of research funding goes to world-class scientists, as judged by the latest Research Assessment Exercise. It is impossible to cut this without reducing the amount of excellent research produced in the UK. Moreover, threats of such cuts are already making scientists consider their options — most other countries are increasing, rather than decreasing, their science budgets not despite but because of the economic downturn and growing deficits.
The evidence is clear that investing in research brings a range of economic and social benefits, and that severe cuts at the very moment that our competitor nations are investing more could jeopardize the future of UK science.
For the few reader of this blog, I would like to point out the concerted effort to push back against the planned short-sighted cuts, under the banner of the Science is Vital campaign.
From their website, Science is Vital is
… a group of concerned scientists, engineers and supporters of science who are campaigning to prevent destructive levels of cuts to science funding in the UK.
and the concrete steps that one can take to help the cause (mostly useful if you live in Britain) are
1. Sign the Campaign for Science & Engineering petition.
2. Join the Science is Vital demo in central London, Saturday 9th October at 2 PM.
3. Write to your MP about the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths.
4. Come to the Houses of Parliament for the Science is Vital lobby of MPs on 12th October, 3.30 to 4.30 PM.
5. Spread the word using the posters.
I would urge you to sign the ScienceIsVital petition. It is the least we can do to help maintain Britain’s historic strength in the area. For reasons that are both personal (I will be attending a university affected by these cuts) and intellectual, I am hoping that the scale of these cuts will be less than is currently planned. because . With scientists being very much “footloose” and other countries increasing their science funding this will inevitably mean that the UK will lose much of its research excellence is the legacy of many generations.