Skies dim for British astronomers

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Biped, Jan 28, 2008.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    Britain has spent over £70m developing some of the finest and most high-tech 8m telescopes in the world that look at the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

    Due to government science budget cuts, the project that we helped build, and of which we are a 23% owner will be out of bounds as we pull out of the project - just as the telescopes are finished and achieve their best potential.

    Just like the armed forces, science is very low on the gobment priority list in the UK. It would rather spend £26 billion pounds shoring up a Labour-friendly bank, or lesbian and gay quangos, or pump hundreds of millions of pounds into foreign government coffers in Africa so that their leaders can drive around in Rolls Royce cars.

    How long will this go on for? :evil:
  2. At least another two years before Brown is forced to call an election :cry:
  3. I was reading about this (Saturday I think) and came to pretty much the same way of thinking. Damned if I can understand some spending decisions, they make no sense to me at all.
  4. It's par for the course, I'm afraid. We seem to be saddled with a bunch who don't really understand the link between achievement and effort. They seem genuinely to think we can still keep on getting the results without actually being able to do the stuff that leads to results. Professional politicians, I've shat better.

    Add in the appallingly disproportionate and counterproductive decision-making powers that have been handed to the accountants and this is what you get -"Never mind the future benefits, we need the books to balance now!"

    Oh, the next two years are going to be such fun.
  5. The attitude of this government and particularly Broon is astonishing. Broon champions Britain and wants us to be a technology driven economy but at the same time reduces spending on science. I can't stand the bastard.

    2001 -;jsessionid=FIOTVRWK4VHMBQFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2000/07/06/nsci06.xml

    2004 -;jsessionid=FIOTVRWK4VHMBQFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2004/03/03/nsci03.xml

    2008 -;jsessionid=HJM0CSUVN2ZLNQFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ0IV0?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/earth/2008/01/15/scilights115.xml

    Also;jsessionid=HJM0CSUVN2ZLNQFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ0IV0?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/earth/2008/01/16/sciphysics116.xml and;jsessionid=GG4TVUIQJE4SNQFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ0IV0?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/earth/2008/01/23/sciresearch123.xml

    They say one thing and do exactly the opposite. I hope a nasty accident befalls the lot of them. If you want to sign the petition then the link is below but I doubt it will do any good :(
  6. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    They seem to be covering their economic incompetence with yet more incompetence. It's like getting caught in a lie, so you make another lie to cover the first one, and so it goes on. They make numerous bad economic decisions, and then make a bunch more to cover the shortfall.

    These ex-junkie, commies will never get it right, and they won't be out of here until they've ensured this country is no longer a country in it's own right, and the output from it is mediocre at best.
  7. My bolding.

    I agree in general but on this particular topic there are no practical "future benefits" to be had. Saying that, I believe that knowledge for its own sake is worthwhile and this underfunding to be ridiculous.

    For the life of me I cannot understand the decision to give India, (a nuclear power and space programme country) £800,000,000 while denying a small fraction of that money to this Astronomy project.
  8. Errrm, the Research Grants that top scientific projects attract? Convincing world-class international students to come here with their fees and general expenditure, bringing foreign currency into the economy?

    Specifically to this project, astronomy these days is more to do with understanding the laws of physics than with slapping names on constellations. Investigating how the Universe works can't help but create opportunities for future benefit.
  9. The electron, when it was discovered had no use at all. now look at the wealth created by the electronics industry. Pure research has long-term benefits as well as those mentioned by carrots.

    If we are to remain an ecomomic power, we must emphasise technology, as labour is much cheaper elseware.

    Unfortunately, this government only works to a five year ecomonic plan. If it takes longer than that to get a return on the investment, they are not interested. There are a great many examples of this in the MOD's dealings.

    Short term economy, long term expense.

  10. This government basically seem to hate any science which will not show a clear profit within a short timespan. Gemini will not return a clear profit, it will 'only' increase human knowledge and understanding of the universe around us.

    Funding in science departments in universities around the country is dwindling, and if it continues a number of departments will be forced to wind down research entirely. This government need to understand that research is expensive, however there are a multitude of downstream benefits to scientific research which have no immediate obvious return on investment. The vast majority of discoveries happen by accident, whilst the researcher is looking for something else entirely.

    The gubmint keep harping on about how they want to promote a knowledge-based economy, and to improve the level of higher education in this country. This isn't going to happen if they leave a funding crisis in place in the research community which stifles scientific progress.

    Why oh why is this gubmint indirectly financially supporting the Indian space program, when it cannot adequately fund our own?
  11. To Ski and Carrots,

    I am for funding the project not anti. Carrots your points are valid in that this sort of research brings money into the country from other science interested people. But there is no practical aplication of Astronomical discoveries into human beneficial technology.

    That opinion in no way undermines my desire for this project to be funded. Knowledge in its own right is a good thing and damned interesting to-boot.

    Ski. Discovering the electron happpened after the discovery of electricity IIRC. Then again I agree that knowledge in its own right is a good thing. Hence, I would like to see this Astronomical project funded. I just do not believe it has practical implications.

    The thing is though that some science projects have to be axed due to funding problems. I would rather see a fair bit of funding moved away from international aid payments and some of it given to science projects. All of them.

    Given the current underfunding in science it is probably better that subjects such as astronomy bear the brunt rather than biological or technological usefull ones.

    I do not like it but the money available should be spent on subjects that are likely to have both an intelectual and practical benefit rather than intelectual alone.
  12. Lest we forget, China recently whacked a satellite with a missile, if only to demonstrate that they were prepared to do it. The debris from that strike could collide with one of the other 3,000 currently orbiting for various scientific reasons.

    Keeping our interests on 'land based' options makes some sense.
  13. Sorry, but that's an extremely short-sighted outlook. For one thing, you can't tell in advance what's going to be of, as you call it, 'practical benefit'; for another the bang-for-the-buck projects tend to attract funding from the private sector, since the can smell a profit to be made in them. As for their being "no practical aplication (sic) of Astronomical discoveries into human beneficial technology" the same could be said of treating leukemia in cats. It does, however, lay the foundations of research into disease behaviour which informs the research carried out into the human form.

    Look upon government-funded research as being the underlying research upon which other groups build; the sort of unsexy spadework that needs done if advancement is to proceed and which the private sector is less willing to fund precisely because there's no immediate return.

    It's worse than you think, mate. Look into the number of Chemistry Departments that have been forced to close or merge in the last 5 years due to lack of funds. And this in what used to be one of the nation's flagship industries.
  14. I really would, genuinely like to know just what happens to all the money that this crowd of incompetants "save". I mean the vaults must be overflowing with all the "Saved"(read STOLEN) money that Gonads Broon has salted away these past 10 years. Savings here, savings there, savings, savings everywhere, what is he saving it for, surely he does not intend to shovell any more load of the crinkly stuff at India or China. For my part,, all I want is just a few more attatched to my pension, just to use as Beer Tokens or Wine Vouchers you understand.

    Thompson!.......Veuve Clichot, nothing for the Chancellor.. thasnk you :? :? :?
  15. Some of the trouble not funding this project and Chemistry depts etc in universities closing is the current mind set that if it is to hard it isn't inclusive therfore it is bad.

    Whereas funding albino yak farmers in outer mongolia is seen as good, as it fosters relations with the albino yak farmer ex-pat community in the UK (all 3 of them).

    £80M is a drop in the ocean compared to the national prestige and "future benefits" that have been alluded to elsewhere in this thread, Telescopes like these not only advance knowledge for knowledge's sake but also are at the cutting edge of electronic and electo/mechanical control techonologies, as well as instumentation and optics, all of which much like the formula 1 industry eventually feeds down into everday consumer goods. So there are very real pracitcal benefits of being in a program like this.